This Sunday the WWE will wrap up its 2014 Pay-Per-View calendar when it presents the TLC event live from Cleveland, Ohio. This will lead us into the new year and the official start of WrestleMania season with the 2015 Royal Rumble – the most exciting and unpredictable Pay-Per-View the WWE has to offer.
Of course, we all know what the winning superstar of the Rumble match earns; a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania. The Rumble rarely disappoints, as over the years it has provided fans with a wide variety of glorious memories.
The Rumble is a night full of surprises and something that can be expected each year (sounds weird to expect a surprise) is the unexpected return of superstars both past and present, as the Rumble match has become great place for a superstar returning from injury to make his triumphant comeback. It has also been a great place for a little nostalgia as a number of past superstars, even legends have been surprise entrants in the Rumble match.
The match has been won by all of the greats and in some cases, they've won it more than once. Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, and Batista have all won the big match twice in their careers. The only man who can lay say he's a three-time Rumble winner is the one-and-only “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who claimed victory in 1997, 1998, and 2001.
The WWE has seen its struggles recently with Pay-Per-View events but the Royal Rumble is practically a sure thing – never letting the fans down. This January when the event makes its way to Philadelphia (a great wrestling crowd), you can be assured that you will be thoroughly entertained.
So, when the Rumble rolls around next month; who will be the winner? Who will claim his glory and go on to face the champion on the grandest stage of them all? In this article we will toss out some predictions as we look at the top 12 potential Royal Rumble winners:
Note: This list will work under the assumption that Brock Lesnar is still WWE World Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania XXI.
12 Roman Reigns
The heavy favorite heading into the 2015 Royal Rumble is the dominant Roman Reigns. Which is why we will place him in the #12 spot – while still acknowledging him as a potential winner, placing the favorite near the top of the list is not exciting and takes away the element of surprise.
Of course, the rumors have been circulating for months that the WWE will in fact go with Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXXI. Thus, all but guaranteeing Reigns a Rumble victory, but we are talking about the WWE, where plans are seemingly changed on a daily basis. So we will just have to wait and see how Reigns fairs in the match.
11 Dolph Ziggler
Of the men that make up this list, we are considering Dolph Ziggler as the biggest underdog. While he has recently seen success as the sole-survivor at Survivor Series, the odds of that translating into a Rumble victory feel slim.
While it can be expected that Ziggler will have an excellent showing in the match, it remains hard to believe that he will actually win. But, we are here to dream, are we not? Assuming the WWE would go with Ziggler, he would definitely be the surprising candidate to face Brock Lesnar for the strap.
10 Dean Ambrose
Dean Ambrose has been on a roll in WWE as of late and is another superstar who will hold his own and put forth a strong performance in the Rumble match.
Placing Ambrose in the WrestleMania main event would be unexpected but welcomed by the WWE Universe, who stand firmly behind Ambrose and his unbridled lunacy. Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose may not seem like a blockbuster match, but anytime Ambrose is needed to elevate his game, he always delivers.
9 Bray Wyatt
“The Eater of Worlds,” Bray Wyatt is fast on the rise and following a WrestleMania match with John Cena, why not give him a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship?
Brock Lesnar vs. Bray Wyatt would have everything from psychological warfare to brute psychical competition. Bray Wyatt as the Rumble winner may surprise some fans but would be a great twist for the WWE.
8 Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho has accomplished many things throughout his illustrious career but one thing he has never done is win the Royal Rumble. What a fitting exclamation point on an well-built, well-deserved legacy.
Chris Jericho would obviously be outsized by “The Beast” Brock Lesnar, but how can you underestimate the man who once defeated The Rock and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in the same night? Surely, Jericho would have a mountain to climb with Lesnar, but the challenge would be met with open arms as Jericho is tough as anybody.
7 Randy Orton
Randy Orton has once emerged victorious in the Royal Rumble and a second victory may not be the worst thing for WWE heading into WrestleMania.
“The Viper” is currently away from television but is expected to return as a face (Orton is much better as a heel but that's another topic for another day). Orton winning the Rumble and setting up a match with Brock Lesnar would be a great move in terms of fresh angles. Randy Orton has already done battle with some of the all-time greats at the big event and would be a fitting counterpart to Brock Lesnar.
6 Triple H
Triple H and Stephanie, “The Authority,” are officially out of power and what better way to regain some stroke than by winning the Royal Rumble?
Triple H entering and winning the match could result in one of two directions. Firstly, “The Game” can go on to WrestleMania himself and win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Secondly, Triple H could attempt to use his main event match as leverage to regain his power within the company. Either way would make for some interesting programming.
5 Seth Rollins
The idea of Seth Rollins winning the Royal Rumble is exciting, especially with the Money in the Bank briefcase remaining in his possession.
This would allow Rollins two opportunities to win the championship at WrestleMania. Let's say that Brock Lesnar destroys Rollins initially and wins what can be perceived as a squash match. This leaves the door open for an ambush of Lesnar to the point of incapacity. Therefore, allowing Rollins to immediately cash in his briefcase for the second WWE World Heavyweight Championship match of the evening.
4 The Rock
This entry can fall under the category of “wishful thinking” but you never know. The Rock may decided to enter the 2015 Royal Rumble.
If such a thing should happen, then we're all for The Rock emerging victorious and setting up an amazing (part-timer) main event with Brock Lesnar. Of course, it would be best if neither man left WrestleMania with the title, since it is time for the belt to reappear on a full-time basis. The solution to that problem once again is Seth Rollins – no matter who wins, have Rollins cash in and leave as champion.
3 John Cena
John Cena is already scheduled to challenge Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the Royal Rumble in a match that he will most likely lose.
However, this can be used as motivation for Cena to enter the Rumble match later that same night and earn another shot as the champion, setting up one last match – an epic final encounter with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania where John Cena can finally defeat “The Beast.”
2 The Undertaker
Everybody knows the story of “the one in twenty-one-and-one.” The Undertaker's shocking loss last year was undoubtedly the biggest WWE surprise in a long time. What better way to exact revenge than “The Deadman” winning the Royal Rumble and heading off into a rematch against Brock Lesnar.
This time around to appease the heartbroken fans have The Undertaker defeat Brock Lesnar and take away the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. This would also be an amazing way for The Undertaker to bid farewell to the WWE as a title run doesn't seem likely. 'Taker can simply relinquish the championship the following night on Raw and finish his career on top.
1 Daniel Bryan
By all accounts, Daniel Bryan is still in bad shape but the hope remains that the superstar will be back in action as soon as possible. Obviously, an ideal return would be at the 2015 Royal Rumble as a surprise entrant in the match.
During the last Rumble, the general feeling was that Bryan would indeed win the match but when he was not even entered, crowd response was hostile. “The Yes Movement” was heard throughout the WWE Universe and Daniel Bryan was eventually entered into the WrestleMania main event picture.
Daniel Bryan winning this time around would translate into a huge redemption, considering he never officially lost the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.