This year’s Royal Rumble depends on what WWE has planned for CM Punk at WrestleMania. He’s the one that they likely had to decide upon first, because there are a few routes they can choose to go there:
- HHH & Shawn Michaels vs Daniel Bryan & CM Punk (or some combination)
If this is the direction they’re going for WrestleMania, then clearly neither CM Punk nor Daniel Bryan will win the Royal Rumble. It makes sense, given the outspoken nature with which CM Punk has been talking about HHH, and the friction Daniel Bryan had with HBK the past couple times they met up. They would only do this if they have a strong plan for the World Title match.
- WWE World Title Match: CM Punk vs Randy Orton
If Randy Orton can somehow get himself back into the good graces of The Authority by beating John Cena and then retaining the belt at Elimination Chamber, it makes perfect sense that CM Punk will be the one to win the Royal Rumble and have the shot at beating The Authority’s choice for the Face Of WWE. The only thing that keeps me from being sure this will happen is that it would mean Orton over-coming the odds against Cena for a second time AND winning the tough Elimination Chamber, and I think WWE might be ready to take the belt from Orton.
- WWE World Title Match: CM Punk vs John Cena
If WWE wants to have their top two stars square off at WrestleMania, then Cena can win the belt tonight, and CM Punk can win the Rumble, providing a huge main event.
Other than those scenarios, or someone like Batista taking Randy Orton’s spot as the Face Of The WWE/Authority, I don’t see what else they would want to involve CM Punk in. He’s much too big of a star to have him fight Kane at WrestleMania, since Kane has been out a little while and certainly isn’t a huge name on the WWE landscape at this point.
A Non-Punk Winner
If WWE has other plans for CM Punk at WrestleMania other than being in the title match, then it essentially comes down to a few names:
Kofi Kingston – laugh all you want, but Kofi Kingston has battled and beaten Randy Orton on RAW recently, and the two feuded a couple years ago. Kofi Kingston is friends with CM Punk, as they share CM Punk’s tour bus to travel to shows together, which increases his odds of getting opportunities, as Punk talks to the McMahon family. This is probably the wrong time to give Kofi his first shot at the World Title, so it’s not likely to happen, but there’s still a chance. Give him a couple great spots in the Rumble, like he typically provides, and a good showing against a top-tier competitor at Elimination Chamber, and it doesn’t seem as awkward a booking as it does here on Sunday morning before the Rumble.
Roman Reigns – there’s still the matter of splitting up The SHIELD, but this could be a catalyst. Just like with Kofi Kingston, it would be a tough sell for Reigns to have his first World Title shot at such a huge pay per view, but he seems likely to get a shot at the belt in the coming year. Given the history between The SHIELD and The Authority, perhaps they want him to replace Randy Orton as their top guy. Don’t bet on it, but if you do, those are some huge returns to be paid out.
Cody Rhodes – just as the aforementioned duo, this is a longshot, which is made a longer-shot because Rhodes has the tag titles. I think the New Age Outlaws are the perfect team to take the belts from the BRhodes, and if Cody gets the backing of The Authority, then that all makes sense. But if he’s battling back against The Authority, they could absolutely stack the odds against the man they previously fired by putting him in an unwinnable situation to take the tag straps from Cody & Goldust on an upcoming RAW. I don’t think Cody Rhodes vs Randy Orton for the World Title is the best use of that high profile match, but it could happen. So could Cody Rhodes vs John Cena… but I wouldn’t do that either.
Batista – I really, really don’t want to see Batista vs Randy Orton for the World Title at the pay per view, but if they want to have Batista replace Randy Orton, I’m good with that. I’m still not sure this is the route they’ll go, since we haven’t had the chance to see that Batista has shaken enough of his ring rust to be worthy of the main event at WrestleMania.
Daniel Bryan – He hasn’t been listed as being in the Royal Rumble yet, but given how hot the crowd has been for him the past couple months, I don’t know how you could keep him out of it. I really, really don’t want to see another Bryan vs Orton match, and given how The Authority has been the center storyline the past 8 months, I don’t know how you have WrestleMania’s main event without them being a huge part of it. If anyone replaces Randy Orton as the focal point of The Authority, I don’t know how you go into WrestleMania without those two guys fighting. Unless there’s a HHH vs Randy Orton match at WrestleMania, I think you can’t get Daniel Bryan vs “The Authority’s Animal” Dave Batista, because the revenge storyline for Randy Orton would be too hot. Now, if Daniel Bryan becomes the new Face Of The WWE, sponsored by The Authority, then I think that opens doors for CM Punk vs Daniel Bryan or John Cena vs Daniel Bryan, but you’d still have to find something else for Randy Orton to do.
Royal Rumble Undercard Matches
I think this is a great time to take the World Tag Team Championship away from the BRhodes. You’ve got The Usos and the Prime Time Players who could have a great match against the New Age Outlaws at WrestleMania, picking up some HUGE credibility with a victory over the 6-time tag team champions of the woooooooorld at a huge event. It would also give the opportunity for Cody Rhodes to be involved in something bigger, or to let us get the Cody Rhodes vs Goldust match that they both were hoping to have (as expressed on Twitter in years past).
I don’t know what there is to gain by having The Big Show beat Brock Lesnar, but if you have The Beast get the victory, then it opens lots of doors. He’s certainly a guy who should be in the World Title situation, whether it’s at WrestleMania or afterwards. It’s obvious that WWE doesn’t consider The Big Show to be a guy that they want to bank on, long term or even as their champion, so he’s the perfect guy to help Brock’s credibility.
Given that I’m almost certain Daniel Bryan will be in the Royal Rumble, I expect him to lose to Bray Wyatt, which will help put a feather in Wyatt’s cap while increasing the degree to which Daniel Bryan seems like an underdog.
Other Odds and Prop Bets
Though I’d like to set these up as things you could bet on, I’m not going to do that because I’m unable to do that, and because I don’t have money to throw at people who are better at predicting than I am. These are just for fun… enjoy them… or not.
Sheamus Returns [Odds 4:1]
Rob Van Dam Returns [Odds 8:1]
Titus O’Neil getting into the Rumble [Odds 6:1]
Triple H getting into the Rumble [Odds 4:1]
Over/Under on Eliminations from Batista: 6
Over/Under on Eliminations from Roman Reigns: 6
Over/Under on Eliminations from CM Punk: 6
Over/Under on Eliminations from Titus O’Neil: 2
Over/Under on Time Spent in the Rumble by CM Punk: 50 minutes
Over/Under on Daniel Bryan’s entrant spot: #26
If you have any prop bets or thoughts on what I posted, let me know!