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WWE: Who is going to win the Royal Rumble?

There is no match that compares to the Royal Rumble. It is, perhaps, Pat Patterson's greatest achievement. Even when business is down for every pay-per-view and ratings are sinking on Monday and Friday nights for Raw and Smackdown, respectively, the Rumble always draws a good buyrate.

And that's because it's a spectacle like no other.

The biggest talking point heading into the event each year, of course, is who will win. Some years it's obvious, like it was in 1998 when Stone Cold Steve Austin was the clear-cut choice. Really, no one else would have made sense. Other years it's murky, which is the category this years match falls under.

The big stipulation, which is reportedly going to lead to some sort of angle, is that every single superstar on the roster is eligible to enter. That could mean many things, from old legends showing up for a surprise to acting champions entering the match. How much of a swerve would it be to have CM Punk retain his title against Dolph Ziggler and then go on to win the Rumble later in the night?

Bryan Alvarez broke down the match and its possible scenarios in the latest edition of the Figure Four Weekly (subscription is required):

There are basically three ways this could go. The first is that the winner will be one of the people expected to face the champion at WrestleMania. As of this week, the two title matches planned for Mania are Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton for the World Title, which would be an awesome match, and CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho. Keep in mind, the original plan was Orton vs. Mark Henry, so many things could change prior to Sunday. Orton put Henry over a number of times, a few of them clean in the middle, during Henry's rise to the top this fall. The idea at the time was for Orton to get his win and title back at WrestleMania. Orton, however, didn't exactly like working with Mark Henry (he said publicly that Henry was his least favorite opponent), and if they feel enough time has passed that people have forgotten, or perhaps they feel that Orton doing those jobs made no difference, perhaps they'll stick with the idea of doing Orton vs. Bryan. Jericho vs. Punk has been the plan all along, likely built around Jericho being unhappy that Punk has been using his term, "best in the world." Either Orton in his hometown or Jericho winning would set up either match. They could also have someone completely out of left field win, and there is certainly a possibility of that with the claim that any WWE superstar is eligible for the Rumble this year. That person could then lose the title shot at Elimination Chamber. I'm not a fan of that given it cheapens the Rumble stipulation. If I had to pick, I'd guess Orton gets the win in his hometown, which was the original plan. One way or another, a few surprise entrants are almost certain to appear.

Essentially it's a three horse race: Orton, Jericho and the rest of the field. Let's look at each.

  • Randy Orton

The fact that it's in his hometown could help him (or hurt him since we're talking about WWE here) and seeing as he just made his return from injury, it would be a hell of a way to reintroduce him and get him over again. Getting his receipts from Mark Henry would mean little at this point because Henry has looked terrible ever since he suffered his groin injury. I'm as big a Henry mark as any out there but I have serious doubts regarding his ability to have a big money match at WrestleMania with the world heavyweight championship on the line. Daniel Bryan, on the other hand, intrigues me on several levels. Ideally, if Orton wins the Rumble, my hope is Bryan retains the title in the steel cage match earlier in the night and then enters the Rumble match to set up the feud with Orton. They could do this by having Orton and Bryan be the last two remaining and Bryan sends Orton over the top rope before celebrating, thinking he won. Orton survives, though, and comes back to eliminate him. Off they go.

  • Chris Jericho

If he is indeed headed for a feud with CM Punk that will culminate in a match at WrestleMania, as has been reported six ways from Sunday, having him win the Rumble match would be a rather simple way to get him there. That's assuming Punk doesn't lose his title and they feud over the belt, which makes the most sense. With Jericho planned for dates stretching far beyond 'Mania, it's not a scenario where an outcome is obvious. But with his "end of the world as you know it" promo on Raw this past Monday, we have no idea what he's got planned. We do know at least that he's in the Rumble match.

  • Rest of the field

At this point, if anyone but Jericho or Orton win it will feel like a major swerve. But with the stipulation being pushed so hard that absolutely anyone can enter the Rumble, it's entirely possible something major is being planned, and that could include not just a surprise entrant but a surprise winner. After all, Orton doesn't need to win the Rumble to get his match for the world heavyweight championship at 'Mania and Jericho doesn't need to do so either. It would cheapen the Rumble match to have a winner who didn't go on to get a title shot but it's been done before and hasn't damaged the match for later years, so anything is possible.

If I was asked to place a bet, I would likely play it safe like Alvarez and say Orton will win in his hometown. My hope is to see Jericho win but my thought is he's got something else planned outside of the actual Rumble match.

We'll find out this Sunday night in St. Louis, Missouri.

Let's hear your best guess in the comments, Cagesiders. Who is going to win the Royal Rumble?

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