The Royal Rumble
Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, United States Champion Rusev, Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Goldust, Stardust, Big Show, Kane, The Miz, Damien Mizdow, R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, Fandango, Luke Harper & 13 more wrestlers
There's no better way to start a new year than with a chaotic Royal Rumble match! 30 superstars will spend up to an hour punching each other in the face, resting in the corner, spamming finishing moves, resting in the corner some more, and then tossing each other out of the ring. There's no other match on the calendar quite like this one, and it is guaranteed to pique the curiosity of even the most jaded wrestling fans.
The written rules of the match are simple: two men will start the match, a new superstar will enter the fray every 90 seconds, and elimination occurs when a superstar goes over the top rope and both feet hit the floor. The winner of the match is the last man standing after 29 other superstars have been eliminated.
The unwritten rules of the match are pretty simple too: Big Show will be one of the final 5 entrants, sometimes 90 seconds is actually 120 seconds, superstars located on the periphery of the ring need to either lay down on the mat for a while or hold each other snugly against the ropes, the winner must pose on the turnbuckle and flex his muscles while pointing at the WrestleMania 31 sign, and WWE doctors will automatically shrug their shoulders at any Superstar who requests treatment for a concussion (allegedly).
Here is a full breakdown of the match.
The Favorites: Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan
There have been rumors for well over a year now that WWE's top priority is to keep Roman Reigns looking really really strong so that he can become the next face of the company. The most obvious way to accomplish that goal is for Reigns to win this Royal Rumble match and then go on to defeat Brock Lesnar or John Cena at WrestleMania 31. Roman already set a record last year for the most eliminations ever in a Royal Rumble match. The only way he can upstage his performance from last year is to actually win the match this time.
Daniel Bryan's return to action came out of nowhere after more than 6 months of seemingly no recovery progress. He is still the most over performer on the roster and is probably the most logical short-term choice to main event WrestleMania 31. It would just be a shame if Brock Lesnar returned to UFC without ever competing against most likable babyface on the WWE roster. WWE made the huge mistake of not including Daniel Bryan in last year's Royal Rumble match and that decision blew up in their face. The biggest hurdle for WWE this year, if Daniel Bryan is not booked to win, is to figure out how to keep the smarky Philadelphia crowd from rejecting Roman Reigns just like Pittsburgh rejected Batista one year ago. But there's one really easy solution to that problem - just book Daniel Bryan to win the Royal Rumble match.
The Sheamuses: Rusev, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, and Bray Wyatt
Remember in 2012 when Chris Jericho was the obvious choice to win the Royal Rumble but then The Church Of McMahonism decided to intervene and grant that blessing to Sheamus instead? Well if Vince once again decides at the last minute to play for the swerve, these four guys are the next in line to steal a surprise victory.
All of these men, with the exception of Ambrose, have been booked pretty strong over the last few months and a Royal Rumble victory could quickly propel any of them right towards the main event scene. And while Dean Ambrose has been booked to lose just about every important match that he's been in over the last few months, he at least has Ric Flair's endorsement.
Dolph Ziggler is going to be massively over with the Philadelphia crowd and his elimination might be another one that has to be carefully handled to keep the crowd from turning on the match. Rusev and Bray Wyatt are two of the top three heels in the match and so at least one of them will probably still be in the mix as the match winds down to its final minutes. Even if none of these four men win the match, there is a good chance that the iron man of the Royal Rumble will come from this group.
The Surprise Entrants: RVD, Bo Dallas, Dudley Boyz, Sheamus, Randy Orton, DDP, WWE Legends, NXT Stars
Randy Orton is probably going to make an impact on this show, but the question is will he show up in this match or will he show up to interfere in the WWE Championship match? If he and DDP both end up in the Royal Rumble match, will they go on a double team spree of Diamond Cutters and RKO's?
RVD and The Dudley Boyz are heavily rumored to be surprise entrants in the Royal Rumble match. That's probably enough ECW Originals to keep the Philadelphia fans satiated, but don't be surprised if one or two more ECW stars from the past find their way into the match.
Sheamus has been on the shelf for a couple of months and should be returning shortly. He was a surprise entrant in last year's Royal Rumble match. If he makes yet another surprise return this year in the Royal Rumble match, look for Chris Jericho to sue him for gimmick infringement.
You never know which WWE Legends will lace up the boots one more time to pop the crowd and hit a few signature moves before calling it a night. Last year it was Kevin Nash, JBL, and Not Daniel Bryan. In 2013 it was The Godfather. Who will it be this year? Will IRS show up to accuse Bray Wyatt of being a tax cheat? Hey, it could happen. All you have to do is...Bolieve!
The Tag Teams: The Usos, Gold and Stardust, The Miz and Damien Mizdow, Los Matadores
Tag team specialists enter the Royal Rumble match every year and they always fail. But that never stops them from trying again. The key figure among these names here is Damien Mizdow, as he might have a chance to eliminate The Miz from the match if the opportunity presents itself. In an extreme case, Damien Mizdow might want to hone his acting skills so that he can reprise the beloved role of 2011's Santino Marella. Can you imagine how excited the crowd will be if Mizdow is one of the final men remaining in the match?
The Kofi Kingstons: Kofi Kingston
I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for Royal Rumble victories, I can tell you Kofi doesn't have that. But what Kofi does have is a very particular set of skills, skills he has acquired over a very long career. Skills that make him a nightmare for people like Ryback and Kane. If you let Big E's handkerchief go now, that will be the end of it. Kofi will not look for Ryback, he will not pursue Kane. But if you don't, Kofi will look for Ryback, Kofi will find Kane, and Kofi will kill them...with a death-defying leap back into the ring.
And then Kofi will be eliminated less than two minutes later.
Everyone else: R-Truth, Fandango, Justin Gabriel, Bad News Barrett, Kane, Ryback, Big Show, etc.
The Big Show's name probably seems out of place here, but let's face facts. He's not a favorite, he's not a dark horse candidate to win, he's not a surprise entrant, he's not a tag team, and he's not Kofi Kingston. So while his status as the de facto top heel of the match implies that he has a very good chance to be one of the final men remaining in the match, he still finds himself lumped into this group of guys with R-Truth and Fandango that collectively have almost no chance to win.
The best case most of these men can hope for is that WWE allows them to stay in the match for a long time so they can deliver memorable spots that will open some eyes behind the curtain. Considering the lack of top tier heels in this match, perhaps Luke Harper or Cesaro will be able to stand out from the pack and convince the decision-makers backstage that they deserve a better spot in 2015.
Or is it a giant leap of faith to assume that Cesaro will even be one of the 30 entrants in this match?
The chance to headline WrestleMania 31 hangs in the balance as these 30 superstars will ruthlessly and aggressively throw each other over the top rope for roughly an hour. The WrestleMania 31 card is a bit blurry at the moment but this match will play a huge role in clearing up that foggy picture. This is always one of the most highly anticipated matches of the year.
So sit back, count down the clock every 90 seconds, do your best Damien Mizdow impersonation, complain on the internet when Dolph Ziggler is eliminated, and root for your favorite superstars as they try to grab that elusive brass ring!