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A Rube Goldberg Rumble: A mad man tries to predict the unpredictable

Are you ready for a Rumble for the ages? This year's edition is has been dubbed one of the most unpredictable in years. And it is...on a Saturday night. The longer we go on Sunday, however, the more likely we are to know the finish before it happens. Come inside my warped brain and see for yourself!

Hindsight allows us to look back on most Royal Rumble victories and see the logic behind them. In fact, even though it's one of the most beloved matches of the year among fans, most years its outcome is never a surprise.

Was anyone shocked when Steve Austin won in 2001? Who wasn't expecting a Rock victory the year before, or to see Triple H triumphant the the year following in 2002? With the Brand Split things got a little harder, but usually fans could point out who made sense on either brand to win the match, and usually one of those obvious picks won it.

When the fans are behind the character and his story, they aren't looking for a swerve, they're looking to see their hero conquer the last big hurdle before the final showdown at WrestleMania. The Rumble is akin to defeating the mini-boss on your way to fighting the big bad at the top of the tower. Whenever they've swerved, it's usually gone over with eye rolls (McMahon over Austin in 1999) or groans (Sheamus over Jericho in 2012).

Sometimes a surprise/returning superstar takes the prize, but even in those cases hindsight again prevails. When Cena came back in 2008 it made for one of the biggest pops in Rumble history. Looking back, he was the obvious winner; only his injury kept him from being declared the favorite going in. Edge's return was not expected in 2010, but as soon as he did the fans realized who the winner was. They didn't care as it allowed them a chance to cheer for a returning hero.

This year's Royal Rumble is different because there are more variables than there have ever been. If you're one of those guys who likes to yell out predictions as the opening bell rings, you've got a lot more to consider this year than just who is in the match. This year you've got to think about things like match placement and even what number a superstar draws.

It's easy to gameplan, on a Saturday night, a storyline that takes you from the Rumble and ends with Reigns v Lesnar.
Just as easily you can lay out a scenario that ends with Reigns v Rollins.

In just a few steps tonight we could map out a road to Wrestlemania that culminates in Bryan v Lesnar.
Or a Bryan v Cena SummerSlam rematch.

But it all depends on how the card itself is laid out and how it plays out tomorrow. The longer the night rolls on, the more possibilities get eliminated.

Like a Rube-Goldberg device, one event triggers another, which triggers another, etc.

Never fear however, my fine fellow Cagesiders. I've been working day and night* and I've cracked the code to solving what is going to happen on the most unpredictable Rumble in history!

*a sampling of my notes...

First, if the Rumble match happens before the title match, that implies there will be a title change in the main event. Why? Because ending the night with a Lesnar retention is an anti-climactic way to sign off on the Royal Rumble. So if the title match is last, who would win it, Cena or Rollins? Money would be on Rollins, but never count out Cena. By the end of the Rumble match, however, you'd know who was winning the title match.

If Bryan wins, you can be sure Rollins is out of the title picture as that offers the least amount of story. A Cena/Bryan rematch is possible but not likely (especially since the first one had that infamous buyrate). So Bryan v Lesnar is the most likely scenario. But Lesnar retaining doesn't make sense as the way to end the PPV. So Bryan probably isn't winning the Rumble unless it's the main event. That means Reigns is winning it.

Reigns winning means Cena is probably not winning the title because Cena v Reigns would be a disaster with the older fans only begrudgingly accepting Reigns over "the champ" while the younger fans continue to support Cena. That starts Reigns reign as champion off on the wrong foot. Reigns v Rollins makes sense for obvious reasons, as would Reigns v Lesnar. So if the Rumble starts and there's still an hour and a half of show to go, you can bet on Reigns to win it. And since the title match would go on last, you can bet on Rollins to win the belt too.

On the other hand, what if the Rumble goes on last...

Well in that case we'll know who the champ is and that will help us figure out the Rumble winner. If it's Cena, bet on Bryan. If it's Lesnar or Rollins, it could be Reigns or Bryan. But halfway through the Rumble you'd know. How?

Because if Reigns wins you can bet he won't be sharing the final four spotlight with Daniel Bryan. Bryan and Reigns both being in the final four (with Reigns winning) would cause a fan backlash not seen since...well, last year. You need Bryan in and out of there to let the fans get the booing out of their system before Reigns comes in to clean house and take the cake.

So if Bryan gets eliminated halfway through the event, you'll know your winner will be Roman. And you know Bryan won't be in and out of the Rumble with little fanfare. If he's going out halfway through, he's going to be one of the first ones out. So if Bryan comes down the isle early on, you can bet on his not winning the Rumble. The only exception would be if Bryan were winning from the number 1-5 spot and being an iron man, but you'd think if he were going in that early they'd have announced it on either Monday or Thursday after he wrestled for the right to compete in the Rumble. So I expect Bryan to enter between number 10-15 if he's losing and numbers 20-27 if he's winning.

And of course, if the title match happens before the Rumble you can bet Lesnar is retaining. Because Lesnar losing the title would be a bigger story than who wins the Rumble, so it would go on last, leading to either Bryan v Lesnar or Reigns v Lesnar...depending on if Bryan comes out early or late.

So there. You see? It's not all that unpredictable when you think about it. You just have to gameplan for all the scenarios...and this year there's a lot of scenarios..

There's the title match first scenarios...

There's the Rumble match first scenarios...

Then there's the doomsday scenario, which is an event so preposterous, so out of nowhere, so TNA, it would shatter the fabric of the universe...

Or the Rock could just come back and win the whole thing.

Either way, don't worry Cageside. I got ya covered. I'll crack the case and be the first one to let you know who is winning what!

Now if you'll excuse me, there're some men in white jackets here to see me. I hope they have ice cream.

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