As we approach the 2013 Royal Rumble, it is hard for even the most weary, sceptical and bitter of WWE fans not to harbour a sense of excitement as we embark on the road to WWE WrestleMania 29.
The Royal Rumble match is arguably the most exciting bout of the year, and while some years there are favourites to be the last man standing, it appears this year is one of the trickiest to call in recent memory.
Ryback may be the favourite in many people's eyes, and due to his unsuccessful WWE title pursuit against CM Punk, a huge win may be what the company feels he needs to regain that monstrous momentum he was building.
"Big Hungry" certainly has his fair share of fan support, and sadly, as long as Big Show is World Heavyweight champion, the title match at WrestleMania could very well be wasted with a Ryback vs. Big Show encounter.
Don't get me wrong—the idea of Ryback vs. Big Show at WrestleMania is mouth-watering, but the World Heavyweight championship needs some prestige at the "Showcase of the Immortals," and while there are a select few that could provide said prestige, one man certainly has to be involved.
Daniel Bryan has transformed into one of the most beloved WWE superstars during 2012, and his in-ring skills cannot go to waste on the biggest stage of them all, as they have done for the last two years.
Assuming his partnership with Kane ends soon, the artist known as "Goat Face" is surely in line for a singles run as a babyface in 2013, and there are few wrestlers more popular throughout the demographics right now.
Being awarded the World Heavyweight title has lost meaning over the years, as poor Jack Swagger will attest to, but Bryan has constantly rewarded WWE with top-drawer performances on the ring and on the microphone, and he certainly proved himself worthy of being champion in early 2012.
His battles with CM Punk mid-2012 were exceptional, and few are more compelling than Bryan when he is on the mic, with his "Yes" and "No" catchphrases gaining him a mainstream following.
While Bryan may be an outsider in some betting markets to emerge victorious from the Rumble match, few can deny that it wouldn't be an overwhelming moment for the WWE Universe should it happen.
Older fans of Bryan's work in Ring of Honor would rejoice if their cult hero ascended to glory, while Bryan's newer fans, particularly the younger ones, would finally view him as a certified main-event star.
One thing that perhaps lies in Bryan's favour as well is that few will predict the former World Heavyweight champion to outlast some of the more likely victors in the match.
At the 2012 Royal Rumble, WWE threw us a huge curveball by implying Chris Jericho was set to justify his over-produced "This is the end of the World as you know it" vignettes by winning the Rumble match.
Instead, Sheamus got the nod, and while the "Great White" was a fair choice, it is that element of surprise, and WWE's need to feel it can outsmart even the most devout of internet fans, that could mean Bryan, a hugely popular star, may be the victor.
Bryan's flirtations with the main-even scene were intermittent in 2012, and while he came out on the losing ends of feuds with Punk and Sheamus, his stock rose greatly during both rivalries.
Gone are the concerns that despite his overwhelming talent, his size may be a bother to Vince McMahon, and with the babyface scene in WWE rather grim right now, few have demonstrated their credentials more impressively than Bryan over the last six months.
Most years, the winner of the Rumble is a logical option, bar McMahon in 1999, and normally a superstar who is deserving of a main-event run without carrying that aura of a wrestler destined for a WrestleMania main event.
In terms of logic, Bryan is an incredibly viable option to win, and should Dolph Ziggler cash in his Money in the Bank contract before WrestleMania, we could be treated to one of the most sensational World Heavyweight title matches in years.
Admittedly, my sporting predictions (aside from Brazil winning the 2002 World Cup) have often proved ill-advised over the years, or even downright stupid some might say, but Bryan is my pick for the Rumble regardless.
His intensity, humour, in-ring ability and likeability would ensure whoever he faced at WrestleMania would make for a compelling feud, and should WWE finally put their full weight behind him; the next big star of the company could yet be born.
Thanks for reading my thoughts, and should you wish you comment I'd be happy to read your views below. I am also available to follow on Twitter @JWoodfield365.
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