The annual Royal Rumble match is always a phenomenal way to begin the Road to WrestleMania. With the way WrestleMania 29 seems to be shaping up, there’s more speculation as to who could win the epic 30-man match.
The Undertaker, the Rock, CM Punk, John Cena, Triple H and Brock Lesnar will likely dominate the top three matches on the card, leaving room for younger faces to step up by winning the Royal Rumble.
It is almost a given that the winner of the Royal Rumble winner will challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship because the WWE Championship will probably be mixed in with Rock, Cena and/or Punk.
Since the title has been defended lower on the card in recent years, it allows for the match to feature Superstars new to the main event scene.
WrestleMania 29 will be a huge event. The WWE has a chance to elevate a midcarder by having him win the Royal Rumble and challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Here are five plausible Royal Rumble winners you’d never see coming.
Maybe the most unlikely on this list—Brodus Clay has an outside chance to win this year’s Royal Rumble.
Clay has been stagnant for some time now. He has never had a meaningful feud and the last time he was relevant was when Antonio Cesaro lifted him and dropped him with a Neutralizer.
What Clay desperately needs is a change of pace. He would benefit greatly from turning heel and becoming the monster he was before he was the Funkasaurus.
There was a lot of buzz surrounding Clay after the promo he cut when he was eliminated from NXT. There is still a lot of untapped potential in a monstrous heel Brodus Clay.
It would take plenty of creative effort to sell Clay as a legitimate contender for the World Heavyweight Championship, but it would put Clay in a position for future success.
Damien Sandow has proved time and time again he’s ready to move up the card. Just when he seemed to be on the edge of main event competition, he found himself teaming with Cody Rhodes and chasing after the WWE Tag Team Championships.
There’s no harm in Sandow taking his time before moving into World Heavyweight Championship contention. If anything, it is making sure he can draw heat on a consistent basis.
In fact, his partnership with Rhodes could give him a slight edge in the Royal Rumble—assuming they have the opportunity to team up on the competition.
Sandow has had excellent television matches with main event stars like Sheamus on more than one occasion.
Especially since the World Heavyweight Championship match will not be a main event match at WrestleMania, there’s no doubt he can put on a great showing and be a convincing challenger.
Daniel Bryan was defending the World Heavyweight Championship at last year’s Royal Rumble. There’s no doubt that he’d like to be challenging for the championship on the “Grandest Stage of them All” this year.
Being a WWE tag team champion shouldn’t restrict him from winning the Royal Rumble. There are a handful of teams that Kane and Bryan could plausibly drop the titles to between now and WrestleMania.
Unlike Damien Sandow, do not expect Bryan to benefit from Kane being his tag team partner. Their relationship is far too dysfunctional for either man to help the other in a free-for-all like the Royal Rumble.
Bryan’s popularity has reached new highs since the beginning of Team Hell No. He’d be a perfect babyface contender for Big Show or, say, a heel Randy Orton.
It would be interesting to see Bryan as a challenging babyface at this year's WrestleMania.
Whether or not he wins, Kofi Kingston is going to make an impact at the Royal Rumble.
He won a Slammy a few weeks ago for his handstand to avoid elimination in the 2012 Royal Rumble. It’s not hard to imagine him besting himself and winning the match.
Kingston has the ring skills to be a major player and has shown glimpses of charisma to match. All he needs is a stage to showcase his skills and a high-profile feud to develop his character.
The most memorable feud Kingston’s had was with Randy Orton in 2009. He’s had very few chances to show depth to his character—leaving him often labeled as nothing more than a happy-go-lucky Superstar.
Kofi Kingston is one WrestleMania moment away from becoming a top Superstar. Winning the Royal Rumble and then the World Heavyweight Championship is exactly what he needs.
As a member of The Shield, Dean Ambrose has quickly made a name for himself in the WWE.
He made an immediate impact at Survivor Series by debuting, along with Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, and costing Ryback his chance at the WWE Championship.
The faction won its first match by defeating Ryback and Team Hell No at the TLC PPV.
The Shield definitely has the biggest advantage in the Royal Rumble. If all three members are in the match at the same time, there might not be anyone able to stop them.
The three newcomers proved at TLC that they’re borderline unbeatable as a team. They’re adept at outnumbering opponents to gain a decisive advantage.
If a member of The Shield is going to win the Royal Rumble, it’s hard to determine which member would win. If one of the three is going to win, Ambrose is the most complete package. Regardless, the entire faction would wind up in the spotlight at WrestleMania.