WWE Royal Rumble season has begun, which means WrestleMania season has begun as well. The WrestleMania picture should slowly take form as the Royal Rumble field is set. As always, the Royal Rumble field presents an elite crop of wrestlers with a legitimate shot to win.
The rest of the field is filler, although some non-winners have been able to build on impressive Royal Rumble performances in losing efforts.
Candidates to win the Royal Rumble are likely to appear in world championship matches at WrestleMania and have consistently been booked near the top of the card.
Ryback was featured on my list of wrestlers who won't win the Royal Rumble. And while I stand by that distinction, Ryback will be booked as a legitimate threat come January.
It may be a bit too early for Ryback to be in a world championship match, especially with all the big names expected to return for WrestleMania season, but if nothing else, Ryback will have one of the breakout performances of the Royal Rumble.
Depending on which match closes the show, CM Punk could weasel his way into the Royal Rumble should he finally drop the WWE championship to The Rock.
Presented as an obsessed heel who cannot handle the taste of defeat after a long reign as champion, Punk winning the Royal Rumble would supersede him losing the WWE championship.
For reasons discussed in the previous slide, The Rock could enter and even win the Royal Rumble if he is unsuccessful against CM Punk in the WWE championship match.
Again, this would all be dependent on how the match order. The Rock would have to either lose the match unjustly or win via cheap disqualification to justify entering The Royal rumble as a babyface after receiving a title shot in the same night.
Sheamus' Royal Rumble win in 2011 came as a surprise with the heralded return of Chris Jericho. But in 2013, Sheamus has been booked strongly enough to be considered the odds-on favorite to win the Royal Rumble and vie for the world heavyweight championship.
John Cena makes the most sense as the 2013 Royal Rumble winner, especially if the plan is a Rock-Cena rematch at WrestleMania.
Should Rocky win the WWE championship from Punk, a John Cena Royal Rumble win should be all but academic. This, of course, is assuming the WWE doesn't over-think itself and stretch out John Cena's No. 1 contender opportunity to Elimination Chamber or a RAW battle royal. After all, that seemed to work out so well for Chris Jericho.