When it comes to WWE pay-per-views, WrestleMania will always be king. The Royal Rumble is rarely far behind, however, and the 2013 version of the event has the potential to be one of the greatest in its illustrious, 25-year history.
The Royal Rumble is a huge deal each and every year due to the Rumble match itself. The winner has been given a world title shot at WrestleMania since 1993, and many stars have been made or furthered because of it. With 30 of WWE's top stars doing battle, the unpredictability of the Rumble is what makes it so great.
There is no doubt that John Cena and Ryback stand out above the rest as potential favorites this year, but it's impossible to say for sure what might happen. WWE could always go with a second-tier choice like Sheamus, Randy Orton or Dolph Ziggler. Perhaps it could even go off the board with Wade Barrett or The Miz. Even a returning superstar like Brock Lesnar or Chris Jericho could potentially win the match.
That alone would make the 2013 Rumble a must-see event, but the fact that WWE Champion CM Punk and The Rock are doing battle puts it over the top. There have been some great non-Rumble matches at the Royal Rumble over the years, but if WWE plays its cards right, Punk vs. The Rock has the potential to top them all.
Their feud got off to a rousing start on Monday as Punk retained his WWE Championship against Ryback and proceeded to bash the fans. The Rock interrupted and got the electricity flowing throughout the arena, Punk held his own as well. Their back-and-forth on the mic was absolutely fantastic, and the anticipation for their match will reach a fever pitch if things stay like this for the next three weeks.
A Rock vs. Punk match is certainly WrestleMania-worthy, but the fact that it will be on the WrestleMania card nearly puts the Royal Rumble on a WrestleMania level. I'm normally against putting a match on after the Rumble since the Rumble winner deserves the spotlight, but a match like Rock vs. Punk could potentially steal the show.
The Royal Rumble historically hauls in WWE's best pay-per-view buy rates aside from WrestleMania, and that is usually without any semblance of an undercard. The past few Royal Rumbles have had very predictable, cookie-cutter title matches, but the 2013 Rumble event promises to have it all.
Although the rest of the card has yet to be determined, it could potentially be quite interesting as well. A World Heavyweight Championship match is a certainty, and it seems as though Big Show will defend his title against Alberto Del Rio. That match would have sounded awful a month ago, but Del Rio is suddenly compelling as a face, and I'm looking forward to seeing him in the main-event scene.
In addition to that, I'm expecting a Tag Team Championship match between Team Hell No and Team Rhodes Scholars with Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow potentially capturing the titles due to dissension between Kane and Daniel Bryan. Throw in a United States Championship match between Antonio Cesaro and The Miz, and you suddenly have one of the best Royal Rumble cards ever.
It's obvious that nothing can match the pageantry of WrestleMania, and there is no question that WrestleMania XXIX has the potential to be great. Essentially every WrestleMania is expected to be fantastic, though. The same can't be said for the Royal Rumble, but the 2013 version could potentially be mentioned among the all-time greats depending on how it's booked.
There is usually a big-time feel surrounding the Royal Rumble since it is generally considered the first stop on the road to WrestleMania, but with The Rock involved, it just seems like this year's event is even more important. Nobody knows for sure what is going to happen at 'Mania, but the Royal Rumble should give us a pretty good idea.
By the end of the night, there could possibly be two iconic moments with either The Rock winning the title or Punk retaining, as well as the Rumble winner standing tall. I personally wouldn't miss the Royal Rumble for the world, regardless of what the card looks like, but the 2013 Rumble promises to be one that even fringe fans will be impressed by.