Royal Rumble 2013: Dark Horses Who Can Take Next Step with Win in Rumble Match

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2013

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

The Royal Rumble needs to elevate a new talent this year who can help freshen up the WWE main-event scene.

This pay-per-view used to be about giving a wrestler that tiny boost necessary to main event WrestleMania, whether it was Shawn Michaels in 1995 and '96, Stone Cold in 1998, or Chris Benoit, Batista and Rey Mysterio, who won the 2005-07 Rumbles.

With the Money in the Bank match, the Royal Rumble match has recently been about putting established stars into the title picture.

That's not quite as necessary this year.

One half of the title picture is already set, with either John Cena or CM Punk almost certain to go against the The Rock at the main event or WrestleMania XXIX.

That leaves the chance for a new, fresh face to be elevated into the World Heavyweight Title picture. Here are three guys who should be considered to win the Royal Rumble.

Antonio Cesaro

Antonio Cesaro is one of the best things going on Raw each week. Few wrestlers are as guaranteed to deliver in the ring and on the mic as much as he is.

He has the opportunity to be all things for everybody.

With his physique and strength, Cesaro satisfies Vince McMahon's affinity for huge, muscled wrestlers. On the other hand, Cesaro also has the in-ring ability to put on very good matches.

It might be a little too early for him to hit the main-event scene, though, and he looks to be starting a feud with The Miz.

That could easily be over after the Royal Rumble or Elimination Chamber PPVs, giving at least a month-long buildup for WrestleMania and the opportunity for a forwarding of the story afterward.

Wade Barrett

Had he not injured his elbow around this time last year, Wade Barrett likely would be a world champion by now.

With his clean win over Randy Orton on Raw this past Monday, you have to wonder if this is when he receives that true main-event push. Orton still has some star power, so beating him in the way Barrett did could be a sign of things to come.

While Barrett had his time in the limelight as the head of Nexus, that was quickly squashed by John Cena and that ridiculous "John Cena's fired but is on television as normal" angle.

Barrett has paid his dues in the company and should be elevated accordingly.

Dean Ambrose

This would be a good way for the Shield to transition from battling Ryback to another high-profile angle. The Ryback/Shield rivalry has been good, but it's starting to get old with all of the Ryback hero saves.

If anything, it could at least raise the stakes between the two parties, and it could make The Shield a legitimate threat in WWE.

This could be a little too pie in the sky, but having The Shield win the title could create some sort of super-heel stable with Paul Heyman as the orchestrator and Punk and The Shield below him.

When looking at the Shield member most ready for a match at WrestleMania, Dean Ambrose has to be at the best of the three.

The biggest stumbling block here is where Dolph Ziggler would fall in with this.