WWE Royal Rumble 2013: 10 Bold Predictions for the Upcoming PPV
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The WWE will kick off 2013 with one of its most anticipated pay-per-views ever, the Royal Rumble.
The first PPV of the year will be headlined by the always intriguing 30-Man Royal Rumble and the first-ever bout between The Rock and CM Punk, a match that's been more than six months in the making.
The Royal Rumble is sure to be one of the most-watched non-WrestleMania PPVs in quite some time, and it should be a show that's full of surprises.
With a Royal Rumble match that could go a number of different ways and several of the WWE's top titles on the line, the stage is set for a fantastic PPV.
As always, though, that's going to depend on how the creative team books a show that will be the first official step on the road to WrestleMania 29.
Will The Rock end Punk's historic title reign? Who will leave the PPV as World champion? Which Superstar will outlast 29 others to win the Rumble?
Let's find out, with 10 bold predictions for the 2013 Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
10. Team Hell No Loses the Tag Team Titles and the Split Begins
Team Hell No has held the WWE Tag Team Championship since September 2012 and has done a lot to make the tag team division matter again over the last several months.
But everything must come to an end, and the sun is beginning to set on the partnership between Kane and Daniel Bryan.
They've been involved in storylines together for the better part of a year now, and although still very entertaining, the two don't have quite as much momentum as they did just a few months back.
It appears that their days as both a tag team and the tag team champions are numbered, and the end of their lengthy title reign should happen at the Royal Rumble.
Team Hell No has had an on-and-off feud with Team Rhodes Scholars for months now, but up until this point, Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes have yet to win the titles.
That changes this Sunday.
With Team Rhodes Scholars positioning itself as the top tag team in the WWE and Bryan on the verge of breaking out as a singles star again, the time has come for the title switch to happen and Team Hell No to start drifting apart.
Team Rhodes Scholars will defeat Team Hell No to win the WWE Tag Team Championship at the Royal Rumble, and it will happen in a way that marks the start of the breakup of Kane and Bryan.
9. Dolph Ziggler Will NOT Cash in His Money in the Bank Briefcase
It seems as if everyone has been waiting for Dolph Ziggler to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase on just about every PPV since Money in the Bank last July.
Yet here we are in January 2013, and Ziggler's still holding the briefcase that gives him a guaranteed World title match whenever he wants it.
A lot of fans thought he would cash in at Hell in a Cell, Survivor Series and perhaps even WWE TLC, but obviously, that never happened.
Don't expect it to happen at the Royal Rumble, either.
Ziggler will win the World Heavyweight Championship one day, but the Royal Rumble is already a stacked PPV that features the highly anticipated Rock-Punk match and the 30-Man Royal Rumble.
There's no need for the WWE to have Ziggler cash in and win the title on a show in which his title win would probably be just the third-biggest occurrence on the card.
Ziggler's time is coming. Just not yet.
He will not cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase this Sunday. Instead, he'll wait until the perfect opportunity presents itself down the road.
8. Daniel Bryan Will Last Longer in the Royal Rumble Than Anyone Else
Every Royal Rumble has a workhorse who spends more time in the match than anyone else.
In 2012, it was The Miz. In 2013, it will be Daniel Bryan.
With Bryan and Kane likely to lose the tag team titles at The Royal Rumble, the WWE is going to want to reignite Bryan's momentum because he's destined to be a big singles star this year.
A great way to do that is to have him give a memorable performance in the 30-Man Royal Rumble match.
While the way things are shaping up make Bryan's chances of actually winning the Rumble pretty slim, there's no doubt that he could benefit from being one of the first men to enter the match and one of the last men to leave it.
Having Bryan be a dominant force in the Royal Rumble would both improve the quality of the match and help him regain some momentum after losing the Tag Team titles earlier in the night.
Much like in 2012, Bryan will be a big deal in 2013, and his great singles run will start with a fantastic performance in the Royal Rumble match.
7. Alberto Del Rio Beats Big Show Clean Again
The biggest shocker so far in 2013 came on SmackDown a couple of weeks ago when Alberto Del Rio beat Big Show to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
No one saw that coming, and what was perhaps even more surprising was that the newly babyface Del Rio didn't need help to do it.
Big Show has been about as dominant as anyone over the last six months or so, and yet ADR was able to beat him with a heroic performance on SmackDown.
There are plenty of possible outcomes of their rematch at The Royal Rumble, but when it's all said and done, look for ADR to get a 100 percent clean win.
Now that Del Rio's being pushed as a main event level babyface and the company's top Hispanic star, he's going to win cleanly far more often than he loses, much like John Cena and Sheamus do.
He's not going to have to resort to dirty tactics to win, and he's not going to drop the belt back to Big Show so soon after winning it.
ADR will beat Big Show once again on Sunday, and he'll do with another impressive and honorable performance.
6. The Loser of the WWE Title Match Will Enter the Royal Rumble
The main event of the Royal Rumble will either be CM Punk vs. The Rock for the WWE Championship or the 30-Man Royal Rumble match.
On a whim, I'll assume it's the latter, mainly because I believe that whoever leaves that match (more on that later) without the WWE title will end up being an entrant in the Royal Rumble match.
Whether it's Punk or The Rock who walks away from that match without the WWE Championship, he will be a surprise entrant into the Rumble later that night.
That way, the WWE gives itself the opportunity to do something special in the 30-Man Royal Rumble later that night, such as having the loser of the WWE title match go on to win the Rumble.
Both The Rock and Punk are obviously huge stars, so it would be wise for the WWE to capitalize on their popularity be including one of them in two matches on the same night if possible.
If, let's say, The Rock got screwed out of winning the WWE title, a logical scenario would be to see him enter the Rumble to get another crack at it.
On the flip side, if Punk lost the title to The Rock, it could be an interesting angle to see him enter the Rumble and possibly win it, which would, at least theoretically, give him two more chances to win his title back.
While none of these scenarios are guaranteed to play out, I do think that the loser of the WWE title match will end up in the 30-Man Royal Rumble somehow, some way.
5. John Cena Will Eliminate Ryback Last to Win the Royal Rumble
Predicting John Cena to win the Royal Rumble match is not bold, especially when you consider that he's the runaway favorite to do so.
While there are other options here, though, it makes sense to give Cena the Rumble victory.
He did a lot more losing than usual in 2012, didn't win the WWE Championship at all this year and looks poised to challenge for the WWE title (likely against The Rock) at WrestleMania 29.
Cena will win the Royal Rumble, but how he will do that isn't such a certainty.
It could come down to Cena and someone like Dolph Ziggler, but ultimately, I believe the final two participants will be Cena and Ryback.
We've often seen Rumbles end with a major moment between two top babyfaces (think Undertaker/HBK and HHH/Cena), and that will be what we see once again this year.
The last two men remaining in the match will be Cena and arguably the No. 2 babyface in the company in Ryback.
This could lead to a monumental faceoff and a major "what if?" moment with the fans not sure whether Ryback or Cena will win, only for Cena to end up being victorious.
Yep, like it or not, Cena will be your Royal Rumble winner and last eliminate a rising star to do so.
4. The Final 4: The Rock, Randy Orton, John Cena and Ryback
In most Royal Rumbles, we get a memorable moment where the "Final Four" competitors are all in the ring at the same time for a four-way faceoff.
We'll get that again in 2013, and the "Final Four" will be as follows: The Rock, John Cena, Ryback and Randy Orton.
All four of these guys have some sort of history with one another (although some more so than others), and all are rumored favorites to actually win the Royal Rumble match.
Of course, they also just so happen to be four of the biggest names currently in the WWE.
Having these four guys as the final four competitors could give us an unforgettable moment where the fans go wild over the fact that only four favorites remain.
With Orton, Cena, The Rock and Ryback all left standing the ring together, you could have a great match-ending sequence that is used to build up tension between these guys and foreshadow what's to come down the road.
Imagine if Cena eliminated The Rock or if Ryback eliminated Orton. Just like that, you'd have the start of a possible WrestleMania angle with some of the WWE's biggest stars.
All four of these guys could use great Rumble performances to start off 2013 on the right foot, and all four will do just that by making it to the oh-so-coveted "Final Four."
3. At Least 5 Surprise Returns of Guys Coming Back Full Time
Every year, we get a surprise return or two in the 30-Man Royal Rumble match.
Oftentimes, these shocking returns—like John Cena in 2008 or Edge in 2010—truly come out of nowhere and lead to some big-name stars coming back full time.
Expect to see quite a few of those returns this Sunday.
There are plenty of WWE stars who are currently sidelined for whatever reason and could make their triumphant returns during the Rumble, including Sin Cara, Jack Swagger, Christian and Mark Henry.
Of course, most of us have also heard the rumors of some former midcard stars returning to the WWE via the Royal Rumble, so there's a very good possibility that a name or two from the past comes back this Sunday as well.
Also, we can't forget about wild-card possibilities like Brock Lesnar (although unlikely) or Undertaker (highly doubtful) shocking the world by returning for the build to WrestleMania 29 as well.
The bottom line is that at least a few major returns will happen during the Royal Rumble match, but it looks like as many as five or more will take place this year.
So, be on the lookout for names like Shelton Benjamin and the ones mentioned above this Sunday night.
They'll likely show up.
2. Ryback Will Break Kane's Record for the Most Eliminations in a Single Rumble
Way back in 2001, Kane set a Royal Rumble record that still stands to this day by eliminating 11 other Superstars in a single Royal Rumble match.
In 2013, that record falls, and it falls thanks to Ryback.
Ryback had a really rough ending to 2012, losing three straight pay-per-view matches before starting 2013 off on a sour note by losing his WWE Championship match against CM Punk on the first Raw of the year.
The strange booking of Ryback's character as of late has killed a lot of the momentum he had built up throughout much of 2012, and the WWE likely realizes that something needs to be done so he can regain that momentum.
Why not use the Royal Rumble to do that?
Ryback is supposed to be a dominant, unstoppable big man, so it would make a ton of sense for him to just run through everyone in his path during the Royal Rumble match.
He could do that by eliminating a dozen or more of his fellow Superstars and break Kane's decade-old record in the process.
Ryback obviously has a bright future and figures to be a top babyface going forward, but he's yet to have that defining moment that clearly establishes him as a bona fide main eventer.
At the Royal Rumble, he finally gets it when he eliminates at least a dozen other superstars and breaks a record that many think will never fall.
1. CM Punk Will Retain the WWE Championship
It's been a foregone conclusion for months now that The Rock will defeat CM Punk to win the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble this Sunday.
But that's just not going to happen.
The feud between The Rock and Punk has only really gone on for three weeks now, and to be honest, that's just way too short of a feud for the climax of this rivalry (the title switch) to take place.
There should be more build to the likely title switch, and there will be.
The Rock will not beat Punk at the Royal Rumble to win the WWE title. Yes, The Rock may beat Punk, but if that happens, it will be via DQ and allow Punk to hang onto his title.
Whatever the finish may be this Sunday, the end result is going to be the same: Punk retaining his title.
There would be very little payoff in seeing The Rock win the WWE Championship after a three-week long feud that got hardly any build.
This feud needs to go until at least Elimination Chamber, and it will when Punk resorts to dirty tactics at the Royal Rumble to ensure that his historic WWE Championship reign continues.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!