Sunday Jan. 27 brings the WWE’s first pay-per-view of the year, the Royal Rumble. As the first stop on the Road to WrestleMania, this event sets up everything that will happen from now until April 7.
The 30-man over-the-top-rope battle royal started as nothing more than a special on the USA Network and has grown into a pay-per-view that gives every superstar the chance to shine.
Men like “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels have all battled it out and won the match.
The power of the Rumble match itself cannot be denied. Twelve of the 25 winners have gone on to win championship gold at WrestleMania. These are legends of the WWE: Bret Hart, Yokozuna, Michaels, Austin, Triple H and Sheamus.
This year, besides the Rumble, the WWE Universe will be treated to four other title matches. One of these will occur pre-show on YouTube, Facebook and WWE.com.
Here we give a short background and predict the winners of every single match on the 2013 Royal Rumble card.
The animosity between The Miz and the United States Champion Antonio Cesaro has been built up rather quickly but efficiently. Their match on the pre-show should be just as quick.
The roots of the feud came together on the Jan. 14 edition of Miz TV, when Miz was interviewing 16-time world champion Ric Flair. Cesaro interrupted, resulting in Miz getting Flair’s permission to use the figure-four on Cesaro. Two days later on Main Event, Cesaro mocked Miz by using his moves during his bout with Randy Orton.
The title bout between the two will be brief but intense. Miz will start off with a strong offense, catching the champion off guard. But Cesaro will recover quickly and unleash a brutal assault on The Awesome One.
Miz will gain the lead when Cesaro misses a move and lands hard on his knee. Miz will seize the opportunity to lock on the figure-four. Cesaro will hold on just briefly, before tapping out.
The WWE has invested too much time on Miz and his use of the figure-four for him not to be getting another push. Plus, Cesaro’s reign has lasted over five months, putting him roughly on par to the title reigns of Santino Marella, Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan.
Winner by submission and new United States Champion: The Miz
After months of buildup, tag team bouts and singles matches between the four, the feud between Team Hell No and Team Rhodes Scholars will finally come to an end.
Daniel Bryan and Kane first won the tag team titles from R-Truth and Kofi Kingston back in September. Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes, the newly formed Team Rhodes Scholars, took advantage of a No. 1 contenders tournament to become next in line for the title shot.
At Hell in a Cell, Sandow and Rhodes won by disqualification. On the Dec. 19 Main Event, Kane and Bryan won a second title bout between the teams.
With the score 1-1, look for this bout to be a doozy. Team Hell No will dominate the opening moments, with Kane leveling Sandow and Rhodes with various clotheslines and boots to faces.
The tide will begin to turn when Bryan is tagged in the ring. In order to set up the beginning of the breakup of Team Hell No, Bryan will be made out as the weak link on the team.
Sandow and Rhodes will take turns punishing the former world champion in various ways while Kane will squirm on the outside of the ropes. A late rally by Bryan will get Kane back in the ring, where it will look like the tag team champions will roll on to victory.
Unbeknownst to Kane, Bryan will tag himself in to the match. In the ensuing chaos, Kane will be knocked out of the ring, allowing a double team by Rhodes Scholars. Rhodes will hit the Cross Rhodes, score the pin and the championship.
The feud between these two teams has drug on long enough. Kane and Bryan need to return to singles competition, allowing Rhodes Scholars to carry the torch.
Winners and new WWE Tag Team Champions: Team Rhodes Scholars
The last time Alberto Del Rio and Big Show wrestled, they left the ring in shambles. Don’t expect anything less this time around either.
On the Jan. 11 edition of SmackDown, Del Rio and Show clashed in a Last Man Standing bout. During the match, chairs, steel steps, announcer tables, ladders and even the ringside barricade were used as weapons.
Del Rio scrapped by to win the world title.
The second time around won’t be any easier. Show was given the choice of stipulation for this match and it’s a no-brainer that this was the one he “chose.” The one on SmackDown pushed the boundaries of PG television.
Look for Big Show to be more aggressive this time, a harrowing thought given the last bout.
Del Rio will be given the chance to display his level of pain tolerance. Show will take full advantage of every weapon at his disposal. Del Rio will be busted open but, just like on SmackDown, he won’t stay down long enough for Show to win.
Show’s growing frustration will be his undoing. He'll start to spend more time yelling and arguing with fans and less focused on Del Rio.
Del Rio will once again win using a table, only this time he’ll send Show through one, from the ring apron and onto the concrete floor.
It seems rather pointless for the WWE to put the title on Del Rio to further his face turn and then strip off of him just as fast. This would leave him in limbo for the next two pay-per-views. He needs to the title to continue to be the hero.
This match could steal the show.
Winner and still World Heavyweight Champion: Alberto Del Rio
Very few wrestlers have entered the Rumble match at No. 1 or No. 2 and managed to make it to the end, let alone win the entire thing. But both those spots will make it all the way this year, because both men have everything to gain from it.
Dolph Ziggler won the “Beat the Clock Challenge” on Raw, but his insulting of Vicki Guerrero left him with only the first or second slot. Ziggler will pick the second slot.
The first entry will go to John Cena. He had a lackluster showing in 2012, where he had four WWE championship title shots, lost three and won one by disqualification. Cena needs to appear unstoppable. This is even more so if the rumors are true and he’ll be facing The Rock at WrestleMania.
Other than surprise entrants, don’t expect too many surprises during this year’s Rumble. Wrestlers will pair and fight based on whatever feud they are embroiled in.
Antonio Cesaro will get rid of The Miz. Kofi Kingston will do away with Wade Barrett. Team Hell No and Team Rhodes Scholars will eliminate each other.
If they are even in it, The Shield will take out Ryback, which will lead all four men to the Elimination Chamber next month. But before he’s out, Ryback will dominate the Rumble. He’ll set this year’s record for single eliminations.
Sheamus will remove Randy Orton from the match. Orton in turn will cause Sheamus to be eliminated and the two will brawl at ringside. This will be the start of Orton’s long-awaited heel turn.
The final two men will also be the first two: Ziggler and Cena. Both have a lot to gain from winning. Unfortunately for Ziggler, all he needs his to show that he can hang with the best.
Cena will hit the Attitude Adjustment, sending Ziggler over the top and securing his shot at WrestleMania.
Winner of the 2013 Royal Rumble: John Cena
Hands down, the most anticipated bout of the night, the clash between CM Punk and The Rock may be predictable, but it will still be epic.
The roots of this feud go back to Raw 1000, when Rock announced he would be challenging for the WWE championship at the Royal Rumble.
Punk attacked Rock at the end of the show, turning heel in the process.
This past Monday furthered speculation of Punk’s involvement with The Shield, after they brutally beat Rock. On the same episode it was announced that if The Shield interfere, then Punk would be stripped of the title.
Both Rock and the WWE have done well playing up Rock’s “injuries” from the attack and this should be exploited during the bout.
After a brief flurry of activity from Rock, Punk will take the offensive. The focus of his attack will be Rock’s injured lungs and chest. Watch for Punk to keep the pace slow at the beginning and for him to use wear-down maneuvers, like the abdominal stretch.
Rock will rally, only to have Punk take advantage again and continue the punishment on his upper body. Rock may even begin to bleed from the mouth once more.
But this will all be a set up for Rock. He’ll bravely fight through the pain and put Punk on the defensive. Rock will hit all of his usual spots before hitting the Rock Bottom.
Punk will kick out of the Rock Bottom and manage to hit the GTS on Rock, which he will kick out of as well. A few moments later there will be another Rock Bottom and a new WWE champion.
Rock's mainstream celebrity and potential for a rematch with John Cena at WrestleMania is the true driving force behind his win. Punk will recover and win another title down the road. But for now, the world is watching Rock and the WWE likes it that way.
Winner and new WWE Champion: The Rock