WWE's 26th edition of the Royal Rumble will take place on Sunday from the US Airways Center in Phoenix, Ariz., and the wrestling world is predictably on edge.
On the heels of an exciting last few iteration's of Raw, the pay-per-view event well be the denouement of numerous WWE storylines. More importantly, though, it will also be the start of countless others.
With so much to watch, and only so little time, let's make a few predictions for what will happen on Sunday evening.
CM Punk Will Defeat The Rock For WWE Championship
I went into excruciating detail outlining why CM Punk should win here, and as someone who has faith in WWE, it logically follows that I think he will.
That being said, it's easy to see the counter arguments. For better or worse, The Rock's name still carries a brand behind it—a brand that could bring otherwise uninterested parties to WrestleMania. He'll be on the road promoting a few film projects, and doing so with the WWE belt in his possession would be a score for the league, and the sport as a whole.
But I don't think WWE could do that to Punk, a man who's clawed his way to the top of the sport while Rock was away in sunny Hollywood.
Punk was the one putting his body on the line, Punk was the one keeping us all entertained, and come Sunday, Punk will be the one leaving The Rock hapless on the canvas.
Big Show Will Defeat Alberto del Rio for Heavyweight Championship
This is less a vote of confidence for Big Show as it is a vote of skepticism in his opponent.
Though he has started to (finally) win some fans in wrestling circles, Del Rio has proven for the most part to be stale and uninteresting. His reign as champion hasn't exactly been met by rave reviews, and having him retain the title would indicate commitment from the league to make him a superstar.
I'm not sure they want to do that.
Big Show isn't exactly the most popular heel of all time, but he has a higher ceiling than Del Rio does. Taking back the title would put him on the verge of becoming a truly huge name in the sport.
Look for him to avenge his loss from earlier this month.
Ryback Will Find a Way to Win the Rumble
He'll have plenty of competition from John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, Randy Orton and whomever the league might potentially surprise us by including, but in the end, up-and-coming superstar Ryback will shock the world and win the Royal Rumble.
Why you ask? It's actually pretty simple: He's ready to be WWE's next superstar.
Ryback is adored by the fans, and with good reason. He's got the look, the personality and the all-around manner of a champion. It just radiates from him. And what better way to establish him as a titan of wrestling than having him win its most fun event?
The other favorites, all listed above, don't necessarily have the most intriguing narrative possibilities should they come out on top. Cena would be a major draw for WrestleMania, but even with a loss, he's still John freakin' Cena. Why stunt Ryback's growth for a relatively small benefit?
Take the dark horse.