It's Royal Rumble time. There are five announced matches on this show, including one match that is for the pre-show. It doesn't shock me that only four matches are announced for the actual pay-per-view portion of the show when you consider the amount of time given to the matches.
The Rumble match itself usually goes about 60 minutes (give or take), I expect CM Punk vs. The Rock to get over 30 minutes counting the video package, intros and the match. Then when you think about the tag title match and the World Title match, both of them could be 20-minute matches as well. That's over two hours of action right there.
Throw in all the promos that are likely and it's a full show. I would expect one or two matches added very late, but I have no idea what they will be other than perhaps some kind of random divas match or battle royal to determine a future No. 1 contender.
That's why I'm here to predict only the matches we know about. Let's get to it.
Pre-show: United States Championship: Antonio Cesaro vs. The Miz
I think it's going to be a big year for Cesaro. It might be a WWE or World Title type of year for him. That's how high WWE is on him. He's wrestling on all the shows and he's getting a good reaction from the fans as the stereotypical "I'm better than you Americans" type of heel.
Miz has had his ups and downs as a babyface. I like some things about him in that role. Other things make me cringe especially with some of his promos. It takes time, though.
It doesn't make sense to do a title change here on a pre-show and in their first big matchup. I think at some point in the near future Cesaro will drop the US Title to somebody because he's going to move up to that next level, but I don't think Miz is the guy he'll drop it to. Not yet anyway.
I think we'll get either a cheap win by Cesaro or Miz wins via DQ. It's not the end of the feud. It's still early.
Winner: Antonio Cesaro
WWE Tag Team Championships: Team Hell No (Kane & Daniel Bryan) vs. Team Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow)
It feels like it's time to get the tag titles off Bryan & Kane, doesn't it? They've had a good run as champions since the fall and I think it's gone on longer than most people thought.
Aside from wrestling Team Rhodes Scholars many times, they haven't wrestled that many different teams. I guess there were a few Primetime Players matches in there, too. It just feels like Rhodes & Sandow need to win this match, because otherwise all the time they've spent together would feel like a waste if they fell short again.
The other point I need to make is I hope Daniel Bryan is booked as a singles performer in the near future because he's too good to be in a comedy tag team. Bryan's the guy that makes everybody around him better and can captivate an audience like few people in the company.
That skit on Raw with the Anger Management graduation was pretty bad and I liked all of the performers involved with it. It's just that it was the kind of campy comedy that didn't work. Bryan's a funny guy, so I don't mind him in comedy roles.
I believe he can be doing so much more and I hope that in the near future he can go back to being the ass-kicking submission expert that he was when he really earned the respect of the audience. I'm not saying he should turn heel. I just think he would be great as a singles act again. How good would a Cesaro vs. Bryan feud be? Give it a shot.
As I bring the focus back to this match, I'm predicting a title change. They've had a number of matches together both on television as well as on house shows, so the chemistry between all four guys has been great.
I think we'll get a 15-minute tag match with the challengers working over Bryan for an extended period of time and then Kane will come in for the hot tag. The finish will likely see Bryan and Kane mess up somehow.
Since their relationship appears to be strong as allies right now, it would make sense to have them make a mistake to cost them the titles. That's typically how wrestling companies book these things. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.
Winners: Team Rhodes Scholars
World Heavyweight Championship (Last Man Standing Match): Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show
I wrote about how much I'm enjoying Alberto Del Rio as a babyface on Thursday, so that should tell you I'm looking forward to this matchup. Basically the gist of the column is that while I think he was very good as a heel, I think he has potential to be great in the babyface role.
I've enjoyed the feud with Big Show more than I expected to. That's because they're both doing an excellent job in playing their roles. Show is the awesome heel bully that is never happy unless he's holding the World Title, and Del Rio has become that fighting babyface who doesn't give up. They have a good dynamic. This feud works. That's the best way I can say it.
I fully expect Del Rio to retain the World Title. They'll probably book it in a way where they tease a lot of the same spots they did during their SmackDown match like when Del Rio tipped over the table, but I'd expect some creative counters to give this match a different feel to it, too.
These are savvy veterans that know how to build up to an exciting finish. I think it may top the SmackDown match, although that was excellent, so that could be difficult, too.
I don't expect Ziggler to cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase. Of course when you consider that I predicted him to cash in on nearly every PPV to end last year, I fully admit to being bad at predicting when he will cash in!
I just think they're going to save Ziggler cashing in until WrestleMania night because that would be unique and different from what we've seen in the past.
This should be a fun 20-minute brawl with Del Rio retaining as I said. Show isn't a guy that needs a title. He's going to retain his heat without it. I'd be very surprised if they took the title off Del Rio here. They need to establish him as a babyface champion.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
30-Man Royal Rumble Match
I wish WWE did a better job of announcing a list of talents that are in the Royal Rumble match. As of Saturday morning, WWE.com lists 18 people in the match. Can't you give us more than that?
I realize that just like every year there are only a handful of guys that are true favorites to win. That list this year would be: John Cena, Sheamus, Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler and Ryback. Guys like Antonio Cesaro, Wade Barrett and The Miz are also listed, but I don't think they're on the same level as the first five names.
As far as the match goes, I think Ziggler and Cena will carry the match. We know Ziggler is going in as No. 1 or No. 2 (doesn't matter) and I think Cena will be in the ring for the majority of the match as well. Let's just say he comes in at No. 8 or so. I think the story will be about them trying to get rid of each other throughout the match, but neither one can do it. Then it comes down to them as the final two participants.
When it comes to surprise entrants, John Morrison is very likely apparently. It will be cool to see him again.
I also think we may see guys like Christian and Mark Henry, both of whom have been out for a long time dealing with shoulder injuries. I don't know who is more likely, but I'm pretty sure both are close to coming back.
I doubt Henry wrestles for much longer in his career, so it would be nice to see him as a "threat to win" (the phrase commonly used for larger wrestlers during Rumble matches) in one more Royal Rumble match.
I have a few predictions for the match as well.
- I think Randy Orton will be eliminated by Sheamus to set up Orton's heel turn and lead to a possible match at WrestleMania between the two.
- The Shield will likely do a run-in to eliminate Ryback from the match. They'll show up at some point. It makes sense to me.
- I don't think Undertaker, Brock Lesnar or Triple H will be there. All of them will likely be back after the Elimination Chamber PPV, though.
Person that lasts the longest: Dolph Ziggler
Person that eliminates the most people: Sheamus
I know that Ziggler is the obvious pick for person that lasts the longest, but he's one of the three biggest stars in the match. It makes sense.
I think Ryback is an obvious choice for most eliminations. However, I'm going with Sheamus. Both guys are among the most heavily pushed performers in the company, so it's likely that one of them will eliminate the most people. It could be a guy like Cena, too.
As for the winner, I've been writing it since my "Twenty WWE Ideas" column in August. It's John Cena. The last time he won it was 2008. Five years later, he'll win it for the second time. He'll earn the WWE Title match at WrestleMania and it will set up a rematch from last year's WrestleMania.
Is it easy to predict? Sure. It doesn't mean it's bad. It's a great business move for WWE, even though I'm sure the Cena haters will not like it. I'm not a Cena hater. I don't mind it one bit.
I think even if Cena doesn't win, he'll still be the last match at WrestleMania just like two years ago when I thought he'd win and they gave it to Del Rio. Who went on last at WrestleMania? Cena, of course.
My hope is the Rumble winner actually goes on last at WrestleMania, so for that to happen, Cena needs to win here.
Winner: John Cena
WWE Championship: CM Punk vs. The Rock
This feels big. It has that special feel to it that we want all major title matches to have, but in reality we know only a few matches in the year have this kind of vibe. For those that have asked me if I thought this match should go on last, I think the answer is absolutely a yes.
The story for this match is easy to write. CM Punk's 400+ day WWE Title reign is on the line against one of the biggest WWE Superstars of all time and the guy that is the biggest draw in the company as well. They're two of my favorite performers in wrestling history, too.
I love the style clash between them. I'm a fan of what both of them bring to the table as larger-than-life performers with the personalities that make them stand out from the pack. Punk has beaten everybody thrown in his way for over a year. Let's see if he can beat one of the best ever. The angle works.
I think when you look at it from a financial perspective, this could be the most watched Royal Rumble match since the height of the company in the Attitude Era. That's what Rock means for business. That's why it was a good idea to put him in a WWE Title match at the second biggest pay-per-view event of the year. It's a great business move.
As for the actual match, I think Rock will remember how he got tired during some parts of the WrestleMania match and will be better prepared for this one. It's one thing to be in shape. It's another thing to be in shape to wrestle a 20-minute match against a guy that never tires like CM Punk.
They'll probably carve out a match with a slow pace early on, but then the last five minutes will be fast-paced, as both guys hit signature spots and countering moves for some great nearfalls. In the end, I think each man will kick out of finishers.
But I think Rock will win the match after a second Rock Bottom. It might take three. Punk's not going to lose to just one finishing move. It should be two or three. That makes the most sense to me.
If I have to give odds for this prediction, I would say I'm 75 percent sure that there will be a WWE Title change in this match, and 25 percent of me thinks CM Punk keeps the title.
A month ago, I may have said 90/10, but the more I think about it the scenario where Rock wins the title at Elimination Chamber (which he's booked for) makes sense, too.
It's not like The Rock is going to work house shows or work television matches that often, so waiting another month to put the WWE Title on Rock still sets up the likely WrestleMania 29 match where Rock defends against Cena.
I'll pick The Rock to win the WWE Title officially. I'm looking forward to the match so much. I think they may have some moments in the match where the chemistry might be off a bit because they haven't wrestled each other in front of a crowd before, but I think both guys will raise their game to deliver a performance for the ages.
That's why they are who are they are. It's why they are two of the best performers in wrestling history. Both guys will be winners for having this match and the fans will win by the end of the night because of how awesome the moment will be.
Winner and New WWE Champion: The Rock
I think the pay-per-view will end with The Rock doing his posing in the ring with the WWE Title. Then we'll see Royal Rumble match winner John Cena standing at the top of the ramp applauding the new champion. It's foreshadowing of what will happen at WrestleMania 29. It would be an incredible ending to what should be an awesome night.
I'll be perfectly honest with you when I say that the Royal Rumble pay-per-view has been a disappointment the last couple of years. I think this year it will go back to being a special event because of the lineup they have put together for us.
All three regular matches on the main card have a chance to be excellent and the Rumble match itself can be thrilling if it's booked in an intelligent manner, which I expect
I don't remember the last time I was this excited about a pay-per-view. It was probably Extreme Rules when Brock Lesnar came back. This is going to be fun.
John Canton is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. You can read more of his work at his website TJRWrestling.com along with his talented staff of writers. He also writes at LayfieldReport.com. You can follow John on Twitter @johnreport, too.