With the Royal Rumble less than a month away, it is never too early to begin speculating about which superstars will have career-defining moments at the WWE's first huge pay-per-view of the year.
Wild and crazy returns take place. Friendships are put to the ultimate test. At the end of the night, only one man will walk away as the victor.
Guys like Cena, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are all perennial contenders to win the Royal Rumble matches, but seeing as there are 30 competitors, anything can happen.
However, that is not to say that some men won't put on impressive and career-defining performances of their own despite not winning the match outright.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve got some bad news: Wade Barrett is a bona fide star.
He has also been misused by the company from the get-go.
His recent gimmick seems kind of silly, but it has gotten him the screen time that was so sorely lacking in recent months. Barrett has size and strength, and has always been very good on the mic.
His breakout could come in the Battle Royal—maybe with the tossing-out of some of his former Nexus buddies like Heath Slater, Bray Wyatt or Curtis Axel.
Hey, remember when The Miz was not only a world title contender, but actually the WWE champion?
Very few do, and that is why he has seemingly been relegated to a strange, in-limbo status between heel and face for quite some time now. Unlike “Stone Cold” Steve Austin or The Rock, The Miz cannot pull off that role.
He needs a firm role in either persona and could surprise many with a strong showing at the Royal Rumble.
While he may not come out of the match as the winner, he could refresh the WWE universe’s memory about how awesome he truly is.
As the Intercontinental champion, Langston already has a huge target on his chest.
However, that target could very well grow even larger after the Royal Rumble.
It has been some time since the WWE had a true, long-term, monster face character and Langston is in the perfect position to change that. At only 27 years of age, he still has a long career ahead of him and a tremendous amount of upside not limited to his physical strength.
He is incredibly quick and agile for his size, and could very well end up posting the highest number of eliminations in the Rumble this year.
He may not win the match, but he will put on quite a performance.
In case you haven’t noticed—and judging by the reactions, you have—Cesaro has become pretty popular in the WWE universe.
Instead of the boos that he should be getting as a heel, crowds are continuously chanting for his patented giant swing and far likelier to get behind him than his tag team partner, Jack Swagger, in any encounter.
Cesaro has a phenomenal look and his international appeal could play well to crowds across the world.
Expecting a fantastic showing from him in this match is completely rational.
Week after week, the company teases dissension within The Shield and Reigns seems to be at the heart of it, throwing questionable glances at Dean Ambrose fairly frequently and even accidentally spearing the United States champion in their TLC encounter with CM Punk.
Reigns has all of the same attributes as Langston, but can claim to be a member of the Anoa’i family, which has included wrestling royalty like Yokozuna, The Wild Samoans and The Rock through the years.
The company could easily plant the seeds for Reigns' eventual face turn in the match, potentially with a resounding spear out of the ring on Ambrose or Seth Rollins.
It would certainly be a grand showcase to begin what could end up being a show-stealing feud in 2014.
Let us not forget that Ziggler is a former world champion.
Lately, however, he has been relegated to midcard matches or worse, losing most recently to Fandango on Raw.
He still possesses all of the tools to be a showstopper, but cannot do so unless he gets a push very soon. The Rumble has been known to rejuvenate careers—as it did for Goldust last year—and launch new stars—like it did very briefly for Maven when he eliminated The Undertaker in 2002—and Ziggler would need very little to get back to a main event spot.