Batista's Return to WWE Will Inject Much-Needed Intrigue into Royal Rumble

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2014

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Intrigue has never been a word closely associated with the Royal Rumble.

Throughout its 26-year existence, there have been very few surprise winners. There have always been, at most, a handful of Superstars that were most likely to win the match and everyone else was simply filler.

Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, The Rock, Triple H and Hulk Hogan are examples of Superstars who were overwhelming favorites to win the Rumble.

Prior to the December 23 episode of Raw, the perception was that either CM Punk or Daniel Bryan were the favorites to win the upcoming January 26 match.

Then came the huge announcement that former World Heavyweight and WWE champion Batista will make his return on the January 20 episode of Raw, with all signs pointing to an appearance in the big 30-man Battle Royal.

The Animal's return adds another potential winner to the mix and immediately increases the star power included in this year's match.

When it comes to potential winners in any given Royal Rumble match, the more there are, the more intriguing and interesting the bout. The more dramatic, as well, in that there is a level of mystery and drama that helps enhance every element of the contest.

It opens up the possibility for more dramatic elimination teases, allows for more interesting and diverse stories woven within the match and keeps the crowd hot by allowing for top stars to be spread out evenly throughout the entire hour-long match.

The sheer star power of Batista adds intrigue all on its own. Being his first match back in nearly four years, fans will tune in solely to see how the Washington, D.C. native performs. Is there ring rust? What kind of physical shape is he in?

Will he blow up minutes into the match like a certain other Hollywood film star did in his few ring appearances in 2013?

Regardless what the answers to all of the above questions may be, the 2005 Royal Rumble winner's mere presence alone will bring more eyes to the match.

With WrestleMania plans unclear at this point, and without any real indication what direction the company is headed in, probably because the company itself has no idea what direction it wants to go, there is more reason to be excited about this year's Royal Rumble match than years past.

Whether the company can deliver a pay-per-view that does not underwhelm for the first time in months is a whole other question.

What is a certainty is that the return of Batista to the event will only make the show more memorable than it would have otherwise been.