If the WWE is a game of momentum, much like the NFL is around this time of year, Roman Reigns is that fifth- or sixth-seeded wild-card playoff team that nobody wants to play. You know? The one that had to play its way into the postseason through Week 17 and is now battle-tested and better off for it.
Based on his booking, Reigns shouldn't be considered anything less than a strong Royal Rumble favorite. He's akin to the last three Super Bowl champions, each of whom caught fire at the right time en route to improbable championship berths.
A would-be world championship for Reigns would stem from a 2013 where he shone as the quiet—yet imposing—member of the Shield. A big, scary Samoan heavy equipped with a battle cry.
One wouldn't know this silent-but-deadly monster is a stereotype by studying him. His subdued, powerful aura is closer to Kevin Nash than Kerry Von Erich. His brand of charisma, like any, simply cannot be taught.
WWE is slowly teaching its fans to sympathize with Reigns, making no bones about their plans to separate him from the vigilante triad.
He's clearly poised to be the breakout star of the Shield.
Current tensions within the group are built around whether Reigns is the stable's top dog. Never one for subtlety, Roddy Piper exploited this storyline during his famed Piper's Pit segment, claiming:
[Ambrose], one-on-one, can't beat Punk. [Rollins], one-on-one, you couldn't beat Punk either. [Roman Reigns], you're fighting Punk tonight. Now—let me just ask—if you beat Punk tonight, doesn't that make you better than them? Would that be like a crack in the Shield...are they holding you back?
Reigns went on to beat CM Punk Monday night, thus accelerating his singles career just as quickly as an eventual Shield split.
With John Cena likely not entering the Royal Rumble due to his WWE World Heavyweight Championship match against Randy Orton, and Daniel Bryan handcuffed to the Wyatts, the surging Roman Reigns has suddenly absorbed all of the attention.
History dictates the hot superstar usually wins the Royal Rumble, established or not. Yokozuna, Brock Lesnar, Alberto Del Rio, Batista and Sheamus can all attest to that.
Will Roman Reigns win the 2014 Royal Rumble?
If current trends aren't convincing enough, however, perhaps obscure trends will do the trick. Reigns' black ring attire is an auspicious sign for the Royal Rumble. Stone Cold Steve Austin is the only three-time Royal Rumble winner in history. Each instance, he did so in black trunks and boots.
Ric Flair also wore black, to go along with a tear in his eye, for his timeless Royal Rumble win of 1992.
From 1996 to 2003, each wrestler who won the Royal Rumble was dressed in black. In fact, 13 of the event's 22 victors donned predominately black ring attire. Even Hacksaw Jim Duggan, known for his patriotic blue digs, walked out in rare black trunks prior to his milestone victory at the inaugural Royal Rumble.
Maybe the success of these dark knights is more psychology than coincidence. After all, black is the unofficial color of rebellion, and the "every man for himself" moniker of the Royal Rumble is fine-tuned for a self-serving rebel.
No stable has been hotter than the men in black of the Shield over the past calendar year, and no wrestler is currently hotter than Roman Reigns.
Pressure to book a dream main event between two established WWE stars at a landmark WrestleMania XXX pay-per-view (and maybe Batista) is all that's keeping Reigns from a surefire win.
In a perfect world, The Shield's breakup will be cemented with Roman reigning as a Royal Rumble winner.