WWE Royal Rumble 2014: Power Ranking Likely Rumble Winners After Jan. 13 Raw
Monday night on Raw, Daniel Bryan had a defining moment that has immediately revitalized his push and made him a front-runner in the upcoming Royal Rumble.
To win the match, however, he will have to overcome the likes of CM Punk, Alberto Del Rio and Roman Reigns, all of whom had eventful Monday nights, not to mention the returning Batista, who will enter the Rumble match for the first time in four years.
With another episode of Raw in the books, will Batista be able to retain the top spot in our rankings or will Bryan, Punk, Reigns or Del Rio be able to surge to the front of the race? Who will debut and who will be bumped out of the rankings?
Let's find out now.
7. Kofi Kingston
Last Week: n/a
The former Intercontinental, United States and Tag Team champion picked up a huge non-title victory over Randy Orton on Monday night, creating momentum for himself as he heads into the Royal Rumble match.
Kingston has been lost in the midcard shuffle for more than a year now, with little or no upward or downward movement of which to speak. He has been a workhorse for WWE during that time, regularly appearing on both Raw and SmackDown, not to mention Main Event and Superstars, but he has never really been given the opportunity to break out of his spot on the card and elevate himself.
It remains to be seen if his win over Orton was the beginning of something bigger and better for the popular veteran or if it was simply a plot device to set up the attack by Orton on John Cena's father after the match. For now, though, Kingston will enter the Rumble with a big win over the top champion in wrestling.
6. Bray Wyatt
Previous Rank: 7
The leader of the Wyatt Family easily had the worst Monday night of his WWE career, losing to The Usos on two separate occasions and falling victim to a betrayal by Daniel Bryan; however, he still remains a key figure in one of World Wrestling Entertainment's top angles and should be one of the more prominent stars in the Royal Rumble match.
With that said, his chances to win Monday's match took a significant hit when Bryan pummeled him and left him unconscious. Had Wyatt entered the Rumble with Bryan under his control, he easily could have sat back and watched as Harper, Rowan and Bryan dumped all of the competition and then ordered them out of the ring to secure the win.
Now, with Bryan no longer at his disposal, Wyatt will be forced to go through the goat-faced Superstar if he wishes to head to WrestleMania and challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
That's easier said than done.
5. Alberto Del Rio
Last Week: 5
After dispatching of Sin Cara last week and declaring himself an entrant in the Royal Rumble match, Del Rio continued his winning ways Monday night with a win over future Hall of Famer Rey Mysterio.
The two Superstars had history with one another that dates back to Del Rio's debut nearly four years ago. Their match Monday night demonstrated the chemistry they have developed with each other in the time since then.
Del Rio would likely be a stronger candidate to win the Rumble had he not immediately called out Batista and made himself enemy No. 1 in the eyes of The Animal.
That almost assures that Batista will target the Mexican aristocrat the moment he enters the contest, meaning bad things could be ahead for Mr. Del Rio.
At the same time, do not be surprised if Del Rio enters the match early and becomes the marathon man of 2014 by lasting the longest of any other Superstar in the contest.
4. Roman Reigns
Last Week: 2
Movement: Down 2
The breakout star of The Shield (at least to this point), Reigns continued his winning ways this week, pinning CM Punk to pick up a six-man tag team win. It marks the second time in as many weeks that Reigns has pinned the former WWE champion. He also scored a pinfall victory over Billy Gunn on SmackDown.
So why has he dropped two spots in this week's rankings? Everyone else is moving up.
It really is that simple.
Reigns has been nearly unstoppable since destroying the competition in November at the Survivor Series. There is no denying that.
At the same time, however, he is still young and does not have a strong enough story behind him to justify elevating as quickly as would be necessary to compete in the main event of WrestleMania.
By SummerSlam, he could easily be in title contention, but a Rumble win and WrestleMania title shot should be out of the question at this point.
3. CM Punk
Last Week: 3
The Best in the World saw his tag team partners, The New Age Outlaws, turn their backs on him before he suffered another spear from Roman Reigns en route to a six-man tag team loss.
Despite three consecutive TV losses, Punk's chances of winning the Rumble remain essentially the same as they were last week, thanks to what appears to be an impending feud with Triple H and The Authority.
Punk is one of WWE's biggest stars, and a Royal Rumble win is one of the few things missing from his substantial resume. With John Cena and Randy Orton missing from this year's match, 2014 may be his best shot at crossing that achievement off of his "to do" list.
There will be plenty of booking opportunities to get the title shot away from him if the direction in which the company intends to go is a Punk-Triple H match at WrestleMania.
Unfortunately for the Chicagoan, there are two Superstars ahead of him who have the best odds of leaving Pittsburgh with a guaranteed title shot at the Showcase of the Immortals.
2. Daniel Bryan
Last Week: 4
Movement: Up 2
If it were not for the Superstar ahead of him on this list, Daniel Bryan would be the easy choice as winner of the 2014 Royal Rumble match.
The big jumper this week following the monumental Monday night, Bryan is once again a babyface and may very well be the most over star in all of professional wrestling. The fans inside the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island, made what should have been a great night for the former WWE and World Heavyweight champion a defining one instead.
With a tidal wave of momentum behind him following his performance on Raw, it will take a great argument from someone in management or on the creative team to justify not seriously considering Bryan for the Rumble win.
Unfortunately for Bryan, the one man who ranks ahead of him is the only Superstar who can be considered as anything close to a "slam dunk" to win the match.
Last Week: 1
The Animal has yet to actually appear on Raw, but no other Superstar can realistically rank above him in terms of being a legitimate option to win the 2014 Royal Rumble.
There has been so much made of the former WWE and World Heavyweight Champion's return to the company that it seems incomprehensible that, in his first match back, he would fall short of achieving victory.
It will be interesting to see who Batista targets in the Rumble match and how that affects the stories and rivalries in which he is involved over the course of the year.
We know he will target Alberto Del Rio, who has been very outspoken about Batista both onscreen and in social media, but who comes after that? Perhaps he and CM Punk will interact. After all, Batista is the protege of Triple H, who appears poised to feud with Punk in the coming weeks.
Or maybe he and Daniel Bryan will interact, leading to feud heading into WrestleMania or, at the very least, coming out of the Showcase of the Immortals.
And what about the possibility of a showdown with The Shield's Roman Reigns, who has drawn comparisons to Batista, thanks to his quiet intensity and high-impact spear? The two of them together could result in one of the more memorable moments of this year's Rumble.
Whatever the case may be, Batista is still the most likely Superstar to leave Pittsburgh as the winner of the Royal Rumble and will remain that way until the match concludes later this month.