WWE Royal Rumble 2014: Rumble Losers Who Will Shine at WrestleMania
The rules for WWE's Royal Rumble this year are the same as they've always been: 30 men enter, but only one man can leave with the title shot.
The 29 wrestlers that don't get to compete for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship have a significantly tougher Road to WrestleMania if they want to be in one of the main events.
However, just because they can't be in the match for the top prize in the company doesn't mean that their chances at a worthwhile spot on the card are completely gone.
In fact, there are several participants competing in this year's Royal Rumble that will come up short but still make their mark at WrestleMania.
Just who are some of those people? Let's take a look.
Cody Rhodes and Goldust
There has been speculation for years that Cody Rhodes and Goldust could face off against each other at WrestleMania in some capacity.
Fans have thought up just about every scenario in the book in their fantasy predictions.
Could Goldust turn heel on Cody and lose a retirement match to his brother?
Maybe Rhodes is the one to turn heel, upset that his older brother cost them the titles?
Either way, it's a possibility that has been lingering for some time, and as there are months left to build up to WrestleMania, something could happen to split the duo up.
However, at the moment, nothing of that magnitude has been hinted at being in store for the pay-per-view.
Rather, Rhodes and Goldust are working very well together and are showing no signs of dissension.
They are still in possession of the WWE Tag Team Championship and are basically as strong as ever.
Even if the match proposal above doesn't happen, WWE clearly values the Rhodes brothers judging by how often they're being featured on television.
A singles match could be off the table, but Cody and Dustin could enter WrestleMania defending their titles in a prominent tag team bout.
Alternatively, if they were to lose their belts over the course of the next few months, they could be gearing up for a rematch of sorts, challenging to win the championship.
Neither man appears to be headed for a WrestleMania heavyweight title shot, but if the past few months have been any indication as to how much stock WWE puts into them, fans shouldn't worry about them having a spot on the card.
Not only is it expected that both men will wrestle at WrestleMania, but based on the quality of their matches so far as a team we can look forward to a very entertaining fight no matter who their opponents are.
The Wyatt Family
Neither Erick Rowan nor Luke Harper are going to challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania, and that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.
Bray Wyatt is the only member of the stable that could be even remotely considered for that spot, though that is still a stretch considering how he's relatively new to the mix.
But that won't stop The Wyatt Family from making sure their presence is known when the biggest pay-per-view of the year comes around.
This trio is one of the biggest focal points in the company right now, and it would take something big happening to put a stop to that.
Barring any unforeseen injuries, suspensions or other unfortunate mishaps, we should expect The Wyatt Family to play a big part in WrestleMania's card.
There's a chance that Harper and Rowan may not actually wrestle and they could simply accompany Wyatt to the ring as he faces off against a big name like John Cena, CM Punk or Daniel Bryan. On the other hand, all three members could be in a tag match of sorts.
Whatever the case may be, The Wyatt Family is too big of a part of WWE right now to be ignored.
Big E Langston
Big E Langston is at a testing point in his career right now.
He's nowhere near ready for a main event spot, but it's time for him to step up and show his worth.
In many ways, he's proving that he could be a bankable member of the roster in the years to come, getting over with the crowd rather well.
With the Intercontinental Championship around his waist, Langston is probably not going to be in one of the heavily promoted matches at WrestleMania, nor will he win the Royal Rumble.
Still, that title has some significant weight to it and it has only gone up in value ever since the two world titles were merged together.
Langston will probably wrestle in a midcard match at WrestleMania, but even if you're not one of the main events, it doesn't mean you're deprived of a WrestleMania moment.
Whomever he faces better watch out, as this is the time for Big E to take another big leap forward in his career.
For three men that came onto the roster at the end of 2012, The Shield have been the backbone for WWE in 2013.
Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins have all been some of the strongest lynchpins for nearly every prominent show the company has produced in over a year's span.
As such, you can expect all three of these men to play important roles holding up this year's Royal Rumble event.
Reigns has been on a tear of a push, dominating people left and right with his Spears, so it's not beyond the realm of possibility for him to take charge here as well.
Rollins and Ambrose are no slouches either, and have been consistently booked as dependable featured wrestlers.
Despite this, it wouldn't make sense right now for any of them to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship title shot, and a Royal Rumble victory for any of them is not in the cards.
Having said that, to ignore them would be a travesty that WWE assuredly will not commit.
The Shield could stay together and fight off The Wyatt Family in a special six-man tag team match that many fans have been waiting for.
If that is not the direction WWE wishes to go, The Shield could easily be on the front line of the defense for The Authority in a different tag team match of sorts.
Better yet, all of the hints of The Shield's dissension could pay off and the fans could be treated to a Triple Threat match, splitting the members up to face each other.
Many members of the roster could be worried about being left out when WrestleMania happens, but The Shield is not in danger in any way.
Going into the Royal Rumble, Batista is obviously one of the favorites.
If he is indeed victorious, then his name by default has to be omitted from this list as he'll be challenging for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania.
Batista will not receive a title shot if that happens, but that won't stop The Animal from getting some of the spotlight.
WWE would never bring someone like Batista back into the fold and then drop him in a worthless midcard spot at WrestleMania.
He's in too tight with Vince McMahon and Triple H, unlike other former stars that ended up taking a backseat after returning (such as Christian and Booker T).
There are plenty of people for Batista to have a high-profile match with that don't necessarily require the WWE championship to be involved.
Brock Lesnar, Triple H, John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Undertaker, Roman Reigns, Big E Langston or even a returning Sheamus could all be possibilities for Batista to lock up against that would still garner quite a lot of attention from fans.
With Batista being gone for so long, the roster has so many possibilities for fresh and exciting feuds that it's going to be nearly impossible for the big man to be just a footnote this year.
Out of all the potential winners and losers for the Royal Rumble, who do you expect to still see have a good showing at WrestleMania?
Leave your comments below!
Anthony Mango is the owner-operator of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment as well as the host of its podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.