WWE Royal Rumble 2014: Most Likely Breakout Stars at Event
The Royal Rumble accomplishes many tasks aside from crowning a new No. 1 contender for a world championship. Win or lose, stars are made, feuds are either started or furthered, and longtime wrestling fans usually get a little comfort food via surprise entries.
A staple of the Royal Rumble match in years past has been the breakout performance. The Rumble often serves as a live-action "coming soon" advertisement for stars on the rise.
Those fresh faces who either spend a large amount of time in the match or stockpile eliminations can create just as strong of a buzz as the eventual Royal Rumble winner himself. From time to time, the fresh face becomes the winner.
In order to be eligible as a likely breakout candidate, one must have never won a Royal Rumble match and can never have been crowned a world champion in WWE.
Breakout candidates will have built momentum leading into WWE's most important Battle Royal, either by big wins or an emphasis on their character during Raw and/or SmackDown.
With WWE figuring to have several up-and-coming wrestlers in this year's field, it is likely somebody from this list emerges as the winner of the 2014 Royal Rumble match.
5. Kofi Kingston
It's hardly a coincidence that Kofi Kingston's first match back since a promotional tour of Saudi Arabia resulted in a win over the WWE World Heavyweight champion. This was likely his reward for being such a company guy and traveling across the world to sing the praises of the worldwide leader.
Don't expect the spoils to end there for Kingston. He's spent the past two years in the Royal Rumble dazzling with innovative spots that saved him from elimination.
One year he crawled on his hands to avoid his feet touching the floor. The next, he used an office chair.
Not only will he figure to have a hat trick in 2014, but he should also have an extended Rumble stay that earns the elusive attention of WWE announcers when updating the times spent in the Battle Royal.
While winning the Royal Rumble is out of the question for Kofi, it should be expected that he has the type of performance he can build upon headed into WrestleMania season.
4. Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt's position as the leader of the Wyatt Family will give him an immediate advantage in the Royal Rumble. Should Wyatt, Erick Rowan, Luke Harper or all three be included in the Royal Rumble, they'll be booked to protect Wyatt while teaming up against the rest of the field.
Much like CM Punk's Rumble appearance in 2011, as leader of the New Nexus, Wyatt and the Family will be booked to experience a favorable draw that sees them enjoy a three-on-one advantage for a stretch. This is an excellent way to build heat.
Wyatt already has plenty of heat in the bank as a focal point of WWE recent television storylines through his ongoing feud with Daniel Bryan. The pair once again closed Raw, but instead of Bryan joining the Wyatts, he rebelled against them just one week after his Wyatt Family television debut.
Health permitting, the Wyatt-Bryan rivalry will continue to play out in the Royal Rumble with significant time dedicated to their feud. Both Bryan and Wyatt will benefit from that level of exposure.
3. Big E Langston
Big E Langston has been booked strongly since winning the Intercontinental Championship back in November. Langston continued to rack up wins by making quick work of Curtis Axel on last week's episode of Old School Raw.
WWE seems to be in a holding pattern with Langston creatively, as no major storylines or feuds have come out of his November title win over Axel.
Perhaps they were waiting until the Royal Rumble to unleash Langston, who has as good of a shot as any young star to lead the Rumble in eliminations. The long-rumored Langston-Henry match, according to F4WOnline (via SEScoops), is unlikely to happen at the Royal Rumble. There has been no tension between the two with just over one week until the pay-per-view.
However, if Henry makes the Royal Rumble and one of these decorated power lifters eliminates the other, it would result in a feud tantamount to Langston's golden ticket to WrestleMania.
2. Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes has never entered the Royal Rumble hotter than he is now, not even when he was main eventing with Randy Orton as part of the Legacy. Rhodes has found a niche as a tag team performer, alongside his brother Goldust, as they have helped reinvigorate the tag team division.
With a heel version of the New Age Outlaws now reentering the tag title picture, the Rhodes Dynasty will be in danger of dropping the titles to the legendary pairing should this become a match at the Royal Rumble.
The New Age Outlaws defeated the Rhodes Dynasty Friday on SmackDown and are the clear-cut candidate to receive a tag team title shot.
A win for the outlaws will all but end the Rhodes Dynasty with both brothers advertised for the Royal Rumble later that night. The "every man for himself" caveat plays perfectly into the buzz-worthy Rhodes-Rhodes WresteMania matchup.
The friction in the Rhodes Dynasty will be one of many subplots in the Royal Rumble match. Cody Rhodes has more to gain from this storyline and will have the chance to deliver a compelling Rumble performance under the shared spotlight this match brings.
1. Roman Reigns
There is little question that Roman Reigns is the "it" guy in this year's Royal Rumble, both among breakout stars and the field.
The pending return of Batista is the only thing keeping Reigns from being the runaway favorite to win. Of the 18 announced competitors, one-third are first-time entrants.
This amount of inexperience greatly increases Reigns' chances. It doesn't hurt that he's currently on the roll of his young career.
Reigns has pinned CM Punk in each of the past two weeks, with his first pinfall victory coming in a singles match that occurred in the Raw main event. The win was juxtaposed with a pair of losses suffered by Reigns' Shield counterparts, clearly establishing him as the strongest member of the WWE's best stable today.
At the very least, Reigns can be counted on to flirt with the elimination record. At most, he'll be a No. 1 contender by night's end.