Royal Rumble 2014: Latest News and Rumors Surrounding WWE's Big PPV

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2014

Royal Rumble 2014: Latest News and Rumors Surrounding WWE's Big PPV

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    Paul A. Hebert/Associated Press

    After a wild close to 2013 and an unpredictable start to 2014, the focus of the WWE Universe has shifted to the Royal Rumble on Sunday, Jan. 26, at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

    Here is all the vital viewing information for the fans ready to take in the action:

     

    Where: CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.

    When: Sunday, Jan. 26, at 7:30 p.m. ET

    Watch: Pay-per-view

    Live Stream: WWE.com

     

    Whether or not it is the final match of the night, the main event for the Royal Rumble is the 30-man over-the-top-rope Battle Royal. The winner of this annual bout is awarded the chance to challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXX.

    There have been years in the past where a clear winner was present—just as John Cena was the favorite in 2013—but there are several feasible options in this edition of the Rumble.

    A serious case can be made for Daniel Bryan, Batista, CM Punk, Roman Reigns and many others as possible winners.

    Not only do fans get the 30-man Royal Rumble, but the WWE title will also be on the line as John Cena and Randy Orton once again go one-on-one. This is the second PPV match in a row between these two combatants, and the fans will be looking for a unique ending to this bout.

    Add in a match between former WWE and UFC champion Brock Lesnar and the Big Show, and this is a Royal Rumble card worthy of the road to WrestleMania.

Two Rumored Surprise Entrants

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    The Royal Rumble is approaching fast, and the rumors about possible surprise entrants have the WWE Universe buzzing. According to F4WOnline via Wrestling Inc., there are two names from the past that could find their way into Sunday’s Royal Rumble match:

    There has been talk of bringing in 2 Cold Scorpio as a surprise Royal Rumble entrant this Sunday. The idea would be that there's an ECW tie-in since original ECW TV and pay-per-views will be on the Network. Another name rumored within WWE is Jimmy Wang Yang, who teased it on Twitter, is a good friend of Batista's and attended two WWE events last week.

    The 30-man over-the-top-rope Battle Royal is one of the biggest matches of the year and a few surprise entrants make it even more entertaining. There are always big names that re-rebut—think Rob Van Dam, Sheamus or Chris Jericho—but there always a few blasts from the past as well.

    The problem is that 2 Cold Scorpio and Jimmy Wang Yang may not have the mainstream notoriety to make an impact when they hit the ring. Both were excellent wrestlers, but neither was a viable star in the WWE.

    With 20 names already announced and several current stars like Ryback, Curtis Axel and Daniel Bryan possibly included in the match, adding two former stars with little crowd support may be a waste if there aren’t much bigger plans in place.

    The WWE Universe will accept 2 Cold Scorpio and Jimmy Wang Yang if there is a much larger surprise like the Ultimate Warrior or Jake Roberts in the mix as well.

Smackdown, Tweets and House Shows Before the Rumble

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    Jessica Hill/Associated Press

    Nothing Earth shattering came from the final Smackdown before the Royal Rumble on Sunday. There are still 10 unaccounted for slots in the Rumble, but you better believe Brodus Clay will be occupy one of those spots.

    With no match on the card, and a hot feud cooking with R-Truth and Xavier Woods, the only way for Clay to have at the two of them, Clay has to have a number on Sunday.

    He had a non-descript match against The Miz on Smackdown. Bad News Barrett made it a pretty awesome feature by going in on the both of them while the match transpired.

    Also, the WWE's newest loose cannon, Ryback should also be in the Rumble. You'd expect to see the requisite legends make an appearance as well. 

    We'll know for sure on Sunday night.

    Vince McMahon dropped a rare—but pretty meaningless tweet. 

    Anyone can win the #RoyalRumble. pic.twitter.com/CwLfs6qlyb

    — Vince McMahon (@VinceMcMahon) January 25, 2014

    Thanks Vince for telling us what we kind of already know, and showing one of your own personal shining moments in the ring.

    One interesting note is that C.M. Punk, who has drawn No. 1 for the Royal Rumble, will be at UFC on Fox 10 in his hometown of Chicago on Saturday, per Raj Giri of Wrestling Inc. He's a MMA fan, so it's not surprising to hear that he'll be in attendance at the United Center.

    There's a solid bit of mystery still surrounding the WWE's first pay-per-view of the year. That's what's best for business.

Updated Rumble Match Outlook

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    DAVE ALLOCCA/Associated Press

    Unsurprisingly, SmackDown ended with a massive brawl that had a distinctly Royal Rumble feel. It was the final source of hype building toward Sunday night's event, which should feature some surprise returns, as is normally the case.

    As for now, there are 20 confirmed entrants for the Rumble match. Marc Middleton of WrestlingInc.com provided an updated look at which superstars are currently slated for the main event following SmackDown:

    Batista, CM Punk (#1), Alberto Del Rio, Big E Langston, The Miz, R-Truth, Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, Goldust, Cody Rhodes, Fandango, Rey Mysterio, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Erick Rowan, Luke Harper, Damien Sandow, Jey Uso, Jimmy Uso

    That leaves room for 10 unannounced entrants.

    Of the names listed, the top contenders are obviously CM Punk and Batista.

    Punk entering No. 1 should point toward an extended stay in the Rumble and he'll almost definitely be among the final few superstars left in the ring. The only way that wouldn't happen is if there's some type of ploy by The Authority.

    Batista returned to a lot of hype and he made it clear on Raw he was setting his sights on the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Normally when a huge name returns and makes that type of declaration it ends up coming true, so he's the favorite.

    The one notable name not listed is Daniel Bryan. If he does enter the Rumble, he immediately moves ahead of Punk and likely into a co-favorite role with Batista. The WWE must find a way to capitalize on his popularity. A surprise Rumble entrance and win would do it.

    A couple other names to keep in mind are Big E Langston and Roman Reigns. While they are both long shots, they should enjoy some dominant moments during the match and are the likely choices if the WWE wants to go with a swerve ending.

Curtis Axel's Making Plans for Pittsburgh

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    Courtesy of WWE.com

    The Royal Rumble match is about to become purrrrr-fect.

    Speaking to Chuck Carroll of 106.7 The Fan in Washington D.C., Curtis Axel said he will be in the 30-man Battle Royal. While Axel has yet to be confirmed for the match, there are still spots open, so it's conceivable that he could take part.

    Should Axel be in the Royal Rumble, it's likely that Ryback would as well. They are tag partners after all.

    While nobody's clamoring for Axel in the Rumble match, he's a good worker who can give you 10-15 minutes before being eliminated. You need filler guys to keep things interesting before all of the favorites are in the ring.

    Or possibly, starting this moment, from now, from this moment on, this will be the moment, starting now, of the genesis of WWE World Heavyweight Champion Curtis Axel.

    Who doesn't want to see Curtis Axel vs. Randy Orton at WrestleMania? That's a license to print money.

Sheamus and Chris Jericho Tabbed as Potential Surprise Entrants?

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    Associated Press

    Sheamus and Chris Jericho were the final two participants remaining in the 2012 Royal Rumble. After several minutes of back-and-forth action, Sheamus went on to win the match and famously beat Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship in 18 seconds at WrestleMania XXVIII.

    Although history is unlikely to repeat itself with regard to Sheamus and Jericho battling for the right to main event WrestleMania XXX, it appears to be a distinct possibility that both men could be in the 2014 Rumble match.

    According to Raj Giri of WrestlingInc.com, Sheamus and Jericho are scheduled to appear at the World of Wheels Auto Show in Pittsburgh, Penn. on Jan. 25. It just so happens that the Royal Rumble will take place at Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center the following night.

    That, of course, doesn't guarantee that both Superstars or even either of them will be in the Rumble match, but at least fans know that they will be on hand if need be.

    Jericho became one of the greatest surprise entrants in Royal Rumble history last year when he entered No. 2. Nobody was expecting it, which is rare in this day and age. When asked by the "Jimmy and Monty In the Morning" radio show in Pittsburgh about a potential repeat in 2014, Jericho gave a predictably cryptic answer, according to Y108 CBS Local.

    It's funny because it doesn't matter what I say. People have their opinions either way. If I say 'No', they're gonna say he's just saying that because he's actually coming back. If I say 'Yes', (they'll say) 'Oh he's just saying that to try to fool everybody.' So, it doesn't really matter what my answer is. I guess you're just gonna have to wait and see what happens on Sunday but I think it's probably pretty much more of a coincidence than anything else … (Royal Rumble) happens to be the next day. I did come back as a surprise in the Royal Rumble last year. So, I think that gives you your answer right there. I don't think I'd ever do the same thing twice. Every single person I meet on Saturday at World of Wheels will be asking me this exact same question.

    Jericho also responded to a Rumble question on Twitter by jokingly saying that he would be the 31st entrant.

    Yes! 31! “@29_amos: @IAmJericho Hey Jericho, so have they told you what number you are yet for the Royal Rumble?”

    — Chris Jericho (@IAmJericho) January 13, 2014

    As for Sheamus, he has been out of action with a torn labrum since August. His return timetable was set at four-to-six months, so making a return at the Rumble is right in his wheelhouse.

    There appears to be a lack of big-time star power in the Rumble match itself, so Jericho and Sheamus could potentially give it a major boost.

     

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Dolph Ziggler to Undergo Concussion Testing Before Royal Rumble

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    David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

    Former world heavyweight champion Dolph Ziggler has been out of action since Jan. 6 after suffering a concussion at the hands of Ryback, per WWE.com, but there is a chance that he could be cleared for action before the Royal Rumble.

    Ziggler spoke to CBS Cleveland's Chris Van Vliet and claimed that he schedule to be at the PPV on Sunday and will be further evaluated by WWE doctors. If he is cleared, there is a chance that he could be used in the Royal Rumble match.

    For fans of Ziggler, this is great news.

    Ziggler is one of the most talented in-ring workers in the company, but the lack of storyline direction and support from the company has marred what should be a bright future. With a failed world title run and a wasted face turn, Ziggler deserves a big push in the Royal Rumble match.

    If Ziggler is cleared for the Battle Royal, getting him in the ring as an early entrant and letting him stay until the last five or six combatants would be a great way to bring him back from his injury.

Divas Title Match to Be Added to Rumble Card?

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    Photo via WWE.com

    After her win over Divas champion AJ Lee on the go-home edition of Raw, there are reports that Naomi could be getting a shot at the belt as soon as the Royal Rumble on Sunday, according to PWInsider Elite via Wrestling Inc.:

    We noted before that Naomi vs. AJ Lee for the WWE Divas Title may be added to Sunday's Royal Rumble pay-per-view if they have time, once officials get into the arena on Sunday and plan everything out. The idea on Monday was that if they don't have enough time for it on the pay-per-view, the match will take place on RAW the next night.

    Naomi is a talented in-ring worker and one of the brightest prospects in the divas division right now. While there hasn’t been enough of a storyline built to give one half of the Funkadactyls the title, she would make for a worthy adversary in the ring at the PPV.

    This would also be a good test to see how Naomi handles the pressure of being in a marquee singles match. If she thrives against Lee, there is little doubt that the future will be bright for the Total Divas star.

    A long-term storyline with Naomi as the foe for Lee would be a welcomed addition to the division.

Update on Daniel Bryan

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    Photo courtesy of WWE.com

    According to PWInsider Elite, via Wrestling Inc, it's still unknown whether or not Daniel Bryan, who returned from a concussion, will participate in the Royal Rumble. He is scheduled for a single's match against Bray Wyatt, but there is buzz he won't be apart of the iconic 30-man match:

    Many fans have been wondering if Bryan will have a spot in the 30-man Royal Rumble main event. As of Monday afternoon, Bryan was not going to be in the match. His only appearance at the Rumble is scheduled to be the match against Wyatt.

    There are a few ways to look at this. 

    On the one hand, Bryan is already incredibly over. The company doesn't need to use the rumble as a stepping stone to get him a title shot. Instead, it can be used more to help get over younger talent.

    Moreover, Bryan's singles match with Wyatt helps strengthen the rest of the card. 

    On the other hand, though, this is the most electrifying star in the business, and at this point, he deserves his moment. Keeping him out of the rumble would undoubtedly upset a lot of fans, no matter what may be on the horizon. 

    You can find a complete look at confirmed superstars for the rumble, as well as an updated card, on the next slide. 

The Beast Returned and More Matches Added to the Rumble Card

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    Gaye Gerard/Getty Images

    Batista came back and he looked to be in good shape. He delivered a spinebuster and Batista Bomb to Alberto Del Rio for mouthing off on WWE programming in the weeks prior to Monday Night's episode of Raw.

    He didn't get his "randomly" drawn number revealed, but CM Punk did. After angering Kane on Smackdown, and attacking him on Monday night, the Big but-no-so-Red Machine punished Punk by making him the No. 1 entrant in the Rumble.

    In addition to the specifics of Punk's involvement in the match, there were other Superstars whose inclusions were revealed. Per Wrestling Inc, here's an updated list of the known participants after Raw's broadcast:

    • Jimmy Uso
    • Jey Uso
    • Damien Sandow
    • Erick Rowan
    • Luke Harper
    • Seth Rollins
    • Dean Ambrose
    • Roman Reigns
    • Bad News Barrett
    • Fandango
    • CM Punk
    • Rey Mysterio
    • Batista
    • Alberto Del Rio
    • Kofi Kingston
    • The Miz
    • Big E Langston
    • Xavier Woods
    • R-Truth
    • Cody Rhodes
    • Goldust


    Daniel Bryan was cleared to return to in-ring action, per Steve Carrier of Ringside News, and he was at Raw to announce he would be facing Bray Wyatt one-on-one at the Royal Rumble. 

    The New Age Outlaws' comeback has hit full steam. They will be challenging Cody Rhodes and Goldust for the Tag-Team titles. Here's a look at the updated card:

     

    30-Man Royal Rumble Match

    WWE World Heavyweight Title Match: John Cena vs. Randy Orton

    Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar

    Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan

    Kickoff Pre-Show: WWE Tag Team Title Match - The New Age Outlaws vs. Cody Rhodes and Goldust



Batista Scheduled to Win the Royal Rumble?

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    Gaye Gerard/Getty Images

    The WWE has made a huge splash by bringing former champion Batista back, and the rumors began circulating immediately that the muscle-bound superstar was the favorite to win the Royal Rumble match, according to the F4W Newsletter (paid subscription required):

    He will be returning on the Raw prior to the Royal Rumble, wrestling on that show, and likely winning the event and going on to face Randy Orton at WrestleMania. Batista, who will turn 45 just prior to his re-debut, left the company several years ago due to his disappointment in the PG direction.

    There is no question that the WWE has made an effort to make it look like Batista is the favorite to win the Royal Rumble, and there are many fans that wholeheartedly believe he is the top contender in the match.

    After leaving the company four years ago, Batista will return with a vengeance as the company is bound to book him incredibly strong, since he agreed to return in the first place. Winning the Rumble and challenging for the title at WrestleMania would be a great contract incentive.

    As much as the signs point to a Batista win, there are several other contenders like Daniel Bryan, CM Punk and Roman Reigns that must be accounted for before the crown is placed on the returning favorite. 

Decision to Turn Daniel Bryan Face Came at the Last Second?

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    Gallo Images/Getty Images

    Daniel Bryan has become one of the top stars in the WWE over the last three years, but he was recently embroiled in a storyline with the Wyatt Family that featured him turning heel and joining the stable.

    The turn was short lived, as Bryan crossed Bray Wyatt on the Jan. 13 episode of Raw.

    The decision to turn him face once again and capitalize on the fan support for Bryan was reportedly influenced by WWE chants at a college basketball game, according to Wrestling Observer Newsletter via Wrestling Inc.:

    The plan all along was to turn Daniel Bryan on The Wyatt Family but it was more of a long term plan, until things changed and they did the big angle on RAW. The "Yes!" chants at the Michigan State game were said to be a big decision in WWE turning Bryan back babyface early. There wasn't any kind of great debate or big decision making regarding turning Bryan back this week.

    There has been speculation that the company was not sold on Bryan as a top star, but few other wrestlers have ever enjoyed the unwavering support Bryan has received from the fans.

    Whether you love Bryan or not, the reaction he is receiving is reminiscent of Stone Cold Steve Austin during the Attitude Era. The WWE is a business first and foremost, and it will not let an opportunity to capitalize on Bryan’s success pass.

    While Batista may be the favorite to win the Rumble, Bryan is a serious threat and should be considered the most realistic option to steal a victory in the 30-man Battle Royal. 

Royal Rumble Card

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    Photo via WWE.com

    The Royal Rumble is one of the most prestigious PPVs on the WWE’s calendar each year, and the 2014 edition could be one of the most star-studded shows in the history of the company.

    After Jan. 20’s go-home edition of Raw, this is how the card looks for the Rumble:

     

    • 30-Man Royal Rumble Match
    • WWE World Heavyweight Title Match - John Cena vs. Randy Orton
    • Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar
    • Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan
    • Kickoff Pre-Show: WWE Tag Team Title Match - The New Age Outlaws vs. Cody Rhodes and Goldust

     

    There has been a very vocal group of fans displeased with the WWE Championship match between Orton and Cena due to the fact that we have seen this match so many times. Not only is this the second bout in the latest feud between these men, but they also battled several times in the past, including a 2007 instance that featured Orton attacking Cena’s dad.

    The hope is that this match is interrupted by someone like Brock Lesnar or the Royal Rumble winner.

    Speaking of Lesnar, the Beast Incarnate is back for the road to WrestleMania and will be looking to sharpen his teeth on a warm-up feud. That’s where Big Show fits perfectly.

    The size of the World’s Largest Athlete makes him look like a legitimate threat, but everyone who watches wrestling understands Big Show is Lesnar’s appetizer for whomever he must face at WrestleMania.

    The other match announced so far is the actual Royal Rumble. With some of the biggest names in the industry—intermixed with several lovable jobbers and legends—this 30-man Battle Royal will steal the show as it does every year as it officially kicks off the road to WrestleMania when the winner points at the sign hung high above the ring.

    Whether it’s Bryan, Batista, Punk or someone else, this year’s Royal Rumble match will be amazing.

     

    For more wrestling talk, listen to Ring Rust Radio for all of the hot topics or catch the latest episode in the player below (some language NSFW).