Ring Rust Radio is the best wrestling show on the airwaves, and this week was no different. With strong opinions on Royal Rumble, Batista and more, this is where you need to go to get all of your weekly WWE nuggets.
Bleacher Report featured columnists Mike Chiari, Donald Wood, Brandon Galvin and Michael Cahill give the lowdown on all things going on in the wrestling world.
With another unpredictable episode of Ring Rust Radio in the books, you can't afford to miss another second of the action. Catch us live every Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET (some language NSFW) or follow us on Twitter @RingRustRadio.
Some Language NSFW.
Feb. 11: New Generation Era Fantasy Draft
Predicting Royal Rumble Match Result
With 30 Superstars entering at an interval of two minutes, the Royal Rumble match is the most exciting and unpredictable bout of the year. Now that there is only one WWE World Heavyweight Champion, even more emphasis will be placed on the match, since the winner will receive a guaranteed title shot at WrestleMania XXX. While some competitors can be counted out right away, a few have a legitimate chance to reign supreme.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Who Will Earn a WWE World Heavyweight Title Shot?
Who will win the 2014 Royal Rumble match?
There are also some dark-horse contenders worth taking under consideration. Most seem to believe that The Shield's Roman Reigns will make a major impact. He probably won't win, since he isn't quite ready to main event WrestleMania, but he could potentially challenge Kane's single-Rumble record of 11 eliminations. Also, some big-name Superstars could potentially return as surprise entrants, with 2012 winner Sheamus and Chris Jericho standing out as possible winning options.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
There usually isn't much agreement among the Ring Rust Radio panel, so it should come as no surprise that there were three different selections in terms of the Rumble winner. Batista has seemingly become the favorite in Internet circles following his return to WWE programming. He obviously has plenty of star power as well as a track record of success. With that said, he doesn't need to win the Rumble again, and he could easily be placed in a high-profile feud without winning the match.
Also, CM Punk was discussed as an option. Kane stacked the deck against him as the No. 1 entrant, but that could set the stage for an epic performance that results in a victory. Many fans seem to have lost confidence in Daniel Bryan winning the Rumble match since he currently isn't being advertised for it, but that could just be a swerve on WWE's part. Bryan is clearly the most logical choice based on his current popularity, but it all hinges on what the creative team has planned over the next couple months.
Sheamus a Possible Surprise Entrant? (WrestlingInc.com)
Batista Returns to WWE Programming
After weeks of anticipation, Batista finally made his WWE return on Raw after nearly four years away from the company. Batista immediately expressed his desire to take the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Randy Orton, but he also made his presence felt later in the night by hitting Alberto Del Rio with a Spinebuster as well as a Powerbomb.
Question on Everybody's Mind: What's Next for Batista?
It can be argued that Batista's return wasn't met with quite as much fanfare as expected, but it is quite obvious that he will be a huge part of the product moving forward. Because of that, he has been installed as the odds-on favorite to win the Royal Rumble match. It was announced that he would be in the 30-man Battle Royal a few weeks ago, and vignettes touting his participation have aired ever since.
There are two very different ways to read into that. Subtlety often isn't WWE's strong suit, so it is entirely possible that the company is essentially telling the fans that "The Animal" will come out on top. At the same time, it would be a little too convenient if Batista won after so much hype. The writers have done a much better job of not tipping their hands this year when compared to 2013, so there should be plenty of excitement among the fans entering the pay-per-view.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
If WWE books Batista to win, then it will obviously be doing so with an eye toward the mainstream. Batista will be playing the role of Drax the Destroyer in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy film this summer, so it's possible that WWE will try to ride the wave. It obviously isn't above the company to do that—The Rock played an integral role in each of the past three WrestleManias—although Batista clearly isn't as big of a movie star. Even so, Batista's presence in Hollywood has to be appealing to WWE.
From a pure wrestling perspective, having Batista win the Rumble would be a mistake. He doesn't need to win the match in order to make an impact, and fans generally despise when a part-time guy or a recent returnee enters the title scene. Punk and Bryan would both be better options than Batista from essentially every perspective, but it's easy to see why Batista is in the mix.
Plans Call for Batista to Win Rumble Match? (WrestlingInc.com via PWInsider Elite)
Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt Set for Royal Rumble
After a short run as a member of the Wyatt Family, Daniel Bryan officially became a fan favorite once again by turning on Bray Wyatt following a steel cage tag team match. Plenty of fans were worried that the WWE would squander Bryan's immense popularity, but turning on Wyatt the way he did actually made him an even bigger star, as he had the crowd in the palm of his hand.
Question on Everybody's Mind: What's Next for D-Bry?
Bryan has been tabbed as a top Royal Rumble contender for the past couple months, but it was announced on Raw that he will face Bray Wyatt in a singles match at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Bryan made no mention of being in the Rumble match, and he currently is not advertised to be in it either. Assuming Bryan doesn't appear in the Rumble match, his bout against Wyatt is still fairly significant, since both men would benefit from a win.
Bryan is obviously red-hot right now after pulling the wool over Wyatt's eyes, and it would make sense to give him a big win heading into WrestleMania season. At the same time, Bryan has embarrassed Wyatt over the past couple weeks, so Wyatt needs to save face. Also, Wyatt has wrestled very few matches since joining the main roster, and he still needs a signature victory. Beating the fastest rising star in wrestling at the Royal Rumble would do the trick.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
WWE has a lot of options here, but it truly has to figure out a way to get Bryan involved in the Rumble match. His focus has shifted from the WWE Championship to the Wyatt Family in recent months, but it wouldn't make any sense for Bryan to forego an opportunity to main event WrestleMania in favor of wrestling Wyatt. It isn't as if pulling double-duty on the night of the Royal Rumble is rare, so it would be a slap in the fans' faces if Bryan doesn't.
Should Bryan enter the Rumble, he should lose the singles match to Wyatt. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan would obviously interfere, so it wouldn't hurt Bryan much, but it would definitely elevate Wyatt. Bryan would then get a massive pop as a semi-surprise entrant in the Rumble match, and he could then go on to win it, which would erase the sting of losing earlier in the night. Bryan's popularity is reaching a level rivaling the likes of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Rock, so the WWE needs to pull the trigger by having him win the Rumble and main event WrestleMania XXX.
Bryan Not Scheduled for Rumble Match? (WrestlingInc.com via PWInsider Elite)
RRR Season 4 Fantasy WWE Standings
1. Mike Chiari: 125
2. Donald Wood: 40
3. Brandon Galvin: 37.5
4. Michael Cahill: -25
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).
Follow @RingRustRadio on Twitter.