Royal Rumble 2014 promotional poster.
In mere hours on Sunday night, WWE will present its 27th annual Royal Rumble pay-per-view event, live from the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh at 8 p.m. ET.
The Royal Rumble is always one of the most highly anticipated events of the year, and rightfully so. It is the one night of the year that almost anything is possible, in addition to the fact that it signals the start of the road to WrestleMania.
John Cena and Randy Orton will meet once more for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, this time with no stipulations attached. Will Cena finally be successful in overcoming Orton, or will The Viper find a way to slither his way out of the arena with his title intact?
In a battle of the behemoths, Brock Lesnar and Big Show will face off in a Royal Rumble rematch from 11 years ago. Will The Beast Incarnate be able to continue his streak momentum, or will Show put an end to Lesnar's reign of terror?
Of course, a Royal Rumble PPV would not be complete without a Rumble match, where 30 men will compete for a chance to headline WrestleMania. What lucky individual will outlast the 29 other competitors and become the new No. 1 contender to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship?
Here, I will provide my personal preview, prediction and potential for every match on the advertised card.
WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. New Age Outlaws
Preview: The New Age Outlaws returned to the WWE on Old School Raw earlier this month, seemingly for a one-off appearance. However, they would solidify their status as roster regulars when they shockingly turned on CM Punk on the Jan. 13 edition of Raw.
The former five-time tag team champions earned a shot at the WWE Tag Team Championships after defeating current title holders Cody Rhodes and Goldust later that week on SmackDown.
Prediction: With The New Age Outlaws having ties to Triple H and The Authority, I expect them to be around for the next month or two. That being said, a title win for them here is possible and is what I predict will happen.
The Rhodes brothers have had a great run with the belts, and I would not at all be disappointed if their reign were to end here, but more than anything, I wish to see them face off against each other at WreslteMania 30.
It would be best for that feud to kick off sooner rather than later, so I hope to see them drop the straps here and go on to plant the seeds for their eventual rivalry later on in the night during the Royal Rumble match.
Potential: The initial encounter between these two teams didn't live up to my expectations, but I suppose it was only a case of them holding back a bit. If given even enough time, this could very well be a great match.
The New Age Outlaws have shown in the last month that they still have it, while the Rhodes brothers have yet to have a bad match. Therefore, look for this match to be one of the better Kickoff matches in recent memory, especially if a title change occurs.
Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt
Preview: One night removed from October's Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, The Wyatt Family ambushed Daniel Bryan and has had his number ever since. Although Bryan knocked off Erick Rowan and Luke Harper in tag team action at Survivor Series, he fell victim to the numbers game at TLC when he came up short of defeating The Wyatt Family in a 3-on-1 Handicap match.
Things were taken to an all-new level when The Wyatt Family recruited Bryan into their clan after brainwashing him on the final episode of Raw in 2013. Bryan would break away from the bearded clan on the Jan. 13 Raw before challenging Bray Wyatt to a one-on-one match at the Royal Rumble.
Prediction: I applaud WWE for drawing this feud out for as long as three months, but it is time for it to reach a conclusion. Bryan has never been more over in his career than he is right now, so I definitely see him being involved in something substantial going into WrestleMania season.
Don't count out Bray, though, as I also see him being a force to reckoned with for months to come. Bryan must go over here to maintain his strong momentum, so he is my official pick.
Potential: Aside from a very brief bout at December's Tribute to the Troops event, Bray and Bryan have yet to face off in singles competition. While we aren't exactly sure of what they are capable of in the ring, Bryan is one of the best wrestlers in the WWE today, and Bray can certainly hold his own in any match as well. It shouldn't be anything special, but it definitely has the potential to be a solid matchup.
Big Show vs. Brock Lensar
Preview: On the final episode of Raw in 2013, Brock Lesnar returned to WWE to proclaim himself the new No. 1 contender to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The very next week, after assaulting Mark Henry for a second time, Big Show made the save and tossed Lesnar across the ring, throwing down the gauntlet in the process.
The World's Largest Athlete would continue to get the better of Lesnar in subsequent weeks before a match was made between the two at the Royal Rumble.
Prediction: Although the feud has been well built over the last month, I am still not intrigued by it in the slightest. It was done to death a decade ago, and it is hard to get invested in Show's character after seeing him in a diaper not too long ago.
If nothing else, it provides Lesnar with another big win going into WrestleMania, so no other result makes sense. Make no mistake about it: Lesnar must go over here to avoid doing damage to his character.
Potential: As previously stated, these two had quite the rivalry in 2002-03, so they are no strangers to one another. Show and Lesnar had good chemistry with each other at the time, but how well will they work together over a decade later? Don't look for this to be a five star mat classic, but rather a brutal brawl between two of the WWE's most fierce competitors.
John Cena vs. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton
Preview: At WWE TLC, Randy Orton defeated John Cena in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match to become the first-ever WWE World Heavyweight Champion in history. Of course, Cena still had his rematch clause, which he chose to invoke at the Royal Rumble.
In the weeks preceding the event, Orton laid a brutal beating on Cena's father, who was at ringside for a recent Raw. Now, Cena has retribution on his mind as he prepares to contend for the prestigious prize once again.
Prediction: Many people were down on the idea of seeing this match yet again on pay-per-view, but I personally have no problem with it, as most viewers order the Royal Rumble event solely for the Rumble match itself. Their entire feud has felt rehashed, but as long as it ends on this show, I am content.
No way should Cena capture his 15th world title here, so Orton will retain. One can only hope that his win comes as clean as possible, but I guess we will have to wait and see.
Prediction: Interestingly enough, I think stipulation matches (TLC, "I Quit," Hell in a Cell) hinder Cena and Orton more than they help them. While they had an entertaining TLC match last month, I strongly believe they could have an even better match on this show. We have seen one too many matches between these two in the past, but at least they deliver every time they are in the ring together.
2013's Royal Rumble match.
Preview: The Royal Rumble match made its debut in 1988 and has been a cornerstone of the WWE ever since. There are 30 competitors every year who vie for the opportunity to headline WrestleMania for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but there can be only one winner. The match is always filled with twists, turns and surprises, so you never know who may show up to make an appearance.
Prediction: The build-up to this match over the last month has been absolutely atrocious, but per usual, I guess officials expect the match to sell itself. Even still, I am extremely excited for it and all the potential surprise entrants we are bound to get this year.
As for possible winners, only three names come to mind: Batista, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. Bryan isn't even slated to be in the match as of now, but I would love to see him enter and win it all, earning the title match at 'Mania that he rightfully deserves. Punk hasn't been in the title picture for close to a year now and deserves to win, but his pending feud with Triple H will probably prevent him from emerging victorious.
That leaves Batista, who is the most predictable pick to take home the victory. Unfortunately, it looks like he's headed to WrestleMania to face Randy Orton for the title, which is a shame. Thus, my money is on Batista to win, though I truly hope I am wrong.
Potential: Some Rumbles have been better than others, but overall, they are enjoyable. As previously mentioned, it is filled with surprises and monumental moments, so I look forward for what WWE has in store this year. Similar to 2011, Punk will be entering at No. 1, which should definitely be a lot of fun and ensures the match will be must-see.
Read more prediction pieces for past WWE pay-per-views here.
Graham Mirmina, a.k.a. Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.