Twice in Royal Rumble history has an entrant won the match after having drawn No. 1. Shawn Michaels was the first. He who shall not be named was the second.
CM Punk will not be the third.
Punk's budding feud with The Authority will decrease his chances on Sunday. The feud has implicated The New Age Outlaws, The Shield, Kane, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon as roadblocks, and will lead to an elimination that will set the table for a WrestleMania match against Triple H.
Will CM Punk become the third wrestler to win the Royal Rumble as the first entrant?
CM Punk drew No. 1 per storyline, as Director of Operations Kane delivered the bad news following a phony apology on Raw. This came days after Kane chokeslammed Punk on SmackDown.
Punk having the deck stacked against him will not lead to a Rumble win and a WWE World Heavyweight title shot as it did with Daniel Bryan. Punk has been out of the title picture for several months and has been teased as a potential opponent for Triple H a few times during that span.
During Week 13 of his sit-down interview series with Michael Cole, Triple H responded to Punk calling him uncreative just days earlier on Raw, saying (via James Caldwell of PWTorch):
C.M. Punk says a lot of things; he runs his mouth a lot. It doesn't make a difference to me. It's irrelevant to me. He can say whatever he wants. I'm not phased by it. All I care about is C.M. Punk shows up and does his job.
Punk's comments stemmed from a handicap match last year on the November 25 episode of Raw, where Punk believed Triple H and The Authority were behind the curious booking:
Handicap matches seem to be all the rage around here and if you ask me, personally, I think that's The Authority's way of fixing a problem. 'Oh we have a problem, we'll just stick 'em in a handicap match.' Good thinking, Triple H, real creative!
The war of words turned physical two weeks later during the December 9 edition of Raw. In the middle of a frenzied brawl at WWE's first Championship Ascension ceremony, Triple H aggressively pulled Punk off WWE World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton. Punk followed up by laying out The Game with a right hand of his own.
The following week, Punk called out Triple H but received a confrontation with Shawn Michaels—Triple H's best friend—instead.
Punk's eagerness to fight Triple H following their scuffle, only to run into Michaels, is evidence of WWE slowly pacing the Punk-Triple H feud so it can build to a crescendo when their match is set. The rivalry has not given away too much physicality, thus keeping a potential physical contest on pay-per-view fresh.
When the time comes for a pay-per-view match, neither Triple H or CM Punk need a world heavyweight championship and are better served as high-profile attractions. The escalating feud between the two top stars indicates a WrestleMania match will be the end game, which does not bode well for CM Punk's Royal Rumble chances.
A CM Punk elimination that can easily be traced back to Triple H will be the next step in a long program that dates back to late 2013 and will culminate in April.