And finally, we come to the 2010 Royal Rumble, the most recent in memory. Sure, there were a lot of wrestlers who had the potential to win the match, but this off-beat contest ended in an all-too-predictable fashion despite including a big surprise.
With John Cena and Shawn Michaels seemingly disposing of ever foe from mid-match on, the 29th entrant, a returning Edge, threw a monkey wrench into the plans. The vicious Batista would enter 30th, giving us an almost immediate final four that had just a few motivations for victory.
If Edge won, it would continue the "surprise" Rumble theme while also immediately thrusting the Rated-R Superstar back into the title picture.
If Michaels won, he'd get his rematch with the Undertaker that all fans salivated for.
If Batista won, he'd be a true surprise considering nobody expected him to even rank in the top three of options at this point.
And if Cena won, well, there wasn't really a motivation to give Cena the win. Just to keep him on top would be the only logical way. So when it came down to Cena and Edge, even me, a Cena fan at heart, was happy to see The Champ toppled in favor of the surprise entry.
But of course, it didn't matter. Edge went to WrestleMania and lost his title match. Cena went to WrestleMania and won his. No Rumble winner in the past four years has gone on to win the World Title. Conversely, no Rumble winner in the last four years has really needed to win the Rumble to be a legitimate star.
This trend may well continue at the 2011 Royal Rumble, though even the smartest of pundits has to admit that at this point, its a total roll of the dice. Keep your eyes on the winner and the runner-up, because you just never know.