Each year, the Royal Rumble match gives a Superstar a chance to headline WrestleMania. Whether it's a rising star or a seasoned veteran, the Superstar who wins the Royal Rumble will likely have a successful career in the WWE.
Last year, Alberto Del Rio won the Royal Rumble match, and his career has taken off since then. The Royal Rumble is a place for rivalries and returns, but most of all, it's the first leg in the Road to WrestleMania.
Here are my top 10 candidates to win the 2012 Royal Rumble match.
Countless times now, John Morrison has been on the brink of stardom only to be pushed back to mediocrity. Morrison has a reputation of performing unbelievable moves at PPVs. At the last Royal Rumble, he even avoided elimination by jumping from the ring to the security barrier.
Morrison's achilles heel is his mic work, but it's been a while since he's been able to show us his skills. Though it's unlikely, perhaps this year is the year he finally breaks into the main event.
Wade Barrett probably should have already been a champion by now, but that hasn't happened. Instead, he is wrestling on the upper-mid card of SmackDown.
But his luck seems to be changing.
He wrestled in the main event of Raw this past Monday, and we already know the WWE holds him in high regards. This likely won't be the year for Barrett at the Royal Rumble, but stranger things have happened.
Cody Rhodes is another WWE Superstar with a promising future. He is currently holding the WWE Intercontinental Championship—the first of what should be many championships in his career.
He possess all the necessary skills to be a champion. He is very charismatic on the microphone, his in-ring ability has improved greatly, and it always helps when you're the son of a WWE Hall of Famer.
At one point or another, Rhodes will be world champion. Perhaps this is the year?
"The Great White" has been very impressive in his young WWE career. He is already a two-time WWE Champion, and a face turn on SmackDown may be his ticket back to the main event.
He was a favorite for the "SmackDown Money In Bank Match," but the victory went to Daniel Bryan instead.
Could Sheamus be headlining WrestleMania this year? Maybe, but his chances are slim.
Alberto Del Rio won the 2011 Royal Rumble match and headlined WrestleMania, where he lost to Edge. Del Rio also won the 2011 Raw Money In The Bank Match and is now WWE Champion.
The way the WWE has built him up recently, it would not surprise me to see him win his second Royal Rumble match in two years. Of course, his current reign would likely have to end in order for this to happen because it's unlikely that the winner of the Royal Rumble would also be the current champion.
The only reason John Cena is not higher on this list is because he already has a WrestleMania match against The Rock.
That being said, Cena is the WWE's golden boy, and a second Royal Rumble victory is not out of the question.
It is unlikely though, because this would only complicate his match with The Rock and take the opportunity away from another Superstar who does not yet have a WrestleMania match.
Ever since he lost the WWE Championship to John Cena earlier this year, The Miz has been trying to return to the main event. He has already proven himself and has recently formed a tag team with R-Truth.
Royal Rumble would be an excellent opportunity for Miz to jump right back into the main event, and he is a favorite to win the match.
Miz will be champion again, and this may be his opportunity.
What better way for a future Hall of Famer to return then in the No. 30 (or No. 40?) spot in the Royal Rumble? He saw his friend Edge return here in the 2010 Royal Rumble and went on to defeat him at WrestleMania.
Chris Jericho will likely return by WrestleMania season, and his presence has been greatly missed by the WWE universe. If Jericho doesn't return before the Royal Rumble, he will likely return at the event and find himself a winner.
In a matter of months, CM Punk has gone from a misused talent to the future of the WWE. He has already won two Money in The Bank matches and held both the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship.
But he is yet to win a Royal Rumble match.
A win would help build his legacy and please the fans greatly. Punk is no longer the underdog he once was, but has quickly become one of the most loved Superstars in the WWE.
The 2012 Royal Rumble will be taking place in St. Louis, Missouri—the hometown of "The Viper" Randy Orton. The only reason Orton may not win the Royal Rumble is because he may still be champion entering the PPV.
The WWE has portrayed Orton as unbeatable, and a long title reign for him is highly possible. Orton already has one Royal Rumble victory under his belt, and a second may not be too far away.