WWE Royal Rumble 2014: Grading the Build of Company's Top Angles Before Raw

Bryan Haas@@thehaastileoneFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2014

WWE Royal Rumble 2014: Grading the Build of Company's Top Angles Before Raw

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    With the Royal Rumble looming on the immediate horizon, WWE currently has many of its top Superstars embroiled in brutal and personal storylines.

    One big return has been promised, while a shocking turn in allegiance has the WWE Universe wondering what will happen next.

    And in WWE, where they try to do whatever is "best for business," they are trying to put their best foot forward going into the winter's hottest pay-per-view. But with any typical report card, there have been highs and lows. Some will be disappointed, and some will be very pleased.

    But at the end of the day, any storyline in WWE is always a work in progress, and the upcoming Royal Rumble will be a huge test that could easily reshape the grade of any one of these current feuds.

What Will Batista Do in the Royal Rumble Match?

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    Batista is a huge name in the pro wrestling game. He’s also 45 years old and hasn't set foot in a WWE ring in more than three-and-a-half years.

    And given the fact that the WWE Universe has still not laid eyes upon him in the flesh, it is hard to figure out exactly what the Animal’s path will include once he does in fact make a physical return.

    It stands to reason that the company would not be bringing him back for nothing, so big things should be expected from him in the very near future.

    And while bringing back former world champions to compete in the 30-man Royal Rumble is cause for celebration, and could easily be deemed a fantastic idea, the idea of Batista competing for the world title at WrestleMania might simply be little too much to handle at this juncture.

    GRADE: B

John Cena vs. Randy Orton

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    By giving us all another Cena-Orton showdown at the Royal Rumble, the company is betting on two things: repetition and proven track records.

    Both of these men are top draws for WWE and have been for quite some time. Adding Cena’s father (whom Orton attacked on Raw last week) to the mix gives this match a personal touch, although we have seen that before in as well.

    Sure, these two guys always seem to have it out for each other, but at the same time, it seems as if yet another contest between them is insulting the collective intelligence of the WWE Universe.

    Yes, they’re two of the top Superstars in the business, but we’ve seen them fight countless times before and don’t need to see it again.

    And other than Orton’s attack on John Cena Sr., little has been done in the past month or so to add significant fuel to an already dying fire.

    GRADE: D

Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show

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    Lesnar is a bully and nothing more at this point. And he finally stepped on the wrong toes and has gotten himself involved in a showdown with the World’s Largest Athlete.

    And frankly, that is a brilliant booking decision by WWE.

    For some time now, it has seemed as if the Big Show has been waning in popularity, and his performances in the ring have become more limited than they once were. And at age 41, that is completely understandable.

    Lesnar, who seems to have a real knack (and passion) for beating people senseless or breaking their bones, is looking make a huge splash in a short period of time.

    The promise of his impending showdown with the Big Show is exactly what he needs to prove his physical dominance and really drive home his new mantra of “Eat, Sleep, Conquer, Repeat.”

    By placing him in a program with Lesnar, who at times seems as if he would forget his own name if Paul Heyman was not there to announce it for him, Show meets an equally physically intimidating person in what can only be predicated as a complete and total slugfest in the making.

    Expect a ton of physicality to come from these two behemoths and a rivalry that could very well steal the show heading into the Royal Rumble itself.

    GRADE: A-

CM Punk vs. The Shield

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    Who truly is the most impressive member of The Shield? Of late, it seems without a shadow of a doubt to be Roman Reigns. Having defeated Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, Punk has yet to figure out a solution for the resident powerhouse of the group.

    And while Punk has had his way with the trio in the past, and even fairly recently, he has developed a new problem with others, namely the New Age Outlaws and director of authority Kane.

    And while these overall threats might not be a big deal to Punk on an average day, all six men could easily gang up and try to take him out for the long term.

    But with the exception of Jake “the Snake” Roberts (in a masterful one-time appearance) and occasionally the Usos, Punk has received no help lately in his quest to triumph over the evil that has stood in his way.

    And every week, fans tune in to see Punk continually get the better of anyone that he faces. And more often than not, he does. But in recent weeks, it seems as if the deck is now stacked so far against the Straight Edge Superstar that he will not be able to overcome much more.

    And that is what makes this angle the most intriguing one going forward. Seeing Punk unable to figure out a solution to this problem will be entertaining and intriguing, as are most things that he has been involved in since making his main roster debut in 2006.

    GRADE: A

Daniel Bryan vs. the Wyatt Family

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    This storyline has been really unusual from the start. First Bryan was fighting against the Wyatts.

    Then he was fighting alongside them.

    And now it seems as if he is fighting against them again, after only a few short weeks of being their ally.

    Bryan shocked us all when he finally gave up hope and joined the three men who had been mercilessly  beating on him for weeks. He seemed more aggressive in the following weeks but appeared to have trouble conforming to the group dynamic.

    Things finally came to a head on Raw last week, when Bryan shed his Wyatt Family-issued garb and attacked Bray Wyatt within the confines of a steel cage. And thus ended a short but confusing storyline that needed way more explanation and depth before it could be termed successful.

    And now with the news that Bryan may have sustained a severe concussion during that steel cage match, and that he could even miss his proposed match with Bray Wyatt at the Royal Rumble, where does this feud go from here?

    GRADE: Incomplete