One of my first memories of professional wrestling is the first Royal Rumble, which took place in 1988. I was 6 years old.
Because of that and the excitement of the annual event, it long has been my favorite WWE pay-per-view (ironically, the first Royal Rumble wasn’t a PPV; it was broadcast on the USA Network). I saw the first Rumble with my grandpa at his house. There haven’t been too many that I’ve missed, and for the past 15-plus years, my friends and I have made the 30-man (except that one year when there were 40 guys) January PPV a regular celebration.
My excitement level for the Royal Rumble never has dipped, no matter the participants (though the stronger the competitors, the better) or WWE’s level of success leading up to the match. I think I have an idea of who the winner will be (my money’s on Daniel Bryan), but I don’t care if I’m wrong. In fact, like many professional wrestling fans, I like to be surprised. That’s my way of saying it’d be great if CM Punk won.
So far, 18 wrestlers have been confirmed to compete in the Rumble match. I’ll lay those out along with the 12 I think will appear. I base the list on who probably will be in, too. For the past decade-plus, the Royal Rumble has been a match where former regulars come back for a surprise appearance, and some non-wrestlers, too (Drew Carey, anyone?). I’ve never been a huge fan of that since I like the match to have people with a believable chance to win it. Thankfully, with 12 spots yet to be filled, there isn’t a lot of room for those this year, based on who remains on the roster of regulars.
In alphabetical order, here’s my list of the 30 Royal Rumble participants for the Jan. 26, 2014, PPV (those confirmed as of Jan. 17 appear in bold):
1. Alberto Del Rio
2. Antonio Cesaro: He’s one of the best wrestlers in WWE. He should be splitting from The Real Americans soon. I’d like to see him have a good showing.
3. Bad News Barrett
5. Big E Langston
6. Billy Gunn
7. Bray Wyatt: It only makes sense that the leader of The Wyatt Family is in this match, especially since he’s feuding with the favorite to win it.
8. CM Punk
9. Chris Jericho: He returned at the 2013 Rumble but swears he won’t be back for this one. Right. We’ll see.
10. Cody Rhodes
11. Curtis Axel: What else is the guy going to do? His tag team partner, Ryback, probably will be in it, too.
12. Damien Sandow: I’d like to see a big 2014 for Sandow. A nice Rumble would help kick-start that.
13. Daniel Bryan: My pick to win the Rumble and face the WWE World Heavyweight champion at WrestleMania XXX.
14. Dean Ambrose
15. Erick Rowan: He’s a part of The Wyatt Family; he’ll be in it.
18. Jack Swagger: He’ll be in the match and get eliminated by or eliminate Cesaro.
19. Kofi Kingston
20. Luke Harper: Same as Rowan, he’ll be in the match.
21. The Miz
23. Rey Mysterio
24. Road Dogg
25. Roman Reigns
26. Ryback: The “Big Guy” will do some damage here, if I get my way.
27. Seth Rollins
28. Sheamus: Making his return after about six months away due to an injury, Sheamus might find himself one of the final four wrestlers in the match.
29. Sin Cara: Or is it Hunico? He’ll have to do something here, probably eliminate Rey Mysterio, to set up the long-rumored match with Rey-Rey at WrestleMania.
30. Xavier Woods
Final 4: Batista, Bray Wyatt, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan
Winner: Daniel Bryan
On the bench
Brodus Clay: WWE loves having big guys in the Royal Rumble.
Great Khali: See above.
Kane: He has been interacting with Punk and was Bryan’s tag team partner. Plus, he has a rich history in the Royal Rumble.
Rob Van Dam: He could be one of the “surprise” entrants.
Drew McIntyre: He’s 1 of 3MB.
Heath Slater: See above.
Jinder Mahal: See above above.
Mark Henry: “Injured,” otherwise he’d be in it. But who knows? Maybe he will be.
Zack Ryder: I think he’s still a WWE employee.
Tensai: He’s a big guy.
Triple H: You never know.
Randy Orton: Defends WWE World Heavyweight Championship against John Cena.
Big Show: Set to face Brock Lesnar.
Brock Lesnar: Set to face Big Show.
John Cena: Challenging Randy Orton for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Alex Riley: Kidding.
Booker T: He’s done it before.
Brad Maddox: Wishful thinking on my part.
Darren Young: One of many guys in a tag team who doesn’t have anything to do.
Titus O’Neill: See above.
Christian: I think he’s still concussed.
Curt Hawkins: See Zack Ryder.
Diego: One half of Los Matadores; probably won’t be in it.
Fernando: Same as Diego.
Dolph Ziggler: Concussed. Out.
Evan Bourne: Where has he been?
Jimmy Uso: I assume The Usos will face Codedust for the Tag Team titles. And my guess is they win, the Rhodeses feud into the Rumble match and set up a Cody vs. Dustin match at WrestleMania.
Jey Uso: See Jimmy Uso.
William Regal: Bring back the power of the punch!
Santino: Dude was a runner-up.
Tyson Kidd: Do it, WWE.
Undertaker: There’s no way he’d be in this match again without winning. And he ain’t winnin’.
Yoshi Tatsu: See Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins.