Aside from 'Wrestlemania' itself, it doesn't get any bigger than the 'Royal Rumble'. And this year's, emanating from Phoenix, AZ, offers not just the traditional battle royal that everyone loves, but also a match that could easily headline the show at 'The Grandest Stage of Them All', in the form of CM Punk vs. The Rock – a match with an outcome that isn't all that obvious. Here is the Sports 101 PPV Prediction Panel:
Mark Eddinger, from Motor Sports 101. @WorldRacing101, sitting in second with 27 points.
Peter Schifani, from New York Jets 101. @NY_Jets101, coping with last place with 24 points.
Brennon Keys, from Rams 101. @Rams_101, enjoying Peter's misery with 24.5 points.
And, of course, Chris Arney @WWrestling101, mentioning that he's in first place at every possible turn with 29 points.
United States Championship
Antonio Cesaro (c) vs The Miz
ME: Antonio will retain.
PS: This has been a nice little rivalry for awhile now, but The Miz won't be the first American to take the title from Cesaro.
BK: Cesaro, along with Punk, has been one of the most convincing heels in recent memory when it comes to his wrestling
ability. Miz isn't a big enough face to upset him right now.
CA: Cesaro will retain, although look for Miz to win by either count out or DQ, as these guys are a big enough deal that they wouldn't throw away a feud of theirs on a Pre Show match. This won't be the last time they meet.
Tag Team Championship
Team Hell No (c) vs. Team Rhodes Scholars
ME: The Damien Sandow character is great and his team has been the number one contenders for a long time now. Now that Kane and Bryan have made the belts mean something again, they need to get the belts now.
PS: Dr. Shelby's "graduates" may need to re-enroll after they drop the titles to Rhodes and Sandow.
BK: It will be close, but the titles won't change hands now. Team Hell No is one of the hotter things going in WWE.
CA: While basic logic dictates that Rhodes Scholars has to finally win, they just haven't been booked as much of a threat – every time they meet Hell No, they job HARD. At this point, it seems to make sense to have Kane and Bryan carry the titles into 'Wrestlemania' (does anyone else miss Bryan as a Singles star?), so they'll retain, here.
World Heavyweight Championship
Last Man Standing
Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Big Show
ME: Del Rio winning the title on 'Smackdown' came completely out of left field. With that said, Big Show never holds the belt long, so he won't win it back here. Dolph Ziggler will then be able to go after the newly turned face Del Rio to cash in his 'Money in the Bank' contract.
PS: Since the Big Show is back under contract, it might mean a short reign for Del Rio, but not just yet. He retains until 'Elimination Chamber' in February.
BK: Del Rio's original championship victory never made sense. It's a bump in the storyline – Show is a more captivating champion, for now.
CA: Big Show was built up as such a monster, being the only guy to beat Sheamus cleanly in forever and then they flushed it all down the toilet for a questionably babyface Del Rio, who now looks poised to carry the strap into 'Mania'. A match against Ziggler will likely be good, but it doesn't say "big money" by any stretch and it's hard to really care about Del Rio. That rant aside, Del Rio clearly retains, here. Couldn't they have come up with a different stipulation?
CM Punk (c) vs. The Rock
ME: WWE should not end CM Punk's reign with a loss to The Rock, who only competes a few times throughout the year. There is a real possibility that The Rock wins the title, but CM Punk will retain with a screwy finish of some sort – maybe another interference from The Shield.
PS: The outcome of this match will give a preview into 'WrestleMania'. So will The Rock win and defend in a rematch against Cena, will Punk retain and put his lengthy title reign up against the 20-0 streak of the Undertaker, or something else altogether? Since Vince decreed that The Shield cannot interfere or Punk will be stripped of the title. there could be a vacated title on the line at 'Elimination Chamber'. Punk would be one of the six men in that match, winning back his title and facing Cena and The Rock at 'WrestleMania'.
BK: This feud can carry on for a good amount of time. It's not time for the champ's reign to end.
CA: The chances of Punk going into 'Wrestlemania' with the belt seem thin, even though it would make a lot of sense. That being said, he doesn't have to drop it, here. A lot more could be done with a feud between these two, and The Rock carrying the belt for two months seems unlikely. Take note of the fact that McMahon's edict is that Punk will be stripped of the title if THE SHIELD interferes. That means someone else could, or Punk could get disqualified or counted out or something else. By hook or by crook, Punk retains.
30-Man Elimination Match
Winner: The WWE hasn't heard from Brock Lesnar in a while. He will win.
Who is the Iron Man?: Dolph Ziggler will be the man in the match for the longest time, after being forced to enter first or second.
Who gets the most eliminations?: Kane.
Who is the last eliminated?: John Cena will be eliminated last by Lesnar.
Winner: John Cena
Who is the Iron Man?: Dolph Ziggler
Who Gets the Most eliminations?: Ryback
Who is the last eliminated?: Randy Orton
Who is the Iron Man?: Kane
Who gets the most eliminations?: Big E. Langston
Winner: Unless WWE goes FAR out of left field, someone is becoming a two-time winner. It's a boring choice, but with a rematch from last year looking imminent, John Cena seems like a safe bet to win.
Who is the Iron Man?: Dolph Ziggler is a perfect choice to do this, in the first place, and being put in the beginning makes it easy enough.
Who gets the most eliminations?: They're going to want to make Sheamus, Randy Orton, and Ryback look tough even though they won't be winning. Of those three… Sheamus will get the most.
Who's the last eliminated?: It's tempting to say that Cena eliminates an exhausted Ziggler to win, but eliminating Orton would be a bigger deal (Orton's been the second-to-last eliminated the last two years in a row) and set him up for his long-rumored heel turn.