On Sunday night, sports entertainment fans across the world will be treated to one of the grandest spectacles of the year: the Royal Rumble.
The main event sees 30 WWE superstars battle in an over-the-top-rope elimination match where the winner will be given a title opportunity for either Raw’s WWE Universal Championship or Smackdown’s WWE Championship at Wrestlemania.
With so many title-worthy contenders facing off in this year’s Rumble, it of course remains unclear which superstar will reign supreme – even so, here’s our list of possible winners, surprise entries and future storylines in the build-up to Wrestlemania 33…
After his return to Raw a few weeks ago, the Undertaker made an immediate impact by announcing himself as a contender in this year’s Rumble.
As one of the clear favourites, the Undertaker seems a safe bet. It could set up possible matches against Roman Reigns or John Cena if either are able to win their brand’s respective world titles in the run-up to Wrestlemania.
Although this would be a massive shock, Kurt Angle gets my vote for Royal Rumble winner.
Announced in this year’s WWE Hall of Fame, the stage is set for the former Olympic gold medallist to have one more main event run. His victory could possibly set up a match against one of Angle’s former TNA rivals, AJ Styles.
This would solve any problems regarding Styles’ booking for Wrestlemania and would see two of the best ever wrestlers fighting on the grandest stage of them all.
Brock Lesnar or Goldberg
These two are included together as it seems almost certain that they will face off one more time at Wrestlemania as Lesnar looks to avenge his humiliating Survivor Series defeat.
Although two of the clear favourites, neither looks likely to win the Rumble, as WWE attempts to fill Wrestlemania with as many main event matches as possible.
What looks more likely is that these two destructive forces will cancel each other out, possibly being eliminated together.
Randy Orton or Bray Wyatt
An Orton or Wyatt win would help to secure Smackdown’s dominance and would probably result in the two locking horns for the WWE Championship.
A possible scenario could see Orton victorious at the Rumble and Wyatt win the Elimination Chamber. Whether they win or not, it seems increasingly likely that the two will face off at Wrestlemania in April.
Although he lost his place to Sami Zayn last Monday, it would be unwise to overlook the Architect as a possible Rumble winner.
Whatever happens, Rollins looks set to face his former mentor, Triple H at Wrestlemania. The question is, then, how many main event matches are WWE hoping to pack in to their Super Bowl?
WWE’s new monster has been heavily pushed by the company in recent months. A Strowman victory would hark back to WWE’s obsession with the big guy.
Nonetheless, it feels like this would be too soon to force Strowman into the main event spotlight, especially as his mic skills leave a lot to be desired. An elimination by Sami Zayn would be the right result.
This year’s Rumble looks certain to provide a number of surprises.
If the rumours are correct, it seems that Samoa Joe will enter the Rumble and join the main roster. Although unlikely, his victory would be one of the quickest surges to main event status.
Finn Balor’s reign as WWE Universal Champion was cut dramatically short after he was forced to relinquish his title due to injury. While he’s not set to be match-fit until March, the Royal Rumble presents the perfect opportunity for a surprise return.
Balor’s victory would be welcomed by the WWE Universe who were passionate in their support for the Demon after his draft pick to Raw in July 2016.
Another possible entry (though not winner) could be Kenny Omega. Although Omega remains a NJPW employee, he is heavily sought after by the WWE – demonstrated by Seth Rollins’ reference to Omega as a surprise Rumble entrant, which was later cut from the promo.
It’s not long until we find out…