In the end, only one man wins the Royal Rumble (except in 1994) and the following four men should prove to be the last WWE Superstars around to sow their WrestleMania dreams.
When the field of 30 is shed of all the surprise entrants, the filler and the bottom-feeders, only four true contenders will remain.
Dark horses will battle with favorites. Past winners will clash with rising stars.
The WrestleMania 29 sign hanging from the US Airways rafters will look upon these four men last.
When Royal Rumble 2013 is over, Randy Orton could very well be the man soaking in the warmth of a roaring Phoenix crowd.
Picking a Rumble winner is partly about foreseeing the upcoming WrestleMania main events.
Orton seems a likely candidate to be one half of the World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania. He's a top dog who hasn't held a title since Sept. 18, 2011. WrestleMania 29 is maybe as long as WWE is willing to wait before it crowns Orton again.
He's been a part of the Rumble final four for five of the last seven years. Expect the pattern to continue and Orton to have a big year.
Dolph Ziggler is due for some positive momentum.
In 2012, his win-loss record was cringe-worthy. Ziggler went 21-39-3 last year. That makes for more losses than Tensai and Santino combined.
Seeing how he's likely to become World Heavyweight Champion in the near future thanks to a certain briefcase, WWE has to start presenting him as a legitimate threat.
An ironman performance in the Rumble could do wonders for Ziggler.
Before he cashes in his Money in the Bank contract, Royal Rumble 2013 could be his launch pad to greater things.
Should WWE surround Orton with 3MB as the last men standing, there would be no intrigue. Jinder Mahal is not going to challenge for the world title at WrestleMania 29 and fans know that.
John Cena is one of the few men on the roster just as likely as Orton to win come Sunday. Putting him against Orton heightens the suspense of the match.
Having won just about everything with WWE's name on it, including the 2008 Rumble, Cena's history leads one to believe that he'll win again.
Cena in the final four also gives Orton a chance to do something underhanded to a major babyface—an act that could mark the beginning of Orton's expected heel turn.
Along with the wrestlers who fans would expect to last until the last four, WWE is bound to offer at least one surprise.
There is entertainment value in the unexpected, something WWE has utilized before at previous Rumbles. In 2011, Santino shocked us all by being the last man eliminated. Ted DiBiase surprisingly made the final four in 2009.
What better way to push The Shield up the WWE ladder than to have its de facto leader challenge established stars at Royal Rumble 2013?
Randy Orton's history with Ambrose gives this scenario electricity from the start.
Should the other Shield members attempt to tip things in Ambrose's favor, any of the remaining good guys can look that much more heroic by ousting Ambrose and thwarting Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns.
The Royal Rumble could be a vehicle to elevate Ambrose by just getting close.
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