As the weekend of the 2013 Royal Rumble is now upon us, there only seems to be one overwhelming prediction for the annual over-the-top-rope tradition.
John Cena is a clear favorite to win the 30-man Royal Rumble match tonight, making for his second victory of the match in his career.
While the likely decision will be to have Dolph Ziggler begin the match and have a strong showing until Cena comes in, eliminates him and ultimately wins the match, it isn't very concrete on what Cena will do with his world title opportunity at WrestleMania 29 if he wins.
The obvious choice would be that Cena wins the Royal Rumble and faces the winner of The Rock and CM Punk. This will be hammered home if Punk and The Rock end up being the last match of the night, breaking an almost exclusive tradition of the battle royale ending the night. It would play into the idea of the winner facing Cena at WrestleMania, with either matchup being appealing.
Ever since their WWE Championship matches began at Money in the Bank 2011, John Cena and CM Punk have been unable to have a championship match on pay-per-view without controversy.
Be it distractions by John Laurinaitis, a questionable count by Triple H at SummerSlam 2011, the insertion of Alberto Del Rio and Big Show into title bouts or a draw at Night of Champions 2012, there hasn't been a clear winner or loser in any of these big matches. Even at RAW 1,000, Cena cashed in Money in the Bank on Punk, but saw Big Show interfere to disqualify Cena, making for the first-ever unsuccessful cash-in. WrestleMania could see the historic reign of Punk's finally fall on the greatest stage of them all.
As for Cena and The Rock, that story doesn't need much to explain this rivalry. After all, WWE took the risk of booking their main event for last year's WrestleMania one year in advance.
They took the same risk in booking The Rock into tonight's WWE Championship match back at RAW 1,000, but little rivaled the hype surrounding Cena and The Rock facing off at WrestleMania. It was dubbed Once In a Lifetime at the time, but the wrestling world tends to bring sequels to life. Cena and The Rock at WrestleMania for the second straight year? With the championship on the line this time?
Believing that Cena will automatically go after the WWE Championship isn't wise, though. Sure, it is a title Cena has held 10 times, but a world title is a world title. Who's to say that the World Heavyweight Championship couldn't be in Cena's grasp just the same? After all, it was Cena who attempted to end 2012 by becoming Mr. Money in the Bank for a briefcase dedicated to cashing in on the World Heavyweight Championship.
The current champion, Alberto Del Rio, has a past with Cena, despite his new attitude. Cena also has bad blood with Big Show, the challenger to Del Rio's title tonight. There's even the idea that Ziggler cashes in, becomes World Heavyweight Champion and faces John Cena at WrestleMania, keeping that feud going.
There's also no guarantee that John Cena will even wait until WrestleMania. Remember his first Royal Rumble victory in 2008? Cena had shocked wrestling fans all over the world by coming back earlier than anticipated from injury to win the Royal Rumble as the 30th entrant.
Cena didn't wait until WrestleMania to challenge WWE Champion Randy Orton, facing him at No Way Out instead. Orton got himself disqualified, blowing the Royal Rumble title opportunity Cena got. He would make his way into the WrestleMania match anyway, in a triple threat with Orton and Triple H, but would lose again to Orton.
All that seems to be certain is that John Cena will be a big part of tonight's Royal Rumble match. In his previous six Rumbles, Cena has won once and been the last man eliminated twice. He has never entered earlier than 18th, which means he will likely get a good draw, and has never been eliminated earlier than the final nine men in the match. Only twice has Cena survived under 15 minutes, with one of those times being his winning performance in 2008. Without eliminations in each of his first two Royal Rumble matches, Cena has eliminated at least three men in each of the last four, including seven eliminations in the 40-man Royal Rumble of 2011.
All of that information for Cena seems certain, though it is hard to truly predict the Royal Rumble match. In the eyes of many, Cena has already won this match. What he does with the opportunity, however, is anyone's guess.