Full Royal Rumble preview and predictions

Sports Mole previews the 2014 Royal Rumble and predicts who will emerge victorious from the five matches on the card.

The 27th annual edition of the WWE Royal Rumble takes place at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this Sunday.

As well as the traditional 30-man over-the-top-rope battle royal, there is as good a selection of undercard matches as the January event will have seen since 2000.

Below, Sports Mole picks out who they think will go on to main event WrestleMania in April, and the rest of the winners and losers.

Tag Team Championship match: The Brotherhood (c) vs. The New Age Outlaws

Cody Rhodes and his brother Goldust have been without credible competition for their titles since The Shield dropped out of contention and, just over three months into a reign that started with such excitement and promise, the Tag Team Championship picture has gone rather stale again.

The Real Americans seemed bound for a push in the midst of Antonio Cesaro's swing phenomenon, but have fallen back while units such as The Wyatt Family and The Usos, much improved and certainly deserving of a run with the gold, have been utilised in storylines higher up the card.

So, Triple H has called an old friend and they have come running. Neither Billy Gunn or Road Dogg have been full-time members of the roster for over a decade, but The New Age Outlaws and former D-Generation X members have proven already that they can still go when they step inside the squared circle.

Opportunities for a WrestleMania brother vs. brother match with the Rhodes family keep passing by and that possibility could be under consideration for the 30th edition of the spectacle this April, and therefore the sons of 'The American Dream' Dusty Rhodes may be dropping their belts in the near future.

The Outlaws may not be crowned six-time champions on Sunday, though, as this rivalry, which could well see The Brotherhood feud with The Authority again, has some mileage in it. Look for the Rhodes siblings to retain in Pittsburgh but then lose a rematch which hasn't been demoted to a YouTube pre-show.

Prediction: Cody to get the pinfall via a Cross Rhodes on either Outlaw.

Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt

Preview: A match that many thought we would see at WrestleMania has been brought forward to the Rumble and will likely kick off the live PPV event. Daniel Bryan's quick separation from Bray Wyatt and his family suggests that the WWE has bigger fish for him to fry in April and therefore he should win here.

Since debuting in July, Wyatt has engaged fans with his eccentricity, both in the ring and on the microphone, and a loss in Pennsylvania will not decrease their fascination with him too much. Defeat for Bryan would be damaging and mean he is unlikely to be included in one of the top three Mania bouts.

'The American Dragon' finally has 'The Eater of Worlds' in a one-on-one match, but do not expect things to stay that way. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan will probably show up in the closing stages only to see their intervention thwarted by Bryan, who is red hot right now having reestablished himself as a face.

It will be intriguing to see how Wyatt performs in singles competition on the big stage and how he stands up against one of the best wrestlers in the business. The future is bright for him, but it will by Bryan's night on Sunday and he may even go on to record a double victory with Rumble success later on.

Prediction: Bryan to win via a running knee to the head of Wyatt.

Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show

Preview: This is a script that's been written before, and not just in terms of these two meeting at the Royal Rumble. One moment Big Show is losing to or struggling against a variety of mid-card superstars and the next we are supposed to consider him a credible monster again, just because he is 7ft tall and 425lbs.

The smart WWE fan has a long memory. Throwing Lesnar across the ring twice and putting 64-year-old Zeb Coulter in a wheelchair does not fool anyone into thinking that 'The World's Largest Athlete' can beat 'The Beast Incarnate', who will be competing for the first time since SummerSlam last August.

Lesnar will win this one and move onto, if not bigger, more exciting things in the coming months, but this could still prove to be an entertaining rematch of their 2003 fight at the same PPV. Look out for some eye-catching spots from Lesnar as they push him towards a high-profile WrestleMania feud.

Prediction: Lesnar to be victorious courtesy of a crowd-popping F5.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship match: Randy Orton (c) vs. John Cena

Preview: In a rematch of their title unification clash at TLC in December, these two bitter enemies and WWE mainstays will collide once more with the winner all but guaranteed to carry the gold to Mania.

If John Cena were to do that, then why not have him win the original bout? Randy Orton in the main event at The Showcase of the Immortals has long been touted and that is still expected to be the case.

The circumstances of Orton's victory needs to rule out the possibility of a third meeting in the latest instalment of this rivalry and allow him to tread his own Cena-less path to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

With Batista one of the favourites to win the Royal Rumble match, another old foe lies in waiting for 'The Viper' at Mania if he is triumphant in Pittsburgh, but the presence of Lesnar lurking in the shadows of the title picture means that Cena becoming a 15-time world champion should not be ruled out.

A return to their prematurely-ended feud of 2012 would be an easier booking than a heel vs. heel, Orton vs. Lesnar showdown at The Elimination Chamber, but the WWE will probably work their way around that minor problem and make The Apex Predator look strong with a clean victory over Cena.

Prediction: Orton to win with no outside interference and minimal shenanigans.

The 30-man Royal Rumble match

Preview: Onto the finale, and a favourite with many wrestling fans. Barring any major returns or surprises, the 27th annual Royal Rumble match has four realistic winners, as Sports Mole identifies in its in-depth preview of the over-the-top-rope brawl.

One of Batista, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan or Roman Reigns is almost certain to be the last man standing on Sunday night and have earned themselves a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Mania.

An indication of which one of the quartet may triumph is likely to come in the result of the title match that will probably precede it. Cena winning paves the way for a Bryan victory, while Orton retaining his belt opens the door for any of the other trio to outlast their 29 fellow superstars.

Expect three of them, and perhaps Alberto Del Rio or the returning Sheamus to be the final four participants, but Punk to be eliminated slightly earlier following a distraction from The Authority, having gone most of the way after starting as the number-one entrant.

All of the other leading contenders have plenty of momentum behind them heading to the Consol Energy Center, but fresh off his comeback appearance, Batista is the favourite to win, a result which would set up the WrestleMania showdown teased between him and ex-Evolution comrade Orton on RAW this week.

Prediction: Batista. No, wait. Bryan. No, wait. Reigns. No, Batista. Let's stick with Batista.

WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan flys off the ropes during the WWE Smackdown Live Tour at Westridge Park Tennis Stadium on July 08, 2011
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