Star-studded Royal Rumble match has WWE at its best

The Royal Rumble will officially kick off WWE’s Road to WrestleMania. The question of who will main event that show makes this pay-per-view even better. 

For WWE fans, WrestleMania is the equivalent of the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup Final, or the World Series.

We’re still a couple of months away from the Showcase of the Immortals — but on Sunday, the road to WrestleMania officially begins as the Royal Rumble will take place in front of a sold-out Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

The Royal Rumble match itself has been one of the staples of the company for nearly three decades. Unfortunately, however, it hasn’t been as highly anticipated in recent years — simply because it was too predictable.

Once The Rock ended CM Punk’s historic 434-day World Title reign at the event in 2013, it was obvious that the WWE was going to go with a rematch against John Cena — a contest they deemed “Once in a Lifetime” less than a year earlier. Even though fans didn’t want to believe it, a returning Batista was the Royal Rumble winner despite the outpouring of love for Daniel Bryan. Fortunately, the creative team came to their senses and inserted the leader of the YES! Movement into the main event of WrestleMania XXX.

The foreseeable outcomes didn’t end after that two-year span.

To the dismay of nearly the entire fan base, the WWE was firmly behind Roman Reigns, who emerged victorious in 2015. The raucous Philadelphia crowd rebelled against the questionable booking of the Royal Rumble match and even managed to boo The Rock as he returned to help his cousin. Just last year, Reigns was once again the focal point — and with his feud with The Authority reaching a boiling point, many correctly predicted that Triple H would emerge as a surprise entrant and capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (which was on the line for just the second time in Royal Rumble history).

2017, however, is a different story. For the first time in five years, it’s hard to say who will become the number one contender at WrestleMania. But when the WWE is unpredictable, it’s at its best.

The Royal Rumble match is flooded with part-time legends, current superstars, up-and-coming talents, and the all-important surprise entrants that the battle royal has come to be known for.

The trio of Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker, and Goldberg highlight the match. Each of the three stars would have a main event match at WrestleMania without a championship on the line, but with the way the creative team has booked them, it wouldn’t be a shock to see one of those three with their arm raised by the referee.

On the Raw side of things, Braun Strowman and his monster push puts him at the forefront of the conversation. The case could be made for Sami Zayn, Chris Jericho, and Rusev to come out as winners as well.

Smackdown, too, has its viable options. Dean Ambrose is the WWE Intercontinental Champion but he wouldn’t be the first wrestler to fight for the top prize with the belt in tow. Other members of the blue brand that have been mentioned as the last man standing are The Miz, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, and Dolph Ziggler.

Of course, the surprise entrants could play a vital role. Big time names like Kevin Nash, Booker T, and Diamond Dallas Page have returned in the past, but that’s obviously for nostalgia purpose. But if a returning Finn Balor or a promoted Samoa Joe come out at the buzzer, the unknown will be furthered.

As the Royal Rumble goes off the air on Sunday, you’ll see someone doing the famous pose of standing on the top turnbuckle and pointing at the WrestleMania sign as confetti and fireworks go off.

The best part? There is no favorite.

And that may be the best part of it all.

Besides writing for Elite Sports New York as Managing Editor, Dan Federico a Featured Writer for Bleacher Report and an Editor and Contributor for The Sportster. Based just outside of New York City, Dan is an avid fan of all things New York sports and professional wrestling. Dan Federico is a senior writer for Elite Sports NY. You can interact with him on Twitter or contact him via email.