At the Royal Rumble tonight, the focus should be on The Undertaker – specifically planning for his match at Wrestlemania coming up in a couple months.

I’m almost sure that anyone reading this article would be aware of this fact, but the winner of the WWE’s Royal Rumble – tonight just as it has been in every Royal Rumble before this one – will be in a World Championship match at Wrestlemania.

When planning for who should win the Royal Rumble tonight, it should focus on who the WWE wants as the challenger to The Undertaker and the World Heavyweight Championship.

First and foremost, let’s get this out of the way:  Rey Mysterio will not defeat The Undertaker at tonight’s event.  Nothing against Rey’s ability to carry the strap.  In fact, I believe that Undertaker should retain the World Championship at Wrestlemania, and I wouldn’t be opposed to Rey getting the belt at Backlash (the pay per view after Wrestlemania).

Not all of the entrants for the Royal Rumble have been announced, but we do know roughly 28 of them, so we can look at those names and speak to their viability to win the Rumble and have a meaningful match with Undertaker at Wrestlemania.

There are certain competitors who have 0 chance of winning this Royal Rumble match:

Evan Bourne, Mark Henry, Cody Rhodes, Ted Dibiase, Santino, Jack Swagger, Carlito, Dolph Ziggler, Finlay, Matt Hardy, R-Truth, Shelton Benjamin, Vladimir Koslov, Yoshi Tatsu, Zack Ryder, Kane.

Those guys have no chance.  They’re either involved in tag teams, haven’t legitimately sniffed title opportunities in several months, or have already proved they aren’t ready for big opportunities in previous chances surrounding title shots.

The follow guys could see a ppv World Title shot in the next six months, but for various reasons it won’t happen at Wrestlemania:

MVP – probable contender to the United States title

The Miz – current United States champion

Kofi Kingston – Wouldn’t be fighting Undertaker at Wrestlemania, though could fight Randy Orton (title or not)

Drew McIntyre – current Intercontinental champion

John Morrison – probable contender to the Intercontinental title

That leaves only the following from whom the WWE needs to pick a competitor whom the fans will think is a viable option to defeat Undertaker, especially given the Match of the Year ‘Taker had almost a year ago with HBK at Wrestlemania:

Chris Jericho – although he was named Wrestler of the Year by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, I don’t believe Jericho is the right option to take on Undertaker at Wrestlemania.  He has been involved in the tag team scene dating back until at least last June when he won the belts alongside Edge.  Jericho hasn’t been inserted enough into the high profile singles match scene to be considered a viable option to defeat Undertaker.

Big Show – Big Show is similar to Chris Jericho in regards to this list, although he wasn’t honored with an award from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.  I’d be shocked if Big Show ends up with the match against Undertaker at the biggest event of the year.

CM Punk – Punk’s getting a lot of on-screen time these days on Smackdown, but I’m not sure how close it’s putting him to the main event.  At this point, I don’t think too many people would consider Punk a viable option to beat Taker at the big event, but I wouldn’t totally discredit it as a possibility.  I’m guessing he’ll probably be in the Money in the Bank ladder match or the World Tag Team Title match at Wrestlemania, both of which would be more fitting than a title shot at ‘Taker.

Batista – I have no idea who Batista should be fighting at Wrestlemania, but I do know that it shouldn’t be Rey Mysterio (who has owned him the past month in multiple matches) and it shouldn’t be The Undertaker.  If Batista can’t beat Rey Mysterio in multiple opportunities, then why should we believe he’s capable of beating Undertaker at Wrestlemania?  Sorry Dave.

Shawn Michaels / HHH – Aside from the fact that I hate the idea of the World Tag Team Champions targeting singles matches at Wrestlemania, I fully expect these guys to do something other than the tag title situation at Wrestlemania (I hope they lose the belts before the big event, but that’s a different story).  Shawn Michaels has stated a few times that he wants to fight Undertaker at Wrestlemania, which I predict won’t happen (and I’d be glad if they find another option for HBK because I don’t want to see the rematch).  I actually predict that in the final four tonight, Shawn Michaels is going to be eliminated by Triple H, providing the second big step in setting up a Wrestlemania match between the two (the first step coming back at Survivor Series when HBK superkicked HHH in the opening seconds of the match).

Edge – I’ve heard there’s a possibility that Edge is going to return tonight at the Rumble, but my guess is that if he does, he probably won’t win for a couple reasons.  I don’t think they’d have him return as a heel to face Undertaker at Wrestlemania, because his value is as a face going up against either CM Punk at Wrestlemania, or the more likely opponent – his former tag team partner Chris Jericho, who Edge has already verbally sparred with while on the shelf.

John Cena – I don’t mean to say that John Cena is the only remaining option, he just happens to be the best option, and I expect him to be the one to win the Royal Rumble and move on to use his guaranteed title shot to face Undertaker at Wrestlemania.  If John Cena wins the Royal Rumble and decides to use the shot to go after Orton or Sheamus at Wrestlemania (not that Sheamus should have the belt going into Wrestlemania, but I suppose it’s a possibility), it’ll be a huge waste.

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