Royal Rumble 2013 predictions: Guessing the Royal Rumble Match's best (and worst) performers

Only one Superstar can leave the Royal Rumble Match on Jan. 27 with a World Title opportunity guaranteed for WrestleMania, but that doesn’t mean the victor is the only thing the WWE Universe cares about when it comes to the annual 30-Superstar slugfest. ( MATCH PREVIEW | POLL)

Perhaps the most beloved match format in all of sports-entertainment, the Royal Rumble Match has something for everyone. With that in mind, WWE.com breaks out the tarot cards and offers predictions not on which Superstar will prevail but, rather, which Superstars will notch other noteworthy achievements. Who will hold the 2013 record for most eliminations? Which Superstar is most likely to earn the dubious distinction of shortest time spent in the Royal Rumble Match this year? Which WWE Legend is least likely to join the fray?

Check out our predictions and let us know your thoughts. Better yet, try your hand at fortunetelling and weigh in on the WWE.com poll question: “Who will eliminate the most Superstars in this year's Royal Rumble Match?”

Who will go the longest? Antonio Cesaro

There is no more hostile proving ground in WWE than the Royal Rumble Match, yet there are also few better stages on which a Superstar can have a career-defining performance. Even if a competitor falls short of winning the 30-Superstar bout, he can still quickly raise his stock in WWE. All he has to do is last a really long time in the melee.

Needless to say, it’s much easier said than done.

Several factors go a long way in determining whether a Superstar can take home the “Royal Rumble iron man” title, and none is more important than the order of entry. (After all, a grappler who enters at No. 30 has much less opportunity to amass a 40- or 50-minute showing than somebody who pulls a single-digit entry number.)

Disregarding that variable, the other main factor to consider is conditioning, and in the realm of WWE’s current roster, Antonio Cesaro is all but untouchable in that category. The Swiss Superman has proven his otherworldly athleticism time and time again, and even his greatest detractors reluctantly concede Cesaro is among WWE’s fittest fighters.

The takeaway here is that even if the United States Champion is unlucky enough to draw an early entry, other Superstars would be foolish to write off Cesaro. He has the physical endurance and ring generalship necessary to make it into the elite club of Rumble ironmen like Rey Mysterio (62 minutes), Rick Martel (61 minutes) and Ric Flair (60 minutes).

Recent Royal Rumble Match iron men

  • 2012: The Miz (No. 1 entry, 45 minutes and 39 seconds)
  • 2011: CM Punk (No. 1. entry, 35 minutes and 21 seconds)
  • 2010: John Cena (No. 19 entry, 22 minutes and 11 seconds)

Who will be eliminated the fastest? Jinder Mahal

Unlike the title of Royal Rumble’s iron man, taking home the “honor” of the shortest time spent in the Rumble Match is an unfortunate distinction that one Superstar will be able to harp on in the weeks following Jan. 27.

Although a Superstar could, in theory, hold the shortest time and still win the 30-man melee, such a feat has never been accomplished in the previous 25 Royal Rumble Matches. In other words, nobody aspires to be the next Santino Marella, whose 1.9-second appearance in the 2009 Royal Rumble Match set an ignominious record.

Yet, of the Rumble participants announced so far, perhaps the Superstar who should be most concerned with breaking Santino’s dubious distinction is Jinder Mahal. Besides being inexperienced in Royal Rumble Match competition — he has only competed in one, lasting slightly more than a minute in last year’s fight — Mahal exercised extremely poor judgment during 3MB’s 3-on-1 Over-the-Top-Rope Challenge against Sheamus on the Jan. 14 edition of Raw.

The first one to be dumped over the top rope and onto the floor that night, Mahal only has himself to blame. 3MB’s “fun one” committed a Royal Rumble Match cardinal sin when he decided to climb to the second turnbuckle. His precarious positioning made it all too easy for Sheamus to dispose of him. ( WATCH)

But what are the chances Mahal will see the error of his way and adjust accordingly in time for Jan. 27? Judging by 3MB’s apparent belief they jointly won the actual Royal Rumble Match Monday night, probably not so good …

  • 2012's fastest elimination: Epico (11 seconds)
  • 2011's fastest elimination: Tyler Reks (34 seconds)
  • 2010's fastest elimination: MVP (7 seconds)

Who will eliminate the most Superstars? Wade Barrett

With only a fraction of the 30 Superstars announced so far, the 2013 Royal Rumble field already boasts plenty of hard-hitters, including past winners John Cena, Sheamus and Randy Orton. But if you’re zeroing in on the Superstar most likely to toss more competitors than anyone else, Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett is as good a bet as any.

The Bare Knuckle Brawler is all but custom-made for a fight as rugged as the Royal Rumble Match, and newly equipped with the Bull Hammer elbow, he might just have the right recipe for dominance inside the 30-Superstar spectacular. Anyone in need of convincing that The Barrett Barrage is back and stronger than ever, look no further than his decisive win over The Apex Predator on the 20th anniversary of Raw. ( WATCH)

With the success Barrett’s enjoyed since returning in September 2012, anything fewer than five or six eliminations might seem like an “off” night.

There is, however, an important caveat to this prediction, and it has everything to do with a certain bald-headed destroyer with a penchant for Shell Shocking foes. If Ryback decides to throw in his hat and enter his first official Royal Rumble Match, Kane might be kissing his all-time record for most eliminations — 11 in 2001 — goodbye.

Most eliminations in 2012: Cody Rhodes (six)
Most eliminations in 2011: John Cena and CM Punk (Tied at seven each)
Most eliminations in 2010: Shawn Michaels (six)

Which WWE Legend is least likely to make a cameo? Mick Foley

More times than not, the Royal Rumble Match features the return of one or more WWE veterans who are in the twilight of their in-ring careers. Though wrongly perceived by some WWE fans as just feel-good nostalgia acts, these Legends and Hall of Famers undoubtedly view the Rumble match — and its prize, a World Title Match at WrestleMania — as a final chance to pad their sports-entertainment legacies.

Part of what makes these entrants so intriguing is the element of surprise. Nobody foresaw the entrance of former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Dory Funk Jr. into the Royal Rumble Match in 1996. Similarly, Haku’s inclusion in the 2001 Rumble threw even the savviest insiders for a loop.

These entrants are always troublesome to predict, but less difficult to guess is the WWE Legend who isleastlikely to partake in this year’s Rumble Match. Though no one can say for sure, it’s probably safe to assume “The Hardcore Legend” Mick Foley, a participant in the 2012 Rumble Match, won’t see any ring action this year. Not only has Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy been named the first inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013 — unofficially cementing Foley’s status as retired — but the three-time WWE Champion has also appeared wholly uninterested in locking up with WWE’s current crop of Superstars during his latest appearances on Raw and SmackDown.

Regardless of whether a WWE Legend the likes of Diesel or “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan tries to recapture his Royal Rumble glory days, this year’s 30-Superstar Royal Rumble Match is guaranteed to excite. Don’t miss all the action when it airs live on pay-per-view Sunday, Jan. 27, at 8 ET/5 PT. ( HOW TO WATCH)

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