Thursday, July 31, 2014
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WWE Royal Rumble 2014 recap: Where do we go from here?

The road to WrestleMania has begun. What twists and turns await us?

Sunday night's Royal Rumble was fantastic at times, but the ending left an extremely sour taste in many fans' mouths. The good news is this is just the first step on the months-long journey to WrestleMania XXX in New Orleans. While there are plenty of questions left to be answered, there are now some things we know for certain (or things we have a pretty good idea about). Let's take a look at where we are following the Rumble.

What We Know

Batista will challenge for the WWE Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania. The live crowd in Pittsburgh didn't like him winning the Royal Rumble one bit, but this in and of itself isn't necessarily a bad thing. Before he left the company a couple of years ago, Batista finally came into his own as a top-level heel. Him being yet another wedge between Daniel Bryan and the "official" top spot in the company could add just that much more to the story and puts him in a position where he can really shine: as a supreme egotist who believes he deserves all the wonderful things that happen to him (even though the fans know better).

John Cena will feud with the Wyatt Family. The Wyatts cost Cena his chance to claim the unified title at the Royal Rumble, meaning that we're probably full steam ahead for that long-rumored Cena vs. Bray Wyatt match at WrestleMania. Wyatt impressed many with his decisive win over Daniel Bryan in Sunday's PPV opener and is positioned well for a true breakout showing at Mania.

Roman Reigns is a star and The Shield is in trouble. While Roman Reigns put in a supernova showing in the Royal Rumble match, setting a new all-time record with 12 eliminations and coming up just a Batista shy of winning the whole shebang, the seeds were finally -- really, this time -- sown for the breakup of The Shield. (Or at least a shake-up within its ranks.) Dean Ambrose attempted to eliminate Reigns late in the Rumble, going against the threesome's stated plans to be the last three men in the match, at which point it would be every man for himself. True to Ambrose's nature as a snake in the grass, he saw an opportunity and attempted to take it, leading to dissent between himself, Reigns and Seth Rollins, the No. 2 entrant in the Rumble who ended up being in the match for almost 48 minutes. A few moments later, Reigns eliminated both Rollins and Ambrose, meaning there will be a lot for the three to talk about on Monday Night Raw.

CM Punk and the Authority are on a collision course. Corporate Kane (Korporate Kane?) entered himself in the Rumble on Sunday night in order to teach No. 1 entrant Punk a lesson (beyond giving him the No. 1 spot), only to get eliminated by the self-proclaimed "Best in the World." Kane popped back up at the end of the match to pull Punk from the ring once Punk was one of the Final Four. Though Kane did not technically eliminate Punk (or shouldn't have, since it's been established that "eliminations" from eliminated wrestlers don't count), Kane chokeslammed Punk through the Spanish announce table, incapacitating him while the Rumble ran its course. Punk certainly has a bone to pick with the Authority, which means it's likely that Punk vs. Triple H could be a match for WrestleMania

What We Think We Know

Randy Orton will probably be the champ heading into WrestleMania. Which would give us a "main event" of Orton vs. Batista for the title(s). But there is still the matter of February's PPV, Elimination Chamber, where Orton may very well have to defend his title against five challengers, with the winner going on to face Batista in New Orleans. There is no shortage of challengers who could claim a spot in the Chamber match -- Brock Lesnar, Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk ... even the returning Sheamus. But the WWE (and especially Paul Heyman) is hyping Brock Lesnar as the No. 1 contender. After Sunday night's annihilation of the Big Show, it would be hard to argue with him.

What We're Dying To Find Out

The Undertaker needs an opponent. It could be Undertaker vs. Lesnar in New Orleans in April if Brock comes up short at Elimination Chamber. It could be Undertaker vs. Daniel Bryan, which is the match that Undertaker himself reportedly asked for. But whoever it is, it just wouldn't be WrestleMania without a chance to keep The Streak alive. Will Taker announce this is his last go-round? Or will we just have to wait another year to find out the answer to that one? Don't be surprised if The Dead Man shows up on Raw on Monday night.

What's happening with the Rhodes Brothers? Cody Rhodes and Goldust lost the Tag Team Championship to -- of all people -- the New Age Outlaws on Sunday night's pre-show. Later in the evening, Goldust seemingly accidentally eliminated his brother from the Royal Rumble match. Are the brothers going to finally have their long-anticipated feud, culminating in a match at WrestleMania? Or will they regain the titles?

Is Sting REALLY coming to the WWE? Sunday night, all things considered, probably wouldn't have been the best time for Sting to debut with the WWE. But now that his TNA contract is up, it's likely that it's this year or never for the last WCW star to never wrestle for the company. We'll see what happens in the next couple of months, but don't be surprised either way. (In related news, Hulk Hogan will be coming back to the WWE to build up to WrestleMania. He could make his return on Monday.)

What happens with Daniel Bryan now? This is probably the biggest question of all. The live crowd on Sunday was dying for Daniel Bryan to make an appearance in the Rumble match. When No. 30 was revealed to be Rey Mysterio, the crowd unloaded with a chorus of boos, then let Batista have it, throwing all their support behind Roman Reigns, in large part because he wasn't Batista. A few tweets from immediately after Sunday's PPV are worth noting:

Foley's tweet is probably legit, since his current contract is up, but Bryan's tweets are almost certainly furthering the storyline. Bryan isn't the type of person to rock any boats behind the scenes. His underdog story of raging against the machine will continue and will probably make fans just that much more rabid for him.

No matter what happens from here, it's going to be a wild, unpredictable road to WrestleMania. Just the way we like it.

This article originally appeared on SBNation.

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