It's almost the end of 2017, and that means WWE's annual Royal Rumble pay-per-view is right around the corner.
The most prestigious Battle Royal in pro wrestling is considered to be the first stop on the road to WrestleMania. Whoever wins the 30-person match will headline the biggest PPV of the year against the WWE or universal champion.
Some people enjoy the Rumble more than other PPVs because of its unpredictable nature. WWE has used the event to introduce new talent and give struggling Superstars chances to shine.
While you would think a 30-person contest would be hard to predict ahead of time, it's usually easy to pick the contenders who have the greatest chances of success.
This article will look at the 10 most likely winners of the 2018 Royal Rumble match.
John Cena — 1 OF 10
No matter what the situation is, if John Cena is involved in a match, there is a good chance he is going to end up winning it.
As a two-time Rumble winner, Cena is one of the only people in a position to tie Steve Austin's record of three wins and possibly pass it with a fourth triumph in the future.
As much as WWE loves its legends, it also likes having records set by current Superstars. Cena is already on his way to world championship reign No. 17, and winning the Royal Rumble would be his fastest path to earning a title shot.
The only problem with this outcome is the predictable reaction the crowd would have if Cena were declared victorious. It might cause a riot.
Shinsuke Nakamura — 2 OF 10
Shinsuke Nakamura is more of a long shot than most of the names on this list, but he wouldn't be the first person to shock the world with a victory at the Rumble.
It seems like Nakamura's push on the main roster has stalled, but that has more to do with WWE not having anything for him to do than it does with management doubting his skills.
His biggest hurdle will always be his promo ability, but the WWE Universe doesn't care judging from the reaction he gets every time he enters an arena.
Having SmackDown Live's resident rock star win the Rumble would kickstart his career and put him in the main event spot we all know he deserves to occupy.
Randy Orton — 3 OF 10
Randy Orton is in a unique position. He isn't being positioned as the biggest star on SmackDown, but he will always be looked at as a main event player.
Because of his status and the number of world titles on his resume, Orton can always be thrust back into the spotlight when management needs a good performer to feud with the champion.
Like Cena, Orton is another two-time Rumble winner who could tie Austin's record with one more win. His list of accomplishments is already Hall of Fame-worthy, but he could always use another accolade.
Unlike Cena, Orton is still popular with the WWE Universe, so having him win a third Rumble would be guaranteed to generate a massive pop from the crowd.
Samoa Joe — 4 OF 10
Samoa Joe is a victim of timing. He came into WWE when the company decided it wanted to give Brock Lesnar an extended title reign and push Braun Strowman as the next big monster.
He also has to contend with a crowded main event scene with the likes of Reigns, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt all waiting for another chance to be the top dog.
Joe should always be near the top of the card, and it seems like more a matter of when than if he will become the universal champion.
Having him win on his Royal Rumble debut and headline WrestleMania against Lesnar would finally put Joe in the position he deserves.
The Miz — 5 OF 10
This entry may be more wishful thinking than anything else, but nobody can deny how good The Miz has been for the past couple of years.
He regularly shows up his rivals on the mic and has the ability to have a good match against any kind of opponent. He is so good he usually has to insult crowds to keep them from cheering for him.
It has been a long time since the A-Lister held a top title, but his consistently strong performances have more than earned him another run as the WWE or universal champion.
Winning the Rumble doesn't necessarily mean he has to win the belt at WrestleMania, but it would make his legions of fans happy if that's how the story ended.
Sami Zayn — 6 OF 10
It feels like Sami Zayn has been fighting an uphill battle since the moment he joined the main roster in 2016, but recent events may have changed his fortunes.
Turning heel has freshened up Zayn's character and made him into one of the brightest stars on SmackDown.
His in-ring skills have never been in question. Zayn can have a five-star match with any halfway decent wrestler. His personality always felt like the thing he needed to work on.
Zayn's new direction has allowed him to loosen up a bit and flex his comedic muscles. He is one of the long shots on this list, but Zayn winning the Rumble would make a lot of people happy and prove WWE is still willing to take a risk.
Kevin Owens — 7 OF 10
Zayn has struggled to find success, but his best friend has already held a total of six championships on the main roster.
On paper, Kevin Owens would never be considered a potential main event star. He doesn't have a good physique or a particularly unique look. However, he has earned everything he has achieved by being one of the most talented wrestlers and best mic workers in the company.
Owens can be funny and threatening in the same sentence, which is a skill few wrestlers have managed to perfect.
KO would be a great choice to win the Royal Rumble because he could deliver a show-stealing performance at WrestleMania against anyone WWE put him in the ring against.
Finn Balor — 8 OF 10
Finn Balor was forced to relinquish the universal title he won at SummerSlam 2016 because of an injury, and he has never received a proper one-on-one rematch since returning in April.
Balor has talked about this in promos, but WWE seems content letting him work midcard feuds for the time being.
If ever there were a way to propel him back into the main event scene and get him a shot at the title, the Royal Rumble would be it.
Winning the 30-person match is a guaranteed boost to anyone's career. Even if he were unsuccessful in his title match at WrestleMania, he would still be taken seriously as a main eventer going forward.
Braun Strowman — 9 OF 10
If you asked any WWE fan who the breakout star of 2017 has been, their answer would have to be Braun Strowman. Anyone who says anything else is kidding themselves.
The Monster Among Men has earned the love and respect of the WWE Universe through hard work and strong performances against the biggest and baddest Superstars on the roster.
He showed how dominant he can be in a Battle Royal when he earned his spot on the Raw men's Survivor Series team.
If WWE wanted to give him a major push, having him win the Rumble and go on to win the Universal Championship at WrestleMania would do the trick.
Roman Reigns — 10 OF 10
If you read the WWE dirt sheets or social media, Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar seems to be set in stone as the main event of WrestleMania 34.
This means The Big Dog has to earn a shot at the title at some point, and the easiest way would be for management to book him to win the Royal Rumble match.
Reigns' Rumble triumph in 2015 was marred by a negative fan reaction. Even having The Rock in the ring with him couldn't get Reigns any love from the crowd.
While he still isn't universally loved, Reigns seems to be getting a more positive reaction, especially since he reunited with The Shield in October.
Even if you don't like him, it's hard to deny Reigns' ability to perform at a high level every single night. He is a natural choice to succeed Cena as the face of the company, and he is the heavy favorite to win the 2018 Royal Rumble.