Re: Should the Royal Rumble winner be...
I think they need to do it on a case-by-case (or with this case, a year-by-year) basis, depending on which stars are available, who holds the tiles, and storylines. It could be an established vet one year, a newcomer the next, a returning star the year after,etc.
Here's the breakdown of the years, the winners, and their current level in the pecking order:
1994 - Hart & Luger - main eventer & main eventer
1995 - Shawn Michaels - upper midcard
1996 - Shawn Michaels - upper/main event (being groomed for run as top guy)
1997 - Steve Austin - upper midcard
1998 - Steve Austin - upper/main event (being groomed for run as top guy)
1999 - Vince McMahon - (storyline: to keep Austin from winning)
2000 - The Rock - main event (first big win as the top guy)
2001 - Steve Austin - main event (returning superstar from injury; Austin-Rock showdown at 'Mania)
2002 - Triple H - main event (returning superstar from injury)
2003 - Brock Lesnar - main event (big win as a top face)
2004 - Chris Benoit - upper/main event (to firmly establish position at top level)
2005 - Batista - upper midcard (being groomed to be a top guy; storyline with Evolution break-up)
2006 - Rey Mysterio - upper midcard (established vet breaking through to top level; storyline with Benoit death)
2007 - Undertaker - main event (first rumble win for superstar)
2008 - John Cena - main event (returning superstar from injury/first rumble win)
2009 - Randy Orton - main event (first rumble win; storyline with HHH)
2010 - Edge - main event (returning superstar from injury; storyline with Jericho)
2011 - Alberto Del Rio - upper midcard (pushing newcomer to the top level)
2012 - Sheamus - upper/main event (first big win as a face; groomed to be a top guy)
There's a nice mixture in there. All the winners are either one of 4 or 5 things:
1) They're being groomed for the main event as one of the top 2 babyfaces in the company.
2) They're a newly minted main eventer getting his first Rumble win.
3) They're a superstar returning from an injury that kept them on the sidelines for the most part of the prior year.
4) They're a superstar or hovering around the main event level with a hot storyline set in stone.
5) They're an up-and-coming star that hopefully gets a boost from the Rumble win.
That said, there's no right or wrong answer to me. Under different circumstances I would personally be fine with different winners for this year's Rumble. Ryback could win under reasons 1 and 5. Cena could win under reason 4 (rematch with Rock). Ziggler has an outside shot with reasons 4 and 5 (depends on what they have planned with him, the MITB briefcase, and world title). Mark Henry could win under reason 3.
Live Shows Attended
10 - Pay-Per-View - WrestleMania 2000, No Way Out '01, Judgment Day '01, SummerSlam '01, Vengeance '01, Royal Rumble '05, WrestleMania 21, WrestleMania XXVI, WrestleMania XXVIII, Royal Rumble '13, WrestleMania XXX, WrestleMania 31, WrestleMania 32...
11 - Monday Night Raw - 7/27/98, 9/13/99, 4/3/00, 10/09/00, 8/06/01, 9/23/02, 3/24/03, 7/21/03, 8/23/04, 4/4/05, 3/15/10, 4/7/14, 3/30/15...
5 - SmackDown - 11/30/99, 3/13/01, 8/07/01, 3/25/03, 6/03/03...
5 - House Show - 6/30/94, 7/29/94, 7/17/99, 7/08/00, 1/06/01...
All-Time Magnificent Seven
Bret Hart, Chris Jericho, Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, Kurt Angle, Steve Austin, CM Punk
Current Magnificent Seven
Dean Ambrose, Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Bray Wyatt, Seth Rollins, Paige