This Sunday the WWE will present us with the Royal Rumble. In my opinion, the biggest non-Wrestlemania PPV in quite some time. Some might argue that this PPV itself is bigger than any Wrestlemania in recent memory. It will set the course for Wrestlemania season and give us a glimpse into what the WWE has planned for the biggest event of the year.
As I said in my column from a few week’s ago, I just don’t like the rumored card the WWE has out there. Why do we want to see Rock-Cena and HHH-Lesnar again? No one wants to see rehashes of main events from other PPVs that have happened in the past year. That is not what Wrestlemania should be about. The WWE’s problem, and it has always been this, is that they are afraid to think outside the box. The WWE likes to play it safe and not take a risk on something new or different. Those two matches succeeded on previous PPVs, so they will obviously succeed here. I don’t think that will be the case this time around though. I just don’t see the WWE doing a better buyrate for this Mania if the rumored card stays true to form.
I will say, however, that I usually enjoy the Royal Rumble PPV. Its fun to watch. And this year in addition to the Rumble we get one of the biggest WWE Title matches in the last ten years. And the under card looks solid as well. It should be a good wrestling show from top to bottom.
With that said, lets get into the Preview!
United States Championship: Antonio Cesaro (c) vs Miz
Well folks, this is what we have come to with the Miz‘s face turn. The WWE is so desperate to get him over that they had to have Ric Flair give him the Figure Four Leg Lock to use in matches. Will that work? I don’t think so. When Miz does apply the hold, he will hear nothing but “WOOOOs” from the crowd. What good will that do for him? Add to the fact that the Miz struggled to apply the hold this past week on RAW, and things aren’t off to a good start. The WWE waited too long to pull the trigger on Miz, and now people don’t really care what he does in general. Antonio Cesaro continues to impress in the ring. He delivers a believable and powerful style of offense. For some reason, however, it doesn’t seem to be latching on with the crowd. I think sooner or later it will. Cesaro is an arrogant foreign heel that your average wrestling fan will love to hate. Once Cesaro gets higher up the card, the heat will come. I don’t see Miz as the guy that will end Cesaro’s reign as U.S. Champ. But the WWE may be desperate to do anything to get Miz over. But I’ll say they are smart here and give the win to Cesaro.
WINNER: Antonio Cesaro
I think it is finally time. As much as I have enjoyed Daniel Bryan and Kane together as a team, I think their time together has come to an end. The two have been great to each other. Daniel Bryan has shown a side to his personality that not many people knew that he had. Kane has added another layer to his ever changing character. Kane’s character got some extended life because of this pairing. Just when you think there is nothing more you can add to his long tenured career, they put together Team Hell No. But all good things come to an end. There aren’t too many more legs to this pairing. That is why I feel the graduation on RAW this past Monday may have been the “final chapter” for these two.
As far as the Rhodes Scholars go, they still have some legs left. The WWE hasn’t done much with them in the last couple of weeks. I still think Sandow and Rhodes both have potential as singles wrestlers, but they just aren’t there yet as characters. They work well together as a pairing. The only sad thing is that Cody’s mustache is the most over thing about them right now. With more air and promo time, people will begin to hate them more. Their act is good, and they just need something to bring it all together.
And that one thing is the WWE Tag Team Championship. I just think it is time for a change in the tag team division. Daniel Bryan deserves a run as a face this year, and this starts that run. Kane and Bryan lose the Tag Titles and they begin a slow split from each other and eventually go their separate ways. Team Rhodes Scholars wins and shake up the tag team division a bit.
WINNERS: Team Rhodes Scholars
If you read my article from this past Monday, you know what I am all in on this Alberto del Rio face turn. The more you think about it, you can’t help but think why this wasn’t done a long time ago. Del Rio’s character, when you take away the rich aristocrat portion of it, is tailor made for being a face. He has a great set of moves in the ring that are aggressive enough for the fans to buy into. He can cut a good promo and hasn’t been a dumb joke telling face, yet. The WWE did a great job of building Del Rio up during the previous Last Man Standing Match between these two. Del Rio is off to a good start, and it will be up to the WWE to make sure it works.
Big Show has done a serviceable job the last couple months as World Champion. I was surprised to see him go over Sheamus as clean as he did at the end of 2012. I’m not the biggest Big Show fan in the world, but I will admit that he can cut a good promo as a heel. I loved him calling out Sheamus for not taking anything seriously during their program. But while Show can be good as a heel, I just think there isn’t much left for him as a character after this. What are they going to do? Turn him face again? That would just be dumb. Similar to Kane, there isn’t a whole lot left for the Big Show to do.
These two put on a pretty good Last Man Standing Match on Smackdown a couple of weeks ago. As I said, the WWE did a good job making Del Rio a face in that match. Del Rio stood toe to toe with Show and got up from two KO punches. It may not be two this time, but I say Del Rio gets up from at least one. We will need a more creative finish this time. Lets say Big Show misses a KO Punch, then Del Rio hits an enziguri kick, knocking Show off the apron through tables set up on the outside. Del Rio retains.
WINNER: Alberto del Rio
The Rumble Match has lost a little bit of its luster in recent years. Part of that falls on the WWE’s shoulders. Just look how poorly the WWE handled the build up for it this past week on RAW. John Cena came out and cut a horrible promo. He just rambled on for a few minutes until wrestlers started coming out and telling Cena how he wasn’t going to win the Rumble and they were. Then of course there was the big pre match brawl to close RAW. That might lead to some people thinking the Rumble would go on last. If you think about it, this is probably the right move. I think the Rumble winner gives away more to who wins Punk/Rock rather than the other way around.
Part of the reason I think the Rumble has lost some of its luster is because the winner hasn’t won the Title that much in recent years. Sheamus last year was the first person to win the Royal Rumble and win the Title he challenged for since The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 23. It also doesn’t help that the Rumble winner hasn’t main evented Wrestlemania since Orton did at Wrestlemania 25. And Orton is the only winner to main event since Batista at Wrestlemania 21. Money in the Bank has also lessened the impact of the Rumble as well. The WWE has definitely made a bigger deal out of MITB in recent years. While winning the Rumble used to mean a guaranteed Title win, that privilege has now shifted to the MITB contract. The Rumble is still a unique match to watch, but it has just lost some of its luster in recent years.
So who is winning this thing? I think that will decide on whether this match goes on last. I think the only two real possibilities are John Cena and Ryback. Cena is obvious. He came out and said 2013 is going to be his year. Hasn’t every year been his year since like 2007? I just don’t like the idea of shoving Cena down our throats again for a whole year. A Cena win all but sets up another rematch with The Rock. There’s a slight possibility they could do Punk/Cena, with Cena finally getting his win over Punk in a WWE Title Match. A Ryback would mean that the WWE has found their next star they want to make. Ryback would get one more one-on-one match with C.M. Punk. But the problem the WWE will have to deal with is the possibility of 70,000 people chanting Goldberg at Wrestlemania. I wouldn’t be opposed to a Ryback win then him facing Punk, because it would probably eliminate a Rock/Cena rematch. Instead you would probably be looking at Ryback/Punk, Cena/Taker and Rock/Brock.
In the end, however, I think John Cena wins. Why? Because the WWE will always continue to play it safe and go to their money maker. The fans are dying for a change, but the WWE doesn’t give it to them. Ziggler lasts a long time. He goes to the Final 4 with Ryback, Sheamus and Cena. Ziggler ducks a Brogue Kick and Sheamus goes over the top. Ryback clotheslines Ziggler over. After a staredown between Cena and Ryback that gets little fan reaction like the one at Survivor Series. Ryback goes for another clothesline, but Cena ducks and tosses him over the top.
WINNER: John Cena
WWE Championship: C.M. Punk (c) vs The Rock
These next two picks are going to be tough for me. Part of me wants to just believe that everything we have been hearing about the rumored Wrestlemania card is just a smoke screen by the WWE. They can’t go with rematches for Wrestlemania. That is what I keep telling myself. But then there is the part of me that knows the WWE likes to stick what was successful for them before, and that is why those two rematches seem much more likely than you think.
When these two have been serious with each other, they have put out some great promos. I like their first exchange on RAW when the Rock wasn’t making cookie puss jokes. When he got down to business and told Punk he had 20 days left as WWE Champion, he was good. The Rock Concert was meh to me. I liked The Rock this past Monday as well because he was again serious when he was delivering his promo to Punk. The Rock’s jokes just haven’t gotten over with me like they used to. Maybe it is because him and C.M. Punk are the complete opposite when it comes to their characters. Rock adds some humor in while Punk is as serious as they come.
If we are nearing the end of C.M. Punk’s WWE Title reign, then let me be the first to say that it has been a great ride. Punk has honestly been the only thing that has truly been great in the WWE in the last year. He constantly puts on the best match on PPV, and he always delivers the best promo on RAW every night. C.M. Punk is the one guy I can look to and say “That is why I watch and like wrestling.” Punk gets what wrestling fans like. If it was up to me, Punk’s reign should be ended by someone who would get a major rub from ending it. That wouldn’t be The Rock. C.M. Punk is the best all around performer that the WWE has to offer. I just hope when his Title reign does end that he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. Punk should continue to be treated like a main event star.
Now the big question everyone is asking: Who wins? Vince McMahon said on RAW that if The Shield interferes in the match, C.M. Punk loses the WWE Title. I think you might get some kind of tease interference from The Shield, but they back off in the end. The one name that has been popping up constantly is Brock Lesnar. If Lesnar interferes in the match, it could lead to a match with The Rock at Wrestlemania. Of course, it will probably just lead to HHH returning and yelling: “You’re back? WELL I WANNA FIGHT!!!” Just like he did during the summer. My head is telling me to pick The Rock. But part of me thinks that the WWE just wouldn’t end this program after three weeks. And there is more money to be made at the Elimination Chamber with Rock chasing the WWE Title. I’ll say the ref gets distracted by The Shield, allowing Brock Lesnar to run in through the crowd and F5 Rock. Punk adds the GTS for good measure and walks out WWE Champion.
WINNER: C.M. Punk
I WILL NOT be doing a live review of the Rumble. I will be watching it with some friends. They are not wrestling fans, but they watch the Rumble with me as somewhat of a birthday present to me since my birthday is the 29th. I will be tweeting throughout the night, so feel free to follow me at my Twitter handle listed below.
Until Next Time,
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka