JC's Take: Royal Rumble Preview
Hey everyone. Time for my Royal Rumble preview! The Rumble officially kicks off the road to Wrestlemania, which is usually the best time of year in the WWE. Everyone is at the top of their game between now and Wrestlemania, and it usually produces some of the best TV all year. This year's Rumble really has no clear cut favorite, which is a good thing and a bad thing. It's good because it is unpredictable, and you really don't know who is going to win. It's bad because that means that there are really no clear pictures as to what is going to happen at Wrestlemania. While the WWE is very capable of putting on a strong wrestling show, there is no clear cut big storyline that can draw in the typical Wrestlemania crowd. That could effect PPV buyrates, which will hurt the WWE's already struggling revenue stream.
But enough negative talk, lets get into the Rumble preview.
2-on-1 Divas Championship: Natalya (c) vs Laycool
The WWE needed this match on here because they needed some filler in between both title matches. I doubt this opens the show. I think this will come on probably after the opener. Laycool almost seemed like an afterthought for the last few weeks. They'd been building to a Natalya/Melina match, but instead of having it on a PPV, decided to have it on RAW this past Monday. Then Laycool appeared almost out of nowhere on RAW and said they get their rematch this Sunday. I think one way or another, Awesome Kong makes her debut here. For those of you who don't know her, she is a very large black woman who is dominant and intimidating in the ring. She is also a very good female wrestler, and she also doesn't fit the typical WWE Diva look. She could be a hired gun for Laycool, but I find that hard to work in from a storyline perspective. If Laycool makes fun of Natalya for being fat, why would Awesome Kong want to work for them? But I think that is where this is headed. Natalya is a good wrestler, but she really hasn't done much with her reign. She's put on good matches, but that's not a priority for the WWE. Laycool can talk and get heat, and they look good too. Awesome Kong comes out and helps Laycool take out Natalya, allowing them to pick up the victory.
World Heavyweight Championship: Edge (c) vs Dolph Ziggler
As I've said in past blogs, it's nice to see Smackdown give their young guys a chance in a title match. Dolph Ziggler has been putting on sone good wrestling matches in the last couple months. He had two strong matches against John Cena in December, he had a good match with Randy Orton this past week on RAW, and he had two quality triple threat matches against Kofi Kingston and Jack Swagger. There is no doubt that Dolph has earned this top spot. He's not the best on the mic, but he has Vickie Guerrero to take care of that. Edge seems to have picked it up a notch since he regained the World Title. Ever since he came back from injury in 2010, it seems like he has lost a step. But he looks rejuvinated as World Champion. Smackdown's ratings have also gone up since he became World Champ. Ziggler has been left standing tall on the last two episdoes of Smackdown, which usually means he won't be after the match on Sunday. On this week's Smackdown, acting GM Vickie Guerrero bans Edge from using the spear in the match on Sunday. If he uses it, he gets disqualified and loses the World Title. Even with the stipulation, Edge wins here. While Dolph Ziggler has been great in the ring recently, he is not carrying the World Title into Wrestlemania. Unless they decide to give him a one month reign, which would just be stupid and pointless. Edge wins here.
WWE Championship: The Miz (c) vs Randy Orton
Why couldn't the WWE do Miz vs John Morrison here? Instead of having a nice 6 week build from TLC to the Rumble, they decided to have the match on free TV with a meaningless stipulation. We got a good match out of it, but it would have been better to have a one-on-one singles match, with a proper build, at the PPV. Instead, we get this Orton/Miz match. The build for this one has just been so-so. Orton has lost something as a character, but he's looked strong in the build to this match. Miz took him out once, but Orton has looked better throughout the feud. I think this match is a lot more open then people think. The WWE has been teasing Miz/Cena the last couple weeks on TV, and it looks like this is where we are likely heading for Wrestlemania. But you know the WWE has this great fascination with Randy Orton and John Cena working together, so they may go with that too for the 2257423192 time. If they don't want Wrestlemania buys to suffer, however, they won't go that route. I think the WWE is very satisfied with the Miz and all of his media appearences as WWE Champion so far, so I think he holds onto the Title here. There is still a decent chance he loses it at the Elimination Chamber PPV in February, but I think he holds onto the Title here. Of course, it will probably be through the help of Alex Riley and maybe Michael Cole, since the WWE can't let Orton lose clean for some reason.
WINNER: The Miz
The Royal Rumble Match
Did you know that this is the BIGGEST RUMBLE MATCH IN HISTORY!!!! There are 40 men in the match this year, ten more than the normal 30. I'd be ok with it if the WWE had the star power to load up the Rumble with, but they don't. Instead it means all the low card guys get a spot in the match, as well as a few WWE Legends. There really are no big surprise possible entrants, with the exception of HHH. I don't think Batista or Chris Jericho are returning here. I think Chris Jericho would have a better chance of interfering in the WWE Title match than appearing in the Rumble.
There are no real stories heading into the Rumble. You've had everybody come out and say why they are going to win the Royal Rumble, but no one really has that solid Mania Title story to build off of. Of course since there are 40 men it'll mean that whoever wins had to overcome 39 other men to win, even if they entered at number 20 and 12 other people have already been eliminated. Looking at the list of participants, I think there are only 6 people that have a legitimate shot of winning.
Wade Barrett: Out of the 6 people I plan on listing, I think Barrett has the longest shot. Barrett has proved over the past 6 months that he can handle a spot at the top. Nobody expected him to be as good as he has been. He's excellent on the mic and can put on a good match. He's already had some interaction with Edge on Smackdown, so ther is a set-up there. But from everything I've read, it looks like Barrett will be The Undertaker's opponent at Wrestlemania. The Undertaker won't be able to wrestle before Mania, so there is no way they could put the title on him in time for a good build. I would put Barrett's odds at 20:1.
HHH: First off, there is no guarantee that HHH is coming back at the Rumble. If he does, it will be to interact with King Sheamus, the man who took him out last April. HHH isn't working a full time schedule anymore, but you know he always likes the spotlight every once in a while. The way Sheamus has been looking lately, it will take alot to build him back up as a World Title threat, even in his ready made feud with HHH. Hunter is never working a full time schedule again, but that doesn't mean he will never be a World Champ again. IF HHH returns, he has a decent shot of winning, but I would put his odds at 15:1.
John Morrison: Even if he doesn't win the Royal Rumble, I can guarantee you one thing: John Morrison will come out of this Rumble looking strong. He's been on a hot streak in recent months, having good matches with Sheamus, The Miz, and Daniel Bryan. The WWE seems to be building him up as their next big breakout star on RAW. If they really wanted to roll the dice, they could have him win the Rumble and face The Miz at Wrestlemania. There's a strong history between the two, and they put on a great match on the first RAW of the year. The problem is, Miz vs Morrison isn't the money match Vince McMahon likes for Wrestlemania. I think Morrison will last the longest and probably be in the Final 4, but I put his odds at 12:1.
C.M. Punk: The Miz may be the WWE Champion, but C.M. Punk has been the best heel charcter on RAW, and in the entire WWE, in the last month. He is just so good on the mic and in the ring. His promos as leader of the New Nexus against John Cena have been great, calling ou Cena for all of his faults that no one else notices. The big $$$ match at Wrestlemania is C.M. Punk v John Cena. No matter how much they want to build The Miz/John Cena program, Punk/Cena would have more heat to it. They've already been going at it for a month, but both men are good enough to stretch it out another two. But in that scenario, you'd prefer Punk to go in as Champion, with Cena chasing. But with RAW ratings not improving after football season, the WWE may feel the need to put the belt on Cena sooner rather than later. I would put Punk's odds at winning at 10:1.
Alberto del Rio: Clearly, the WWE is very high on Alberto del Rio. He's been on both RAW and Smackdown every week in the last month, even getting a rub by taking Sweet Chin Music from Shawn Michaels. I think del Rio is taking on Edge at Wrestlemania for the World Title, but the question is whether or not they want to have him win the #1 Contendership at the Royal Rumble, or at the Elimination Chamber PPV. It'd be nice and refreshing to have someone other than a definitive top star win the Rumble. Del Rio would look like an instant star after winning the Rumble. He's already shown he can work an extended, strong program after his long time feud with Rey Mysterio. Del Rio is the best Smackdown option to win, and I think he has a strong chance to do so. I would put Alberto del Rio's odds at 5:1.
John Cena: I would say right now he has to be considered the favorite. He hasn't held the WWE Title since summer, so I guess it would be refreshing to see him holding it again. People complain that Cena is at the top too much, but he honestly hasn't held the Title in quite a while. Cena is the WWE's top draw, so it would make the most sense to have him in the top match at Wrestlemania. He will still be the same corny, boring Cena to everyone above the age of 16, but everyone that buys his merchandice and all the kids who watch TV for him will love it. The Rumble is also in Cena's home of Boston. That usually plays against people, but this is John Cena. I would consider him the favorite at this point, and give him odds at 3:1.
Outcome: As I said, I think John Morrison will last the longest in the Rumble. I expect Daniel Bryan, Drew McIntyre, and Kofi Kingston to also have strong showings. We'll say Sheamus also looks strong during the match, only to be eliminated by a returning HHH, who knocks Sheamus and himself over the top rope. Lets say Cody Rhodes and Daniel Bryan start at #1 and #2. Mason Ryan enters at #40. There's a showdown between the Corre and Nexus, but not before they team up to eliminate the Big Show and Mark Henry. The Final 4 is C.M. Punk, John Morrison, Alberto del Rio, and John Cena. Morrison goes for a running knee on del Rio but is lifted over the top by him. Cena AA's del Rio over the top. Punk gives Cena the GTS, but as he goes to eliminate him, Cena grabs the rope, gets out of Punk's grasps, and lifts Punk over the top for the win.
WINNER: John Cena
That's all for this week. I'll have my Royal Rumble Review Monday, and definitely have an NFL Draft preview either Tuesday or Thursday.
Until next time,