Thursday, January 26, 2012

WWE Royal Rumble Preview

My birthday is this Sunday, so instead of giving you a Royal Rumble Preview I'm giving you a detailed look back at my 24 years of life. I was born on a cold January day in 1988....

OK, just kidding. My life isn't that exciting, but neither is the build to this year's Royal Rumble. The Royal Rumble is usually one of my favorite PPVs of the year. I love the Rumble match. It is always full of surprises. But I think the WWE has done a horrible job of building this year's Rumble. It was barely brought up in the build on RAW. The end of RAW built towards next week's show and focused on the WWE Championship match and not the Rumble match. Other than the traditional Rumble promo, there was barely any hype for it. Nobody has really been made a clear cut favorite for it. Maybe it is because the last time a Rumble winner won at Wrestlemania was Undertaker at Wrestlemania 23. The Rumble winner almost plays second fiddle to the Money in the Bank winner nowadays. I've read that there might be a surprise twist, going with the stipulation that anyone is eligible for the Rumble this year, including WWE Champion C.M. Punk and World Champion Daniel Bryan. I don't know what it could be. But the Rumble build has been a bit of a let down.

All the other matches are a mixed bag. I will give details in each individual match preview. I would expect another match to be added to the show. Maybe a Divas match or a Tag Title match. On to the match previews!

World Heavyweight Championship Steel Cage Match: Big Show vs Daniel Bryan (c) vs Mark Henry

This match gets first preview because I'm guessing that it opens the show. I don't think John Cena opens the show. Smackdown always gets the short end of the straw. This may be the best built match on the card. The focus is actually on what is on the line in the match, the World Heavyweight Title, and the stipulation makes sense. Bryan got himself intentionally DQ'd against the Big Show and he ran off during his lumberjack match against Mark Henry. Now there is no escape for Bryan as he is locked inside a cage with the 7 foot tall Big Show and the 400 lb. Mark Henry.

The slow Daniel Bryan heel turn has been great. Bryan seems to be embracing his character and he is playing it off to a tee. Bryan was barely getting any reactions as a face World Champion. I went to a Smackdown house show and Big Show got a much bigger pop than Bryan. Bryan almost got no reaction at all. It was a smart move on WWE's part to turn Bryan heel. Bryan has done a good job playing the tweener role so far. Bryan's chewing out of Big Show after he knocked over A.J. was great. Bryan's promo on RAW about it was even better. Bryan saying that he "appreciated" A.J.'s love was such a great line.

The one positive out of this entire feud is that Smackdown ratings have actually been improving in recent weeks, meaning that people like what they are doing with Daniel Bryan. I don't really see any reason for Daniel Bryan to lose the World Title anytime soon. Big Show doesn't need the World Title and is rumored to be heading to Wrestlemania to face NBA Legend Shaquielle O'Neal. Mark Henry's time on top has come and gone, and giving him the World Title wouldn't do much. Another Henry/Orton match at Wrestlemania would do nothing. Plus it wouldn't be as good as Bryan/Orton would be. Big Show knocks out Henry with a Knockout Punch, but as Show goes for the pin on Henry, Bryan crawls to the cage door and escapes to pick up the victory. 

WINNER: Daniel Bryan

John Cena vs Kane

Some of this feud has been tolerable, but most of it has been long, drawn out, and just plain stupid. But we all wanted to see Cena/Rock at Wrestlemania, and this is the punishment we get for the time being. They had to fill time with Cena somehow. I thought they might end up putting him back in the WWE Title picture for a bit, but instead they decided to give Cena a feud with Kane. I liked the idea at first. Kane and Cena had never really had a proper one-on-one feud. They've wrestled a couple of times, but they never had an actual program with each other. But this program, while having a decent subtext, has just not interested me at all and could have been booked so much better.

Since Kane's return, he has been trying to get Cena to embrace the hate. Kane has wanted Cena to listen to all the fans that chant "Cena Sucks" and acknowledge them, not brush them off and just say the WWE Universe can do whatever they want. Kane has been using Zack Ryder as a ploy in recent weeks to get to Cena. That has actually been some of the worst moments in this feud. Ryder's flat tire was just ridiculous, and the Kane/Ryder match on RAW this past week was just way too long and drawn out. But Kane's attacks on Ryder these past few weeks has gotten Cena to "embrace the hate." Cena beat up Jack Swagger two weeks ago, and this past Monday on RAW we got the Cena ANGRY FACE after Eve blamed Cena for everything that has happened to Zack Ryder in recent weeks.

This match is actually somewhat tough to predict. If Cena wins, what is the point of continuing the feud? Cena finally beat Kane and put him in his past. If Kane wins, what does that accomplish? Cena never embraced the hate. Kane should actually not want to win the match if you go by everything that the storyline has been saying. Kane winning would do nothing for Cena embracing the hate. My guess is that we get a standard match for a little bit, but Cena snaps during the match and goes crazy on Kane. Cena gets himself disqualified as he continues to start and embrace the hate.

WINNER: Kane via Disqualification

WWE Championship: C.M. Punk vs Dolph Ziggler (John Laurinaitis as Special Guest Referee)

First things first: This should be one hell of a wrestling match. C.M. Punk and Dolph Ziggler are arguably the two best workers in the WWE today. Dolph has really come into his own in recent months, and Punk has always been one of the best in the WWE. Hopefully these two get 20 minutes and minimal distractions and shenanigans from others.

Dolph got this shot after his consecutive victories over Punk. Ziggler won in Chicago, beat Punk via countout and also in a tag match this past Monday. But the problem is, Ziggler has been made to look like the second fiddle in this WWE Championship match. All of the focus for this match has been put on the rivalry between Punk and Interim RAW GM John Laurinaitis. Sure Ziggler has had some wins over Punk, but every week more of the focus has been on Punk/Laurinaitis rather than Punk/Ziggler. Even Ziggler being on top to close RAW last week really didn't matter. All the WWE wanted you to know was that John Laurinaitis is under review next week by COO Triple H. And all the talk going into the match is whether or not John Laurinaitis will screw Punk, not if Dolph Ziggler will beat Punk.

Now even though most of the focus should have been on Punk/Ziggler, the interactions between Punk and John Laurinaitis have been really good in recent weeks. With one exception: the end to this week's RAW. Why have Punk GTS Laurinaitis BEFORE the Rumble match? In my opinion, you want as much tension as possible heading into the match. Now, even though John Laurinaitis said he will call it down the middle, you think Laurinaitis has had a complete change of thought. Why not have Laurinaitis up in the GTS, then have Dolph come in and make the save, ending the show on top.

So how does this match end? That's the tricky part. I don't think C.M. Punk loses here, but I don't think there is another false finish between the two like there was a few weeks ago. My guess is this: Laurinaitis seems to favor Ziggler in the opening of the match. As the match wears on and Laurinaitis favoritism towards Ziggler grows, Triple H comes to ringside and observes the on-goings. Punk hits the GTS on Ziggler, and with Triple H watching on, Laurinaitis reluctantly counts to three and C.M. Punk retains the WWE Title.


The Royal Rumble Match

30 men, every man for himself. Did you know that there are no friends in this match? It's a shame Mark Henry isn't in the match this year, because he is a SERIOUS THREAT to win it! As I said in the intro, I think the WWE has done a terrible job building up to this Rumble match. They are hoping just the match itself draws people in. I don't know if that is going to happen. There will be some, like me, that will order the PPV just because it is the Rumble. But others who haven't liked the build to this match will probably not.

It is tough to do an actual preview for the match, but remember that ANYONE who participates in a match before the Rumble Match is eligible for it. That means whoever walks out of the WWE and World Title matches Champions can still compete in the Rumble. They made a point about stressing that on RAW, specifically with C.M. Punk. There was also a report out today that says there may be a major swerve in the Rumble regarding that storyline. So who really knows.

So lets take a look at some of the bigger starts in the Rumble and their chances of winning.

Miz: We already know that the Miz will be entering at #1. Miz continues to be under-utilized, especially in the last few months. I don't think Miz wins, but I would put my money on Miz having a very long stay in the Rumble to try and quiet some of his critics.

Sheamus: Sooner or later, Sheamus is going to get a run at the top on Smackdown. Right now he is stuck in an endless program with Jinder Mahal. Sheamus has gotten over quite well as a top face on Smackdown. His time as Champion will come this year, but I don't think it happens at the Rumble. Sheamus will probably clear a couple out of the ring, and may be in the Final 4, but I don't think he wins.

Wade Barrett: The WWE has finally gotten serious with Wade Barrett in the last handful of months. Barrett took out Randy Orton for a month. Just like Sheamus, Barrett should get some time at the top this year. A potential Barrett/Bryan match would have been intriguing with Barrett as a heel and Bryan being a former member of Nexus. Barrett could always win the Rumble and Orton could win the World Title at Elimination Chamber, but that's a stretch. Barrett is another Final 4 option.

Randy Orton: Orton is probably the favorite on the Smackdown brand. Orton returns this Friday on Smackdown and cleans house with a handful of RKOs. Orton/Bryan has been a rumored match for Wrestlemania for quite some time. I personally wouldn't want to see it. I maintain that the Rumble winner should be used to push someone to the main event level that is already on the cusp of it. Orton doesn't need a second Rumble win to do anything.

Chris Jericho: Jericho is probably the favorite on the RAW side. Jericho hasn't said anything since his return, until this past Monday when he said at the Royal Rumble it will be "the end of the world as we know it." Again, Jericho/Punk is the rumored WWE Title match for the RAW side. All of Jericho's antics are building towards a heel turn, it is just a matter of when it happens.

So what happens? Miz lasts until around #25, when he is dumped by Randy Orton. We get some surprise appearances from I.R.S, Papa Shango, and Flash Funk. Brodus dances with Flash in the ring. Mick Foley is eliminated with help from Dolph Ziggler. We get to the Final 4: Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Sheamus and Wade Barrett. Sheamus goes for the Brogue Kick but Chris Jericho ducks, sending Sheamus over the top. Orton dumps Barrett with a toss over the ropes, but Jericho then clotheslines Orton over and wins the Royal Rumble. And he celebrates like a kid in a candy factory.

WINNER: Chris Jericho

I will more than likely be doing a live Review of the show as it goes on. It is my birthday, but I'm celebrating the festivities on Friday night.

Until Next Time,
Justin C
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka

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