The road to Wrestlemania starts tonight at the second biggest show of the year – the Royal Rumble! There are 4 matches announced for tonight plus a United States Title defence on the pre-show. This time of year is when the quality really increases, so a lot of fans are starting to get excited about the product again, and with good reason.
I said before that I’m not going to cover Divas matches in these prediction columns – if the WWE doesn’t care then why should we? For what it’s worth, there isn’t even a Divas match booked, more evidence for my previous statement. And I sometimes put in predictions or the pre-show matches, from now on unless I have something specific to say about them I’ll put a prediction for a result and no more. Tonight the pre-show is The Miz vs Antonio Cesaro for the United States Championship. I’m picking Cesaro to retain. And without further ado…
WWE Tag-Team Championship match: Team Rhodes Scholars vs Team Hell No (C)
This feud has been going on for a while thinking about it, huh? If it wasn’t for Cody getting injured this would probably feel quite stale. I wrote in my column on Friday that I think both of these teams will still exist at Wrestlemania, and I stand by that. What I am thinking now however, is that Wrestlemania will be the last night we can call Daniel Bryan and Kane a tag team. I think they’ll finally implode and go their separate ways. And this implosion will cost them their final opportunity at the Tag-Team Championships. But for that to be their final opportunity, they must be the challengers, and they must have been challengers for a while. And I think that makes my pick for this one obvious…
Prediction: Winners and NEW Tag-Team Champions – Team Rhodes Scholars
Last Man Standing Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Big Show vs Alberto Del Rio (C)
I haven’t seen the match from Smackdown a couple of weeks ago when Del Rio won the belt, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. It also looks like Del Rio’s face turn is progressing well (excellently compare to a certain Miz). Big Show’s title run – in fact his entire heel run – has been very well booked to make him look like a true bad ass who doesn’t care about anyone else. Because of all that, expectations are high that this will be a fun match. So many times before I’ve written about a need to establish somebody as champion, to build credibility, how it wouldn’t make sense for someone to lose a championship so soon after winning it… and this time is no different. In his current character, Big Show will always be a threat for the belt, regardless of how much he loses. And beating him would mean so much for an up and coming face. My point is, I think this last run was WWE’s “thank you” reign for the Big Show. I think we’ve seen the last of him as a world champion. Again, I think it’s fairly obvious who my pick to win is…
Prediction: Winner and STILL World Heavyweight Champion – Alberto Del Rio
Royal Rumble Match
This is probably the easiest match of the night to call. But, since it is the Royal Rumble, there are some other things can can also be predicted. Dolph Ziggler will open the match. That’s a smart move by the WWE. Dolph can carry the early part of the match. And I can see Dolph being the runner up too. The guy with the most eliminations? I’m going to go with Ryback. More because I think he needs a strong showing, he has lost a lot recently. Eliminating 7 or 8 people from the match should give him an extra push to re-establish him in a time where The Rock will be on the show every week. Another bonus prediction: Ryback will be eliminated by The Shield. There will be plenty of familiar faces returning. One of which – I don’t really think this is a spoiler since both Wade Barrett and CM Punk have tweeted about it – looks like being Papa Shango, aka the Godfather among others.
Bo Dallas won a battle royal of NXT superstars to enter the Rumble. For anyone who doesn’t know, he is a very energetic face on NXT, and is the brother of the man formerly known as Husky Harris. It looks like this will be his full-time debut on the main roster, as he has wrestled at house shows for weeks now. I think he’ll come out all guns blazing, maybe taking out an established heel to introduce him (Antonio Cesaro would be good to set up a US Title feud) but he won’t last long. I think the winner will enter in the 20s, and maybe tellingly is someone I haven’t mentioned yet in this entire article. He will draw level on number of wins with the legendary Shawn Michaels. It’s not going to make a lot of people happy…
Prediction: Winner and two-time Royal Rumble victor – John Cena
WWE Championship Match: The Rock vs CM Punk (C)
Finally… it’s here. The Rock is in his first championship match for 10 years. There has been plenty of raging debate over Rock’s return. Over his spot on the card. Over his merit for the belt. Over his ability to wrestle what is likely to be a 20+ minute championship match against the best in the world. Even over his mic work. I can understand all sides of these arguments, and don’t really support any one of them. My view at this point is: does any of that matter? If Rock wasn’t here people would probably be complaining about the lack of star power. Everyone prays Stone Cold Steve Austin will be back for one match – The Rock is, enjoy it. We have one of the best ever, against the best today. It shouldn’t be difficult to forget all the politics and just enjoy the match. If you can’t enjoy The Rock vs CM Punk, you’re watching wrestling for the wrong reasons.
As for the outcome, I put forward several scenarios for this match in my column two days ago, and I made some of my feelings clear there. I honestly do think there are better possible stories than the one WWE is likely to tell. One of the most logical arguments I’ve heard for what could happen is to do with house shows. The Rock has been brought in to make everybody money. If he wins the belt it will be huge publicity. But, will fans want to go to house shoes the WWE Championship isn’t being defended at? That’s what would happen for two months if Rock wins tonight. Now, wouldn’t it be great if CM Punk claimed that he was still be the real champion since he’s here every day, every week of the year, and made a fake WWE Championship to defend at house shows? Shame “creative” aren’t creative enough to come up with something like that. To be honest, this one could go either way, and I won’t be surprised. What I will be though is enjoying the ride. Finally… we are on the Road to Wrestlemania.
Prediction: Winner and NEW WWE Champion – THE ROCK
A year ago, who would have thought I’d be typing that. I also think the show will end with an “electrifying” moment, as the Royal Rumble winner John Cena faces off with the new WWE Champion The Rock to set up the Wrestlemania main event. It doesn’t really matter which match goes on last for that to happen.
This is the time of year WWE programming is at its best; in the build-up to Wrestlemania. I’m definitely looking forward to it, and I hope you all are too. If you think the next few months are going to be too predictable, look back at my last post and tell me what you think.
It’s going to be an exciting few months in WWE-land. What are you guys most excited about? Let me know in the comments, or else by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.