WWE Royal Rumble Preview and Predictions
By Mike McMahon
WWE presents the Royal Rumble this Sunday on pay-per-view, kicking off the road to Wrestlemania 28 in Miami on April 1.
Scheduled on the card are two world championship bouts as well as a match between John Cena and Kane before the Royal Rumble match takes the stage.
John Cena vs. Kane
After Monday’s attack on Zack Ryder, it seems that Kane has finally forced John Cena to embrace his hate.
But what will that translate to on Sunday, when the two meet one-on-one?
The build of this story has really transformed Cena’s character, which was the intent. The backstory — getting upset over your buddies U.S. Title — isn’t something I completely understand, but it at least is getting Ryder on television and made him an important part of a WWE storyline.
If WWE plans to keep throwing the wrinkles into Cena’s character without reverting back to “Super Cena,” then they have no choice but to put Kane over on Sunday.
Cena flying into the ring like Superman and taking out the evil giant puts him right back where he was, and the last month of character development on Raw would be a waste.
A win by Kane, especially a clean win, goes a long way in re-establishing the monster as a top heel and gives Cena something to do at next month’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view without putting him in the title picture. A February blowoff and a win over Kane, has Cena ready to clash with The Rock at Wrestlemania.
World Heavyweight Championship
Steel Cage Match
Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Mark Henry vs. Big Show
If this were simply a three-way dance, there would be no chance in hell Bryan walks out of St. Louis with the World Heavyweight Championship around his waist.
But the steel cage element gives WWE an out. How does the smallest competitor (by far!) in the match conquer these two behemoths? He takes the heel way out and escapes the cage without pinning either one of them.
I could see a situation where Henry and Big Show take themselves out, leading to a Bryan escape and retention of his championship.
Not the honorable way, but honor isn’t something that would fit with Bryan’s character. now would it?
Each week, Bryan has found ways to keep his title despite defending it almost weekly on Smackdown. Each time, he’s weaseled his way into keeping the belt through a backdoor.
Behind the scenes, Mark Henry is rumored to be nursing a slew of injuries and Big Show seems to be lined up to wrestle Shaq at Wrestlemania. If so, I can’t see WWE putting the belt on either competitor.
Winner: Daniel Bryan retains
CM Punk (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Special Referee: John Laurinaitis
Dolph Ziggler is a future world champion, I’m just not sure that the future is this Sunday.
Punk is the best thing going in WWE right now, and is almost a lock to be in a title match at Wrestlemania. My bet is he goes into Miami as the champion, and if so, he isn’t losing the belt between now and ‘Mania.
Ziggler has drawn comparisons to Mr. Perfect, mainly for his look, but I see a lot of Shawn Michaels, who will bump his butt off and make Punk look like a million dollars in this match.
The involvement of Laurinaitis makes the deck look stacked against Punk, but watch for Mick Foley involvement, after his recent conflicts with both Laurinaitis and Ziggler on Raw, he could exact revenge on both by killing two birds with one stone. It helps keep the belt on Punk, which is a must, and could setup a “one more match” scenario between Foley and Ziggler at Wrestlemania, which gives one of WWE’s brightest young talents a premiere match at its biggest pay-per-view of the year.
Winner: CM Punk retains
Royal Rumble Match
What will make this match exciting is the number of potential winners. Too many times in the past, WWE has shifted its focus on to one man in the Rumble (Shawn Michaels in ’96, Steve Austin in ’98, etc.), which all but guarantees the winner before entrant No. 1 has even made his way to the ring.
This year is different.
The favorite seems to be Randy Orton, who will enter the Rumble in his hometown of St. Louis. But even for WWE, I think this is too obvious.
Will they get a reaction if Orton wins the match in his hometown? Sure. And it would be a heck of a way to close a pay-per-view and get fans excited for Wrestlemania.
But that would just be more of the status quo. Face wins. Face challenges champion at Wrestlemania,
We’ve seen that.
Other popular picks include Wade Barrett, The Miz or perhaps even one of the WWE Champions, with this being the first time every WWE superstar is eligible for entry.
In my mind, however, there is only one choice — Chris Jericho.
His return to the company last month, while maybe not a surprise, made a huge impact. Every week since, I’ve tuned into WWE television with Jericho being one of the catalysts. How will be avoid speaking tonight? What will he do tonight? He’s been the show.
In what I guess will be his second “official” match, he needs to make an impact. If WWE decides to go with Jericho vs. Punk at Wrestlemania — which, by the way, I’d be more excited about than Jericho vs. Undertaker — then the road that leads us to that match begins with Jericho winning the Royal Rumble match, and ending the world as we know it.
Winner: Chris Jericho