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Sunday, 25 January 2009

Royal Rumble Preview

I’d said it before and I’ll say it again – in fact I’ll say it every year – I love the Royal Rumble.

It’s my favourite Pay Per View bar none, and I know that is the case for many of you reading this. I can tell by the amount of mail I’ve received of late – thank you to all for corresponding, and don’t forget you can do this during a live blog during the Rumble.

This is going to be a major event, because as they typically say, it is the start of the road to Wrestlemania. And at the moment, Wrestlemania matches are very tough to predict. It may be that WWE have no idea, or it may be that they are just waiting to start the build. I suspect that tonight will start some wheels turning to lead to feuds which will ultimately lead to matches at the big one.

We’ve got four scheduled matches apart from the Rumble match itself, which in itself is interesting because they have said that the Royal Rumble will feature competitors entering every ninety seconds, and not the usual two minutes.

Crude maths suggests approximately 45 minutes for everyone to get in the ring, and with some ring entrances and time at the finish you are looking at about an hour for the Rumble match. If you take the other four matches to be 15 minutes each that would be a second hour. Plenty of time to fill, then.

Jack Swagger v Matt Hardy – ECW Title match
Bit of a strange one this. Not quite sure why they didn’t go with Swagger winning a non-title match to set up a title match after getting a victory, but there you go.

Matt seems to be entangled in the storyline with his brother and Edge, so I’d think that keeping the ECW title off him seems logical. However, this is very early in Swagger’s progression for him to have a “world” title. This is his first ever PPV match, and due to the consistently low ECW rating I’d suggest that there will be plenty of viewers who haven’t seen him before.

I don’t see why Matt would be booked so strongly against Edge on Smackdown only to lose cleanly to Swagger. However, I also don’t see why you have him drop the belt only to get it back shortly afterwards.

I’m taking Swagger retain the belt here, but I can see this being a bit of a get-out finish. I’d predict either Swagger getting counted out or DQ-ed to give Matt a win but not the title, or perhaps Matt getting distracted to be counted out or DQ-ed due to over-jealousness.

Beth Phoenix v Melina – Women’s Title
The booking of this makes sense, I guess. I would have liked to have seen Melina get a little more time to put her character across vocally because since she has come back all she has really done is look and angry and attack occasionally. Nothing wrong with that, but sometimes you need to be allowed to do a little more to get the crowd on your side.

Fortunately for Melina, she can actually work, and Beth is a good heel, so I wouldn’t fear for this match too much. I envision these two having a decent outing. They are both quite creative, and I recall them being involved in PPV matches last year, in one-on-one and triple threats, and having some very creative exchanges. I look forward to more of the same.

I was very close to predicting a Melina win here. I think she has earned another title run, and would do the belt justice, but the major problem is a lack of contenders. Jillian is the only other heel female wrestler on Raw, I believe, and although I love her character I don’t think she is a credible title contender to Melina as champ. After all Melina beat her easily on Raw.

Kelly got squashed by Beth last week so she may not be featuring, and you get the feeling Mickie needs freshening up a bit.

Apart from Layla, who doesn’t really wrestle, that only leaves Candice, who has been left to one side really. So unless it’s a heel turn for Candice and a push for her to face Melina with the title on the line, I can only Beth winning and going through the usual cycle.

I suppose the wild card could be Gail Kim. Either a cynical return attack on new champ Melina or a babyface challenge to Beth could be fun. However, she is allegedly returning on Smackdown, so rule this one out.

And then there’s Rosa. Perhaps she’ll turn early on Beth? Personally I see this as an extra reason for the belt to stay on Beth, since Rosa as an intern works much better if she is helping the champ. Why have an entourage if you are not champion?

Anyway, I’m taking Beth to win, but certainly would not be surprised to be wrong.

Edge v Jeff Hardy – WWE Championship
This is storyline which can twist so many ways. I won’t go into all of it now because I’ll be here forever. I still like my idea of Matt being aligned with Edge against Jeff, and then Christian could return to assist the younger Hardy, but I don’t see it happening, frankly.

I’m guessing that all these attacks will be the build for Hardy to drop the title. To get the belt off him by losing straight off would make him look weak, so they injure him, have him valiantly try to hold up, and then fall short. That seems logical to me.

I hope they don’t have Jeff sell the injuries ridiculously and serve to hurt the match. Allowed to just let go and run free these two should have a phenomenal contest, but Jeff would need to be at his high-flying best, not limping around the place.

We could see the twist in the tale being that Edge wins this match, comes onto Smackdown with Vickie and says that he’ll never face Jeff again, and that Jeff is now no threat. If Jeff then still gets attacked then they can speculate that Edge isn’t the culprit behind the hit-and-run and pyro and stuff, because why would he keep attacking after getting his belt back.

If the attacker is to be Christian, then he needs an accomplice, because how else does pyro get tampered with if the alleged offender does not work for the company?

Anyway, I think Edge is going to win here.

John Cena v JBL – World Championship
Hmmm. Tricky one this. All week I’ve been thinking JBL will win with HBK’s help, and eventually Shawn will reveal that he helped JBL to win the belt because he wanted a shot at it. The payoff being Mr Wrestlemania to turn on then beat his hated boss, winning the title at the year’s big show. It gives Michaels another awesome Mania moment and caps this feud off.

However, I’m looking at the other matches and my predictions and am now worrying that I’m picking all heels to go over. Would they book an entire show of heel wins? Not likely. You’ll see in a moment that I have a fancy for a heel to win the Rumble.

If that is the case it points to Cena retaining until Wrestlemania. I also don’t have a potential opponent for Cena outside of a title match at Mania.

You see this is why I’m looking forward to this PPV so much. I have no idea who will go over in nearly every match. I’m starting to enjoy the JBL/HBK thing so part of me wants Bradshaw to win.

I’m mainly going to sit back, watch and hope that Michaels’ magic in situations like this makes this a compelling match. Not expecting a mat classic, but I think there’ s a fair chance that this will be heavy on the storyline aspect of the late 90s WWE with plenty of intrigue about whether HBK has an effect. I expect false finishes galore and a ref bump into the bargain.

I’m going for Cena. Definitely. Certainly. 100%.


The Royal Rumble match
I did a long commentary about who I thought would win a couple of weeks back, so I won’t go too in depth with this.

I will, though, break out the patented McNichol Eliminator, as seen on TV (It’s on top of mine, like an ornament) to have a quick look at the main contenders. I’ve narrowed it down to ten.

Vladimir Koslov

Surely not. I can see him getting the old Kane push of coming in to a ring with about five people in and cleaning house, then surviving for a while before getting removed by Taker or Hunter.

Big Show
A talented big man and a useful hand to have when you need a big intimidating presence. Also helpful if you need to toss Floyd Mayweather about. Not, though the man to headline Mania in a title match. He won’t win here.

Mark Henry
If he wins, I quit.

Rey Mysterio
His star has faded considerably. His big moment in this will likely be eliminating Mike Knox. Not a candidate to win.

CM Punk
The IC title is his level right now. As much I like Punk, he won the Money in the Bank because Jeff was suspended, and then won the belt because they wanted a big moment, not a strong champion. He isn’t going to be back in the title picture soon, and definitely won’t be winning above some of the names I’m about to type.......

Chris Jericho
Now we’re getting serious. I’m assuming that he is back in the Rumble after getting reinstated, and Jericho has to be a candidate.

I’m eliminating him here though, mainly because I think that Jericho can be placed in a feud with someone and make it great without being anywhere near the title. Just look at his programme with Michaels. Sure the title came into it at the end, but I still think that only happened so they could have a ladder match.

I can see Jericho having an issue with someone during this match and it developing further down the line. But not winning the match. We’re down to four.

Still probably the top guy in the company in terms of being cheered and revered, so has to have a chance in the Rumble. However, he only won it two years ago, and has won the title at the last two Wrestlemanias. Surely they can find a credible opponent for the Deadman to defend his streak against, and leave him out of the title scene.

A Rumble win does just that, so I’m counting him out.

Triple H
I don’t rule this man out completely, because we all know how often Trips has a big moment. However, I fail to see what this really does for The Game.

I know it could well be used as a tool for him getting a title shot legitimately because Vickie won’t let him get one otherwise. However, surely Triple H can be worked into the title picture somehow without having to go over 29 other folks in order to do so.

As I type I realise that this is very possible, but I think in this case they’ll avoid it. I think.

Randy Orton
I’ve thought that Orton would win the Rumble since Batista got injured. I’ve only just changed my mind. And of course Raw did a lot for this.

Orton kicking Vince in the head came out of nowhere, and surely must signal a storyline with plenty more twists and turns, and not a title programme.

Orton is the standout man in the match – and the federation – who has not won the Rumble match and would be likely to be pushed heavily. However, he won a title match at last year’s event, so this may count against him.

Another possible factor is Steve Austin. I’m not saying you’ll see him tonight, but if he really is going to wrestle at Mania, then Orton is a very real candidate. Winning the Rumble is not an option if he is scheduled to meet the Rattlesnake.

Don’t rule him out by any means, but I have a better option.........

Shawn Michaels
The caveat is that he’ll be in the match, of course. Here’s what I picture. Michaels interjects in the JBL/Cena match. When the ref is down, Michaels looks like he will nail JBL and make the turn, but instead levels Cena.

We then get the commentators saying that although HBK is being forced to do this he is still wrong, out of order, etc.

Michaels could heel it up a bit, and then a backstage thing with JBL saying to Shawn about watching to Rumble to see who they may face. Shawn escapes JBL’s side and shows up in the match and wins.

Cue a promo (either closing the PPV or on Raw) with Michaels saying that he quits from JBL’s employ, since he is now guaranteed a big payday at Mania – “I don’t need your money, JBL” he say.

The problem with this is that you’d have to spin the feud out another nine weeks or so until Mania. But this is achievable.

Michaels, in my opinion, is the best in world at what he does. In terms of acting, wrestling, a strong character, everything. He may not be around for too much longer, so I’d love to see HBK win a rumble then a title at Mania again.

The McNichol Eliminator says – Shawn Michaels

The machine doesn’t lie. Enjoy the show.

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