Raw this week – a very solid affair, I might add – was heavily focussed on the build to the Royal Rumble, which has always been my favourite Pay Per View.
We have started to find out some of the competitors, and it appears that the line-up is quite strong for the big over-the-top match this year. My big hope is that whoever wins the Rumble that they do not move their title shot to the next PPV, the one before Mania. It really lessens the impact of the Rumble. It is not supposed to be merely earning a title shot, but being in THE MAIN EVENT AT WRESTLEMANIA. It ought to remain sacred.
It’s high time to look at the contenders for this year’s Rumble. I know not all of the competitors have been announced, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that all of the names discussed will be entered in the 30-man over-the-top bout.
We’re putting aside the names Christian, Zeke Jackson, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Undertaker, Rey Mysterio, since they are booked for title matches at this point.
I shall discuss, in no particular order, who I believe are the only people, barring a shocking return/debut, that can win the Rumble, and then go onto those who are in the Rumble and ought to have a storyline development in the match. Then I’ll give a prediction of a winner and tell you who I would book as the winner.
It seems right to start with HBK, since his was the name that started the Rumble talk on Raw. Having asked Taker for a match at Mania and been denied, Shawn declared his intention for the Rumble.
He has history in the match. He was the winner in 1995, entering as number one and winning overall. (If you are checking stats, it was only 60 second intervals that year) He won the following year, having turned into arguably the number one babyface in the company and returning from injury. Then, in 2007, he was the runner up to , of all people, the Undertaker, but still went on to wrestle John Cena for the WWE Title at Wrestlemania.
Shawn and the Rumble fit like hand and glove – so much so that they could do anything they want with him. They could have him enter late as they often do with big names, and build to his entrance. They could put him at an early number and play off his resilience and longevity again.
He is the most likely contender at this moment, potentially, when you consider the build up to a potential match with Taker.
But is it too obvious? It does seem to be a slightly telegraphed, and doesn’t suggest great storytelling if he says on TV “I’ll win the Royal Rumble then” and just goes and does it. Seems a little easy. Not that the people would care. HBK is probably the most beloved babyface in the WWE.......and maybe the world. People want HBK/Taker II, and if he wins the Rumble, they’ll get it, provided Taker retains the gold.
Also entered is Shawn’s DX running buddy Hunter Hearst Helmsley, who was trying to tell Shawn something throughout Raw, then did so by throwing HBK over the top rope in an act designed to suggest that Hunter is the stronger member of DX. It was also a measure which perpetuated the suggestion that DX may split.
They (WWE) are in a fantastic position with Triple H, Taker and Shawn, in that they could have a match involving any combination of the three. I would hope they wouldn’t do a three-way, but Shawn v Taker we’ve talked about. Hunter v Shawn is possible, with Trips possibly costing Michaels the Rumble, continued dissention and a break-up leading to a Mania blow-off.
But don’t rule out Hunter v Taker. WWE have a trick up their sleeve in that they could achieve two birds with one stone – they could build up an intriguing match in HHH v Taker (which they never pulled the plug on despite the pair being on Smackdown together for a long time) whilst strengthening the storyline of breaking up DX. The ace in WWE’s pack is Hunter being able to say “Shawn isn’t the only one to have lost to the Undertaker at Wrestlemania” because HHH lost to Taker at WM17. (Like last year’s Mania, also in Houston, funnily enough)
That would make for great TV, seeing HHH chasing Taker, and not knowing if Shawn wanted Hunter to win or not. They could prolong that for ages, and if they didn’t want to break DX up, they don’t have to for a long time, if ever.
To that end, I think Trips a strong contender for winning this. Add to the HBK/Taker scenario the fact that Sheamus currently holds the WWE belt, and is said to be very close with Paul Levesque. Trips could go to Mania to face Sheamus and as a friend, put him over to make Sheamus look good (like Hunter has done for Cena and Batista in the past) or to be the big babyface win that Mania tends to have.
Hunter has a big Mania albatross round his neck after last year’s majorly disappointing match with Orton, so may well be keen to at least partially erase that memory.
You have to factor Jericho into proceedings because he has just been so damn awesome for the past two years that a Wrestlemania main event would be just what he deserves. His character would be so suited to a sneaky late entry and capitalisation on other events, and I could see him lording it over HBK and Hunter that he has won the right to wrestle at Wrestlemania and therefore can choose which brands champion he will wrestle – thus allowing him to appear on Raw again.
Ultimately he would need to choose The Undertaker and produce his first meaningful feud with the Deadman. The decision would really be whether Jericho could be taken seriously to win the title and end the streak, and whether this pairing, accepting that you’d be maybe looking at Cena/Sheamus for the other title, HBK/Shawn and maybe Randy v Ted or Cody as the rest of the line up is strong enough to sell the PPV. I fear it wouldn’t be, even though I’d love to see Jericho given the opportunity. He does deserve it.
Any match that John Cena is in, you have to consider him a favourite for. When you weigh up the star power in the Rumble, his star shines as bright as any, and when you break down the Road the Wrestlemania, he will have to figure prominently somewhere.
Cena’s stock in terms of winning the Rumble is high through three major reasons. The first two lie in the fact that he is a feasible opponent for either Sheamus or Undertaker if they keep their title until Mania. A Sheamus rematch is surely owing to him after the way he lost the title and then failed to regain it in controversial style. I have thought for a long time that Cena v Undertaker is perhaps the last of the dream matches and as high as Cena is regarded now, he could be elevated even higher by having a great match with Taker and ending the streak.
It could also be the catalyst for a Cena heel turn. “I beat the Undertaker” might be met with boos, and eventually he could snap and say “I gave you everything and you still cheered The Undertaker.” When they want to do it, Cena will be a massive heel.
The third pointer might be the lack of an obvious opponent for John Cena at Wrestlemania. He is too big for the Money in the Bank match, so won’t be thrown into that mix. Last year he was sort of strong-armed into the Big Show/Edge mix to get him into a title match. If it is easy enough to fit Triple H, Michaels and Orton into matches then Cena might be allowed to win the Rumble and set up a title feud.
The other options are, for him not winning the Rumble, that someone would win the Rumble and pick Taker, leaving Cena to win the Raw Elimination Chamber or that he is ousted from the Rumble by someone with whom he could feud until Mania, the identity of whom has not been, erm, identified...........
......until now? It’s not definite, and doesn’t quite carry the same aura as it might have done at one point, but Cena v Batista is a strong possibility, especially considering the position we’ve talked about for Cena.
However, I think it is less likely than Batista carrying on the Mysterio programme all the way through to Wrestlemania. Strikes me that a logical progression is to have Batista cost Mysterio the match against Taker, then for Mysterio to distract Big Dave, causing him to be removed from the Rumble. The two would then both be likely to meet in a Smackdown Elimination chamber, with their final match being at Wrestlemania.
Batista might win the Rumble, and his name and marquee value means he has to spoken about with the names in with a chance of winning. However, it is hard to state a case for him above most of the other contenders.
Punk is, once again, on a roll right now. His almost Cult-leader-like character has really drawn some heat on Smackdown, and it would be fantastic to watch him use that shtick to try to bring down the Undertaker.
Sadly, I don’t see it. In many fans’ eyes Punk v Taker will be a letdown after building up and teasing a HBK rematch, and when you could throw HHH or Cena at Taker, Punk might not be seen as the right choice. Add this to the fact that Punk has wrestled Taker within the last year and been portrayed as a lesser entity, it just isn’t that likely. I’d love to see it, but I fear the powers that be would not concur.
The Big Man is obviously set to be an imposing presence in the match, but realistically he shouldn’t be a Rumble winner to go on to a major main event at Mania. I know he was in a Triple Threat for the World Title last year, but the Rumble winner’s programme is generally bigger, and I don’t think Show has the adequate profile.
Maybe Shaq will be back before Mania, and Show can have the ‘wrestling the sports star’ slot again.
I don’t think Kingston is in the position to yet win a Royal Rumble, but he definitely ought to be someone who enters the match early (maybe even at one or two) and lasts a very long time, with the announcers talking up his tremendous feat.
I still like the idea of Kofi winning Money in the Bank.
The best thing about Raw two weeks ago, these two suddenly have quite a hot feud which it will be interesting to see how it develops. I would think that surely one will eliminate another in the Rumble. Miz getting rid of MVP adds more heat on him, but on the flipside of that MVP throwing Miz out would make for a big pop if done correctly.
I think that there is a strong chance that Sheamus will beat Randy Orton and it will be due to the interference of Legacy in some fashion. I can see a Cody distraction while Ted runs around the back, but misses hitting Sheamus and hits Orton instead, possibly leading to Randy v Ted at Mania.
Both Cody and Ted are in the Rumble, and have at times threatened that they will step up and go solo, so there is a chance that these two will fight, or at least have a moment where they let each other down.
John Morrison, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre
The three above names, all Smackdown guys, have had a good 2009, and 2010 could well be a time for them to step up and look even stronger. Morrison is definitely an outside chance for a surprise title run at some stage, and the other two have done enough with IC title efforts to suggest they are upper midcarders with bright futures. I’d like to see all of these guys have a reasonable showing.
So, Rob, who is going to win?
I’m glad you asked.
I think the winner, really, will come from a select group of three – John Cena, Triple H and Shawn Michaels. I don’t anticipate Undertaker or Sheamus losing the title before Wrestlemania.
It makes more sense for a babyface to win that a heel. A heel winning sets up either heel v heel against Sheamus, which I don’t see them doing after doing it at the Rumble with Orton. I don’t think any of the top heels in the Rumble (Punk, Batista and Chris Jericho) make any sense in a match with the Undertaker.
It leaves just the trio mentioned above. I’m going to plump for Triple H. I think that it is time for him to get serious and go after a title again, and him winning the Rumble not only signals that but can set wheels in motion for a DX break-up, and perhaps a possible match at Summerslam, which ironically was where HBK and HHH had a brutal Streetfight to mark Shawn’s first match back after his extended layoff.
Who would you book to win?
I think I’d have to say Cena. I’m a big fan of storylines overlapping, and I think if you give the Rumble to Cena, you can have him stall as to which champion he chooses to face. You then have a touch of Cena v Sheamus and Cena v Undertaker, as well as tension between Cena and Michaels, as HBK tries to convince Cena to wrestle Sheamus so that HBK can continue to chase Undertaker. Triple H then comes into play, as someone who’d like a title shot against Sheamus. So then whomever Cena chooses, it would benefit one member of DX but not the other.
The beauty of booking Cena to win the Rumble is that you can take your time in deciding where you are going to take the story.
There are so many possibilities – maybe you have your own theory. I’d love to hear it.