this Sunday marks the 28th annual WWE Royal Rumble pay per view, emanating live and direct from Philadelphia. a year ago, the Pittsburgh crowd took a huge, steaming dump all over the event. the IWC darling, Daniel Bryan, lost clean to Bray Wyatt in the show opener (in what proved to be the match of the nite) Brock Lesnar beat the shit out of Big Show, before the bell even rang. the crowd was treated to Cena vs. Orton for the WWE title for the 4027th time. and when Rey Mysterio came out #30 in the Rumble match, that’s when the crowd went from hostile to downright volatile.
there was no Bryan, and Vinman’s proclamation of the returning Batista winning the Rumble had been set in motion. I like Batista b/c he’s a DC guy, and it’s nice to see that he’s established himself in Hollywood after wrasslin. while certainly not on the level as the Rock, he was quite good in Guardians of the Galaxy, and he continues to book steady work, but I digress. Roman Reigns set the new mark for most eliminations in a Rumble with 12 (breaking Kane’s previous record of 11 set in 2001) before he was lastly eliminated by Batista.
this would also end up being CM Punk’s final appearance, as he abruptly left the company after the show. I’m a CM Punk fan, and I was disappointed just as much as anyone else, when he quit. he has his reasons for leaving, and the bottom line is he doesn’t really owe the fans shit.
this year’s show is a Teddy Long special as we have four tag team matches (including pre-show) on the card. there’s also the triple threat match for the WWE title between the reigning champion, Brock Lesnar, the Money in the Bank holder, Seth Rollins, and the golden shovel, John Cena. say what you will about Brock, the man is a smart businessman, if nothing else. after signing a one-year deal worth a reported $5 million in 2012 (he renewed for 2 years in 2013) the man will be wrestling in his 10th match in the last 33 months. after throwing around Cena like a rag doll at Summer Slam to win the title, this will be Lesnar’s second title defense, and the first time he will have wrestled since September. now if you figure conservatively that Lesnar was making a base salary of $5 million a year, he will have earned roughly $1.5 million for each match!
for the first time in quite a while, there are no previous Rumble winners being advertised to appear in the match. that being said, 2009 winner Randy Orton will probably make his return, and maybe the 2012 winner, Sheamus. Bo Dallas is due to make his return from injury. extreme pot smoker, Rob Van Dam, is supposed to be making an appearance. the Dudley Boyz and DDP were also rumoured to be in talks to appear. Chris Jericho has been working the house show circuit and will be in Philly this weekend, so there’s an outside chance he could be there. former NXT champion, Adrian Neville, is supposedly the next talent to be called up to the main roster, so he might be in the Rumble.
as of this writing, 17 of 30 participants have been confirmed. the odds-on favourite is golden shovel 2.0, Roman Reigns. the flaws in both his ringwork and mic skills were masked thanks to fellow Shield members, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. many have accused Reigns of having fewer moves than Cena. hairwhip, Superman punch, grunt, repeat. the promos he’s been cutting during his feud with the Big Show have just been gawdawful. I guess the only question is will Vinman go forward with his plans of Reigns vs. Lesnar at Mania? will Reigns break his own record and eliminate 13 superstars from the match? or will Vinman pull a swerve and go with someone like Daniel Bryan? rest assured, if Reigns does win, you can expect a reaction from the Philly crowd something akin to the time they cheered Michael Irvin, as they were carting him off the field with a career-ending spinal cord injury, during a Cowboys-Eagles game in 1999.
the Rumble match is not all about who wins tho, as there are plenty of mid-card feuds that can be elevated or take shape. I read an interesting theory the other day concerning Goldust and Stardust. what if Goldust eliminates Stardust, only to have Stardust return later in the match as Cody Rhodes, and eliminate Goldust. a lot of folks in the IWC have been clamouring for a Cody vs. Dustin match at Mania, but I don’t think it happens this year. but yes, I would love to see this theory come to fruition.
the Miz and Damien Mizdow is another singles feud just waiting to happen. ever since Mizdow became Miz’s stunt double, they’ve been slowly building toward a Mizdow face turn. they’re scheduled to compete in a tag title match vs. the Usos earlier in the evening, so we may see a glimpse of what’s to come when they enter the Rumble match. Damien Sandow has had some shit gimmicks to work with over the past coupla years. the epitome of that old saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” his imitation of X-Pac this past week on RAW was spot on and fucking hilarious! when he finally does turn face, he deserves a serious singles push. he is arguably one of the most over wrasslers on the roster today.
other wrasslers to keep an eye on in the Rumble include another IWC darling, Dolph Ziggler, who returns after being “fired” a coupla weeks ago. two years ago, he lasted almost 50 minutes in the Rumble and I could easily see him getting an early number and wind up being one of the final four. Dolph is the greatest seller since Mr. Perfect and is arguably the hardest worker on the roster, so of course he won’t win.
Daniel Bryan is back after spending nine moths recovering from neck surgery. he’s looked good in the handful of times he’s competed, tho doctors have advised him he won’t be able to use the same moveset he was known for prior to his injury. I think he gets a later number, like 21, and ends up being another one of the final four.
Rusev’s anti-American gimmick has gotten awfully stale, and if it wasn’t for Lana, he probably wouldn’t even be on tv, or possibly even back in NXT (not like that would necessarily be a bad thing) it looked like he would be feuding with Ryback, but that was derailed when Ryback was “fired” rumour has it that Rusev could be on a collision course with Cena at Mania, which would cause a lot of IWC members to pre-emptively declare his career dead and buried. I hope he has a deep run in the Rumble match, and ideally I would like to see him eliminate Reigns.
Cesaro has been the most under-utilized talents of the last year. he won the Andre the Giant battle royal at Mania, became a Paul Heyman guy, criticized Orton and Cena, and then dropped off the radar. he’s been relegated to the pre-show match along with his partner Tyson Kidd, who comprise the most athletically-gifted tag team on the roster. Kofi Kingston is also involved in this match, and seeing as how it’s become a tradition of him performing outlandish feats to avoid elimination, I hope he makes an appearance in the Rumble match.
Bray Wyatt has been booked strong since surviving his near career-ending loss to Cena at last year’s Mania. word is he could be headed for a meeting with the Undertaker at Mania (assuming Taker can go) and should continue to be booked strong in his first Rumble match (second if you count his 2011 appearance as Husky Harris)
if you’re looking for a dark horse, look no further than Dean Ambrose, who is coming off losses in feuds to both Wyatt and Seth Rollins. he has no momentum heading into the Rumble, but is still very much over with the crowd thanks to his Brian Pillman-lite persona. Ambrose winning the Rumble would be nothing short of a major swerve.
Kane will be making his record 18th appearance in the Rumble and needs just one more elimination to set the all-time mark for most career eliminations (currently tied with Shawn Michaels at 39) he has been relegated to enhancement talent with his “Corporate Kane” gimmick, but he deserves to break the record. the best “big man” of the modern era to have never won a Rumble.
bold ass match predictions:
Adam Rose, Cesaro, and Tyson Kidd d. New Day – a kickoff match worthy of midcard filler material on a 3-hour episode of RAW. plenty of talent on display, but it would be a shame if some of these guys don’t get spots in the Rumble. this is an elimination match, so maybe the survivors win numbers.
The Usos (c) d. The Miz and Damien Mizdow – the Usos should retain, as the match will be more about teasing the split between Miz and Mizdow. it’s been a real treat watching Mizdow perform his theatrics outside the ring during their matches, but the time is right for him to get back to being a singles competitor.
The Ascension d. New Age Outlaws – The Ascension appeared dead on arrival when they made their main roster debut on the final RAW of 2014. the in your face Illuminati imagery used in their entrance video and ring attire, coupled with their cornball promos and insistence that every other tag team they are accused of emulating (namely LOD and Demolition) sucked, has made crowds rather indifferent toward them. after the beatdown they took at the hands of the Outlaws (and JBL) this past week on RAW, they can only go up from here, right?!?
Brock Lesnar (c) d. John Cena and Seth Rollins – Brock is on his way to UFC, when his contract expires after Mania. that being said, he should still be champion when that show rolls around. Rollins being added to the match doesn’t make a whole lotta sense, since he’s already the Money in the Bank winner, but he’ll probably be used just to make sure Cena doesn’t win, thus furthering the feud for at least another month. all signs point to Seth being the next Paul Heyman guy, following Brock’s departure.
Paige and Natalya d. the Bella Twins – Xavier help me, they’re actually booking a halfway decent feud in the divas division. since Nikki’s title isn’t on the line, I suspect Brie will do the job, paving the way for the culmination to this feud at Mania.
Roman Reigns wins the Royal Rumble – this is what Vinman wants after the IWC (and CM Punk, to a certain extent) forced him to put “B+ player” Daniel Bryan in the main event of last year’s Mania. 27 has been the luckiest number, in terms of previous Rumble winners (4), so why not have Reigns be the latest. he last eliminates Bryan, causing audience members to litter the ring with folding chairs while a chorus of “E-C-DUB!” rings throughout the arena.
when golden shovels collide