Hustle Is Posting Right Now - Royal Rumble Predictions (*Updated*)
Jan 26, 2013 - 5:02:31 PM
"Let's get ready to Rumble.."
I love the Royal Rumble. I know many of you do, as well. Not only is it fun to watch the Rumble match itself, waiting to see if any surprise entrants show up, but the event marks the official start of the "Road To WrestleMania". It's around this time of year when everyone begins their own fantasy booking of WrestleMania, or even predicting what they think will happen, but it's difficult to do so without the Rumble. So many "What if..?" scenarios begin to get clearer once the Rumble is over, and you can see who wins the title matches and the Rumble itself. Yes, there's still two months between the Rumble and Mania, with Elimination Chamber thrown in the mix, but the Rumble winner helps a lot of things fall into place. If the winner is from Raw, you can pretty much start putting the WWE Title match at WrestleMania together in your head, which then frees up what you can do for the World Title match at WrestleMania. If the Rumble winner is from Smackdown, then it just makes the World Title match at WrestleMania "easy" to figure out.
With the Rumble only a couple days away, it's time for me to make some predictions on things. I have a multitude of other columns to work on, and I want to get back to them as soon as possible, so let's not waste any more time. On with the picks!
Antonio Cesaro VS The Miz - Singles Match for the United States Title
Right off the bat, let me say that I'm really worried about this match. It's no secret that I'm not the biggest Miz fan in the world, but his face turn has made things infinitely worse. I've said it before, but there are even some big fans of the guy that can't help but groan at his face antics these days. My worry is that someone in the company clearly feels Miz is someone that should be pushed as a major player again. He gets much more television time now than he used to, with what seems like eight MizTV segments every week, and is now being "mentored" by Ric Flair, even taking the Figure Four Leglock as his own finisher. Even if you want to give Miz the United States Title, you'd have to think this point in time is too soon. The Flair thing just started, after all. Like I said, though, I'm just worried that the company will force things a bit, and give Miz the title win here. Cesaro has done a very good job as the United States Champion, in my opinion. He's performed well in the ring, and has also had very competitive matches with regular main eventers on the roster, indirectly elevating the title in the process. The day of the Rumble will be Cesaro's 161st day as the United States Champion, which is a very respectable number. It's slightly misleading, though, because the United States Title is usually held for a while. For example, if Cesaro drops the belt at the Royal Rumble, his 161-day reign will only register as the ninth-longest of the last decade. For the sake of reference, 161 days would be tied for the fifth-longest Intercontinental Title reign of the last decade, the fourth-longest World Title reign of the last decade (the entire duration of that title's history), and the seventh-longest WWE Title reign of the last decade.
If I'm being forced to pick a winner, though.. and, technically, I am.. I have to go with Cesaro to retain here, for one reason and one reason only. The match is being held on the YouTube pre-show, and not during the pay-per-view itself. If WWE really wants The Miz to be seen as whatever it is they're trying to push him as, you'd think they'd give him title victories on pay-per-view, or at least on television, and not on YouTube. I do think that Miz will be the one to take the title off of Cesaro. I just don't think it will happen at the Rumble.
Who Will Win: Antonio Cesaro (Still US Champion)
Who Should Win: Antonio Cesaro (Still US Champion)
Team Hell No VS The Rhodes Scholars - Tag Team Match for the Tag Team Titles
See, now this match intrigues me. I think a very strong case can be made for both teams winning this match, and I actually agree with both sides of the argument. In the champions, you have two guys who have worked together almost perfectly, and have done a great job in helping to boost the profile of those titles. In the challengers, you have two guys who have just "clicked" from the beginning, and who have had their own profiles boosted in recent months, to the point of perhaps being the favorites to win here.
The way I look at it, I almost see Team Hell No's graduation ceremony from their anger management courses as being the end of their run. As we saw during a backstage segment a couple weeks back, they haven't really changed for the better, and were only doing so to basically get Dr Shelby off their backs. When you really stop and think about that little wrinkle, I think there is one outcome here that really stands out. Brand new Tag Team Champions, and that will begin the official destruction of Team Hell No. If it happens, I don't think Team Hell No break up at the Rumble. I think we'll start to see the seeds of it at the Rumble, though. I think we'll get their rematch, which they'll lose, and that is when the split happens, preferably with KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE turning heel by absolutely mollywhopping Daniel Bryan, giving us another WrestleMania match in the process.
I'm torn on what I want to happen, but honestly, I do think Team Hell No has earned the right to move on. They were kind of thrown together, and they worked better together than anyone expected them to. They were able to have great chemistry in and out of the ring, and have been about as consistent as it gets in all of wrestling since the entire storyline with AJ Lee began. They've done so well, and I think they both deserve another nice singles run, which may very well be the last one of KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE's career. I think Daniel Bryan VS KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE at WrestleMania is a good send-off for the "Big Red Monster", and would be a better (and more high-profile) match than a tag match would be.
Who Will Win: Rhodes Scholars (New Tag Team Champions)
Who Should Win: Rhodes Scholars (New Tag Team Champions)
Alberto Del Rrrrrio VS Big Show - Last Man Standing Match for the World Title
If you know anything about me from my previous columns, you'd know that I hate, hate, hate when wrestling companies play "hot potato" with their title belts. The World Title just changed hands. In the world of kayfabe, ADR will have been the World Champion for 16 days when the Royal Rumble rolls around (19 days if you want to be super specific officially, of course). If he drops the title this weekend, it would mark the ninth World Title reign since the beginning of the 2010 calendar year that didn't last two full months. Let's not forget that this is the title which Christian dropped mere days after winning for the first time. This is the title that Dolph Ziggler won as the result of Edge being stripped for using his own finishing move, only to drop it back to Edge in the same show. This is the title that Daniel Bryan won after cashing his Money In The Bank title shot, beating Big Show, who just beat Mark Henry for the title mere minutes earlier. What scares me is that I've already seen a lot of people predicting another very short title reign here.
I'm not saying that ADR should get a CM Punk-like title reign, lasting for the rest of 2013 and into 2014. Not at all. I do think he should get more than a two-week reign, though, especially now that he's a face. It will be interesting to see how he is accepted as a face champion, especially when WWE starts hitting up parts of the country that aren't so Latino-heavy like they have been in recent weeks. That's the main thing the company should be concerned with. If they can turn him into another megastar, that's great for them. If they can't, then they can just move the title over to someone else.
Do I think that's the line of thinking we'll end up seeing, though? Well, I do think ADR retains the title here, but that isn't really the major question I have. If ADR drops the World Title during the pay-per-view, I don't think it will be to Big Show. I think we'd be much more likely to see Dolph Ziggler cash in his Money In The Bank title shot. It is a Last Man Standing Match, after all.. the second one that ADR and Show have had in as many weeks. It isn't exactly a large stretch of the imagination to assume that even the winner of this match will be physically exhausted, making him ripe for the picking by someone with a Money In The Bank briefcase in their possession. While I do want Dolph to get the title, it would completely go against my dislike of the "hot potato" game. I will go ahead and make this the third straight match where my "Will Win" and "Should Win" match up. Dolph will have his time, but not quite yet.
Who Will Win: Alberto Del Rrrrrio (Still World Champion)
Who Should Win: Alberto Del Rrrrrio (Still World Champion)
30-Man Royal Rumble Match
Fun times. Fun, fun times.
As we get closer to the Rumble, I'm seeing more and more people predicting a John Cena victory here. Of course, most of those people aren't happy about the thought of Cena winning the Rumble, but it's what they think is going to happen. As a Cena fan, I wouldn't be 100% opposed to the man winning, but let's just say I'm not rooting for that outcome here. Before I say anything else, I have to wonder if WWE will be able to make the Rumble the way it used to be. It didn't matter what brand you were on.. if you won the Rumble as a Raw worker, you could jump to Smackdown to challenge for their title, and vice versa.
Realistically, I think there's only a small handful of people that could win the Rumble. Just for fun, I want to look at each of those names, and discuss their chances, one-by-one, in no particular order.
John Cena: If you look at the way he's been booked over the last year, you'd see some very interesting things. It has been documented, on-air and off, kayfabe and "real life", that Cena has had what amounts to the worst year of his career. He's been in main events, sure, but he was unable to take the WWE Title from CM Punk in what seemed like a dozen attempts, he lost to John Laurinaitis, he got his ass handed to him by Brock Lesnar on multiple occasions, and so on. Logic would indicate that he has to bounce back, and bounce back strong, with the Rumble possibly being the beginning of just that. The win would give him a match at WrestleMania with either CM Punk or The Rock, more than likely, and both matches make perfect sense with the way things have already been booked.
Dolph Ziggler: Dolph seems to be another popular choice with a lot of people, but I have to say.. it doesn't make anywhere near as much sense for him to win as it does for Cena to win. To give the man a Royal Rumble victory to go along with his Money In The Bank title shot? That would almost be something like overkill, wouldn't it? The one way it would really make sense is if the company was planning on unifying the WWE and World Titles. You know the deal.. Dolph uses his Money In The Bank briefcase to cash in and win the World Title, then wins the Rumble and goes on to win the WWE Title at WrestleMania. People will say that Dolph isn't what you'd expect when you think of WWE putting both titles on the same person, but the same was said about Chris Jericho back in December of 2001, when he beat The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in back-to-back matches to unify the World Title and the WWF Title.
Ryback: I'm not 100% sure if I've mentioned it in any of my columns, but if you follow me on Twitter, you would have seen that I've been leaning towards picking Ryback to win the Rumble for a few months now. It's pretty clear that the company has big things in mind for him, and he has passed several "tests" recently when it comes to crowd reactions and how the WWE Universe buys him as a top level guy. However, where does Ryback fall in line with the WWE Title picture? I don't know about any of you, but I'd be pretty surprised if the WWE Title match at WrestleMania featured anyone other than a combination of CM Punk, The Rock and John Cena. With a little convincing, I could buy seeing either Brock Lesnar or The Undertaker, but that's it. If Ryback wins the Rumble, you'd almost have to have him go after the World Title, wouldn't you? At face value, it might not necessarily make sense and jump out at you, but it wouldn't take much to have it make sense. Just as an example, let's say Ryback and Randy Orton are the last two in the Rumble, and Ryback finally gets the win. After the match, Orton attacks Ryback and we finally get the much-rumored heel turn for "The Viper". At some point in the following weeks, perhaps at Elimination Chamber, Orton wins the World Title. Ryback was already feuding with Orton because of what happened at the Rumble. Boom.. Orton VS Ryback for the World Title at WrestleMania.
Sheamus: I have nothing against Sheamus, but he might be the last person (out of the "big" names, anyway) that I want to see win the Rumble. In the history of the Royal Rumble, only three men have won the event multiple times, with all three having back-to-back victories.. Hulk Hogan in 1990 and 1991, Shawn Michaels in 1995 and 1996, and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in 1997 and 1998 (with another win in 2001). Sheamus would stick out like a sore thumb if he joins that group. He had his time to shine last year, and it led to a successful 2012. I think it's time to go in a different direction, though. It's not like his 2013 will be filled with losses to Jinder Mahal and Yoshi Tatsu if he doesn't win the Rumble. He'll be just fine.
Randy Orton: This one intrigues me a bit. Normally, I don't know if I'd put too much stock in Orton winning. While it wouldn't be back-to-back, Orton would be a much better candidate to join Hogan, Michaels and Austin in the "Multiple Rumble Wins" club. I just don't feel like he's been booked consistently enough to warrant the win here. Some of that might be blamed on him, though, with his second Wellness Policy violation really derailing his own momentum. That rumored heel turn, though.. that is what makes me think twice, and then think some more. If he's going to turn heel, he needs something big to kick it off. The aforementioned turn on Ryback could work, but a Rumble win would also be a nice way to get it started, as his character's focus can shift more towards becoming the champion once again, with nothing else "distracting" him.
Daniel Bryan: I don't know if it should surprise me or not, but I know several people who are still holding on to the hope that Daniel Bryan wins the Royal Rumble and goes on to have the 2013 that his 2012 should have been all along. Obviously, a Rumble win for Bryan would have to come with Team Hell No dropping the Tag Team Titles earlier in the evening, unless you really want to put the tag straps over. Look.. nothing would make me mark out more than seeing Daniel Bryan win the Royal Rumble. Nothing at all. I just can't see him making that big of a jump in that small an amount of time.
I don't want to start looking at names that aren't even confirmed for the Rumble, as that opens up weird doors, and I'd be discussing this topic for much longer than I would like to. Even though some things have changed since I originally made the prediction, I have to stick with Ryback here, though. It's only fair. Is that the man who should win, though?
I think I'm going to surprise a lot of people by saying.. no, he isn't. I think I'm going to surprise even more people by saying.. the man I think should win the Royal Rumble is Randy Orton.
Yes, you read that right.
I buy into the heel turn rumors. I buy into them completely. Because of that, as I've said, the man needs something big for this heel turn to really work. He can't just randomly turn on a tag partner during a match on Smackdown. It needs to be big. As I mentioned, him winning the Rumble and having that be his motivation to put everything else out of his life is a good thing. It gives his character direction. It gives his character purpose. He wouldn't be just another guy at that point. The only fear, of course, is his Wellness Policy history. His next "strike" means he's automatically fired. Does the company trust him? Does the company have enough faith in him? They'd look mighty stupid if they pushed him back to the level of winning Rumbles, main eventing WrestleMania, and winning World Titles, only to have him fail another drug test. We'll see what happens, I guess.
Who Will Win: Ryback
Who Should Win: Randy Orton
The Royal Rumble Curse
I've already written a column on the dreaded "Royal Rumble Curse", where the person entering the match at #14 often goes on to have very bad luck, whether it's being released soon thereafter, dying at an early age, suffering injuries, or going on to do absolutely nothing while with the company. It doesn't happen every year, but names like Marty Jannetty, Davey Boy Smith, Kurrgan, Diamond Dallas Page, Eddie Guerrero, Rikishi, Orlando Jordan, Joey Mercury, Jeff Hardy, Umaga, MVP and Chris Masters have all seen the effects of the curse strike them.
Who will get the dreaded spot this year? There's a few candidates, but I think one name continues to stand out. Sorry, Chrisss, but Zack Ryder has to be my pick here. Too many things work against him. He has clearly lost whatever footing he had, and everything just seems to be crashing down. Last year, Jinder Mahal had the #14 spot in the Rumble, and while his career hasn't exactly gone anywhere, at least he's still around. Would it surprise me to see any member of 3MB get the #14 spot? Not at all. However, when you look at the "evidence", who gets more time on television? 3MB or Zack Ryder? Exactly. Even though they lose every match, often in squash fashion, they're still on television, and often multiple times a week. As someone who has grown beyond tired of Ryder's antics and internet pity parties for himself, I have zero problem with him getting this spot.
Who Will Be #14: Zack Ryder
Who Should Be #14: Zack Ryder
CM Punk VS The Rock - Singles Match for the WWE Title
Before I go any further, I have to get something out of the way. Word-for-word, The Rock's promo on Smackdown this week may have been the best of his entire career. I really mean that, without any sarcasm or hyperbole. There was no room for silly catchphrases, ramblings that made no sense, talk about social media, or anything along those lines. Yes, he mentioned sticking his boot up Punk's ass at the Rumble, but if you listened to the promo, even that was in perfect context to what he was saying. He came out with fire in his eyes, delivered his promo, sold the match as being something important, and helped to promote the match. He helped to sell the pay-per-view for a lot of people who may have been on the fence about ordering it before Smackdown. He didn't even close the promo in his "normal" fashion. His delivery of "If you smell.. what The Rock.. is cookin" was subdued and beautifully done. Punk, to his credit, also helped to sell the promo as something special. He didn't deliver his trusty "bored" look that he likes to give when his opponent is speaking. He actually hung on to Rock's words and helped to elevate the entire thing, making it come across as a major moment, and not just another promo. Kudos to both men, but especially to The Rock.
I think people are joining the "Rock wins the title" bandwagon, whether they want to or not. The main point these people have seems to be something along the lines of "Rock wouldn't have come back to lose to Punk". Those people feel that Rock didn't/couldn't/wouldn't lose to John Cena last year, and Cena is WWE's "golden boy", so why would anyone feel Rock would/could lose to Punk, who, impressive title reign be damned, isn't viewed as being on Cena's "level"?
I can see where that line of thinking comes from, but what about the fact that The Rock seems to be a good businessman? He seems to understand wrestling and how it works. Let's say, for example, that Punk retains the title at the Rumble, but doesn't do it in clean fashion. He wouldn't even have to win the match. He could lose by countout or disqualification, just as long as he keeps the title when all is said and done. Don't you think Rock would understand that there's even more money to be made in continuing the chase, especially if it adds even more desire in said chase for the title? Rock just defeating people left and right, and defeating them cleanly, isn't going to do much of anything. There's money to be made in that chase. There's money to be made in him getting pissed off and hunting people down. He knows that. He has to know that. That's why I'm not one to automatically write things off as a Rock title victory here.
Let me start by discussing what I think should happen here. Punk should retain, by hook or by crook. It would fit his character perfectly to escape with the title after facing The Rock. Even if he loses by the aforementioned options of countout or disqualification, all it would mean is he'd still get to add days to his tally of how long he's been WWE Champion. With the new stipulation being that Punk will be stripped of the title if The Shield interfere in the match, it would certainly open the door for others to interfere. I've seen several names thrown around for that spot.. Brock Lesnar, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, John Morrison, The Undertaker, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Nash, John Laurinaitis and Kassius Ohno lead the pack. Whether there's interference or not, the "right" outcome should be Punk finding a way to leave Phoenix as the WWE Champion.
Is that what I think will happen, though? Surprisingly enough.. yes. I think The Rock winning the WWE Title here is too obvious. Everything is being set up for Rock to win, giving him his tenth overall WWF/WWE/WCW/World Title reign. I think we're going to get some sort of "swerve" to prevent that from happening here. I think the placement of this match on the card will actually tell you what might happen. If this ends up being the Rumble main event, you're more likely to see Rock win in a "go home happy" moment for the fans, but even then, that type of wrestling logic doesn't necessarily compute, because Punk isn't your typical wrestling heel, hated by the masses. A Punk victory would still make a nice portion of the crowd happy, but if it happens with some sort of major news like a turn, return, etc, that becomes a newsworthy hook for Raw. If this match goes on before the Rumble itself, though, you'd have to expect Punk to retain, wouldn't you? Either way, when the Royal Rumble goes off the air, I think we'll see the WWE Title remain in CM Punk's possession, and he can move on to his 435th consecutive day as your WWE Champion. Just to be "safe", though, I'll go with a Rock victory, but by disqualification due to outside interference by a returning Brock Lesnar, who.. let's not forget.. is also a "Paul Heyman Guy".
Who Will Win: The Rock, by disqualification (CM Punk is still WWE Champion)
Who Should Win: CM Punk (Still WWE Champion)
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