Back in the month of December, I gave some VERY early predictions on who I thought would be "the one" to win this year's Royal Rumble match and go on to headline Wrestlemania 28. The problem with doing such an early column is that in the world of professional wrestling (or *sports entertainment*), a lot of things can happen in a month's time. As a result, my two leading picks - Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk - probably won't be winning the Rumble match. It's always possible that Ziggler could lose the title match to Punk and then go on to "redeem himself" by entering and winning the Royal Rumble, but right now, I don't see it happening.
But let's leave the past in the past. Right now, rumors are circulating that Randy Orton will make his WWE return at the Royal Rumble, which just happens to be hosted by St. Louis, Orton's hometown. Not only is Orton supposed to be returning at the Rumble, but word is WWE is seriously considering giving Orton his second Royal Rumble victory in front of his friends and family.
Words cannot express how much I am against that happening. Right now, a large portion of WWE's top talent are either out of action due to injury (Mysterio, Del Rio, Christian) while others are no longer full-time wrestlers (Rock, HHH, Undertaker). This has forced WWE to invest a large portion of 2011 in pushing young and upcoming talent to fill the voids left in the main-event. As of this writing, I can name at least five guys who have been pushed strongly the past year and could really cement their place as a top superstar by winning the Royal Rumble next Sunday. Names like Wade Barrett, Sheamus, Cody Rhodes, and the aforementioned Dolph Ziggler could all get major career boosts by winning the Rumble and challenging for a world title at Wrestlemania for the very first time.
If you want to stretch things even further, there are a lot of "older" names on the active roster who could drastically raise his stock in the company and the fans' eyes by winning the Rumble. Take The Miz for an example. One year ago today, he was getting ready to headline the 2011 Royal Rumble as WWE Champion. Unfortunately, WWE has killed so much of his momentum since losing the title at Extreme Rules that it would take a miracle to salvage Miz's reputation as a main-eventer and former WWE Champion. A miracle or a Royal Rumble win.
Or what about the mysterious, newly returned Chris Jericho? While his progression on RAW from face to heel has been a pleasure to watch (although many people will not agree), Y2J is three weeks into his WWE return and is feuding with absolutely nobody. Maybe winning the Royal Rumble would force Jericho to finally break his silence and start a IWC "dream feud" with CM Punk going into Wrestlemania 28. Jericho has pretty much done it all during his tenure in the WWE. But despite his long, impressive career, Jericho has never won the Royal Rumble before.
What it all comes down to, ladies and gentlemen, is that there are so many names more deserving of winning the 2012 Royal Rumble then Randy Orton. I know WWE considers Orton the number two/number three face of the company, and winning the Rumble in his hometown would provide a "feel-good moment" for many fans, but it's something that's not needed. Orton has won the Rumble before, and it's not as if The Viper defeating twenty-nine other men would suddenly make him the next Stone Cold Steve Austin that many fans thought he was when he initially turned face in 2010.
The thing that worries me the most is that from a storyline perspective, Orton winning the Rumble actually makes sense. I have a funny feeling that Daniel Bryan will find a way to hang onto his world title going into Wrestlemania 28, as a feud between Orton and a heel Bryan would be cool to see, especially if their first encounter takes place at the biggest Pay-Per-View of the year. But Orton does not NEED to win the Rumble to challenge for the world title at Wrestlemania. He's Smackdown!'s biggest face - there is no way he won't be involved in a high-profile match at Wrestlemania. Orton's Wrestlemania ticket is secure; giving him another Rumble victory would be simply a bonus.
I just hope it doesn't happen.
Who do you think will win this year's Royal Rumble?
2. Day 2
The world of wrestling is an exciting place, and so are the "dirt sheets" which are checked religiously by many members of the internet wrestling community. There's as good of a chance that one of these websites will report some MAJOR, BREAKING NEWS less than thirty minutes after RAW goes off the air as there is of some important change in the creative department being reported on a Sunday morning. That's because the wrestling world never sleeps, and lucky for us, there's almost always somebody available to share the news with us internet geeks.
Case in point: here I am chilling on Facebook and Twitter, when I notice Lords of Pain's latest headline: "WWE Divas campaigning for ladder match". Don't ask me why, but as soon as I saw that, I immediately imagined Kelly Kelly and Eve botching every possible spot in a ladder match and the crowd booing the hell out of them. It didn't occur to me until I read the article that maybe it was two divas who could actually wrestle - such as The Sisters of Destruction - who were actually requesting the match to happen one day.
Lo and behold, I was right. In an interview with WWE Magazine, Beth Phoenix and Natalya revealed that getting the chance to one day compete in a ladder match is not only their goal, but would be a dream come true for both women. Now, I'm aware that 99% of the content found in WWE Magazine is in kayfabe, but I don't doubt for a second that both Beth and Natalya truly want to to be the first divas to compete in a ladder match on WWE television. I can't say I blame them. When every other divas match ends with a roll-up, not only does it force them to "break the norm", but it's kind of hard for Eve or Alicia Fox to win with their dreaded schoolboy of doom when it's a ladder match.
But fuck Eve, fuck Alicia, and fuck Kelly. None of those bitches deserve to compete in the first-ever divas ladder match (if it does happen). Kelly Kelly already exposes the company by delivering the weakest-looking beatdowns in history, and those occur during regular matches. No need for her to leave a tramp stamp on the ladder match as well. If a divas ladder match is scheduled to take place in 2012 or 2013, it should involve either Beth, Natalya, or Kharma (if she's up for it, but I'm she would oblige). No other diva on WWE's current roster should even be considered to participate.
I know it sounds like I'm bashing the majority of the divas division, but I'm not. I'm only dissing Eve, Alicia, and Kelly. For what it's worth, I think The Bella Twins are underrated, Tamina is showing signs of potential, Aj could one day be a huge name, and I'm a fan of Layla's as well (she's been gone for way too long). But if the company is to go through with actually booking a divas ladder match, it has to be memorable. If you recall, Beth, Natalya, Layla, and Michelle McCool all participated in the first-ever divas tables match back at TLC 2010. While the match wasn't five-stars, most tables matches aren't, and the women did a great job with the time they got. Therefore, it's no coincidence that two of the divas from that tables match should also be involved in the first divas ladder match.
While Beth vs. Natalya in a ladder match looks great on paper, the timing is a bit off. TLC is obviously the best Pay-Per-View to feature the gimmick, but the event took place just last month. I suppose WWE could book the match at Extreme Rules in April, but for some reason, I don't see Beth and Natalya turning on each other before then. I would love to see Beth vs. Natalya in a one-on-one match at Wrestlemania 28, but something tells me that if it was going to happen, WWE would have already started planting the seeds. Hell, it may still end up happening, as WWE rarely book divas matches and feuds months - or even weeks - in advance, but I'm not holding my breath.
Instead, we might have to wait until this year's TLC PPV for the first-ever divas ladder match. I for one don't mind waiting that long, as long as the right women are involved. Even if Eve and Kelly drastically improve in the ring over the next eleven months, (which I sincerely doubt), I would not trust either of them with a ladder, regardless of their opponent. If ladder match veterans like Christian or CM Punk can blow a spot or two, then I shudder to think what could happen if someone like Kelly Kelly is forced to wrestle in that type of environment. She could seriously hurt not only herself, but her opponent as well.
I really want to see a divas ladder match happen one day. Don't you?
3. Day 3
Writer's Note: Me and Skitz put this together a few days ago, so we had no idea that Mark Henry was injured at this week's Smackdown! tapings. As a result, Henry's injury does not play a factor in our predictions. Just letting you know now so I don't get asked about later.
Skitz: Well well well... two invites in a row? Seems like I have an admirer of sorts.
Chrisss: Now, don't get cocky, son. For some reason, the readers loved our TLC prediction so much that they begged for a sequel. How does it feel to know you didn't alienate ALL your readers with those perverted columns of yours?
Skitz: Perverted is a bit strong but nevertheless, what can I say? The Candyman has his own hand chosen fanbase floating around in cyberspace. The fan club's still pretty meager but we're hoping to land some new members in the near future. Big things are happening in 2012, baby!
Chrisss: "Baby"? Did you just quote Chris Jericho or Justin Bieber? Actually, don't answer that. Moving on, you do know the reason why you're here right? Besides begging me for your Main Page spot back, that is.
Skitz: Pfffffft listen here, peon... We both know I could have that spot back in two seconds with the snap of a finger. SkitZ was deeply rooted on the MP as one of its' star attractions. Suffice to say, I'm in good with upper management so tread lightly.
Chrisss: Yeah, until that star burnt out and died. But I'm not here to poke fun at your bad luck. From what I hear, the Column Forums is a pretty chill place.
But enough talking about yourself, Michael Cole. Let's get down to business. The Royal Rumble is this Sunday, and despite only three matches officially announced (plus the 30-Man Rumble match), it looks like a solid card.
Skitz: No doubt. I'm sure we can expect some garbage impromptu match wedged in somewhere amidst the undercard. For a second, I thought Laurinaitis was gonna announce on RAW this past Monday that The Miz & R-Truth would face off at the pay per view with the winner earning a spot in the Royal Rumble match. Unfortunately, such was not the case and we'll instead witness something like Beth Phoenix vs. Tamina for the Divas Title... I'm oozing with excitement! Wait I think it's just sweat.
Chrisss: I would be really surprised if we get a divas match the Rumble considering Beth hasn't been on television in what seems like ages. Even having Primo & Epico defend their titles against...ummm...The Usos? would be a stretch. This is the Rumble, not any other Pay-Per-View.
But let's not get pessimistic too early. Let's kick things off with the Smackdown! brand's world title match, and what I feel will be the show-opener on Sunday:
Daniel Bryan (c.) vs. The Big Show vs. Mark Henry in a Steel Cage match for the World Heavyweight Championship
You and I both predicted this match happening, and I'm glad we were correct. All three men have been fantastic in this storyline thus far, even though Henry's been a bit of a third wheel since dropping the belt at TLC. But maybe that lack of momentum could work in his favour come Sunday?
Skitz: Ehhhhh I'm leaning towards no. But its' a safe bet that SkidMark cooled off a bit after surrendering the World Heavyweight Tile because of the mild injury he suffered. It certainly limited his physical role in the feud for a decent stretch. Poor Big Show though. I'd like to see the stats for how many title matches the seven footer's been in since he last held a major championship (ECW's doesn't count either). TBS has been making such a fuss about scratching and clawing for almost a decade to get another opportunity which is laughable for anybody who's followed wrestling for more than a couple years.
Chrisss: True that. Big Paul's feuds with Lesnar and Angle were great stuff. Personally, I always thought Show worked better as a heel but that's just my opinion. Speaking of heels, could we witness a double-turn this Sunday between Mizark and Bryan? Bryan has not officially joined the dark side yet, and Henry is starting to get some positive reactions from the crowd. Would Sunday be too early to pull the trigger on heel Bryan and face Henry?
Skitz: No and yes. It's funny you mention that about Big Show because there's no disputing The World's Strongest Man kicks WAY more ass as a villain. I'm 110% against turning Sexual Chocolate face again but also believe the transition is inevitable. Will it occur this Sunday evening though? Much too soon in my opinion. Bryan's heel switch could definitely be cemented at the Rumble however with an underhanded tactic to escape with the gold. Loving the progressions so far. WWE's Creative Team appear to be getting more elaborate with how they flip the switch on the companies' top guys.
Chrisss: To be honest, Bryan's tweener character reminds me a lot of CM Punk during his epic feud with Jeff Hardy in 2009. Bryan/Show/Henry have a lot of work to do before they can match up to that Punk and Hardy, but Bryan is making me more of a believer every time I see him. He's just an amazing jerk.
A few months ago I predicted a Henry vs. Sheamus world title match at Wrestlemania. Now, that could still happen, especially with Sheamus being a strong contender to win the Rumble this Sunday, but something tells me Bryan is keeping it until at least Elimination Chamber. He may find a way to "sneak" out of the cage, but I don't see Bryan dropping the title at the Rumble.
Skitz: Mmmmm yeah I hate to start up with the fantasy booking but I believe WWE's gonna ride this thing until the wheels fall off. Constantly pitting Bryan in impossible situations and having him eek by due to vile acts or sheer luck. I actually think The American Bandwagon will retain inside the steel cage this Sunday and survive the Elimination Chamber somehow before eventually losing the belt to Orton at WM28. Who else is the company gonna put the strap around prior to April 1st? Sorry to burst any bubbles but SkidMark & Big Show are at the bottom of that list. Besides, The Viper's never left a WrestleMania with one of the World Championships and every other mega star has done so in the past. It'd be a nice story too with Randy fighting his way back into title contention.
Unless of course SmackDown's Elimination Chamber bout is to determine the #1 Contender for 'Mania... If that is indeed how things pan out, we could be privileged enough to watch Regal/Bryan for the World Title (keep those fingers crossed). Orton prevails in the EC and it's a repeat formula of what RAW's main event scene did in 2011.
Chrisss: Someone's been reading Hustle's columns, I see. While I would LOVE to see Orton vs. Bryan feud, especially on the Road to Wrestlemania, an Orton victory would leave a bad taste in my mouth. Does Orton deserve to leave Wrestlemania as champion? Sure. But I think he'd be better suited putting Bryan over, maybe not 100% cleanly, but having Bryan retain at Mania would REALLY help Bryan in the long-run.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though. As far as this Sunday is concerned, I'm putting my money on Bryan narrowly escaping the Royal Rumble with his world title intact.
Skitz: Same goes for me. Hopefully, Henry enjoyed his three month stint as World Heavyweight Champion while it lasted. Ride that high, big boy! And as for Big Show, rumor has it that you're in for a high profile match at the big dance with a celebrity. Regardless of material accolades currently lacking in your professional life, that sounds like success to me! Just please no more sumo wrestling.
Chrisss: Ugh stop reminding me about Big Show vs. Shaq. I don't like Big Show, and I've never been a basketball fan. The match may be great publicity for the company, but I have no interest in seeing it, especially at Mania. I'd much rather have Hugh Jackman be this year's celebrity.
Skitz: Get the fuck outta here with that shit. You're obviously obsessed with anything even remotely related to Ryder... Or simply watched the X-Men franchise in its entirety far too many times.
Chrisss: In that case, I'd rather watch the entire X-Men cast show up at Mania and take on the team of Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal in a handicap gauntlet match than watch Show vs. Shaq. Well, maybe not, but you get the point. Umm where were we?
Chrisss's Pick: Bryan retains the title
Skitz's pick: Bryan retains the title
Kane vs. John Cena
Skitz: Whoops, just marked all over my living room floor. For ages, I've been waiting for a Cena/Kane program and it's finally come to fruition. I also see it as an added bonus that we're being graced with the unstoppable masked version of Glen Jacobs; the only reincarnation of The Big Red Machine which stands a fighting chance against Cenation. This storyline's been awesome up to this point. Relish in Johnny's ongoing series of unfortunate events while you can.
Chrisss: Nasty. But I can't argue with you there. I'm really glad we're getting a Kane vs. Cena feud before The Big Red Machine hangs up his boots for good. As much as I've enjoyed the storyline thus far, it saddens me that it has zero chance of continuing past February. Therefore, I'm counting on both men coming through big time at the Rumble. Even though I'm pissed about what he did to Ryder last Monday, I really hope Kane picks up the victory this Sunday.
Skitz: As do I. However, yours truly doesn't envision this grudge match ending in traditional fashion. Judging by how the feud has played out thus far coupled with the fact that this is an ordinary singles bout, I'm pressing the NON-FINISH button. This little gem has disqualification written all over it and you'd be a fool not to agree wholeheartedly. The only thing I can't guarantee is who exactly will get DQed for their heinous actions. I'm leaning towards Kane for the sake of storyline continuation but who knows? WWE's Poster Boy could fly off the handle just as easily. I expect this program to reach the Elimination Chamber pay per view next month and culminate there. Perhaps in an Inferno Match! Ahhhhh but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Chrisss: See, I both agree and disagree with you. While a non-finish would keep the feud going, consider the other matches on the card. We already predicted Bryan will find a cheap way to keep his title, and you can guarantee Ziggler/Punk will have a screwy ending as well. If Kane and Cena go to a No-Contest or DQ or something, that's almost every match on the PPV having a "crappy" finish (besides the Rumble match). I would rather see Kane go over Cena clean, only for Cena to get his heat back post-match by "embracing the hate" and beating the shit out of The Big Red Monster with a chair, steel steps...or maybe a steel chain? (Shout-out to "Thug Cena").
Skitz: Damn you and that overwhelming stench of logic in the air. No matter the argument made however, I refuse to change my stance. WWE tends to use DQ and countout finishes on PPVs with the utmost inconvenience. This is a prime example of an instance where they can totally get away with it and send fans home happy in the process. Weapons will get involved alright but not before the final bell rings. Have some faith in my psychic abilities, Chrissstopher.
Chrisss: Don't start bragging because you beat me by ONE POINT last month. That was pure luck, nothing more. In any case, I think Cena gets the clean win not because he needs it, but because we might be seeing another heel-heavy victory ratio on Sunday. More on that a bit later. For now, I boldly predict Cena walks away with the victory, but the feud continues into the next PPV.
Skitz: If you say so, foreigner. My amazing knack for predicting the correct winners will loom large as far as this match is concerned. And by the tone in your voice, this could end up being a rather lopsided affair that heavily tips the scales in my favor.
Chrisss: Oh, shut up and pick a winner before I go all Canadian on your candy ass (no homo)
Skitz: Hmmmmmmmm I'm picking The Big Red Machine to win via disqualification. And who cares if the card is dominated by heel victories? In case you haven't noticed, villains are all the rage nowadays.
Chrisss: True, true, but what about the kiddies? WWE can't send them home in a bad mood, can they?
Skitz: Absolutely. It's called tough love, bitch.
Chrisss's pick: Cena wins
Skitz's pick: Kane wins
CM Punk (c.) vs. Dolph Ziggler for the WWE Championship with John Laurinaitis as the Special Guest Referee
Chrisss: This should be the MOTN, no doubt about it. Their previous matches were good at worst, and phenomenal at best. I seriously doubt both guys won't bring their A+++ game this Sunday. The question is, will Big Johnny add to the match's excitement or slow it down with his biased refereeing?
Skitz: With a biased individual calling the shots, it's gonna be unavoidable. Punk & Ziggler will hit spurts where they wow the audience and keep dazzling us with fast paced offensive sequences. But as you previously mentioned, I believe the special guest referee stipulation will stop this contest from becoming anything epic; specially in the closing moments. Cookie Monster's single-biggest feud since last summer has been against the interim RAW General Manager. Therefore, I worry that their beef will overshadow the growing greatness of Mr. Zigglesworth.
Chrisss: Poor Ziggler. First he had Vickie getting him heat. Now he has the Punk/Laurinaitis feud stealing his thunder. Despite all that, you have to seriously consider the possibility of Ziggler leaving Royal Rumble as WWE Champion. There's no way Ziggler will go into Wrestlemania as the champion, but WWE could give him another shitty reign and have him drop the belt at Elimination Chamber. On the other hand, Punk's only been champion since November. He deserves a long run this time around.
Skitz: Ummmmm duh. Considering how often the WWE Championship flip flopped during this past fall, there's no reason why The Straightedge Superstar shouldn't carry the title into Miami. The only scenario in which that doesn't happen is the one you indicated. Nonetheless, I'm sure The Blonde Perm would take the three week treatment over nothing. Not to mention it'd be a significant step up from the length Dolph held the World Heavyweight belt this time a year ago.
Chrisss: Ten minutes? At least it was longer than Big Show's 45-second title reign. Anyways, Big Johnny interference aside, this is still the non-Rumble match I'm most looking forward to and I see Punk retaining, possibly thanks to a HHH or Foley run-in. This sets up Ziggler vs. Foley and Punk vs.TBD at Wrestlemania.
Skitz: The Hardcore Legend's interference in this match seems academic at this point. Exacting revenge on Johnny Ace, incidentally costing Ziggler the strap, urging The Showoff to eliminate Foley from the 30-man melee later in the evening and sparking a rivalry to peak at WM28. Whoops, couldn't contain myself. But c'mon now... it's Wrestling 101.
Chrisss: For someone who dislikes fantasy booking, you're doing a pretty good job Candyman. So despite WWE wanting us to believe the odds are heavily stacked against him, we can agree Punk is retaining at the Rumble?
Skitz: Yes, sir. Management's been hyping the Punk Express for the better part of seven months and can't afford to slow down now with 'Mania on the horizon. They got cute pre-WM27 with bouncing the World Heavyweight Title around and I believe it somewhat cost Edge & Del Rio's match (opener? are you serious!?). Mr. Sobriety will exit St. Louis with the gold slung over his shoulder. Chalk it up to a big assist from Jolly Saint Mick.
Chrisss: Christmas was last month, but I hear you loud and clear. It's a shame that the Rumble winner will once again not be in the main-event of Wrestlemania this year (thanks a lot, Rock/Cena). Speaking of the Rumble, it's time...
Chrisss's pick: Punk retains the title
Skitz's pick: Punk retains the title
30-Man Royal Rumble Match
Skitz: Yo, choosing the right guy under these circumstances is like attempting to score vagina by running through the pitch black with your pants down. More so in '12 than the turn of the century. There are legitimately half a dozen or so wrestlers who all have realistic shots of outlasting the cluttered field.
Chrisss: Weird analogy, but I'll roll with it. I'll give my top 5 picks and you agree or disagree. Cool?
Randy Orton - As I said in my column the other day, Orton shouldn't win the Rumble, but if we're getting Orton vs. Bryan at Wrestlemania, an Orton win would make the most sense. Of course, Orton could always become number one contender at the Chamber...
Wade Barrett - Momentum-wise, he's a great pick. But considering on who we think will be the world champions going into Mania, the chances of him winning are suddenly a lot smaller. Still, I could see The Barrett Barrage rolling through 29 other men.
Sheamus - Like Barrett, The Great White has a lot of momentum on his side, but I can't see him getting a world title shot over Orton at Mania. Yet a Rumble win could solidify his main-event status.
The Miz - He arguably needs the win more than everyone else in the Rumble. We know he'll be the very first entrant, but who's to say he won't shock the world by going coast to coast and making the past several months of bad booking appear like nothing but a nightmare?
Chris Jericho - The most likely winner, in my opinion. All signs seem to pointing to Punk vs. Jericho at Mania, and I would mark like a baby for that match. Also, could "the end of the world as we know it" be a prelude to the end of Punk calling himself the best in the world?
Hmmm decisions, decisions. Did I forget anyone?
Skitz: -- Firstly, I'm glad The Viper was able to return in time for the Rumble pay per view (despite online rumors that Orton's jeopardizing his health). Randy adds credibility and experience to the winter classic. But due to his recent back injury, I'm not betting on The Viper to hang around very long.
-- The smug Brit should be one of the final flour remaining without question. Being booked so strongly against Orton in recent months solidifies that in my opinion. But the 2012 Royal Rumble winner? I'm afraid not. Wade's not quite ready yet for this type of success. Not to say the former Nexus leader couldn't handle the role or pressure.
-- Hey it's no secret that The Celtic Warrior's been as hot as any wrestler in WWE for the last several months. However those suggesting this weekend's event to be the cure of Sheamus' aimless wandering need to slow the hell down. People forget how short of a stint The Great White's been on the main roster for and the pasty Irishman's already got two WWE Championship reigns to his name. Management will toss Sheamus a spot in MITB and that's about it.
-- Lets be honest with each other... Sir Awesome maxed out his potential throughout the first half of '11. You can't expect Mizanin to duplicate such a remarkable run in consecutive years. There's zero chance he triumphs this Sunday but I can certainly picture Miz as a dark horse in the Rumble and putting together an iron man type performance.
-- Y2J is the hands on favorite by a landslide. I'm on that bandwagon as are most because it just makes sense. What would Jericho do at 'Mania besides face Punk for the strap? If we could be treated to a massive Y2J heel push every 2 or 3 years, I'd have noting to complain about in life. Just imagine the promo wars between the Canuck & Mr. Sobriety. Fireworks aplenty.
Chrisss: You are wise, Mr. Skittlez. Very wise indeed. I agree that Jericho is the favorite to win it all, but I wouldn't dismiss the other names so quickly. Sheamus and Barrett have as much of a chance as anyone else. Unfortunately, so does Orton. Orton being the last man eliminated would give the winner a HUGE boost in credibility (unless it's Jericho, who doesn't need the rub).
Alright, so we're both picking Jericho, correct? Who do you think will be this year's *surprise* entrants?
... What? That's all the star power you need.
Chrisss: Get serious, bro. I'm thinking some actual former world champions - Goldberg, Lesnar (one can hope) - and of course, Undertaker, especially with Triple H returning on RAW next week. Either way, it's the Rumble, the one PPV WWE rarely fails to deliver on, in terms of excitement.
Skitz: Goldberg? He's probably preoccupied filming another crappy straight-to-DVD movie. The only horror film worse than Santa's Slay was Killer Clowns for Outer Space. And Brock? I'm sure the dude's already training for the next sport he's interested in. Badminton if I had to hazard a guess. The Deadman? Sure. But will his legs make it to 'Mania? The old bastard couldn't even hobble out of the ring last April. I think they call that RING RUST.
Chrisss: Tsk, tsk. Haven't I thought you anything about optimism with my 267 Zack Ryder columns? Don't be such a downer, sheesh.
Skitz: Meh I've never been a huge mark for surprise entrants. All the wrestling legends worth a damn are all deceased or physically incapacitated.
Chrisss: Or working for TNA. Let's not forget about Dixie & friends.
Skitz: Ugh don't remind me. So are we done here or what? Those tacos I had for dinner are torturing my stomach.
Chrisss: I finished a long time ago - #pause. It's been fun, Candyman. We'll have to do it again sometime - #pause.
Skitz: Yeah like in 3 weeks. Here's hoping Long Island Iced Z's still off television then so I don't have to hear you fawn over him like a 9-year old girl with Bieber fever. Makes me wanna puncture my eardrums with sharp objects.
Chrisss: The fact that you've heard about "Bieber-fever" makes me worry. Anyways, take care and spice your hair (ode to Evan Bourne).
Chrisss's pick: Jericho wins the Rumble
Skitz's pick: Jericho wins the Rumble
4. Day 4
8. Can The Miz turn his career around? It's no secret how far Miz's career has fallen since last May. Having The Awesome One lose to R-Truth on RAW and gain the number one pick for the Rumble match convinced many people Miz's 2012 will not be much better than the second half of 2011. But what if they're wrong, and Miz pulls off a great performance, lasting nearly an hour in the Rumble, maybe even winning it? After all, it wasn't that long ago people were predicting Miz vs. Punk at Wrestlemania 28. There might still be some hope left for The Miz.
7. Who's #14? I'm not as obsessed with who gets the number 14 spot in the Royal Rumble as some people (Hi, Hustle), but I am curious to see which unlucky soul enters after unlucky number 13. Will WWE have someone like Randy Orton or Chris Jericho enter at number 14 in order to "break the curse"? Or will a jobber like Heath Slater or Trent Baretta keep the trend alive? I for one cannot wait to find out.
6. The evolution of Daniel Bryan. Tonight is a big night for the world heavyweight champion. Whether he ends up defending his title in a singles match or a triple threat match, Bryan NEEDS to pick up the win. His past three title defenses have all ended in controversial fashion, and having Bryan lose the belt tonight would do him more harm than good. HOWEVER, if Bryan can emerge victorious without anyone's help or due to match stoppage, he'll build up a lot of momentum. Even barely escaping from the cage would greatly help his cause. Bryan has one of the most interesting characters in the WWE today, and WWE needs to keep building him up.
5. The possible birth of "Evil Cena". I know, the chances of Cena turning heel tonight are slim to none. Hell, the chances of Cena turning heel in 2012 - or EVER - aren't very good. But there is always a chance it could happen, folks. The Royal Rumble is the second-biggest PPV of the year, which is as good of a time as any to "shock the world" and finally turn Cena heel. Like I said, it most probably won't happen, but who knows?
4. The end of the world. Chris Jericho single-handedly convinced me to watch tonight's show by promising that he will bring about "the end of the world" at the Royal Rumble. I don't know if it means Jericho is winning the Rumble, costing CM Punk the WWE Championship, or doing something completely random, but I'm hooked.
3. CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler. Not to offend the other competitors, but it's almost guaranteed this will be the match of the night. Punk and Ziggler are yet to wrestle a bad match against each other, and despite it being no easy task to top their RAW match from late 2011, I have no doubt they'll try and do it. I won't be too upset with who walks away with the championship (although I'm pulling more for Punk); I just want to see them tear the house down.
2. You never know who's going to show up. One of my favorite aspects about the Royal Rumble match is you never know who will make their WWE return, either full-time or just an appearance. Last year we saw Kevin Nash and Booker T officially make their return from TNA and compete in the Rumble, and both men got arguably the biggest pops of the night. Other years have seen Hall of Famers, celebrities, and even divas enter the Rumble. The surprise factor is always worth waiting for.
1. It's the most exciting Pay-Per-View of the year. I'm sure many people will disagree, as Wrestlemania is THE show of the year (with the history and buys to prove it), but you can always count on the Royal Rumble to come through. Even if the Rumble's undercard is filled with shit and filler, you can always count on an entertaining, drama-filled, hour-long main-event. At Wrestlemania, that doesn't always happen. Sometimes the overall card is really strong, while other times you have to sit through hours of crap to enjoy a jem or two. The Royal Rumble has been my favorite PPV for years, and that might never change.
5. Day 5
Ever since the conclusion of Monday Night RAW, the Internet Wrestling Community cannot stop talking about the strong possibility of a third match between Triple H and The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 28. Hustle's talked about it. Tito's talked about it. Half of my Twitter followers have talked about it. But now it's time I talk about it.
On paper, Triple H vs. The Undertaker is a dream match. Regardless of how many times they've squared off in the past, it's a match-up that old-school - and to a certain extent, newer - fans will always look forward to. Like The Rock vs. Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart, Ric Flair vs. Sting, as well as other top rivalries over the years, HHH vs. Taker will probably forever be considered a big-time match. Whether you enjoyed their past confrontations or not is besides the point; you cannot argue the drawing power of a match between the two future Hall Of Famers. In this day and age, with so many wrestling legends either retired or past their primes, HHH vs. Taker is the best WWE can give us. One could argue that The Undertaker vs. John Cena is a match that MUST happen before Taker retires, but I disagree. If Rock is coming back for one last match at Wrestlemania, a match against Cena is a million times more appealing than Rock vs. HHH or Rock vs. Undertaker.
Keeping that in mind, you can't really blame WWE for taking the "boring" route and going with another HHH vs. Taker match at this year's Wrestlemania. With The Deadman going for 20-0 this year, it's almost a given that this will be his final Wrestlemania match. Again, many fans would love to see Cena vs. Taker at Mania, but really, what would that accomplish? There was no way Cena would end The Streak, which means the company's top star would have to job to a guy who now wrestles one match a year. The same argument can be made for a young star like Sheamus or Dolph Ziggler. I don't think WWE trusts ANYONE to end The Streak, which means the up-and-comer would end up laying down for Taker. Even if Sheamus kicks out three Tombstone Piledrivers or if Ziggler carries Taker to a 30-minute match, they'll still end up losing to a man who wrestles one night a year. A match against The Undertaker at Wrestlemania would probably do them more harm than good, believe it or not.
Therefore, it kind of makes sense that Triple H will be the one to face Undertaker at Wrestlemania. He's probably the only superstar on the roster who could present both a legitimate threat to The Streak and not be harmed by the loss. Triple H's days as an in-ring competitor are winding down, and I don't see him coming back and winning another three world title before he retires. HHH is the perfect man to job to The Undertaker at Wrestlemania.
BUT...I don't think the match should happen this year. Undertaker is clearly not 100%, and if he's not ready to compete this year, then what's the rush? Unlike last year, Wrestlemania already has a guaranteed draw in Rock vs. Cena. Putting The Streak on the line probably won't do much to help the buyrate, as it's not needed. With both of last year's world title matches featuring some new blood in The Miz and Alberto Del Rio, it made sense for WWE to heavily promote HHH vs. Taker as a back-up plan.
That's why I think it's smarter to hold off Triple H vs. Undertaker until Wrestlemania 29. Rock most likely won't be on the card, and while there's always a chance Steve Austin could return for his last match at next year's Mania, WWE can't promise that happening. So I say, why not give Taker another year off to heal his body some more? The Streak will still be intact, and HHH will still be heavily involved with the company. Furthermore, it will give the fans more time to forget about their match at Wrestlemania 27. Part of the reason I feel HBK vs. Taker from Wrestlemania 26 didn't top their WM25 match is because it happened too soon. The match was still too fresh in people's minds, so when Michaels kept kicking out of Taker's signature moves, the surprise factor from the previous year's match was no longer there. By holding off Triple H vs. Taker for another year, it would be better for everyone involved - the business, the fans, and the participants themselves.
The bottom line is I do NOT want to see HHH vs. Undertaker at Wrestlemania...this year. I would have no issue with them squaring off at Wrestlemania 29, though. Maybe inside Hell In A Cell? It could be the perfect way to end both of their legendary, in-ring careers.
What do you think? Are you on the HHH vs. Taker bandwagon? Are you disgusted at the thought of the match taking place on April 1st? Would you be okay with them wrestling at next year's Wrestlemania instead?
6. Day 6
Writer's Note: If you don't follow/read columns on LOP very frequently, you probably won't "get" today's column. The following is not meant to offend the masses, but rather, one in particular (he knows who he is). Furthermore, today's column will feature almost no wrestling discussion, if any. Casual readers might want to skip today's column. Viewer discretion is advised, so don't say I didn't warn you.
Chrisss: Welcome broskis, to a brand new edition of My Two Centsss! On today's show we have a special in-guest studio who has agreed to participate in an exclusive, behind-the-scenes interview. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome fellow LOP Main Page columnist - A$$!
A$$: The fuck are you? Why are you stealing my spotlight?
Chrisss: Umm excuse me? My name is Super Chrisss and I've been writing on LOP for -
A$$: Hey dumbshit, I don't care who you are or how long you've been writing for this website (which is lucky to have me, might I add). My name is A$$ and I'm the best writer on LOP, hands-down.
Chrisss: Thanks for interrupting. Anyways, that brings me to my first question: what makes you think you're the best columnist this site has to offer? Hustle is awesome, The Doc isn't far behind, Romeo is -
A$$: Look, buddy, I don't care about any of those people. I don't read any columns other than my own. Why? BECAUSE THEY SUCK! My opinion is the only one that matters. I've been watching wrestling since you were in diapers and even convinced my obese momma to take me to Wrestlemania! Using that logic, I obviously know more about wrestling than all the other loser columnists combined. After all, ME = Right, YOU = Wrong
Chrisss: Well, that's a lousy attitude, Mr. A$$. It's also a crappy explanation. Just because you were born before me doesn't make you -
A$$: Wait, are you trying to debate with me? HAHAHA what a joke! I already told you Frenchie, my opinion is always going to be better than yours. After all, there's a reason I'm the best columnist on LOP.
Chrisss: Shit, can you stop being a dick and interrupting me every chance you get? Jeez. Let's get back on track. People often criticize you for posting the same column every week - either a RAW review, a Smackdown! review, or a UFC or PPV review. Why don't you ever try and do something original like -
A$$: Like what? Follow in you and Hustle's steps and do a "Power 25" every Sunday? Do some Fantasy Booking? Talk about rumors? I'm above all that. I am a wrestling critic who finds enjoyment in posting the best possible show recaps and sharing my thoughts with my millions of readers. It's also cool to dedicate an entire column to answering feedback. Whether you love me or hate me, LOP is always talking about A$$.
Chrisss: But that's the problem, A$$. Everyone's talking about you, sure, but in a bad way. Very few people respect you, partly because you come across as an asshole in every column you write, and partly because you took a shortcut to become a Main Page columnist. Why should you not have to go through the Columns Forum when everyone else does?
A$$: You're just not getting it, are you? The Columns Forum is filled with hypocrites. If one person doesn't like your column, everyone else will join in and bash you. I didn't want to waste time in that place, my writing is too amazing.
Chrisss: That's a load of BS, and you know it. The CF is one of the funnest forums on the worldwide web. There is a load of talent down there, including former and future Main Page columnists. Did you ever stop to consider that maybe you never got along with anyone because you're too big of a jerk?
A$$: zzz...zzz...Oh, sorry, you said something? I was too busy getting ready for Smackdown! and preparing to call out the IWC and my haters. By the way Chrisss, you suck as a columnist. Did I already say that? Is English even your first language?
Chrisss: Hey dumbass, I'm majoring in English and History at University as we speak. Unlike you, I don't spend all my time making out with my dog and calling out people on the internet. But I do have one last question for you - do you seriously consider yourself LOP's best columnist, or is that all an act?
A$$: How many times do I have to tell you kid, I AM LOP's best columnist! Tito's got nothing on me, Hustle posts one decent daily a week, and I've never heard about this Romeo character. Is he the same one from that Shakespeare play? The bottom line is, I am not only the greatest columnist to ever grace the Main Page, but I'm here to stay. I have no issue with bumping down 5,000 word columns to make room for my thoughts on RAW. Like I said, my opinion is always right.
Chrisss: Actually, I tell you what bro. Fuck you. Fuck your columns, fuck your opinion. You are an egotistical bastard not worthy of his spot on the Main Page. Not only are your columns horrible, but you made me waste all this time talking about you instead of actual wrestling. That pisses me off, and I'm sure a lot of readers aren't happy either. So why don't you do everyone a favor and either clean up your act or give up your spot. You can be a very talented writer when you don't let your ego take control. Start showing some respect and maybe - just maybe - I'll be happy to have you part of the team.
A$$: ...Like I said, I am the BEST writer LOP has ever seen! No one -
Chrisss: Aww, it's no use. Fuck this guy.
7. Day 7
When former WWE referee and manager Theodore R. Long was named as Smackdown!'s new general manager back in July 2004, very few people - both fans and officials - expected Long to hold that position for a long time (no pun intended). From 2002-2004, Smackdown! was a revolving door of General Managers - the likes of Stephanie McMahon, Paul Heyman, and even Kurt Angle had memorable runs as head honcho of WWE's blue brand. Yet, despite being written off television several times since 2004, Teddy Long has remained in charge of Smackdown! for the majority of eight years. As a result, Long has become almost symbolic of Friday night wrestling.
But...has Teddy been in power for a bit too long? In the ever-changing world of WWE, positions and champions come and go faster than you can say "Holla!". It's rare that any champion (world, midcard, tag team) will have title reigns lasting longer than a year. Since 2004, literally hundreds of WWE employees have been fired or left the company. RAW's general manager position is constantly changing, and is anything but a secure, on-screen role. Yet somehow, Long has not only managed to keep his job, but also retain a high profile on television. Sure, he's had heart attacks, been kidnapped, and even had a brief stint as the ECW general manager, but it was always a matter of time until Teddy Long came back to run Smackdown!.
Another interesting point about Long's run as Smackdown! GM - he has always played a face character. Sometimes he partakes in storylines that see him play the tweener role, or makes decisions that favour the heel over the hero, but not once can you claim that Teddy Long became an evil general manager. Since 2004, he's always been the happy, go-lucky man in a suit who has a weak spot for pretty girls (Hi Krystall, Hi Aksana). Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you. It's nice to have an on-air persona who doesn't jump between good and evil at the drop of a dime. In the eyes of most fans, Teddy Long is a fair, reasonable GM.
However, as we know, all good things must come to an end. Teddy Long has had an impressive run as Smackdown! general manager, despite some low-lights that are not worth mentioning in this column, but it might be time to "shake things up" on the blue brand. The days of veterans like Edge, The Undertaker, and Batista dominating the show are behind us. Apart from Randy Orton - and to a certain extent, The Big Show - Smackdown! has become the home of new and future main-eventers. Three years ago, the casual WWE viewer never heard of Sheamus or Daniel Bryan, and considered guys like Christian and Mark Henry as midcarders for life. However, Smackdown! in general has greatly evolved since that time period, and each of the men I listed have gone on to win a world title over the past few years. Smackdown! has gone in a different direction, but Teddy Long has not. He's still the same man, his character has barely changed. As much as it pains me to admit it, it might be time for Teddy Long to ride off into the sunset with his head held high. After all, it's only a matter of time before even the markiest of fans can predict a make-shift tag team main-event in the works as soon as they heard Teddy's music play.
Of course, that would bring up the question of who would replace Teddy Long. My guess is that it would be a heel. Vickie Guerrero could easily reassume her current position, as could William Regal using his former GM experience, or even a retired Edge could do the trick. I could definitely see any one of those names being named as Smackdown!'s new general manager and taking the show to new heights in no time. Again, it's not a knock against Teddy Long, I just feel Teddy's not adding as much to the show as he once did. His backstage segments with Aksana aren't doing him in any favours, either..
But that's just my opinion. What do you think? Has Teddy Long's act gone on for far too long? Is he still tolerable and worthy of his position? Or should he be replaced as early as sometime this year?
As I expected, Friday's "column" received a ton of mixed feedback. While I agree that it was unprofessional of me to say some of the things that I did, it was also necessary. Maybe it was the wake-up call that was needed to set things right here at LOP. But only the future will tell. Either way, I'm done with the "drama". I'm a columnist whose job is is to write about wrestling, and that's what I plan on doing.
LOP has made it super-easy for you to reply to this column by clicking below, but there are other ways to reach me, such as: