I must admit I am a bit behind. With 2 jobs, and working throughout the holidays, I haven’t had the time to watch the Raw and Smackdown from the past week (and not NXT, Main Event, and Impact from November/early December). I know that WWE goes into cruise control during this period, so I know I’m not missing much, plus I did read reports and spoilers. I’ll be up to speed by Monday, I’m sure.
Point is that the big reason I am behind on my columns is because I am behind on watching the current wrestling product. Well, that, and also, some stubbornness on my part. I keep getting into the mindset that the main page is only for long, well developed columns. I keep forgetting part of what got me to this spot was my talent to attack a few different subjects in short manner in my old blog style. Once in a while, I’ve gone back to those roots, but again, stubbornness tends to restrict that.
Not today. Short random blogging returns. Oh, and I hope to have a special treat posted by the new year, in collaboration with a few other friends of mine. It was doomed to fail from the start, but I’ve managed to make it work. You’ll see.
Every year, the pundits ponder over who will win the annual Royal Rumble. As usual, I tend to stay out of those discussions. It’s not because I don’t enjoy the predicting part of being a smart(er) wrestling fan, but rather how much I enjoy not having specific expectations for the Rumble. In 2011, I was primed for the 40 man edition of the spectacular, and was insanely disappointed with the result of a win for Alberto Del Rio. I also pay for the Rumble every year, as I have a hard time remembering a single Royal Rumble event where I didn’t feel it was worth the price of admission. Back when I was living in Montreal, I meant it when I’d tell my other wrestling fan friends that I would have rathered the January PPV come to town than the Wrestlemania that garnered so much more attention. I’m sure realism came into play with my hopes, knowing that Montreal didn’t have the stadium or weather conditions to host a modern Wrestlemania. Maybe during the 1993-2000 period when WWE still ventured to arenas, but that ended in 2001. With the hour long Royal Rumble match, and a regularly dependable undercard, the January event in the Road to Wrestlemania is always when I am at my peak of wrestling fandom. And in that mindset, I prefer taking a step back, and letting the action take place, instead of putting too much thought into who might win.
BUT, I’m an LOP columnist now. So for you, my loyal readers (to the best wrestling writer on the planet), here are few quick thoughts. First, there are typically only 2 types of winners: obvious main eventers looking for their next title shot, or on the verge rookies looking for that break out win. In recent years since the Attitude Era, Sheamus (2012), Del Rio (2011), Rey Mysterio (2006), Batista (2005), Chris Benoit (2004), and Brock Lesnar (2003) have been the men who benefit from the Rumble win (and eventual Wrestlemania title match) to reach a new level on the WWE roster. Meanwhile, Edge (2010), Randy Orton (2009), John Cena (2008), and the Undertaker (2007) have been the men who already achieved the top echelon on a regular basis, but used the Rumble victory to start a new chapter in their histories.
What does this mean for 2013? The WWE title match is pretty much set in stone with it involving CM Punk, John Cena, and/or The Rock. The Rumble win for Cena could be a way to lead into that, but I don’t think it’s necessary. The one thing I will say is that if they were to go that route, then we better expect Cena and Rock to face off at the end of the PPV, as there won’t be too many better opportunities to capitalize on that. It’s not the rematch I want for Wrestlemania, but it wasn’t a bad match in any way, and there is another 3 and a half hours to fill at Mania to make up for a single match I’m not as excited for. I can assure you that he can face off with the Rock after the Rumble even if he doesn’t win the Rumble match and still get the same reaction and create the same Mania buzz. Basically, a Rumble win doesn’t add much to that storyline, except the easiest way to do it.
So, that leaves the World Title. Will Big Show still be champion by Wrestlemania? My hope is yes, because there are very few storylines that are as continuously successful in wrestling like the underdog face overcoming the odds in defeating the giant. It worked for the biggest Wrestlemania in WWF history (Hogan vs Andre), and countless times since. In fact, Big Show’s best value to WWE has been as the modern Andre in similar terms. His heel runs as champion are always top notch, be it WWE Champ in 2002, ECW Champ in 2006, and of course the recent run with the angle vs Sheamus. I think WWE has done a great job in 2012 in separating the cream of the crop of potential stars. While the WWE roster is very deep, Vince and HHH have definitely pegged a few to be above the rest. A Royal Rumble victory is quite possible for one of these wrestlers. I think the stars are aligned for Big Show to defend his World Title against Ryback. It was too soon for WWE to push Ryback into the main event scene against CM Punk in the fall, but they were sort of stuck without Cena available. I think they’ve done a decent job keeping him credible without ruining his momentum, but he doesn’t fit in the WWE Title picture. So, I can’t help but see dollar signs in a Wrestlemania Shell Shock to the Big Show.
So, I see it being either Ryback or Cena. I would choose Ryback to get the win, as a Rumble win would be a better push towards the Big Show than an Elimination Chamber victory.
But, I don’t have a lot of faith in these picks. So much can change in the next couple of months. Just because those are the main events I expect for the Granddaddy of them all, it doesn’t mean they will be etched in stone right away. The Elimination Chamber can change everything.
I love this event… in theory. I have not loved any of them over the past few years. Now, I’m not talking about action, because the Chamber event always delivers a great 3 hour show. My problem is the booking. Maybe I miss the days of developed feuds over the span of 2-3 months between the Rumble and Wrestlemania. But the jarring changes into the Road to Wrestlemania that occur in February never seem to sit well with me. And even though last year no changes took place, it still felt like a lame duck event. It might have been the Cena/Kane main event, or the WWE title match opening the event. But while I enjoyed the 3 hours, it felt like a waste.
This year might be different. First, I need to quash the rumor that the Rock will be in the Chamber. Anyone who has their hopes on that is completely forgetting that Rock is a Hollywood star first, wrestler second. He won’t be risking his livelihood in the Chamber. If he were a full time performer, things might be different. But no matter how much practice he puts in to being a wrestler for the next 3 months, there’s no practicing to bump on the steel structure also known as Satan’s Prison. This is not knocking Dwayne or his schedule. It only makes sense.
And, I think this is a great thing, because it would be a perfect way to implement one of the ideas I’ve mentioned several times. I hate how there are 2 Chamber matches during the PPV. I truly believe it is overkill. With Rocky making an appearance at the PPV, and most likely entering it as WWE Champion, the stage is set for a 1-on-1 title defense for the WWE Title. Depending on who wins the Rumble, 1 title match should be confirmed for Wrestlemania. No need for another Chamber match. To go with my idea, I say let Cena win the Rumble, and then let Punk get his rematch against Rocky at the Chamber. Therefore leaving the Elimination Chamber to determine the #1 contender to the World Championship.
Take a look at the potential card:
- Elimination Chamber match to determine the #1 contender to the World Title for Wrestlemania
- WWE Title match - Rocky vs CM Punk in a Rumble Rematch, with special referee John Cena.
The rest of the show can be filler of any kind, but you’ve got 2 marquee match ups right there that will sell the show without needing a 2nd Chamber match. And if you’re asking what the World Champ does during this event, the answer is it doesn’t matter. Give him the night off for a title defense. Or put him in a tag match (Big Show/David Otunga vs Sheamus/William Regal works for me). It won’t matter.
A question for you, my droogs: how would you feel about a Wrestlemania Triple Threat match for the WWE Title between Rock vs Cena vs Punk? Smart_Mark posed that query in the LOP forums, and the more I think about it, the more I like it. What do you think?
Yes, it’s time for everyone’s favorite topic. While WWE may take the holidays off, UFC is hitting us with possibly their biggest event of the year tonight. I’m excited, as always. But while a rematch for the Heavyweight Championship is huge, I’m much more excited for the event they announced for March in Montreal. My New Year’s Resolution will be to get my brother in law to join me in Montreal to catch George St. Pierre defend the Welterweight Championship against Nick Diaz. With the debut of women’s fights in the UFC coming, a season of the Ultimate Fighter starring Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones as the head coaches, and other awesome cards, UFC is really striving to earn my attention over WWE during wrestling’s hottest boom period. I doubt it’ll win, but it’s always nice to have options. UFC is definitely earning my attention more than TNA these days.
And on that note, peace out.
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