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Posted in: The PEN15 Mightier
The PEN15 Mightier (Jan 26) Looking towards 2013, Rumble Thoughts, and UFC
By PEN15
Jan 26, 2013 - 8:20:31 PM

Looking Towards 2013 for Talent – Royal Rumble Thoughts

Posted the Review to 2012 later than expected, so let’s pump this out quickly.

Old Talent

After using Brock, Rock, Undertaker, and HHH to put eachother over (though Cena was involved in there too), I expect the appearances from these stars to be used to help discover and elevate new talent. I’m not saying Taker will lose at Mania to Heath Slater. I think WWE realizes they might have overdone the self involvement of their legends. Yes, Rock vs Cena and HHH vs Taker helped draw huge at Wrestlemania. But there’s no denying the dropping buyrates and ratings of everything after that. Does it mean that only those 4-5 men are draws in WWE? Who knows? What I do know is that these men reached their top billing because of previous stars who helped get them there. Now is the time for them to do this for the new generation.

This isn’t a knock on how little these guys put others over, only about how inclusive this group of stars was in 2012. In 2013, we are already on the right track with Rock vs Punk at the Rumble. While the writing is on the wall for Punk to lose, along with Cena vs Rock II to take place at Wrestlemania, and Brock to lose to HHH on the same night, it still leaves Taker without an opponent at Mania. Maybe Punk gets that nod, which wouldn’t be bad in the slightest.

But after Mania, I don’t expect all five of them to disappear. WWE could do worse than to extend Brock’s contract another year and get involved with someone on the verge of breaking out. HHH won’t be completely retired, and might be perfect foil for someone like Dolph Ziggler by SummerSlam. The Rock might be able to find the time to return, and maybe finish the chapter with Punk (which I’m predicting will still be open after the Road to Wrestlemania).

As for Cena, the time is coming for him to move aside (coming, but not at the moment). Will that mean a heel turn? Who knows? But I do think he’ll be used more to get other guys ready. While never being completely removed from the main event, I think we’ll see more angles like we saw with Dolph recently. Guys who normally wouldn’t be at his level, but the program they have with The Champ helps get them there, especially Antonio Cesaro. I also look forward to next chapter of previous feuds like with Sheamus and Randy Orton. The long shot hope I have is for an angle with Daniel Bryan.

John Cena will be the full time legend, while Rock/Taker/HHH/Brock will be part time. I’m quite sure that post Mania, if any of them make appearances in WWE, they will be against new challenges. And I can’t wait.

New Talent

2012 was an amazing year for debuts. No matter who succeeds or not, WWE have done an amazing job making sure everyone who made their appearance in 2012 is still worth something in January 2013. Ryback, the Shield, and Antonio Cesaro are obviously long term top billing projects. Brodus Clay may not be the sensation he was last year, but he’s not off the radar. He’s a promo away from challenging for any midcard title, including tag. The only name that really has yet to move past the initial appearance is Brad Maddox, and there’s something interesting about this clown.

Will 2013 follow suit? Sadly, no. Not because WWE won’t try. But judging by what’s left in NXT, the wrestlers with star potential have already been brought up. Sure, there’s still Kassius Ohno and Bray Wyatt, but the list is a lot shorter for guys worthy of a call up now that so many are on the WWE main roster. I think the key to seeing NXT guys being brought to Raw or Smackdown will be in the tag division. They’ve apparently started an NXT Tag Title tournament, which will be a tremendous way to elevate some new guys, and find spots for someone like Corey Graves who no doubt is near the top of the list for April debuts.

But, the problem with bringing in so many new guys in 2012 will be finding spots for them now. It’s becoming obvious that WWE has trouble elevating several guys at the same time. Efforts have never seemed stronger to protect their stars. So if they bring in Kassius Ohno in April, he’s going to need a victory to move forward. The guys brought in last year will not really be the best choice, because you don’t want to stifle their momentum just yet. So, the options for a new guy to come in and win are reducing. Someone has to lose. And while that is the role of 3MB and David Otunga these days, how much worth will they have in 6 months after doing the same thing for another half of a year? We’ll most likely see guys like R-Truth end up in the “jobber-to-the-future-stars” category. Who else is there?

For new guys to come in, other guys have to move aside. And while there is some fat to trim, these guys are also names that gave Ryback his first victories for example. WWE has some tough choices ahead of them. I personally feel that there is not enough potential in NXT left to warrant letting go of guys like Curt Hawkins. But do you give up on Bo Dallas because he’ll never get higher on the card than Justin Gabriel? Or do you cut Justin to make room for Bo? That’s the common thread I see with over 75% of the developmental roster. They aren’t bad, but they aren’t better than the guys who’d need to go to make room for them. Is the churn worth it? Thankfully, I don’t have to decide, HHH and Vince do.


I expected more backlash for my praise of Sheamus, due to the vitriol he gets on LOP. But I am glad to see enough serious minded people to understand what 2012 was for him. While this was a test year, he didn’t fail. He passed with flying colors. The expectations weren’t for him to be the next Orton or Cena in terms of brand recognition. No, instead he was given a little more room to see if he warranted being included on the same marquee as Orton. And he did. He got a better angle and match quality out of Del Rio than Orton did. He did just as impressive a job putting Big Show over as Orton did with Mark Henry the year before. He had an amazing year in his position, and proved he’d do just fine if given more.

And that’s what 2013 will be for the Irishman. He’s obviously headed into battle with Orton, which I expect to be a Wrestlemania contest, quite likely for the World title. With the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber coming up, there are lots of options to extend their program without a big singles match until Wrestlemania. Feuds from 2010 will be fresh again thanks to his efforts in the past year as a face, and we’ll be seeing him do battle against John Cena and Orton in the new year. Somehow, WWE managed to keep him and CM Punk away from each other enough that there’s going to be a decent money making angle between those 2. Sheamus only exhausted 3 opponents in 2012 (Bryan, ADR, Show) so he’ll have more than enough to work with in 2013 with the rise of other newer stars, along with joining the elite in the WWE Title picture on Raw.

CM Punk

I mentioned in my 2012 review that I think he’s peaked in WWE. He’s been such a masterful heel for the latter half of 2012 that it’s hard to imagine him being able to top it. On top of that, he worked this magic against Cena and the Rock. Without those 2 foils, there’s not a lot of truly captivating options for him to work with. I know I mentioned Sheamus, and while I think this is an angle that could be used to sell most PPVs, I don’t see it being Wrestlemania or SummerSlam main event quality, and that is the level we’ve come to expect from him. And after being WWE Champion for over 400 days, there’s almost nowhere to go but downward.

Seems harsh? I don’t like saying it either, but it is reality how I see it. In a way, they shot their wad with Punk, and now while he’s at the top of his game, he’s left without direction.

Now, I won’t deny that I do not have any backstage access to WWE, and maybe they do have something up their sleeve for Punk. But after taking on Randy Orton 2 years ago at Mania, and Mysterio before that, it’s hard to deny there’s very little remaining to conquer. I guess the simple solution is for him to face a legend like HHH again, but what would that really accomplish? Sure, you’d sell some tickets, and Punk would most likely go over, but after that he’s still in limbo.

So, Punk’s future depends heavily on how well WWE elevates the next generation of talent. Of course, a confrontation with Sheamus is inevitable. But the true potential will be found with new faces, such as Dolph Ziggler, or another chapter in Daniel Bryan’s WWE career. Alberto Del Rio just turned face, and might gain enough momentum to cross paths with Punk in the near future. Maybe the Miz can regain some stature and reach another top level spot on the roster. I also wouldn’t be shocked if Kofi Kingston gets some sort of push against Punk, judging by how much WWE have been trying to get him over.

But, do any of these angles seem worthy of CM Punk after such an amazing run as WWE champion? This is why I think he’s peaked. I hope I’m wrong.

Alberto Del Rio

I truly am having a hard time thinking of what ADR will be doing going forward. This face turn and World title win was shocking and out of nowhere, and it really changed everything. I truly figured that if the WWE was going to reinvent some heels into a major face, The Miz and Dolph would get the top nod. This isn’t to say that won’t happen, but I didn’t expect Del Rio to get the distinction of being the prime attempt, and so quickly to the World Title.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say WWE were ****ing genius in this one. Not in the actual face turn and shocking title victory, as that seemed poorly planned. But the booking he had as a heel seems to be perfectly suited for a face championship run. The failed attempts to gain and hold the gold means his current reign is fresh in more ways than just becoming a fan favorite. He’s never been on top of the brand, and now he has that distinction. Sure, he might be overshadowed by The WWE title situation, and most likely the upcoming Sheamus vs Orton angle, which is perfect for him to slowly gain some credibility.

Now, the only foggy part is what to do with the World Title. I’m certain Del Rio defeats Big Show at the Rumble. If he loses, well, it accomplishes nothing for no reason. Del Rio is certainly being groomed for something bigger than being a transitional champion. So, it’s safe to say he’ll be involved with the World Title match at WrestleMania. But who against? Without the Ryback vs Big Show that I (and many others) predicted incorrectly, there doesn’t seem to be an obvious answer. The closest possible solution is Dolph Ziggler, which is an easy route since he is Mr. Money in the Bank.

My problem with this idea is that you’re taking 2 men that WWE is no doubt looking to build big things with. Either Del Rio loses the title too early and ruins any sort of success he’ll be building from here on out, or Dolph Ziggler again fails to win the big one. I’m certain there’s a way to make it work, but as much as I love WWE, I don’t have faith in them protecting both guys in this scenario.

So, if not Dolph, who’s left to work a real program with during the intricate Road to Wrestlemania?

Yeah, I’m drawing a blank too. I guess it’ll be Ziggler, unless WWE brings in someone like Jericho to work with Del Rio going into Wrestlemania. Or maybe WWE will shock us all again, and direct CM Punk towards challenging for the World Title.

But, if WWE were smart, they’d make the World Title match a Triple Threat or Fatal Four Way at Mania. The World title matches over the last few years have come across as glorified midcard Championship matches, and not main events. With that in mind, including some extra names in there helps protect everyone involved. Imagine Del Rio defending against Dolph, Show, and Ryback. Del Rio could pin anyone but Ryback, and continue to move forward without ruining the momentum for anyone involved. I’m not saying it will or should be those 3 guys challenging, just an easy option that would fit. The point is that you’d still get a big time Wrestlemania World Title match, which would combine the protection needed for all involved, while still giving the new face champ a big win.

After Mania, I see him dropping the title relatively quickly. He wouldn’t require a 400+ day reign to be legit. January to May is more than fine for the time frame for him as champion. And after that, he doesn’t need to be eliminated from the title picture. He should be involved, along with guys like The Miz, Cesaro, Barrett, Ryback, The Shield, Daniel Bryan, and Dolph Ziggler who could all fit into championship contention.

Essentially, he’s going to have a similar run as Sheamus did in 2012. It’ll be a test of his capabilities as a top level babyface. And, if he works out, he’ll have made his impact. I’m looking forward to it, which is shocking after the amount of boredom he’s induced as a heel.

Randy Orton

Sheamus vs Orton. Heel Turn. Cena vs Orton. Del Rio vs Orton. I think it’ll be pretty straight forward for the Viper.

Dolph Ziggler

I think I’ve included Dolph on my list of “ones to watch” for so long, and used so many hypotheses to guess how he’ll move forward so often, that I’m out of ideas. I think his year will be 2013. But I don’t know how they will get there. Not when the early part of the year seems to have the World title around the waist of the new hero Alberto Del Rio.

Of course, it’s easy to see ADR vs Dolph at some point. But after that, where does Dolph go? Who’s left for him to work with on a fresh level? He’s worked with Orton, Cena, and Sheamus. He’ll be working with Del Rio… and then what? There are names like Daniel Bryan, The Miz, and Kane, but none of those angles are going to be stealing any shows (other than matches with Bryan).

The rumors are hinting at a face turn, which I’d all be for. But how many heels are going to be failures, but turn face for 2013? First was The Miz. Now Del Rio, and eventually Dolph Ziggler. I’m not against the idea, I’m just not expecting it soon enough. The problem is that Dolph is hotter now than he’s ever been. But now is the time of when WWE loses track of guys like Dolph, on their way to headlining, and fits them in the middle of the pack. This is why he’s been in forgettable Wrestlemania matches after having successful Royal Rumble pushes the last couple of years. Thankfully, the Cena angle has given him even more exposure than ever, but it leaves him without anyone to work with going into the biggest show of the year. So the momentum he received from main eventing with Cena will be lost by the time they pull the trigger.

There is one option, but it’s unlikely. I think he should use this new dichotomy with Big E. Langston, with AJ in his corner, to join the tag division. It’s mostly to benefit Big E. in the short term, but it’ll help Dolph as well. Hear me out. The tag titles are higher up the card than ever before, so I would in no way see it as a demotion. Big E. gets to work inside the ring, learning the ropes of the WWE, while Dolph carries the matches. This would keep Dolph in the forefront, instead of him being in something forgettable. It also allows him to win matches, making his eventual cash-in all he more impressive.

But, I know, it’s not happening.

So I have no clue as to what’s going to happen with Dolph. I don’t expect much for the start of 2013. The latter half will hopefully be a change of direction.

Quick Royal Rumble to Wrestlemania Thoughts

WWE Title

It looks like the obvious Cena vs Rock II will take place for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania. It also looks like the popular fix to this stale option is the Triple Threat with Punk/Rock/Cena. It seems like everyone is plaguing their ideas with personal preference over logic. You only go so far as saying "Rock brings more viewers" and "Punk needs the win more." You're not putting 2 and 2 together. I think the single smartest way to move forward from here is to scrap Rock vs Cena 2. It's an easy rematch to book, but there's so much more that can be brought out of it, and this match can be used down the line if they need to.

I present another option, which I’ll call THE CORRECT OPTION.
Cena vs Undertaker
Rock as WWE Champion vs Punk

This gets the best out of everyone. Rock as WWE Champion going into Mania gets the buzz, while giving Punk the big win to cement him as a true star. Then, Cena vs Taker is the biggest threat to the streak.

I don't get the idea of pushing Cena vs Taker for next year at WrestleMania 30. Why are we waiting until 30? Just because it's 30? Taker may or may not make it. Don't lose the opportunity while you can. Cena vs Rock 2 can happen any other time Rocky is available. In fact, it would be so much more satisfying if they hold off on the rematch until a successful Cena heel turn, even if only for Mania 33. Have Cena be such a heel that no one can get past him, until they bring back "the one man he never beat" similar to WCW bringing in Warrior against heel Hollywood Hogan.

Don't get confused, I'm not expecting my plan, but I still feel it's the best way to please everyone and make money.

To get to Mania 29 with Rock vs Punk 2, and Cena vs Taker, Rock needs to win the WWE title at the Rumble. I think the smartest way to do this is to have this match happen before the Rumble match on Sunday night. Yes, you see where I'm going. Punk loses the WWE Title match, but wins the Rumble match, the one man who's not yet won it, but deserves it. And let him challenge the Rock at Mania.

I stand behind this idea, and feel that it truly meets every needs necessary, from selling Mania 29, to giving high profile matches, to giving long term booking past Mania, and establishing a new top tier talent.

Rumble Winner

Sadly, as strongly as I feel the above options is the correct option, I know it won’t happen, and John Cena is winning the 30-man battle royal tomorrow. Ah well…


Diaz vs GSP in Montreal

I just bought my tickets for the show. $650 each, sitting in the first row in the seating before the floor, just right of the ring. Awesome. Much more awesome than Cena winning the Rumble.

And on that note, peace out.

Feel free to email me a comment (Email PEN15). One of the best parts of writing is the discussions that come out of it. My hope is that your response could be used in a column to publicly discuss your comments.
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