Royal Rumble 2012
Rumble Match Non-Predictions
We are under a week away from my favorite WWE event of the year, the Royal Rumble. Without a doubt, the most unpredictable and fun filled event in the WWE calendar. From the first Rumble, to 2011, no night of WWE action has been harder to guess than January’s only PPV (**** New Year’s Revolution).
Now, I’m sure the initial reaction from the troll minded is to say that it’s always predictable, and that everyone predicted Alberto Del Rio last year. To that I say “eat shit and live, you’re lying.” There is almost always a short list of favorites, and for the most part the winner is always included on that list. But there is always a list, and there’s rarely one name that stands out above others. It might seem obvious once the event is over, but hindsight is always 20/20.
As for this year’s predictions, I hear Orton, Jericho, Barrett and Sheamus as the top names mentioned. I think all 4 of them have a case in winning, but I don’t feel strongly one way or another. A Jericho win would most likely lead to a title match with Punk, while the others would continue to cloud the ever evolving Smackdown main event scene. Daniel Bryan is delivering something fresh at the moment, and it seems the ratings are responding to that in a positive way. Of course, ratings on Smackdown are always varying, as I remember reading reports of increased ratings when Christian, Orton and Mark Henry all won the title as well. I don’t think this speaks well of any particular star, but rather that fans in general like knowing that the blue brand is anything but stale. Raw will never be confused as the freshest brand of wrestling, but the ratings never seem to reflect the same fluctuations that Smackdown does.
A Different Road to Wrestlemania
But as for the Rumble, the brand split has really opened up the door for how winners can switch brands. No matter how well developed a title scene or angle may be, WWE can switch gears on us at anytime.
Which is why I just thought of a potential star making angle that has yet to be mentioned (as far as I’ve seen). Rumors are that WWE might book Randy Orton to be the underdog surprise entrant after his injury, and win the whole thing. Now all signs point to Orton going after the Smackdown champion, but what if Orton chose CM Punk?
The history is there from last year’s Wrestlemania. And Orton won. The angle is there to make Punk look like a star. Orton gets the win, decides to go after someone he knows he can defeat, and definitely raises the bar in terms of a credible title match for Wrestlemania. Will it happen? Not likely. But I think a win over Orton would work much better towards establishing Punk as legit star than a win over Jericho.
This would leave the Smackdown side of things to fend for itself, with Daniel Bryan, Mark Henry, Big Show, Christian, Wade Barrett and Sheamus all in contention. Honestly, Orton might help give the title match on the blue brand some star power, but it’s not really needed. Unless the goal is to have Orton put over Daniel Bryan, there’s no real need to keep him on Smackdown at this point. In fact, with the blue brand ratings on the rise recently, why not let the current roster sustain itself, and lend Orton’s credibility on Raw. A Wrestlemania win for Punk over Orton, leading to Punk moving to Smackdown in the near future (Draft 2012) would balance out the roster insanely, while keeping everything fresh.
Jericho finally spoke. I read Hustle’s recent Raw diary (I read those diaries every Raw and Smackdown, great stuff) and he was thankful that they advanced the storyline for Chris Jericho. My question to you Hustle, and anyone else, is what storyline was advanced? Yes, he spoke, but it didn’t advance anything. Is there any more intrigue into his future now that he spoke about the Rumble? It’s still building to something in the same vague way.
I stated in the LOPforums that at this point, Jericho should have avoided the viral videos and 4 weeks of doing nothing, and instead just been a surprise entrant in the Rumble. Especially if he’s booked to win it. Barring something unfathomable with his performance on Sunday, what did the last 4 weeks accomplish that he couldn’t have done by making his first appearance as #27 in the Rumble?
I’ll admit that it’s still too soon to know for sure, but it’ll take something insanely out of nowhere to make sense of 4 weeks of this nothingness.
And I want to clarify, I don’t hate Jericho. He’s an all time great performer, one of the few in WWE history who can work all aspects of being a WWE superstar (mic skills, heel, face, wrestling, charisma, crossover appeal) with success. I just think his ego got the best of him this time. It’s become more important to do something innovative and new than to be interesting. The concentration of this angle has been to **** with our expectations, but what does that accomplish? Does it draw him heat? Does it get him over as a face? No matter what the end result is, I don’t know what the point of any of it is. And because of that, I don’t think I will care about what his character does until the final result. I could be wrong, and honestly, knowing Jericho, that could happen at any minute. But this angle isn’t making him any more special or interesting at this point. He’s just another contender.
WWE Title Match
I’m excited that this will undoubtedly be the best non-Rumble match of the night. Ziggler and Punk were two of the top 3 performers of 2011 in WWE (Orton being the 3rd) and have the ability to put on a clinic if given the time. Judging by previous Royal Rumble events, and only 3 non-Rumble matches being booked (so far), I think it’s safe to say we will get 20-30 minutes of action from this match. As for the Johnny Ace involvement, I know it’s the driving force of the angle, but being a long time fan, this whole thing reeks of ripping off Austin vs McMahon, but with all the charm of a celery stick. John is a terrible Vince McMahon at this point, and Punk is nowhere near the level of Stone Cold.
Austin vs McMahon carried the company for lots of obvious reasons that this angle just does not have, but most importantly is history. Vince was an on screen character for almost 2 decades before he became a villainous boss. His heel turn came from real life events, while Stone Cold was the hottest commodity in wrestling after being slowly pushed properly for over a year.
John never made a WWE TV appearance until Money in the Bank, and he’s been a terrible on screen character since. CM Punk, while a hot commodity, has not been properly booked since that event, with a PPV record of 4-4 for the final half of 2011.
Add to that, but the opponents Austin faced in 1998 were a lot more over and established than Dolph Ziggler.
But, at least I’ll get a good match out of it, no matter what tomfoolery surrounds the booking.
World Title Match
I have to give WWE credit on something here. While I’m not fully behind this new direction for Daniel Bryan, they’ve managed to make him a stand out performer every step of the way. He’s played his part exceptionally well. He might be getting booed, but he hasn’t really turned into the cheap and cheating heel. He’s defying the odds with cheap escapes, but he’s not flat out cowardly like Honky Tonk Man was with the IC title in 1987-88. He’s just taking advantages when they come to him, such as escaping the ring during the lumberjack melee. It’s a step in what I feel is the right direction by showing that he isn’t backing down from these giants at any point. He has no fear standing up to them.
And for that reason, I’m looking forward to this match. It’s the Daniel Bryan story to me, and I want to see how he’ll survive this one. He might be booked to be a tweener or heel, but he’s the one I’m cheering for, and hope to see him survive. It’s not hard to conceive, as escaping the cage will be a clean way to win, without hurting anyone’s credibility, and adding to his current not-so-clean attitude in keeping the championship. Not only is this match the Daniel Bryan story, but I’m looking forward to it as more like a single chapter in the entire story of Daniel Bryan, as I don’t think it ends at the Rumble. Or maybe that’s hope clouding my judgment. And I eat meat.
Kane vs Cena
It’s a bit of a shame that these 2 men have never feuded before, because from day one of Kane’s original attack, this current angle seems forced in an obvious effort to put two major names together with no real purpose. Had this angle been generated with natural growth, I’d be much more excited. But at this point, it seems they saw 3 pieces (3rd being Ryder) and threw them in a blender, and what poured out was the word “hate,” and went in that direction. Understandable mistake, because I hate the angle.
I’m being harsh for the purpose of using that not so clever play on words, but I’m still not that impressed so far. I can’t put my finger as to why, but it just isn’t working for me. My guess is (other than the forcing which I already mentioned) is that it’ll end soon due to Rock returning to face Cena in under 3 months. Anything Cena does at this point has a deadline on it, because the end result is Rock vs Cena. It’s a shame because Kane and Cena are incredible performers, and the build up to Wrestlemania has been amazing concerning Cena so far. We’ve known of the upcoming match since the night after Wrestlemania 27, but at no point has it been so obvious that what Cena is doing is stalling for time. They’ve fit his title matches into the build up quite well. This feud does not.
I think the angle they could (should) have gone with was Kane mocking Cena’s chances of beating Rock. And you could work the “hate” portion into it as well. Something along the lines of “You can’t beat Rock. You can’t beat the People’s Champion, Cena. How could you beat the People’s Champion? The People hate you, and so does their champion. You can’t rise above that hate Cena. You can’t rise above me either.”
Brain surgery? No. Nor ground breaking. But it would make more sense, and lead into Wrestlemania’s main event much better than this current massacre. Nothing else from the angle would need to change either.
Oh, and to those who shit on the idea of Kane’s long promos, I’ll only half agree with you. I think he should be a monster of few words, but not silent. While I’ll agree silence would be creepier and stronger for his character, it poses a VERY difficult situation for any angle to proceed. There’s no secret that mute Kane was surrounded by managers, tag partners, and valets to speak for him. Once those avenues ran out, they evolved his character to speak. It’s hard to go back to that, if we know he can speak (plus it would have been gimmick infringement on Jericho). The problem is they went too far. Kane (Glen) is very charismatic and capable on the microphone, but he has not mastered the technique of a long promo (who has? WWE should cut those down).
If WWE has any hope in delivering a great match between these two, and not extending the feud to a singles match at the Elimination Chamber, than this should be an all-out brawl. I don’t care if on SD or on the spot during the Rumble, but turn this into a last man standing match, or something equally violent. I don’t want to see a single rest hold. In a perfect world, this match would be the perfect example of where to draw blood. I don’t want any PG discussion from this (I’m for WWE PG for the record) but if WWE are loosening up on the adult language on Raw just a bit, then this might be a good time to loosen up on the violence. Not a Eddie Guerrero vs JBL blood letting, but something similar to Hogan vs Macho Man at Wrestlemania V.
Oh, and no stupid spots like we saw Ryder do on Raw. That was pathetic.
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. I don’t look at the facebook comments too much, so I’ll hope for your email instead. My hope is that your response could be used in a column to publicly discuss your comments.
Follow me on Twitter if you wish, though I don't really do much with it.