Deeper thoughts on the upcoming Rumble.
PRE-SHOW: Miz vs. Antonio Cesaro for the U.S. Championship
The Miz now has a new submission hold to complete his already formidable arsenal. The Miz is an amazing in-ring worker capable of…. HAHAHAHA!!!! Yeah, no… the Figure Four Leg Lock is one of those classic holds that nearly every wrestler knows or learns at some point, and the Miz has an extremely sloppy version that takes far too long to apply than it should for a new finish. Antonio Cesaro, on the other hand, is doing a fantastic job as the United States champion and is building that title a little higher than it has previously seen. Miz doesn’t really need the U.S. title to elevate himself, but he is the bigger star in the match.
Winner: Cesaro after a dirty trick.
Team Hell No vs. Rhodes Scholars
Team Hell No have come full circle, rebuilding the tag ranks with a couple of legitimate teams who could threaten for the gold in coming months. Now they’re set to face the Rhodes Scholars at the Rumble, and things have been going extremely well for the dynamic duo… which makes me think that they are absolutely doomed to lose those titles come Sunday. The Scholars are primed and ready for a heel run with the straps, Sandow and Rhodes having built up some decent credibility with their gimmicks and they could be a team people really want to see lose those belts down the road. Team Hell No could continue to entertain with their gimmick and their matches, but I think the time is coming where they need to break up and split with a short feud leading into Mania.
Winner: Rhodes Scholars taking advantage of miscommunication between Hell No.
LAST MAN STANDING: Alberto Del Rios (champ) vs. Big Show (World Title)
The Big Show has done a fantastic job in putting over Alberto Del Rio, cementing the Mexican stars face turn with a series of great matches that showcase the abilities of the former Luchadore. And Del Rio has also done an amazing job in finding a new niche in the WWE… his face turn has been credible, his story has meaning, and he is definitely connecting with the fans. Increasing his high flying move arsenal is helping to put over his face turn as well, and I think this match has the potential to be a huge boost for the Mexican star. I expect him to have a new finisher at the end of the night, and that the Big Show continues this feud into Elimination Chamber.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
CM Punk vs. The Rock: WWE Championship match.
This match alone would be an amazing Wrestlemania Main Event! CM Punk’s heel turn earlier this year cemented the star as the Man in the WWE, holding onto the belt by the tips of his fingers through one dirty tactic after another and another. His title reign is stuck in the craw of many fans, and having the Rock come in for a shot at the belt is definitely going to increase the buy-rate dramatically… this is Punk’s moment to shine. The verbal back and forth between the two has been epic and their brief physical encounters have been dramatic and brutal.
Winner: CM Punk by way of interference from either Brad Maddox or Brock Lesnar
I think there will probably be a Diva’s match just before the WWE title match. It hasn’t been announced that I know of, but there’s that. Mostly a breather between World and WWE title matches.
30 men at any point in the match, and it’s one of those big gimmick matches so many people look forward to. There are usually a few returning stars who make an appearance, a few surprises, and some character building throughout the course of the Rumble.
1. Kane manages to finally eliminate more over-all superstars than Shawn Michaels.
2. Ziggler becomes the marathon man of the night, starting the Rumble and becoming one of the last eliminated.
3. New Age Outlaws are both in the ring for a reunion.
4. John Cena enters at number 27.
5. Mick Foley is a surprise entrant.
Rumble Final Five…. The point that we all look forward to:
I can see this going down, with the Shield coming down right after the elimination of Ziggles… and my guess is that either Cena or Orton will turn heel on the other two and reveal an alliance with the Shield. I say Cena because it would be one of the best heel turns ever… it would make sense with the given storyline and how things have been progressing, leading into a showdown the Rock should he win the title. I could also see the Orton heel turn, though it would make less sense since Shield damaged his shoulder a few months back.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Mostly Cena Related.
It must be awful to go on after The Rock.
It must be terrible to be that guy who has to follow up the most electrifying man in sports entertainment. The pressure must be intense. John Cena had to be that guy on Monday Night Raw and he delivered a promo that will go down in the record books, for certain. After nonsensically rambling for nearly ten minutes and making jokes about the fans at ringside, he eventually got to the point where he said that he was going to win the Rumble… and I sort of believe him. It’s not for the right reasons that I believe him… I don’t think he’s fortified or strong or driven to win the Rumble, I just think that it’s already been scripted and he couldn’t care less who knows it. He just went through a program with Dolph Ziggler that left Mr. Ziggles looking like one of the weakest men to ever hold Money in the Bank, he’s already buried brand new debuting talent with dismissive shrugs and “charming” smiles, and he totally killed the momentum of rising star AJ Lee by his involvement in her storylines over the past year. Johnny has effectively stunted the growth of three rising stars in the WWE with his dumb “superman” gimmick and his inability to sell a match is costing the Rumble buy rates.
And this isn’t the usual “Cena Sucks” chanting I’m talking about, this is an honest analysis of his ability in that ring. He’s not a bad wrestler, he’s not horrible on the mic, but Cena is totally dropping the ball when it comes to meeting expectations and building feuds. Last years’ Mania featured the “dream match” between him and The Rock, a feud that largely depended on a yearlong build up with a war of words that John Cena found himself seriously outclassed in. He was verbally beaten down week after week until Rocky finally decided to write stuff on his forearm for the pure sake of giving Cena SOME sort of ammunition in his own promos… and the difference between Rock and Cena was never more pronounced than it was this Monday.
Cena needed to come out and build one of the most grueling matches in the history of the WWE, he had to build 29 other guys and the fact that just about any single star could possibly walk out the winner, and he had to show the WWE that he was the man to overcome the odds and walk out of the Rumble with that called shot at Wrestlemania. He succeeded in making people think that he is going to win, but that’s only because he’s the Corporate yes-man he’s always been and nothing is going to spoil that in the foreseeable future. He dismissed the Rumble match itself… cake walk so far as he’s concerned. 29 other guys? Not one of them meant a single thing to John Cena. Sheamus appears in the aisle and builds up some tension, laughed off by Johnny boy. Next guys down the aisle, and the next, and the next… no real reaction from Cena.
We also have Rock facing Punk for the WWE title, and there has never been a more clearly defined difference between two major stars (Rock and Cena) than in what we saw from the most electrifying man. We saw Rock build up the long title reign of CM Punk, we saw him acknowledge everything that Punk has done during his reign, that it is noteworthy, and that Punk is just as bad as he says he is. (Contrast that with Cena’s last ‘big’ promo against Punk, where he dismissed everything Punk has done for the past year of holding the title… a year that saw Cena in the main event month after month where he just played Superman to various villains in the company.) All of that and we see that the Rock has a hill to climb, that he’s willing to pay the price for climbing it, and that he’s ready to face Punk on an even field. We know THIS match is going to be one for the ages… and, unlike Cena, the WWE Champion didn’t need to see notes on the Rocks’ forearm to return the verbal beating. He didn’t crack jokes, he didn’t smile about it, he didn’t act like he just deserved to win… he talked about what the title meant to him, what his title reign has been like, and he talked about destroying the Rock. He talked about destroying the will of sheeple. He made people believe it. He made people believe in the match.
It must suck to follow the Rock. It must suck even more to see someone else going toe to toe with the Rock and not needing a crutch to get the job done.
And then, the Rock did something John Cena was either unwilling or incapable of doing… he took a beating from three young upstarts, he sold the beating, he spit blood on the mat, and he had the WWE going to commercial without the faintest sign of a smile on his face. Cena took on Ziggler in a cage with interference from Big E Langston and AJ Lee, but he couldn’t even bother to sell a finisher… he couldn’t bother to sell the cage, the distraction, or even the slightest sign that he was remotely bothered by Ziggler. And it wasn’t just one night… it was over the course of the past month or so, Cena gave not one moment to sell for the guy currently holding the Money in the Bank shot that has yet to be cashed in. And in a span of roughly four minutes, the Rock effectively showed that the Shield was a viable threat, dangerous, and CREDIBLE. Can anyone name one star that was made to look credible by Cena?
The Rock MAY win the WWE title, but the story has been a great build up and the feud has been done very well. Five to one odds that no matter the outcome, CM Punk will probably look far more credible in the outset of this match than he has ever looked before. John Cena may win the Royal Rumble, but he’ll likely get more jeers than cheers in the process when all is said and done. The kids will keep on loving him, I suppose. He’s over enough to get by on that for a few more years, but I honestly think he’s starting to hurt the business with this shtick. And the truth is, you can only blame the WWE Writing staff so much for what happens in a given match… the work itself is up to the wrestlers, and Cena doesn’t have to lose to make people look credible. He only ever needs to make it look possible that he could lose.