Can Dot Net contributor Darren Gutteridge predict the outcomes of pay-per-view matches with more accuracy than the WWE 2K14 video game simulator? Let's find out.
2014 has started with the me making a guest appearance on Dot Net Weekly, and the début of the NXT podcast. All New Years resolutions are going well, and I'm currently enjoying my traditional birthday week off work. I'm focussing on positives, because for once I'm not hyped for the Rumble, and that worries me.
Last year, I accepted in my heart that Cena was going to win. I was consoled by having the Punk/Rock match to look forward to on the PPV, plus the promise of Punk/Taker at Mania. This year however, a much denser cloud of impending unhappiness looms over the 30 man battle royal, and his name is Hollywood Dave. And the "well the Rumble may suck, but at least I'll get to see. . ." match put forward this year is. . . Orton/Cena? You suck, late January 2014.
Speaking of sucking, WWE 2K14 only predicted one match right last time out, losing 5-1, and bringing the score to 2-0 overall.
Pre-Show: Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. The New Age Outlaws for the WWE Tag Team Championships: Smart booking on the part of creative to utilise the Outlaws the way they have. The storyline reason for them turning is so obvious it doesn't even need explaining, which is why it ties beautifully into Punk's ideas about The Authority having the knives out for him. While that also explains away the reason why they got this title shot so quickly, it does feel slightly out of place. They are clearly being built to be a roadblock for Punk on his road to HHH at Mania (as is Kane), so why utilise them here? They have no long term future in the ring with their advance years (I see the irony of saying that in a match involving Goldust), so the only logical conclusion is a title retain. I'd have protected them until Punk gets his hands on them.
Prediction: Cody Rhodes and Goldust defeat The New Age Outlaws to retain the WWE Tag Team Titles
WWE 2K14: The Rhodes Brothers defeat the NAO to retain
Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar: As much as I know the utilisation of part time guys infuriates a lot of fans, I personally think the WWE's usage of Lesnar has been spot on since his return (and I say that as a man who has always had a negative opinion of him). He's almost the exact definition of a "special attraction", which is why I'm baffled this match even exists. Lesnar is an elite guy right now, only turning up when a big match is put together, and a match with Show at this point is no ones idea of a spectacle.
Show is a safe pair of hands, and Lesnar can always rely on his unholy strength to pop a reaction from the crowd, but I think Lesnar would have been better served by sitting out the Rumble and having his first match back be for the title at the Chamber. It doesn't make much sense from a wins/losses point of view, but I doubt anyone would complain if Lesnar was inserted straight into a title match, especially considering his recent dominance of all in his path. I fully expect this match to have been lost in the shuffle come Monday, and rightfully so.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar defeats Big Show
WWE 2K14: Lesnar defeats Show
Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt: The discussion on the pros and cons of the build to this match could go on for days, but I'll summarise my opinion as succinctly as I can – from a story point of view, the rush was dreadful, and was one of the most anticlimactic events in recent memory. BUT, WWE must be applauded for seeing a mistake (read: turning Bryan heel), and rectifying it immediately. He was getting a mid 2000s Ric Flair reaction – he was meant to be a heel, but no one wanted to boo him. So why squander that? It could be argued the story should have been given the chance to run it's course and a chance to work in it's original form (more so for Wyatt's sake than Bryan's), but even in it's butchered form, the result they wanted (Bryan getting more over with the fans) was achieved.
Another pro of the storyline been abruptly ended is that the match between the two now falls on the Rumble PPV. The undercard of three matches means all three are likely to go 15-20 minutes plus, and I for one am really excited to see Wyatt get a full workout in the ring. It's the only lingering doubt for the act, and it's one I expect him to erase Sunday. Unfortunately, I do see Wyatt coming out on the losing end (more on the reason why later), and while it's unquestionable that it will damage him this early in his career, a strong follow up could restore any lost momentum. If he goes over strong on a big name babyface at the Chamber, he'll shrug the loss off easily.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan defeats Bray Wyatt
WWE 2K14: Bryan defeats Wyatt
Randy Orton vs. John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship: I'll save room for my Rumble picks by being to the point here – I don't care. I don't care whether or not the Authority has turned on Orton. I don't care about Cena's Dad. I don't care who wins. I just flat out don't care about anything here, other than it's connotations for Mania. At least I know when I'll get the beers in while watching the PPV at a bar (a first for me). Cena wins, if only to play into later Rumble predictions.
Prediction: John Cena defeats Randy Orton to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWE 2K14: Orton defeats Cena to retain the WWE WHC
The Royal Rumble: As I feel obliged to point out every year – I freaking love the Royal Rumble. It has been my default favourite match of the year since I first saw it (Triple H's win in 2002). And this is the poorest built one I can remember. They had better be wheeling out 10 stellar surprises to make up for it. Here's my three picks for the winner.
#3 Pick – CM Punk: I include him merely because I don't think Roman Reigns is ready for the level of push winning the Rumble brings you. If he had another year under his belt, he would be in the top 3, but since he hasn't, I'm going with Punk, simply because creative have bothered to tie in his recent storyline to the match. I don't think a Punk title match is on the cards for Mania 30, but I at least expect him to have a strong showing here. If he doesn't win, look for Kane to play a role in his dismissal.
#2 Pick – Batista: As like last year when I (correctly) put Cena in my top 3 picks, I don't want Hollywood Dave to win, but this isn't a game of hearts, it's a game of minds. When you are the only guy who has been heavily promoted for the match, it's inevitable that you are among the favourites to win. And there are logical matches with both Cena and Orton to be made, but none of them interest me at all. I'd be totally fine with Lesnar costing him the match after the two bump into each other backstage.
#1 Pick – Daniel Bryan: You have every right to say I'm a hypocrite for saying this should be minds over hearts, but lets look at the facts that have played into my prediction. Abrupt end to previous storyline? Check. Momentum and crowd support? Check. Win earlier in the night to cement his winning credentials? Check. Logical rematches with both guys in the WWE Title match? Checkmate. Call it wishful thinking, but to me all signs point to Bryan running out at #30, and getting his rightful win. The iron will never be hotter, so I'd say gamble and strike, rather than hoping his momentum carries past Mania and giving him his second run there, where his appeal may have diminished slightly. Stale but dependable, or risky but exciting? Lets see what creative decide upon.
- Lock in RVD, Jericho, Sheamus and Jake Roberts as surprise entrants.
- Although very unlikely to happen, Adrian Neville would be my pick for an NXT guy to get the call up to début in the Rumble
- No real inclinations for other surprise people, but rule out Hogan and Sting. Still convinced? Ask yourself how you are gonna get a 60 year-old and a 54-year-old to do over the top rope bumps, and then come back to me.
- Reigns will score the most eliminations
- Major seeds sewn for Shield breakup through it boiling down to them at one point. Alternatively, they break up completely as Reigns eliminates both his team mates.
- It will main event ahead of Orton/Cena
- Final four will be Punk, Batista, Bryan and Sheamus
Prediction: Daniel Bryan wins the 2014 Royal Rumble
WWE 2K14: Alberto Del Rio, which isn't a funny outcome unlike last year, when Jinder Mahal won. Del Rio's blandness is now seeping into his character model! He won by eliminating Xavier Woods (!) last
Thanks for reading. If you have any comments or thoughts on the show or this review, add me on Twitter via @Dazatheg , where I’ll be live tweeting the PPV LIVE from a bar in Wolverhampton. Ply me with drinks.