The usual line this time of year is "The Rumble sells itself." The build is pretty copy and paste, but this year, the line seems to have changed to "Rock/Punk will sell the Rumble." All hype has been channelled into selling the (admittedly huge) WWE title match, and the PPVs titular match has had to take the passenger seat.
Now, for once, I can forgive WWE for spotlighting Rock vs. CM Punk more, as it’s a very hot and exciting match, but the build for the Rumble should still have been consistent. This year however, everyone only seems semi interested in winning. We’ve had the half hearted "I want to headline Wrestlemania" speeches, and the unavoidable big brawl at the end of Raw, but they haven’t bothered to really build any feuds into it. There were the shoots of a Sheamus/Orton rivalry, and Cena and Dolph have incorporated it in their feud, but apart from that, it feels like we have 30 men who "kinda, sorta" want to win.
Now at TLC, I started a tongue-in-cheek contest to see if I could predict results better than the WWE ’13 game. Luckily, by a score of 4-2, I managed to outsmart a video game. Hopefully I am able to do so again this month.
Antonio Cesaro vs. The Miz for the United States Championship: I question putting this on the pre-show, but my hope is that this means both the Rumble and Rock vs. Punk will get a lot of time. I can’t stand the fact that Miz is trying to channel Flair to get over, as it seems like the most obvious of pandering tactics. I could see Miz winning here, if only to establish the new, "lethal" figure four leglock, but I’d much rather have Cesaro retain and build a run towards Mania. Hopefully, WWE sees this too.
Prediction: Antonio Cesaro defeats The Miz to retain the United States Championship
WWE ’13: Cesaro defeats The Miz
Team Hell No vs. Team Rhodes Scholars for the WWE Tag Team Championships: An argument can be made for Team Hell No to also have a strong title run all the way to Wrestlemania, as I don’t know what else there is for them to do at the show other than face each other, but this is the match I see as most likely to feature a title change. Kane and Bryan can still regain the titles at Elimination Chamber, and having them chasing Rhodes and Sandow opens the doors for more comedy based off their growing anger towards the situation.
Prediction: Team Rhodes Scholars defeats Team Hell No to win the WWE Tag Team Championships
WWE ’13: Team Rhodes Scholars defeats Team Hell No
Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show in a Last Man Standing match for the World Heavyweight Championship: My prediction for this match is based almost entirely on one question – why put the title on Del Rio, only to have Show win it back a few weeks later? Show was doing well in building up a monster reign as champion, one many thought would lead to a showdown with Ryback at Mania. Why derail it for only a few weeks? Some may say it was simply to give him a new singles feud to help establish Del Rio as a face, but they could have done that without the title change. For those reasons, I’m picking Del Rio to retain.
Prediction: Alberto Del Rio defeats Big Show to retain the World Heavyweight Championship
WWE ’13: Show defeats Del Rio
CM Punk vs. The Rock for the WWE Championship: As I said before, you can question WWE’s hype for the Royal Rumble match, but the build for this match has been near perfect. Rock has reverted, for the most part, back to "intense" Rock, although the comedy that has arose has mainly fell flat for me. Punk has simply continued his unbelievable run of promo work, and now the match is at fever pitch with only a handful of punches thrown. Rock showed no signs of ring rust at last years Mania, so I doubt there will be any signs here, and that will hopefully lead to a hell of a match.
I am in two minds over the prediction, and it all has to do with the placement of the match. If it goes before the Rumble, I think Punk winning in a screwy fashion, and The Rock subsequently winning the Rumble as entrant number 30, would make for a very hot show. However, I think I will side with the majority, with Rock winning here and dropping the title to Cena at Mania ahead of a rubber match at Wrestlemania 30.
Prediction: The Rock defeats CM Punk to win the WWE Championship
WWE ’13: Punk defeats Rock
The Royal Rumble Match: In the interest of brevity, I’ll only pick three potential winners, and then list some dark horses.
#3 Pick – John Cena: It’s cliché, but I always think that betting against Cena in any match is a mistake. As I mentioned before, I see Cena vs. Rock as an almost dead cert for Mania, and the WWE may feel the need to put the title on the line to give it the extra boost over last year’s match. Cena can be occupied with Ziggler at Elimination Chamber, and then start the build for Mania after that. But I’m hoping the WWE decide to give Ziggler a little in-ring credit back by eliminating Cena (they are also my picks for entries #1 and #2).
#2 Pick – Ryback: The simple fact of the matter is this – Ryback hasn’t won a PPV match since before Hell in the Cell. His push is stumbling ever so slightly, but a Rumble win would right that immediately. If Show had been champion going into the show, Ryback would be my top pick, but I can still see the WWE working their way towards that match. Do I think Ryback’s ready? No. Can I see the argument for striking while the irons hot? Yes.
#1 Pick – Randy Orton: Trust me, I am not making him favourite because I want it to happen. Orton has been becoming increasingly stale over the past 12 months, to the point he is now solidly in the mid-card. But WWE still holds him in high regard, and what better way to put him back in the main event picture than a Rumble win? I’m also thinking its Orton’s year again because of how Sheamus was booked prior to his win last year – dwindling push, going through the motions, etc. Lets hope I am wrong.
Dark Horse Predictions: I’m just going to throw these out there.
- Big E Langston makes his in ring debut, possibly taking Dolph’s spot if Ziggler cashes in MITB earlier in the night.
- If they lose earlier in the night, Kane and Bryan eliminate each other.
- Bo Dallas wins the NXT tournament (as he is the only one established and relatively storyline free). Adrian Neville and Leo Kruger are my alternative picks.
- Colt Cabana, Too Cool and Vader are surprise entries (Haven’t read spoilers or rumours at this point)
- Christian, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger and maybe even Evan Bourne make returns from injury
- All members of the Shield enter and dominate for a while before Ryback, Orton and Sheamus throw them out
- My back up picks are Sheamus, Ziggler and an outside chance for Bryan
- Final two will be Sheamus and Orton, or Ryback and Orton.
Prediction: Randy Orton eliminates Sheamus to win the Royal Rumble
WWE ’13 went for Jinder Mahal, a bet I think would win me enough Dot Net Dollars to legally own the site if it happened in real life. He entered at number 30 and eliminated Wade Barrett to win
Thanks for reading. If you had any comments or thoughts on the show or this review, add me on Twitter via @Dazatheg , where tonight I’ll be live tweeting the PPV