Royal Rumble 2012, Preview & Predictions

The Royal Rumble, January 29th, 2012, from the Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO

The Royal Rumble is on many ways my favourite PPV, and certainly my favourite outside of WrestleMania. There is just an innate magic about the event. It is the flash of excitement that sets us on our way to WrestleMania, and at its best can give us iconic moments, everlasting stories, and maybe even the genesis of a new star. Who’d have thought a battle royal could be so unpredictable and captivating?

Looking at the card, it seems rather light, even for the Rumble. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an extra match; maybe Cody Rhodes vs Goldust, or Epico & Primo over another team, and either would be very welcome. But on to the predictions!

Match 1) World Heavyweight Championship Cage Match: Daniel Bryan (c) vs The Big Show vs Mark Henry (?)
First of all, the question mark is because it look like Henry legitimately blew out his knee on the go-home Smackdown, and so may not be able to compete. This would, of course, fundamentally, change the story of the match. Either it’ll be a one-on-one match, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a ‘suitable replacement’, someone like Randy Orton, or most likely, Sheamus. Either way, the task for a heel Daniel Bryan to overcome someone as powerful as Big Show, has been deliberately set up as almost impossible. Indeed, even on Smackdown where he beat down Show with a chair, he couldn’t overcome The Giant, and ended up being Chokeslammed. Before Smackdown, I thought Bryan would win, but this result only confirmed that, as says the general textbook of professional wrestling; i.e. if the story seems to be that a wrestler can’t win, they will find a way to, and given that this is Bryan’s exact schtik as champion, it seems that’ll be the story here. Bryan running around Show and possibly another in a cage could be pretty fun and memorable, but the better story will be just how Bryan wins the match, because at the minute, I can’t imagine it, especially if he has just one opponent. I’m looking forward to finding out, provided i’m right of course.

Winner: Daniel Bryan

Match 2) John Cena vs Kane
This was the hardest match to predict because it depends upon second-guessing where John Cena’s character is going, and how exactly he might ’embrace the hate’. The match will doubtless be absolutely brutal, but i’m not sure how enjoyable it will be. Regarding who could win, as I say, it depends on where the storyline is going. Most people seem to be backing a Kane win here. For a while, I was going against the grain, believing that Cena might have embraced the ruthlessly aggressive hate and would be all over Kane, much to Kane’s delight in the end. However, I think that would quell the threat that Kane offers too soon and would pull Cena back from the brink of heeldom. So i’m back with the crowd now, thinking Kane will win, either because Cena goes nuts on him and gets himself disqualified, or because Cena hasn’t embraced enough hate yet, despite what will doubtless be a ruthless, emotionless showing from Cena.

Winner: Kane

Match 3) WWE Championship Match: CM Punk (c) vs Dolph Ziggler (Special Guest Referee: John Laurinaitis)
The pairing of Punk and Ziggler is one that is mouth-watering in itself. Given time, this could be an absolute classic from two of the greatest wrestlers of their generation. Going in, Punk is the overwhelming favourite, given his rocketship to the top of late, the relative brevity of his reign so far, and the fact the Ziggler probably isn’t quite ready for the top championship, at least on the WresteMania stage. However, this match has the added element of John Laurinaitis as special guest referee; a man who’s canonical existence is solely down to being criticised in Punk’s original shoot, and therefore a man who’s entire existence is to hamper CM Punk’s career. Indeed, Laurinaitis has openly said that he intends to screw Punk, so how can Punk possibly win? Like Bryan, he has a seemingly unassailable hurdle in front of him, but his story is that of a hero, making it different. Despite this, I still can’t see him not leaving with the title, and I imagine that result will revolve around Punk taking Laurinaitis out, in order to bring down a fresh referee, which counts Ziggler’s shoulders after a great match. Of course, not only will this give Ziggler currency to remain on Punk’s radar, but it will build the tension between Punk and Laurinaitis even further going forward.

Winner: CM Punk

THE ROYAL RUMBLE
I’ve waxed excitable enough about the Royal Rumble match in the introduction. We know that it’s almost a given that it will be enjoyed, and exciting, with that familiar pay-off as the one man left stands alone in the ring, the winner. One of the stories here was added kinda subtly in one of the PPV promos, which said ‘for the first time, all WWE superstars are eligible for the match’ over footage of WWE Champion, CM Punk, instantly leading to questions about whether champions like Punk could enter. The main puzzlement was that, surely the champion can’t enter because surely the whole point is that the winner faces the champion. If he is in, does that mean that he could lose the title because of Laurinaitis, and then go on to win the Rumble? Or could the same happen fro Daniel Bryan? Also, surely it’s always been the case that anyone can enter the Rumble? And surely the one-off entrants (especially the celebrity ones!) aren’t active WWE Superstars? It’s a confusing, intriguing storyline addition. Could Laurinaitis win the Rumble? HHH? If it is someone directly related to this addition, it’ll have to be someone genuinely surprising, shocking even, or I think ther’ll be something of an underwhelmed, disappointed reaction. So with all this, who are the main contenders?

Randy Orton: The home-town hero made his return at Smackdown this week, tearing through Wade Barrett and others on the roster, going in to the Rumble hot. The Rumble being in his home town has for obvious reasons made him a favourite for the match. I don’t buy it too much though. I don’t know exactly what would happen. I would like to see him take on Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania, but that could be said for a lot of people. Also, they’ve spoiled the big return from injury pop already on Smackdown that would often accompany a Rumble win.

Cody Rhodes: Rhodes is one of a few men tipped to climb the mountain even further in 2012, possibly to the World Title. Add to that his recent claim that he will ‘do an Ultimate Warrior’ and hold both the Intercontinental Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship at the same time. What a way to get over as a top star! If he were to win, i’d like to see Orton go over and finally see him and his mentor square up at WrestleMania with the gold on the line.

Dolph Ziggler: Like Rhodes, and shown by title shot at this event, Ziggler is on his way to the top, and perhaps after Punk scuppering his chance at the title, he could again do double duty and this time come out on top and go to WrestleMania to face Punker again.

Chris Jericho: Since Y2J returned at the start of the year, he has become a favourite for the match. His rumoured match with Punk at WrestleMania, and his claim that the Rumble will be the end of the world as we know it seems to position him well to be the main talking point of the show. Also, Chris Jericho is my favourite wrestler, and I always kinda think he could win! This year though, it seems more credible than ever. If he does win though, because of his promise that it’ll be the end of the world as we know it, it’ll have to be done in a unique, eye-catching way. I’ve suggested that Orton ‘wins’ the Rumble, before Steph comes out, and announces that there will be one final contender, #31, Chris Jericho, who emerges from ringside and dumps Orton over while he’s celebrating on the turnbuckle. Maybe he could enter the ring at #30, with a few other superstars in there, who all eliminate each other, signalling the genesis of a new Jericho-led group set on bringing about ‘the end of the world’. It has otherwise been suggested (and it’s a better suggestion than both of mine) that he comes out at #30, just as the only other two left eliminate each other, leaving Jericho only having to step in to the ring to win. Anything original like that would be fantastic and instantly iconic.

Other Dark Horses: Sheamus and Wade Barrett, who have both been having a good run of late, and are credible main eventers. I don’t quite see it for them though; it just doesn’t quite seem to fit at the moment, apros-pos of absolutely nothing on my part I have to admit.

Special Mention: He wont win, but I can’t wait for Brodus Clay to emerge! What a moment it’ll be! Imagine,  he comes out doing his whole routine, with both his dancers, enters the ring, brushing people aside as he dances before taking his trousers off as the ring pyro goes off (yes, I want the ring pyro to go off!). Brilliant.

So, without further ado, and to no surprise of anyone who knows me, here is my Rumble prediction …

Winner: Chris Jericho

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