Pre-show match: Goldust & Cody Rhodes (c) vs. The New Age Outlaws for the WWE Tag Team Championship
The teenager in me REALLY wants to see the Outlaws as tag champs once again, but then the 37-year-old me realizes that this is not the Attitude Era any longer and the Outlaws can’t truly be the Outlaws in this era. Three of the four participants in this match made their marks in the Attitude Era, interestingly enough. I do see the Rhodes brothers retaining, and perhaps facing a moment of truth later on in the Rumble. Cody told me in an interview last month that he wouldn’t hesitate to eliminate his older brother if the situation warranted it, so maybe we’ll see if those words ring true. Rhodes’ retain, and Outlaws continue to be awesome.
Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt
This rivalry, which has been all over the map, should culminate at the Rumble. Bryan is by far the most popular WWE superstar among fans right, while Wyatt is arguably the best heel not named Randy Orton in the WWE today. I like both to move on to bigger and better things after this. Bryan’s so white hot that there isn’t a loss that could hurt him right now, so I’ll take Wyatt for the win. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one had some interference.
Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar
An odd matchup to say the least. WWE asked us to believe that Lesnar was so powerful and destructive that he could make Mark Henry look like Gillberg, yet, in the next breath, Lesnar is being manhandled by Show? What? On top of that, Lesnar is now afraid of The Big Show?? Come again? From where I set, Mark Henry is as big, powerful and even more menacing than Show, so this one doesn’t resonate with me. That said, I do enjoy watching the punishment Lesnar puts himself through in the name of entertainment. Expect an even nastier Lesnar than we’ve ever seen to emerge. I like the possibility of some serious and memorable feat of strength here, too. Take Lesnar in emphatic fashion.
John Cena vs. Randy Orton (c) for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
If this is to be the marquee matchup at WrestleMania in a few months’ time, it has a ways to go in my opinion. This is a great, arguably even a rich rivalry, but I’m not sure it’s worthy of THE match of the year. Cena is the face among faces and currently the most logical guy on the active roster to main event ‘Mania. That said, he’d need a Rock-like opponent to make me interested in him in the main event at WrestleMania yet again. Orton has been both benefitted from working with Triple H and Stephanie and been hampered by it. He’s a heel, undoubtedly, but he’s received too much help in the past number of months for my liking. I look for him to emerge with the title, pull away from the Game and Co. and face someone like CM Punk or Batista in the main event at WrestleMania. Take Orton.
Ah, easily my favourite match of the year. As a fan, there is so much to love about this match. You wait, anxiously, for that clock to count down between competitors. You count down, then hold your breath and listen for that music. Then you either gasp at who’s next or cheer as a legend or surprise entrant appears. You cheer for the underdogs, keep tabs on who has been in the ring the longest and you marvel at those who avoid elimination in creative and athletic manners. Then, inside the ring, storylines unfold, sometimes between mortal enemies, other times between friends. Throughout the entire match you find yourself picking a new winner in your head after the guy you thought was a shoo-in to win falls to the floor right before your very eyes. It’s magical, in many ways.
For my money, I’d like nothing more than to see CM Punk, who will enter at No. 1, run the gauntlet and win it, earning a spot in the main event at WrestleMania. By far the most well-rounded superstar in wrestling today, Punk has cemented his place in history with his record run as WWE champ last year. It would be so fitting to add his name to the Royal Rumble greats.
Can Punk outlast 29 other superstars to do so? It won’t be easy.
With only 20 competitors officially named as this was written, there is a lot of drama to unfold as the 10 unnamed entrants are revealed. Could we see a legend or two? Maybe a Jake The Snake Roberts or even a Hulk Hogan? Might we see Triple H himself? Might we see the return of Sheamus? Kane seems a surefire, pun intended, bet to appear, perhaps only to foil Punk’s bid to win … ah, that’s the beauty of the Rumble.
Ladies and gentlemen, sit back, relax (or sit on the edge of your seat) and enjoy what I believe to be the greatest thing WWE ever created.