The Fantasy Book on Possible Royal Rumble Matchups and Dangerous Jobbers (James Ellsworth, Cheeseburger, Mulkey Mania)

Howdy ho, everyone! We are still on the road to the Royal Rumble. Let’s stop at this sketchy little gas station, fill up the old jalopy, and see what the locals think about how this year’s event is shaping up. Also, by “gas station,” I mean my laptop. By “fill up the old jalopy,” I mean to sip on a refreshing beverage. And by “the locals,” I mean me.

Last week I took a look at the other matches on the Royal Rumble card. Mostly this was due to the fact that there were not a lot of announced participants yet. This week, we got a few more, but that number still sits at under 50% of the field. So, I am going to wait one more week before I do my full Royal Rumble fantasy book.

In the meantime, I will take a look at a couple more matches which could be added to the Royal Rumble card and then spend a few minutes talking about a man named after a popular food item (and no, I am not talking about Captain Banana).

So we have the World Title, the Universal Title, and the Raw Woman’s Title being defending at the Royal Rumble PPV. The US Champion, Chris Jericho, and the Intercontinental Champion, Dean Ambrose, have already announced their entry into the Rumble match itself. And while wrestlers have been involved multiple times during a Rumble event in the past, I think this year’s roster size makes that unlikely. As such, I don’t think the US or Intercontinental titles will be defended at the PPV.

Then we have the Smackdown Woman’s Title held by Alexa Bliss. Bliss takes on Becky Lynch next week, so more than likely one of them will hold the belt going into the Rumble. The problem as I see it is that the WWE can’t put another woman’s match on the card since they know it will not compete with Charlotte Flair versus Bayley. Except in one scenario. Let’s play this out.

While Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss have been feuding for a few months now, they have managed to keep it somewhat fresh. The trick this time is by introducing a new character, La Lunchadora. La Luchadora was originally introduced, in fine fashion, by Becky Lynch. Lynch, already the cream of the Smackdown Live! womens’ crop, showed again how good she is by adjusting her style into a more lucha style to really showcase the angle. However, La Luchadora has cost Lynch a match and no one is sure of her identity. Even Bliss herself was under the mask once already. The mystery angle is working and people are genuinely questioning who this masked woman is.

While Alexa Bliss has gotten better, I am not sure she is ready to defend a title on a PPV of this stature. So I would move the belt to Becky Lynch next week. Then I would show definitely that Bliss was working with La Luchadora. And I would add La Luchadora versus Becky Lynch to the Royal Rumble card. It could even kick off the show. I would have Lynch retain the title, but have Bliss and La Luchadora attack after the match and beat her down.

Once Lynch is beaten down and Bliss and La Luchadora are standing over her, I would have La Luchadora unmask and reveal herself. There is speculation that the masked woman’s identity could be Mickie James, or Tamina Snuka, or even Deonna Purrazzo. While all those are possible, I would like to see La Luchadora turn out to be … Paige! With that revelation, Becky Lynch and Paige (with Alexa Bliss) could feud all the way up to Wrestlemania where they can be part of a Triple Threat for Lynch’s belt.

Then we have the tag teams. I fully expect Sheamus and Cesaro to be in the Royal Rumble and thus not defending their tag belts. At the same time, I fully expect The Club, Gallows and Anderson, to also be involved in the Rumble match. So we will hold off on the Raw tag titles for the moment.

Over on Smackdown Live! however, the tag team belts are held by American Alpha. I do NOT think this team will be in the Rumble match. However, the most likely opponents for a title match is the Wyatt Family and I definitely think they will be in the Rumble. So I would put American Alpha on the pre-show against Fandango and Tyler Breeze or The Ascension. American Alpha will definitely win the match and defend their belts. On Smackdown Live! a couple weeks later, The Usos would jump American Alpha from behind and begin their push towards a title match at Wrestlemania.

Okay, enough Royal Rumble for the moment. Let’s talk about Cheeseburger. For those who only watch WWE programming, you may not be familiar with Cheeseburger. Cheeseburger is a “wrestler” for Ring of Honor Wrestling. This is what Cheeseburger looks like:

What might surprise you is that these pictures are actual size! Okay, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but at 5’8″ and 135 pounds, I am not far off. As you can imagine, Cheeseburger is often booked as the underdog. And the crowds love him. The other wrestlers seem to love him as well. It has been said that even the legendary Jushin “Thunder” Liger lists Cheeseburger as his favorite wrestler. Liger even gifted the secret of the Shotei Palm Strike to Cheeseburger to use. While Cheeseburger mainly wrestles for ROH, he has also appeared on New Japan Pro Wrestling events, including, most recently, the Wrestle Kingdom event where he was the last man eliminated in the New Japan Rumble match (losing to the victor, Michael Elgin).

If you have read my Ring of Honor 10 Thoughts columns (and if you haven’t, you are missing out), you know that I am not the biggest fan of Cheeseburger. In fact, I don’t really like watching him wrestle at all. I have nothing against little guys in wrestling, but Cheeseburger’s mix of being terribly thin and goofy is not a good visual for me. I am always scared he is going to be hurt seriously.

Before I go on, I should say this – Cheeseburger is not all bad. He is quick in the ring. He brings speed and excitement to his matches. And he can sell with the best of them. He rag dolls around the ring like a madman during his matches to the point where it is almost scary. He also has some wrestling skill, being trained by people like Daizee Haze, Delirious, Lance Storm, Les Thatcher, Mike Quackenbush, and Tom Pritchard, as well as his on-screen training with Bob Evans and the aforementioned Jushin “Thunder” Liger.

But the problem I have is that none of his wrestling looks realistic. None of it looks like it could hurt the standard size household fly, much less the cartoonishly large wrestlers he faces. While there have been wrestlers in the past that don’t “look” like wrestlers but have gotten over. Those old enough might remember the Mulkeys back in the mid-south NWA days. More recently, James Ellsworth has gotten a lot of play out of a gimmick where he doesn’t look like he could hurt anyone, yet there he is, in the ring.

The WWE played Ellsworth as a joke. They played him as a pawn who let Dean Ambrose’s success against AJ Styles go incorrectly to his own head. He was never considered a serious wrestler. The Mulkeys were the definition of jobbers. In fact, they were so jobberific in their roles getting their asses kicked by the Midnight Express, the Road Warriors, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, the Koloffs, etc, that the fans started getting into their matches. They were far from good and everyone knew it. So when the Mulkeys finally won a match, accidentally, the crowds went crazy and a phenomenon was launched called Mulkey Mania! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YHL3oxYcW4

But Cheeseburger is a different guy. Ellsworth and the Mulkeys were never really treated seriously. Cheeseburger, while definitely a jobber, is not treated as a joke. He is treated as a serious contender. He has had title shots. He has won matches. He even won a feud against his former partner “Brutal” Bob Evans. In fact, he is treated in such high regard in Ring of Honor, that on last week’s show, he wrestled in a 6-man tag team match against the current champions and the teaser stated that the champs were going to take on “Cheeseburger and his friends.” I mean, what kind of crap is that? His partners (both of whom have been mainstays on ROH television for a while now) must have felt even worse than the Professor and Mary Ann (you know, “the rest” from Gilligan’s Island).

It is this seriousness in Cheeseburger’s booking is what bothers me. I’m all for a good underdog story, but absolutely nothing about Cheeseburger allows me to think he is capable of victory. I had a little hope when they gave him the Shotei Palm Strike to use. Because that is what my fantasy booking of Cheeseburger entails.

If you want to make Cheeseburger a credible threat, a believable wrestler, someone who is not a joke? Give him an equalizer. Give him some move, any move, that would take out an opponent in an instant and give him a win. Therefore, when anyone wrestled Cheeseburger, they couldn’t just play around. They had to be wary of his big-time move. I thought the Shotei could do that for him. But it doesn’t seem to be working that way. So I suggest giving him something else. Something already known to wrestling fans as a devastating finishing move, and something no one is using as such these days. Give Cheeseburger the Stone Cold Stunner.

I know it sounds odd, but imagine Cheeseburger facing current ROH Champion Adam Cole. Normally, Cole wouldn’t take Cheeseburger seriously and would toy with him like a cat toys with a mouse (I got that one from my cliche-a-day desk calendar). But if Cheeseburger could suddenly pop off a wicked stunner, which would always get a three count, Cole would have to be much more methodical and cautious. And Cheeseburger’s entire offensive strategy could be based around getting an opening for that move.

Cheeseburger could still be an underdog. Cheeseburger could still be a jobber. But Cheeseburger would also be dangerous. And that would make him much more interesting.

I’m glad I got that off my chest. Thanks for listening.

Next week, check back with me and we will fantasy book this thing they call the Royal Rumble. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Toodles.

 

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