Counterfeit Pennies 01.18.03: Point/Counterpoint – 2003 Royal Rumble

During my year-long tenure at a different wrestling site that uses the number 1 in its name, one of my favorite special edition columns to write came before each PPV: Point/Counterpoint with Matthew Michaels

This is the column where Matt and I go head-to-head with out Royal Rumble picks and predictions. We may not necessarily disagree on all of the picks, but you better believe we both come in with two different perspectives on how things will shake down come Sunday.

So without further ado, enjoy this very special pre-Rumble edition of Point/Counterpoint, and don’t forget you can also catch Matt’s regular music column on the 411Mania Music side of things.

Royal Rumble Point/Counterpoint with Chris Biscuiti and Matthew Michaels

World Tag Team Championship
Dudley Boyz vs. William Regal and Lance Storm

Chris’ point: The Dudleyz have had a lot of juice with the crowds since their Raw reunion, so much so that WWE Creative must have realized by now that the Dudleyz need the tag straps for credibility the same way Stephanie McMahon needs another pair of breast implants. Regal and Storm are a cool old school tag team to watch, and the fact that they unceremoniously pummeled the already beat-up Dudleyz to win the belts in the first place – coupled with their harsh treatment of J.R. and the King as of late – gives them enough heel heat to make this an evenly matched contest. I say let the Dudleyz keep chasing the gold for a little while longer and let this feud boil over into WrestleMania.

Chris’ pick: Regal and Storm manage to pull out another win, retaining the belts with old school heel tactics.

Matt’s counterpoint: I just can’t see them making ANOTHER title switch in this division. Storm and Regal have been built up pretty nicely, with their only losses coming in the 4-way PPV match and to Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler; WWE also seems pretty high on these two. Chris is right, the Dudz don’t need the belts to be over, but will get them back eventually. Plus, let’s not forget the ultimatum Vince gave Bisch on Raw Eric and Morley aren’t going to let their boys lose the belts just yet.

Matt’s pick: Regal and Storm, with some help from the Chief.

Stepdaughter vs. Stepmother
Torrie Wilson vs. Dawn Marie

Chris’ point: Tazz definitely has the line of the night on this past Thursday’s SmackDown! when he said this should be a casket match! Well, all I know is I am sure that Al Wilson will be turning in his grave when this match hits the ring on Sunday. Something tells me that Torrie Wilson will get the nod here, if for nothing else than to make up for her father getting written off the show via dying. You know, I was just waiting for Al to rise up from the casket in Undertaker fashion on Thursday, but at the same time I guess one thing that will help me sleep at night is knowing there will be no more Al promos haunting me in my dreams. Now I can just concentrate on the most sinister of catfights between to gorgeous Divas, and who knows, maybe they’ll wind up kissing and making up! Say it with me, fellas, HLA! HLA!

Chris’ pick: Torrie avenges her father’s death and lays a true blue ass-whoopin’ on Dawn Marie.

Matt’s counterpoint: Oh, Chris, you didn’t just go there once, but twice an HLA-casket match? Oy! I don’t know what the hell’s going on with this feud, I don’t know the point of it, and I can’t for the life of me understand WWE’s logic behind any of this, let alone the match. Do we want to see two hot women rolling around the ring? Sure. But is that the payoff? Unless someone loses her top, I can’t see doing anything during this match but using it as a bathroom break. So, I’ll go out on a limb with my prediction

Matt’s pick: Dawn Marie finally gets a win over Torrie, with help from her new boyfriend, Nunzio, who then goes on to feud with one of Torrie’s exes – Tajiri or Kidman – to add some spice to the cruiserweight division. Ha!

Winner Enters The Royal Rumble Match Itself
Brock Lesnar vs. The Big Show (with Paul Heyman)

Chris’ point: I hope this one is quick and painless, with the more compelling superstar getting the win. No, wiseasses, I am talking about Brock Lesnar, not the Big Show, as the more compelling superstar. Just give me a belly-to-belly and an F-5, or perhaps a Shooting Star Press to seal the deal for Brock’s entrance into the Rumble. If Big Show does win this one, I plan to switch over to HBO to see what Tom Fontana has in store this week for his Emerald City inhabitants at the Oswald Correctional Facility. (After last week’s episode, I will never look at eating utencils the same way again.)

Chris’ pick: Brock kicks the crap out of The Big Show: short, sweet and to the point.

Matt’s counterpoint: This one’s way too easy. Even though Big Show was great on Conan O’Brien this week, let him do the talk show circuit while the better in-ring technicians take up valuable TV and PPV time, ok?

Matt’s pick: Undertaker + Brock beating Big Show = storyline continuity!

Raw World Heavyweight Championship
Scott Steiner vs. Triple H

Chris’ point: I know that many of my friends and colleagues are looking forward to this match, but I just know two things that really mollify any possible excitement I can muster up going in: 1) Scott Steiner is an abominable wrestler; and 2) There is no chance that Triple H will job the belt to Big Poppa Pump, cleanly or otherwise. Hunter will most assuredly be in the main event at WrestleMania once again this year, regardless of whether or not he deserves the spot. If Steiner does win by some unfathomable set of circumstances, you better believe Trips will get the better of him before March rolls around.

Chris’ pick: In a shocking turn of events, Triple H retains the Big Gold Belt to continue his umpteenth unimpressive championship run.

Matt’s counterpoint: The most interesting match of the night, in my opinion. I mean, come on, this can be a total train wreck, a political mess, and even end up with one or both superstars injured or, if the stars are aligned just right, these two can even pull off a decent match. I’m not kidding. If HHH wins, the feud continues, probably through Mania. Does WWE have faith that interest in these two going at it will last that long? If Big Poppa Pump wins, the feud can continue into the next PPV, but putting the Big Gold Belt BACK on H is anticlimactic, while there aren’t any solid heels to feud with Steiner if he lasts past No Way Out. What to do, what to do

Matt’s pick: Steiner beats HHH to win the World Heavyweight Championship, then loses it back by Mania after a desperate Hunter re-forms the Four Horsemen. What, did you think I was going to predict that Steiner wins with help from Austin?

SmackDown! WWE Championship
Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle

Chris’ point: Man, if the two title matches from the two separate brands don’t give you an indication as to which show is doing things the right way, then you’re just doing more drugs than Lloyd Bridges in Airplane. This is the match on the card that will live up to its hype, and I just have a feeling that Benoit and Angle will put on an absolute clinic in this contest. Both guys can purely work in the ring from a wrestling standpoint, but I also feel like Angle and Benoit have really grown to a point where they can also tell a great story in the ring as well. The bottom line is that their actions come Sunday will reflect the combustive nature of their highly developed relationship, and as a fan I can’t really ask for anything more than a potential match of the year candidate. And you know something, a few sounds moves and a Cross-Face later, I can really see Benoit stealing the show and the title right out from under Angle’s nose.

Now, what was that Raw match again?

Chris’ pick: Chris Benoit wins the SmackDown! WWE Championship in a mildly surprising upset.

Matt’s counterpoint: Wow, after reading that, I think Chris has been doing more drugs than TODD Bridges in the late 80s. Sorry, bro, but there’s no chance in hell Benoit leaves Boston with gold, unless he and Dustin have some sort of fling going on that I don’t know about. Kurt got beat down at the end of SD this Thursday – the first time Benoit got the best of Kurt since Angle won the belt. Oh, and the last time. Kurt has Team Angle, Heyman, Big Show and maybe even A-Train on his side does Benoit even have any friends besides Edge (and that’s only recent)? One thing’s uncertain though: after Benoit loses, what next? Do Benoit and Edge go for the Tag Titles? Or

Matt’s pick: Angle wins an early Match of the Year candidate, with help from the NEWEST member of the Heyman Family: Rhyno, who then goes on to feud with Benoit.

30-Man Royal Rumble Match
15 SmackDown! Superstars: Brock or Big Show, Edge, A-Train, Rikishi, Tajiri, Charlie Haas, Shelton Benjamin, John Cena, B2, Eddie Guerrero, Chavo Guerrero, Bill DeMott, Matt Hardy, Rey Mysterio and 1 yet-to-be-named entrant (most likely The Undertaker but who knows?)

15 RAW Superstars: Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Kane, RVD, Batista, Booker T, Goldust, Christian, Rosey, Jamal, Jeff Hardy, Test, Maven, Chris Nowinski and Tommy Dreamer.

Chris’ point: Matt and I really wanted to make sure the entrants were accurate, so we paused the tape of SmackDown! this past Thursday when the matches were announced by Michael Cole and Tazz. The list you see above is accurate based on WWE’s official representation of the match, which included only 14 SmackDown! superstars out of 15 who were shown to be in the Rumble match. We both believe The Undertaker will be that final entrant, but you never know if perhaps WWE is saving one surprise up its sleeve.

As far as the actual match is concerned, I believe the Rumble will be as entertaining as ever, and by far it is my personal favorite gimmick match in the WWE arsenal. I think that the winner of the Rumble will actually come from Raw, because the best way for someone to turn heads is to last a long time in the match. With Chris Jericho and HBK entering the Rumble as the first and second entrants, I just have a feeling that it will come down to those two at the end of the match as well.

Many people think Brock Lesnar has the inside track to win the Rumble, but perhaps making him wrestle once already leaves the door open for other superstars to expose a possible “injury” or simply wear down an already listless Lesnar. I am sure some of the upper mid-carders will post impressive performances, but as much as I’d like to see a guy like Edge or Booker T get elevated to the next level, WWE has too much riding on this year’s WrestleMania to take a chance with someone who hasn’t been in the uppermost echelon before.

Chris’ pick: HBK goes from number 1 all the way back to WrestleMania. The showstopper is officially reborn.

Matt’s counterpoint: How do I make a prediction for THIS one? I disagree with Chris about a Raw superstar winning the battle royal, since the name on the marquee still says “WWE”, so that’s the heavyweight championship that will be defended in the main event at Mania. As of now – although, of course, I might book it differently – I feel that we’re going to see Brock vs. Angle and HHH vs. Austin as the two championship matches in Seattle, with Michaels vs. Jericho and Rock vs. Goldberg or Rock vs. Edge as the other big matches on the card (of course, depending on what happens with Hogan, Vince, etc., etc.). And they’re not going to return Austin at Rumble without hyping it up to boost the buy-rate. Therefore, I think Lesnar wins the Rumble, and the next two months, we get to see Heyman try to connive his way out of the inevitable Kurt/Brock match-up.

Also curious to see how certain feuds – old and new – play out within the match itself, including: HBK/Y2J, Taker/Matt/Jeff, Cena/Eddie, Edge/Christian, Kane/Taker, etc. I really like how “unique” this feels since the brands have split, and this is (sans Benoit vs. RVD and Billy/Chuck vs. 3MW) the only time both Raw and SD talent is in the ring together in months.

One more thing: since B2 and Eddie both seemed injured as of the end of SmackDown!, I wonder if they’ll be replaced

Matt’s pick: Brock wins! Brock wins! Brock wins!

Wild Card: The Return of the Undertaker
Chris’ point: As far as The Undertaker is concerned, something tells me that Deadman, Inc. will make his presence felt in the Rumble match itself, and hell, anything can be better than getting eliminated by Maven. WWE is making a huge deal out of The Undertaker’s return, but I doubt that means he will be sent to WrestleMania in a WWE Championship title match, especially with his undefeated WM win streak on the line.

I also feel The Undertaker will most likely help Brock Lesnar get passed The Big Show, setting up a feud with the giant he once ran through a desert with.

Chris’ pick: The Phenom’s return truly gets the crowd going, and the end result is that UT spawns an upper mid-card feud with Big Show and possibly some other Team Heyman cronies.

Matt’s counterpoint: I already said where I stand with this

Matt’s pick: Undertaker returns to a huge pop, as the Bad Ass character, and gets revenge on the Big Show in the Rumble qualifying match with Brock. Taker is the 15th entrant from SmackDown!, but Big Show makes sure he doesn’t win that one. Who knows? This will probably lead to the much-anticipated Taker/A-Train feud. One can only hope

Point/Counterpoint Wrap-Up

So, there you have it. The first official 411 Point/Counterpoint is in the books, and I just hope you have as much fun reading our picks and predictions as we did coming up with them. Remember, all feedback is welcome and appreciated, for sure.

Take care, and enjoy the Rumble –

Chris Biscuiti