The 30-man Royal Rumble bout has always been a captivating event due to the number of wrestlers involved and the amount of storylines that can be addressed and/or accentuated within the framework of the match. Then, when WWE decided that the winner would also be ticketed for the main event at WrestleMania, the stakes were raised even further and the Royal Rumble became a must-see for any WWE fan.
My point is this: What the Royal Rumble has done to help shape the Road to WrestleMania is what the Money in the Bank Ladder Match is doing to help prevent a post-WrestleMania hangover.
As you can obviously see, I am a huge fan of the Money in the Bank concept, and that is for three key reasons: 1) The stakes are high, with the winner getting a title shot at anytime in the next year before or at next year’s Mania; 2) I like that each of the wrestlers has to earn his spot by winning qualifying matches that make for a solid buildup to the match itself; and 3) Once the winner is announced, there is an element of unpredictability as to when he will cash it in. So far, for instance, we have had Edge opportunistically cash in two years ago by beating John Cena following an Elimination Chamber match, and last year RVD cashed in his chance against Cena (again) at his “home court” of ECW’s One Night Stand.
Ultimately, Money in the Bank makes for compelling angles, and WWE can go many different ways with the winner. Throw in the fact that this year’s crop of candidates includes Ladder Match Masters like Edge and the Hardys, burgeoning superstars like Kennedy and CM Punk, and skilled veterans like King Booker and Finlay, well, I am already beginning to mark out for what I think will be this year’s real showstopper at WrestleMania.
Here’s a look at the participants:
1) Edge (Raw) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Edge has to be considered a frontrunner since he has proven time and again that he can win big matches, especially ladder matches and especially when the Hardys are involved.
2) CM Punk (ECW) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Punk’s stock has dropped lately, but it hasn’t completely plummeted either. It will be interesting to see how the lone ECW representative squares up against his Raw and SD brethren, and it will be even more fascinating to see if WWE Creative has the guts to give their brightest prospect the type of push that would really elevate him to new heights.
3) King Booker (SmackDown!) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Like Edge, Booker has tasted championship gold recently and I am sure he will be a “hungry man” here (sorry, I just had to throw that in). One other thing’s for certain: The King of the SmackDown! World and former Champion of Champions will have to go through a lot of familiar faces, since half his opponents are from his Friday Night Kingdom.
4) Jeff Hardy (Raw) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Will this finally be the big moment for Jeff Hardy as a singles competitor that we have all been waiting for? Hardy has looked impressive since returning from his WWE hiatus, and the fact that WWE Creative gave Umaga the IC strap might be an indication that they think Jeff Hardy is finally destined for the main event. Of course, it could also mean that Vince just wanted Umaga to look stronger against Lashley, but I can always hope against hope, can’t I?
5) Mr. Kennedy (SmackDown!) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I still don’t know how I feel about Mr. Kennedy. He’s being hyped as a guy who has beat several former World Champions, but at the same time many of those wins were nothing more the Disqualifications or Countouts, etc. Mr. Kennedy certainly has charisma behind the microphone, but let’s put it this way: he is in no way as good and may never be as good as another Mr. Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 2007 WWE Hall of Fame Inductee Mr. Perfect.
6) Matt Hardy (SmackDown!) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Two huge obstacles against Matt Hardy here are that he does not ever fare well against Edge and that if any Hardy is going to win a future title shot in the main event at a PPV, it will most likely be Jeff.
7) Finlay (SmackDown!) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I hope Finlay being in this match is more of an excuse to get him a WrestleMania payday than it is to give him a serious title push. As good as he has been for the SmackDown! midcard, I just don’t see Finlay as a World Champion at this stage in his career.
8) Eighth Participant (?) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ CB Predicts Randy Orton from Raw Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I am going to assume that the eighth and final participant is going to be Randy Orton from Raw, which would make the most sense. Randy will most likely throw a huge wrench in the works where Edge is concerned, especially since Edge has already won a Money in the Bank match two years ago. Orton may actually be the likely person to win the whole damn thing, which would make for some great drama on Raw and could logically lead to an Orton-HBK or Orton-Cena feud, depending on how the main event shakes out.
That’s all for now CB.