Historically Speaking: A Royal Preview

“He who has money, lives long: he who has authority, can do no wrong: he who has might, establishes right. Such is history! Ecce historia!” – Gottfried Benn

The Opening Chapter
It’s that time of year again; it’s Royal Rumble time. By the time you all read this we will only be a little more than 72 hours away from official starting point on the Road to WrestleMania. It’s my favorite time of the wrestling year, and is one of the only two pay per views I buy each year. And just like last year, I will break the usual trend of looking back and will use this time to preview of the “most entertaining 60 minutes on television” by briefly breaking down each Rumble match participant in a combination of smart/kayfabe terms. The booking is volatile going to WrestleMania (much like it was last year as well) so while the winner should still be fairly easy to predict, where everyone else fits in could be interesting. It should account for great fun.

30 Men…
Shelton Benjamin
Benjamin has been on the best role he’s had since late 2004 and has been US Champion since June, but I don’t really expect too much from him in the Rumble. He has vastly underperformed in the majority of the Rumble matches he has been in since 2003, and I don’t expect a change here. His best chance for WrestleMania is another Money in the Bank entrance.

The Big Show
Big Show is always a threat in the Royal Rumble, but again this won’t be his year to win. Look for him to be a dominant threat in the match and probably make it towards the end, but won’t come out on top. I expect him to be a part of WrestleMania, but I haven’t quite figured out where he’ll end up; perhaps in a power match against someone like Umaga or Vladimir Kozlov.

Carlito
Carly has been totally unremarkable in his past three Rumble appearances, and it will be more of the same this year. He’s currently a WWE Tag Team Champion but history has shown that doesn’t mean much come WrestleMania time.

CM Punk
He is one of those quietly pushed guys who is never really at the top of the pay per view card, but is never without a program or a Championship belt. He had his run in the sun this past summer so I don’t expect huge things from Punk in the Rumble match, but just a solid showing. He’s more apt to compete in his third straight Money in the Bank than defend the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania.

Ted DiBiase
Personally I’m really glad that DiBiase is back on TV and in the Rumble. The company seems to have big plans for DiBiase in the future so I expect to put on a solid showing in the Rumble match, much like his daddy did almost twenty years ago. As for WrestleMania? I’m sure he’ll be there somehow, I just haven’t figured where quite yet. At the very least I expect him to induct his dad into the Hall of Fame the night before.

Finlay
I don’t know what to expect out of Finlay this time out. His interaction with Hornswoggle has thankfully died down some, so the Irishman might actually be able to put on a good show at the Rumble this year. Look for a Money in the Bank appearance or an ECW Championship match for the Belfast Bruiser come April.

Mark Henry
Henry is always presented as a dangerous threat in a battle royal situation like this, but with other monsters in the this match like Big Show, Vladimir Kozlov and (maybe) Umaga and Great Khali, Henry might get lost in the shuffle this year. Henry looks like a prime target to win the WrestleMania pre-show battle royal.

Chris Jericho
After his “firing” and subsequent burial of Jericho by the McMahons, I can see Jericho either coming back with a fire and putting on long performance in the Rumble, or he’ll be treated like an utter jobber and eliminated quickly, kicking off a humiliation storyline that will lead to something at the big show.

Kane
This is Kane’s eleventh consecutive Rumble match under this character and his performances are either impressive or downright disappointing. Kane has been riding a big push lately so I expect big things from him this year. The guy is pretty much always guaranteed a WrestleMania spot somewhere, and this year doesn’t look any different.

The Brian Kendrick
I really, really hope Kendrick gets to use this match as a platform to show off. I hope that Kendrick gets the heel iron man spot a la Rick Martel in 1991 or HHH in 1996 so that he can show off his athleticism and talent. He’s an agile enough guy that he can pull off a lot of close call elimination spots like his old mentor Shawn Michaels. Then again there’s just an equal chance he’ll be tossed in seconds like a jobber. He’s a perfect candidate for Money in the Bank.

Kofi Kingston
Kofi will be perfect for a great crowd pop and a flashy entrance, but I don’t expect much from him in the Rumble. Who knows what WrestleMania holds for Kofi? I’m expecting either some sort of tag match, Money in the Bank or the pre-show battle royal.

Vladimir Kozlov
This will be the guy who gets the monster push in this year’s Rumble match. He would perfect for the Diesel push this year to keep his heat before he ultimately gets eliminated by someone higher up the food chain. And at WrestleMania look for Kozlov to keep Undertaker’s winning streak alive.

Santino Marella
The Royal Rumble has to have a couple comedy spots, and Santino will be your man again this year. Much like last year he won’t be in the ring at WrestleMania, but rather by his lady’s side.

The Miz
The Miz is just obnoxious enough that he can be used in the Rumble in a comedy fashion and not lose his heat. Either he and Morrison will run together through the Rumble match or he will be a quick one and done. But he is over enough that I think this will be the year he will finally get a WrestleMania payday.

John Morrison
Morrison is the other guy who could really benefit from the heel iron man push in this year’s match. I could see him even eliminating his partner Miz along the way to plant seeds for their eventual break-up. Morrison was perfect in the Money in the Bank last year, and if he isn’t in there again this year then I see him and Miz defending their World Tag Titles.

Rey Mysterio
Rey is so good at playing the underdog role that I can’t imagine him not being a long-term guy in the ring in this year’s Rumble before being thrown out by some monster. Rey’s too good to be wasted in Money in the Bank at WrestleMania, so perhaps an inter-brand match against Umaga?

Randy Orton
The winner of this year’s Rumble. It was long predicted for 2005 before his push went to Batista. It was predicted again in 2006, and then he lost to Mysterio. He was in the final four showing in 2007, and was champion last year. This is his year. I expect Cena to beat JBL on the same card so if the Rumble match comes on before either of the World Title matches, then bank on Orton’s victory. I anxiously await him and Cena for the World Title at WrestleMania.

R-Truth
Somebody has to come in during the middle of the match to rile up the crowd.

Cody Rhodes
He’ll be Orton’s little buddy during the Rumble before Orton turns on him en route to his eventual victory. Cody and The Legacy will definitely make an impact at WrestleMania.

Triple H
The other obvious winner for this year’s Rumble match, much as what was thought in 2006 and 2008 as well. I’m sure he’ll find his way in the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania but that might just be snark in me coming out.

Undertaker
The third most logical winner of the announced participants but I think Undertaker will have his WrestleMania dance card punched by either Shawn Michaels or Vladimir Kozlov, either of which can be started during the Rumble match.

The Remaining…
Nine names so far have not released for the Rumble match. In my humble opinion at least four those other names are pretty much locked up and may even be announced on this week’s SmackDown! In that regard I’m thinking The Great Khali, MVP, Primo and William Regal are pretty much locks to be in the match.

Great Khali is absolutely made for a match like this what his imposing size and look. He would be the Andre the Giant of this Rumble that would provide a nice visual of a group elimination or a superhuman elimination by a potential winner.

MVP finally snapped his winning streak this past week on SmackDown! and it would a good Rumble side story of MVP’s redemption and whether he can capitalize on his newfound momentum to go to WrestleMania.

Primo’s brother and fellow Tag Team Champion Carlito is already announced for the match, and it’s only logical that he too should be included in the match; at least as a warm body for a monster to toss out.

William Regal’s current nemesis CM Punk has been entered in the Rumble match and it would only be logical to include Regal as his foil.

As for the other five, I have my own predictions on who they will be. Expect Mike Knox to be included to serve as foil for Rey Mysterio. Chavo Guerrero would also serve as a warm body, but with ECW announcing Miz, Morrison, Finlay and Henry as the ECW representatives I think Chavo will be in the background with Vickie Guerrero. Tommy Dreamer or Hurricane Helms would also serve well in that “warm body” role. Plus this would be a perfect place and time for the return of both Umaga and Evan Bourne (if both are healthy and ready to go.) And it wouldn’t the Rumble without a comedy character like Goldust or Dolph Ziggler. But knowing WWE expect some random on/off appearances or completely shocking returns, so I think the pay per view will start with at least 3 or 4 of the Rumble participants still unknown. I mean Shawn Michaels’ jump into the Rumble or Christian’s debut have to be a surprise, right?

The Perspective
The Rumble match provides for a plethora of fantasy booking options and surprises. For me that’s what makes the event so entertaining. Even if you think you know the winner (Randy Orton, BTW) you really don’t know how the entire event will play out. You can keep your 60-minute one-on-one scientific classic; give me an entertaining 60-minute battle royal any day. I mean where else are you going to see The Great Khali in a potential match of the year candidate?

For this week the vault is closed…

Linked to the Pulse
Pulse Wrestling’s Top 100 Wrestlers feature is finally back in full swing with the top 25 picks. Check out our picks for #15, #14 and #13.

This Day in History
I figured if we are talking history around here we should pay homage to what has happened on this very day in the years gone by. It will either make you long for the old days or be happy for what we have now.

1983 – Magnificent Muraco defeated Pedro Morales for the WWWF Intercontinental title
1994 – WWF Royal Rumble was held at the Civic Center in Providence, RI
1995 – WWF Royal Rumble was held at the Sun Dome in Tampa, FL
1995 – Jeff Jarrett defeated Razor Ramon for the WWF Intercontinental title
1995 – Bob Holly & the 123 Kid defeated Bam Bam Bigelow & Tatanka in a tournament final for the WWF Tag Team title
1996 – Vader attacked WWF President Gorilla Monsoon
1996 – Lex Luger & Sting defeated Harlem Heat for the WCW World Tag Team title
1997 – WCW Clash of the Champions XXXIV
1997 – Dean Melanko defeated Ultimo Dragon for the WCW Cruiserweight title
2001 – Test defeated William Regal for the WWF European Heavyweight title
2001 – Al Snow defeated Raven for the WWF Hardcore title
2001 – Raven defeated Al Snow for the WWF Hardcore title

1967 – Kurasawa was born
1967 – Manabu Nakanishi was born
1971 – Jeff Victory was born
1995 – “Crusher” Jerry Blackwell died of pneumonia at 45
2000 – Kangaroo Al Costello died of pneumonia at 80

The Assignment
It’s important to know your history to know where you have come from and where you are going. Back when Nova was in charge of the WWE developmental system he implemented mandatory history assignments for the students of the developmental territories so they would know pro wrestling’s history and they would learn just how many moves Nova created and apparently the best ways to get on-line prescriptions. I feel Nova had a great idea there and every week I will assign a book or DVD for you to check out and learn from. They are not only educational, but very entertaining.

Yeah I kinda forgot all about that “Canadians” book. You might get a review of it next time. (I literally just kept that there from my article two weeks ago.)

For more relevant, exciting and interesting wrestling information from your truly, check out my paying gig over at Examiner.com.

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