Sometime you just have to use a clichÃ©, and when it comes the Royal Rumble, there’s no way to preiew it without using the classic â€œThe road to Wrestlemania starts at the Royal Rumbleâ€. The Rumble is probably my favorite gimmick match in all of wrestling and this year’s rumble is one of the most loaded, with 9 former WWE or World Heavyweight champions. I’m sure that many of our staffers had to rethink their picks for winners after the news broke that both Hurricane Helms and Santino are out of the match, but they pulled through and came together to produce this year’s Royal Rumble roundtable. Enjoy.
30-Man Royal Rumble Match
Michael O’Mahony: I’m always expecting some kind of swerve from WWE, but in this case, I think we’re going to get the obvious winner. There will undoubtedly be some shenanigans along the way, but I can’t see past Michaels winning here and getting ‘Taker at Wrestlemania for their rematch.
Winner: Shawn Michaels
Steven Gepp: This is the first time in years I havenâ€™t been able to pick a Rumble Winner, or at least 2 candidates. There are legitimately many who could do it. Shawn Michaels for the Undertaker thing? John Cena because of his no lose â€˜thingâ€™? Batista because heâ€™s not in a title hunt thing at the moment? The Mystery Opponent â€“ who I think will be Edge â€“ with his returning thing? HHH because winning everything is his â€˜thingâ€™? Tough. I donâ€™t think Michaels/Taker is a lock for WM â€“ I think DX breakup is the way itâ€™s going to go. So theyâ€™ll be involved in some sort of elimination shenanigans. That leaves three. But I also think it depends on who the champions are. If Mysterio beats â€˜Taker, then I expect Batista to win. But if itâ€™s Orton, then Cena will win. And if Taker is still champ, then Cena may be on a streak-killing thing. Soâ€¦
Matthew Michaels: I don’t think HBK wins this one; too obvious. I also am hoping Hunter doesn’t win. It’s too much of the same guys winning year after year. In fact, I think HBK/Taker will happen, but not due to a Rumble win, so I’m picking the winner here to face Sheamus or Randy at Mania. What babyfaces would fit the bill? Oh I have an idea.
Final Four – DiBiase, Edge, HBK, Jericho
Winner – DiBiase
Widro – The Royal Rumble rarely fails to disappoint, and this year it is packed with main eventers. Of course the main eventer that counts is Triple H, so it’s hard to pick against him. HBK could eliminate him, furthering a HHH heel turn as well but I’ll say HHH.
Tess Nolde: Well, this is my favorite match of the year usually. A lot going on in one match, and with surprise entrants, we can never be totally sure of the options to pick a winner. But honestly it really comes down to two names for me. One that I don’t want to win, but probably will. Triple H. And the other, I would love to see win because he deserves it more than anyone else in the match in my opinion, but who won’t because his push has been killed. Which is Kofi Kingston. I don’t think any of the more “major” names actually deserve or need the win here because they’ll all get a WM payoff anyway, but one of them will win I’m sure. So I’m going to vote with my head and not my heart here.
Winner: Triple H.
Raffi Shamir: If it wasn’t for this item, I wouldn’t have guessed that John Morrison was not advertised as a participant in the Royal Rumble. I hope he does enter the rumble and has a good showing. But I don’t see him winning. Although, while watching the opening promo on Smackdown, I had a fantasy booking moment, where I pictures Rey winning the title, Morrison winning the Rumble and the two of them taking the 2009 TV Match of the Year to a higher level on the grandest stage of all. Too bad this will not happen. I doubt they’ll recreate the Cena surprise from 2008 this year with Edge. If anything, he might show up to cost Jericho the match but not win it himself. I also don’t see Batista or Cena winning here, although they might face each other in a grudge match in Phoenix. With DX dominating the pre-rumble shows, it’s hard not to pick either of them as the winner, even though none of them actually needs it. It’s a tossup between the two.
Winner: Triple H
Andrew Wheeler: Welcome to the Rasslin Roundtable Royal Rumble, the most alliteration filled PPV of the year. For the record, thatâ€™s probably the most enthusiasm Iâ€™ll be able to whip up for this show based on the card in front of me. Seriously, have you ever seen a Big 4 PPV with such a lackluster match listing in the modern era? This Pay Per View has always been a one-match show, but at least back in the day Vince used to pretend that you were going to see an entire show. I know I might be a LITTLE harsh on the issue, but come on! Alright, Iâ€™ll have plenty of time to bury the rest of the show in the other picks, so for now let me focus on the clear main event. This yearâ€™s Royal Rumble has a lot of star power (even if you ignore the TMZ golden boysâ€¦though I am kinda thankful that Sugar Shane Gregory Hurricane Helms is sitting this sucker out), so it could theoretically be â€œanybodyâ€™s gameâ€. Well okay, thatâ€™s a lie. See, it used to be that this was anybodyâ€™s game until the prize became more than just a title shot at Wrestlemania; it meant that if you won, you got to main even the PPV. While itâ€™s true in the current WWE climate where one of the world champions is a pasty ginger who was main eventing FCW less than a year ago that anybody could get a PPV title shot, it is completely different to hand the main event slot at the biggest show of the year to just any upper-midcard guy for the sake of being â€œnewâ€. What does that mean? Our field of thirty gets cut down to a select few very quickly. First, thereâ€™s Shawn Michaels, who is pretty much everyoneâ€™s odds-on favorite. While Iâ€™m sure there can be a lot of criticism over the fact that the Rumble, a show designed to make a new guy, is being used to get over a 40-something star that doesnâ€™t need it, I think people would let it slide on the off chance this leads to HBK/Taker Part 2. Me personally, I remain skeptical that Taker could bust out a repeat performance of his Wrestlemania 25 match, because this is the kind of thing that could veer more into Rock/Hogan 2. Face it, you canâ€™t capture Wrestlemania magic more than once unless your name happens to be Steve Austin and you happen to be facing Dwayne Johnson. Shawn winning would mean that a major star wins the Rumble, Wrestlemania gets a guaranteed marquee match and we get to watch the continued squabbling of DX. Which brings me to pick #2, Triple H. For reasons that completely escape me, there are rumors swirling about that Hunter will face Sheamus at Wrestlemania. I could see this somehow happening in some nightmare realm, but do I see it headlining Wrestlemania? The financial risk that Vince would be taking would be colossal, and if it failed then he could risk having a bad fiscal year in an already tenuous economic climate. The only reason I could see Triple H winning the Rumble would beâ€¦well, Iâ€™ll get to that in a minute. The third and fourth picks to win the Rumble are Batista and John Cena. Cena and Batista are two massive main event stars that just seem to be existing in this match without much true direction. Dave has been circling the Smackdown title ever since he and his new Kangol were robbed a few months back, but this has more to do with a weak Friday Night main event scene and less to do with his natural ability to make people want to tune in. Yes, I am a fan of his heel turn, but at the same time Iâ€™d like to see him wrestle a guy whose last name isnâ€™t Mysterio or Taker (which would make his first name Under, in case you were wondering). Since Dave doesnâ€™t have a foil to lock horns with that we would want to see, I doubt theyâ€™ll toss the victory in his lap. As for John, heâ€™s got nothing to do and no place else to go (that was your classic â€œAn Officer and a Gentlemanâ€ reference because he was in â€œThe Marineâ€). Cena seemed to interject himself into the McMahon/Hart angle so that he could stay relevant because thereâ€™s nothing for him either. See, he pulled himself from the Rumble match with Sheamus due to being banged up, which means he wonâ€™t have as much heavy lifting as part of the 30-Man clusterfuck. Besides, if he wants to be part of Mania, he can just win the belt at the Elimination Chamber. And thereâ€™s the rub, so to speak. See, the WWE was ingenious when they set up the previously known â€œNo Way Outâ€ PPV as the Elimination Chamber Show (aka the WWEâ€™s chance to fix any potential mistakes and give them an extra month to book Mania), which means any or all of the potential Rumble picks could have the strap going into Arizona. Other perennial picks this year include the â€œmysteryâ€ slot, which could belong to RVD, Booker T or Edge. Well, if itâ€™s Booker or RVD, they arenâ€™t going to win. Like I mentioned in my column, itâ€™ll probably be some random ex star like Scotty 2 Hottie or Rikishi or some other abomination. I hope they donâ€™t use the Rumble to bring back Edge, because his return would get bogged down in the tangled mass of storylines integrating this yearâ€™s show. Seriously, when was the last time the WWE decided to throw so many stories into one Rumble match? Weâ€™ve got DX teasing their break-up, Swagger promising to eliminate everyone, Santino promising to eliminate Swagger, MVP promising to eliminate Miz, Legacy teasing their break-up, Batista and Cena looking for purpose AND CM Punk promising to be the first Straight Edge Rumble winner. I think Iâ€™ve saved the best for last in terms of crackpot theories, and thatâ€™s with my fake pick, Chris Jericho. Yes, Chris Jericho. While his midnight ride might have tarnished his rep a bit (mainly due to the fact that people now think he hangs out with Matt Hardy and Helms), he is still the best choice the WWE has to win the match. Picture it for a minute; a final four of Triple H, Shawn Michaels, John Cena and Chris Jericho. Everyone thinks that itâ€™s either gonna be Hunter or Shawn, with a small amount of the audience believing that John Cena will pull off the win. Nobody is counting on it being Jericho, which is why it would work. If DX teamed up to toss John, that would leave Hunter, Shawn and Jericho. Then, you have DX make it look like theyâ€™re going to double-team Chris, but Hunter pulls a Psycho Sid and dumps Shawn. Michaels, so shocked, stares down Hunter, who gets blindsided by Jericho, just like what happened to Sid. This would allow the WWE to build what, in my humble opinion, is a better Rumble card. We know weâ€™re getting Bret/Vince, but we need something more. By having Jericho win the Rumble, he could challenge Taker, which is a better fit for the aging star (since Jericho would be cutting promos for several weeks rather than force Undertaker into physical competition). The WWE could also give us HHH/HBK for the first time ever at a Wrestlemania for the WWE Title. Then, for the hell of it, they could match up Batista and Cena for the sake of star power. This way, at Mania, Jericho and Taker can main event and Chris can have his victory snapped away by a returning Edge (who wouldnâ€™t necessarily be doing it to help his arch rival Undertaker but rather doesnâ€™t want to see Chris succeed where he had failed). Alright, enough of the self-indulgent fantasy booking nonsense, back to reality. Shawn is going to win the Rumble and face Taker at Mania because only the WWE would telegraph something that obvious and then follow thorugh with it.
Winner: Shawn Michaels
Chris Biscuiti: The final five will be John Cena, Triple H, Batista, HBK, and my upset pick to win the Rumble: Ted DiBiase, Jr. Batista will eliminate Cena; DX will then work together to oust Big Dave; HBK will sucker super-kick Hunter over the ropes, and then DiBiase will capitalize on the shock and awe of this moment by eliminating HBK.
This would set up Cena-Batista at Mania, HBK-HHH tension leading to Elimination Chamber #1 Contender’s Match (presumably they will find a loophole as Unified tag champs to vie for the Undertaker’s belt), and DiBiase-Orton for the WWE Championship at Mania with Cody Rhodes as the special guest referee.
If I am right about all of this, I will be happy, as I think all three of those matches would be fun to see on the WrestleMania stage.
Winner: UPSET SPECIAL: Ted DiBiase, Jr.
World Heavyweight Championship:
Undertaker (c) vs. Rey Mysterio
Michael O’Mahony: Yeah, so they’ve basically telegraphed this already by starting the Shawn/Undertaker build so soon. Again, there’s always the possibility of swerves, and the recent ratings revelation (ooh, alliteration) of sticking Rey Rey in the main events can’t have escaped their notice, but there isn’t too much to stop Undertaker going over here.
Winner: The Undertaker
Matthew Michaels: I think Taker wins, sadly. Unless HBK interferes. Oh wait…
Winner – Mysterio
Steven Gepp: Iâ€™m bored with Undertaker and want Rey to have a heel run. Dunno why, just do. It wonâ€™t happen, as the plucky underdog role is now his and his alone in the WWE.
Widro – With Rey Mysterio spiking ratings on Smackdown in a main event position, it would almost make sense to do another World title run with Rey. But with Taker/HBK on the horizon, as well as the obvious mismatch in the ring, it doesn’t seem like a title change is happening here.
Tess Nolde: Can’t see Undertaker dropping the belt just yet. It doesn’t feel like the right time, and he’ll probably either lose it just before WM or keep it until WM. If this will actually be the start of him winding down his active career as the rumors are saying, I hope he keeps the belt here.
Raffi Shamir: Sadly, it seems like they’re heading towards HBK/Taker 2 in Wrestlemania, and I just wonder how can they surpass last year’s classic. When Taker declined HBK’s challenge two weeks ago on Raw, I thought this could lead to a heel turn by the Deadman. Think of it, whenever there’s a face-face feud with HBK, he plays the heel (or semi-heel). By turning Taker they can actually make it a lot more interesting. With Taker’s current status, it’s extremely hard to turn him heel, but refusing to give the people what they want could be the way to do it. Mercilessly beating the sh*t out of the ultimate underdog Rey Mysterio can also be a step in that direction. I just don’t see Taker laying down for someone like Rey.
Winner and still champion: The Undertaker
Andrew Wheeler: And then thereâ€™s the rest of the card. This match is here because they never did a Mysterio/Taker one-on-one match on a major PPV, and it nicely counterbalances the heel-heel match RAW is bringing us. Anyway, the entire storyline here is that everyone views Rey as an afterthought even though he argues that he isnâ€™tâ€¦but in reality he is. Mysterio is not going to win the title and go to Mania when the WWE can do HBK/Taker instead. Maybe if they wanted to get cute they could have Rey pull out a fluke win, but I doubt it. There isnâ€™t even that much more to say about the match. The WWE figured that since people are ordering this show for the Rumble match that they could give us anything, so rather than expose the fact that Smackdown right now has three main event stars (ignoring Punk and Jericho who actually have viability as long-term future programs for Taker should they choose to go that way) and give us another triple-threat, they are going to appease Rey and give him a one-on-one title match on a major show. Even better, since heâ€™s so small, he can just pinball for Undertaker, which cuts down on the physicality level for Taker.
Chris Biscuiti: As much as I would love to see a surprising upset, I think there’s no doubt here that Undertaker stays the course and subsequently stays World Heavyweight Champion.
Winner: The Undertaker
Sheamus (c) vs. Randy Orton
Michael O’Mahony: It’s not really Sheamus’s fault, but the WWE title has become utterly irrelevant since he won it. They need to put it back on someone with heat. Randy Orton is eliciting more and more cheers from the fans these days, and it’s surely only a matter of time before he turns face by default. Judging by the last episode of Raw, they’re still not done with Cena and Orton, which blows my mind. Surely better to have a pack of heels chasing the new champ to slowly establish the fact that – despite the fact his character is the same – Randy’s about to put on the white hat.
Winner: Randy Orton
Steven Gepp: Thanks, Sheamus, you did well, but you ainâ€™t goinâ€™ to the big one as champ. Not yet. Donâ€™t let the door hit your arse on the way out.
Matthew Michaels: It was a good run, Sheamus, but DiBiase vs. Orton works much better at Mania than Sheamus vs. anyone. Unless HHH wins the Rumble and challenges his off-screen buddy. Nah, I’m going with Orton here.
Winner â€“ Randy
Widro – WWE has done a decent job with Sheamus, and this will be a key moment to see if the push will continue or if it will be subsided. I think it’s too early to switch the title, and instead I think this will be a storyline to continue the Legacy breakup.
Tess Nolde: Not really sure how Sheamus still has the belt. I was in the camp of believers that thought he’d lose it basically immediately. For his first title run, and his massive push to the main event status, he hasn’t done a bad job of it, but, it isn’t going to last all that much longer. He will not be walking into WM as champ, but I’m also not sure what they could do with storyline if Orton were to win the title here. It’s a bit of a crazy thought, but I say Sheamus to pick up the upset win, and Orton to somehow weasel himself into the Rumble match after he loses this one.
Raffi Shamir: I still can’t believe that Sheamus is the WWE champion. His match at TLC was supposed to be a test title match, not an actual victory. And the title has been less important than the ECW championship since then. Sadly, I don’t see them pulling the plug on that experiment just yet.
Andrew Wheeler: Another sort of mishmash match that doesnâ€™t have too much room to comment on other than to say that Randy hasnâ€™t had a shot in months so they threw him a bone. It makes sense if you look back at long-term storytelling since Ortonâ€™s whole deal was that he couldnâ€™t get a shot until Cena dropped the title. Well, Cena doesnâ€™t have the gold, so now itâ€™s his turn. I think the WWE could have had an opportunity here to test the waters with a Randy Orton tweener, but instead they are going the â€œsafeâ€ route and giving us a heel versus heel match that may kill the crowd or just let them cheer for Randy without any real reason to. Hell, nine times outta ten I even forget that Sheamus is the WWE Champion. The WWE isnâ€™t going to reintroduce us to the Age of Orton anytime soon since thereâ€™s no one fresh for him to face, so why not keep the title on Sheamus and let him drop it in the Elimination Chamber? By the way, if they keep Randy out of that, it could very well be Cena, Michaels, Hunter, Sheamus, Kingston and Big Show, which would really muddy up the Mania picture. As for this match, da dubayah dubayah eey champun is still gunna beâ€¦
Chris Biscuiti: I think the WWE Championship will change hands here, especially because I think Ted DiBiase will win the Rumble. Sheamus has promise but he is way too green (no Irish pun intended), and for WrestleMania you will need a better main event storyline than anything he can offer at this point. Orton-DiBiase would fit the bill as a Mania-worthy surprise main event, especially if you throw in Rhodes as special guest ref like I would.
Winner: Randy Orton
Christian (c) vs. Ezekiel Jackson
Michael O’Mahony: Christian has his work cut out for him here. He’s done a stellar job of making a whole pack of guys look good over this past year, and I think he’ll have to take a large chunk of the credit when Zack Ryder makes it as a solid, belt-winning midcarder on Raw or Smackdown next year. Jackson, however, is not ready for this level of exposure. I call Christian bouncing around like a pinball and selling like a maniac to make Ezekiel look good. I also call him winning.
Steven Gepp: I think itâ€™s Christian v Regal all-out ECW brawl for WM. Or maybe an ECW Elimination Chamber!
Matthew Michaels: The good thing about a potential Jackson win is Christian can be freed up to be drafted elsewhere after Mania. Or maybe enter the Rumble later in the night. Why not?
Winner – Jackson
Widro – ECW has been really boring, and Christian has been stuck there forever as champ. This could be a good time to change the title, especially if ECW were to go away.
Winner: Ezekiel Jackson
Tess Nolde: Have not seen ECW in ages to be honest. Ezekiel Jackson was honestly nothing special the last time I saw an episode and I don’t think he could carry the brand. Simple decision here, Christian to win.
Raffi Shamir: The way Christian has been carrying the brand since he won the title, he deserves better than losin it to Zeke. I can see him holding the strap until Wrestlemania, losing it Zack Ryder and than moving to one of the top brands.
Andrew Wheeler: Iâ€™m thrilled that the ECW Title is going to be on the Rumble, and hopefully it will get treated as something relatively important (maybe even a video package!). Jackson has been the clear choice for next ECW Champion for quite some time, and while I am a big Christian fan, I think that his time as champ is coming to an end. Jackson would be a great choice to dethrone Christian as he has an incredible look and seems genuine in his passion for the business (not to mention he has the benefit of having Regal as his quasi-manager). Unfortunately, if they unseat Christian here, who would be the heir apparent? I shudder at the thought of watching Yoshi Tatsu as the #1 Contender, though I wouldnâ€™t mind seeing Shelton Benjamin challenge for the strap. Christiain, on the other hand, has challengers in Zach Ryder and Vance Archer to handle. While I wanna just go with the masses and assume they will go with Christian, part of me just has this feeling they are going to pull the trigger and go with Jackson winning.
Winner: Ezekiel Jackson
Chris Biscuiti: This is a case of Vince loving size over substance. Christian has had a solid run as ECW Champion, but I have a feeling that Ezekiel will win in this spot. The hope I see in this is perhaps Christian can then move on from ECW to SmackDown! where I really think he’d shine alongside/against Edge, Jericho, Punk, etc. on Friday nights.
Michelle McCool (c) vs. Mickie James
Michael O’Mahony: I’m presuming they’re going to continue the public hazing of Mickie James for crimes unspecified here. Mickie will dominate and lose. I don’t think she’s long for the company.
Winner: Michelle McCool
Steven Gepp: I have been so unimpressed with the Divas and their so-called wrestling. Please let Awesome Kong come out and slaughter both women. However, more likely, the Piggy James angle may pay off here.
Winner: Mickie James
Matthew Michaels: James has a country album on the way, so…
Winner – James
Widro – This storyline, while offensive, has been one of the best on Smackdown with a clear heel, clear face and good week to week build. I think Mickie takes the title here.
Winner: Mickie James
Tess Nolde: Somehow I don’t think this will be a clean won match. As much as I’d like to see the title back on Mickie and the “Piggie James” jokes ending, I can’t see this going down without Layla getting involved somehow and helping McCool leave with the belt.
Winner: Michelle McCool.
Raffi Shamir: I don’t have enough words to describe how offensive this whole storyline is, and I don’t find it offensive just because I’m fat. If there’s no payoff with a James title win, I just don’t get it.
Winner and new champ: Mickie James
Andrew Wheeler: Mickie has been humiliated week-in and week-out, and while nothing would be funnier than to see her lose again, I doubt the WWE is that sadistic. Letâ€™s just be thankful that the WWE is still TV-PG or this would be a Paddle on a Pole or a gravy bowl match. Anyway, just like Christian, Mickie has more challengers than McCool. My guess is James gets her revenge before moving on to reignite her feud with Beth Phoenix. On the other hand, McCool could retain and feud with Maria (assuming her â€œApprenticeâ€ appearance takes off).
Winner: Mickie James
Chris Biscuiti: This will be the ultimate payoff for Mickie in what has been one of the most intriguing and fun WWE Diva storylines since Trish and Lita left (yes, it’s been that long). If Mickie does win here, it also sets up a potentially awesome storyline with Beth Phoenix that will likely culminate with a Women’s Championship match between the two at WrestleMania.
Winner: Mickie James
Now that you know who we think is going to win, come back to Pulse Wrestling on Sunday night for live up to the minute coverage of the Royal Rumble, the first stop on the road to Wrestlemania (There, I used it again).
Tags: batista, big show, carlito, chris masters, christian, cm punk, Cody Rhodes, D-Generation X, DX, ECW, ecw championship, evan bourne, Ezekiel Jackson, jack swagger, john cena, John Morrison, kane, Kofi Kingston, Mark Henry, Matt Hardy, michelle mccool, Mickie James, mvp, randy orton, Raw, rey mysterio, roundtable, royal rumble, Santino, shawn michaels, sheamus, shelton benjamin, Smackdown, ted dibiase, The Great Khali, The Miz, undertaker, William Regal, World Heavyweight Championship, WWE, wwe championship, yoshi tatsu, zack ryder