Counterfeit Pennies: WWE Royal Rumble Match Analysis: Edge, Cena, Triple H, HBK, CM Punk, Beth Phoenix, More…

Last night’s 2010 installment of the WWE Royal Rumble Match may have only lasted 49 minutes and change (short by Rumble standards), but even with less time I felt there was plenty of substance offered up by the wrestlers in what was a well-crafted and perfectly paced main event.

Below are some of the highlights that stuck out to me last night and still resonate with me today:

CM Punk takes a page out of The Rock’s Playbook, elevates his character and gives us a new instant classic:

When The Rock was at his peak as both a character and a wrestler, he would give us these moments of brash brilliance by going over to the announcer’s table during his own matches to provide his own color commentary as he was beating up his opponents.

Last night, CM Punk took The Rock’s concept to a whole new level by cutting in-ring promos during the Royal Rumble Match while he was facing off against the guys (and gal) in the back that were summoned into the ring. I have thoroughly enjoyed Punk’s mic work on SmackDown! as he tries to “save” the WWE Universe one person at a time, and to have him continue his quest by doing in-Rumble pleas to the audience and to the wrestlers he was facing was simply genius booking on WWE’s part.

The best part about this was that Punk was able to elevate his character to another level without having to even come close to winning the Rumble. He simply dominated the beginning segments of the match so much so that when Triple H eliminated him, Punk already gave us a classic performance that further established his character as one of the top heels in the company.

Beth Phoenix does what she does best: Kick ass and provide top quality comic relief:

The thing I love about Beth Phoenix is that she can make us laugh while still kicking ass all at the same time. Whether she is Santino’s foil or the Divas’ worst nightmares, Beth has really found a sweet spot for her character that enables her to be extremely diverse.

In a way, she’s almost like the female Kane: sick and twisted enough in Diva-Land to get what she wants, but also very capable of selling storylines that nobody else could sell. By calling upon Beth to enter the Rumble, WWE was giving us a surprise entrant that really sparked my interest because it was fun to see how The Glamazon would handle the spotlight against the guys, and she certainly delivered on two fronts. First, the way she eliminated The Great Khali with a kiss was priceless comedy gold; and second, the way she sold the GTS from Punk was equally important in solidifying Punk’s heel presence.

Beth’s time in the Rumble is something I won’t soon forget, and I’m curious to see if this was a one-off against the boys or if she will pursue Chyna-like accomplishments after her likely feud with Mickie James over the Women’s Championship runs it’s course.

The Miz vs. MVP: Best U.S. Title feud in years:

The Miz vs. MVP has shaped up to be the best U.S. Title feud in years. They are doing something with this mid-card storyline that is awfully hard to accomplish, which is elevate each other without the main event rub. For instance, Kofi Kingston needed Orton’s star power (and the Madison Square Garden spotlight) to get over more with fans. However, Miz and MVP are getting each other over with solid promos, quality matches, and a fun but increasingly intense game of one-upsmanship as they go back and forth in the ring.

Last night was no exception, and I truly enjoyed the add-on title match they had, as well as the exchanges they had in the Rumble match itself. Miz and MVP are on the right track for sure, and I’m sure their respective roads to WrestleMania will be pretty much entwined for the next few months.

That whole DX thing:

We all knew it was coming, and I even called out in the Roundtable (one of the few things I got right) that Shawn Michaels would likely land a sucker super-kick on Triple H to eliminate The Game from the Rumble match.

With that said, I found this angle to be much more engaging and intriguing than I thought I would, simply because of this: If Michaels and Hunter do wind up against each other at Mania, HBK will likely be the heel with Hunter as the babyface. And not only would Michaels be the heel, he would be the kind of crazy heel who’s just snapped into a frenzy of insanity that I don’t remember him playing before.

You could even build this feud with Hunter as the calculating, cerebral face who has to now figure out a game plan against the one guy who knows him the most at a time where the guy who knows him the most has truly forked off into a new certifiable persona that Trips has never had to deal with before.

In fact, Triple H would have to recall his epic run against Mick Foley / Mankind / Cactus Jack and tap into that part of his own psyche in order to take out this new version of Shawn Michaels, and that could lead to some fascinating television / booking if they go this route.

Now I could be wrong and we could wind up still seeing HBK-Taker and HHH-Sheamus somehow, but I’d much rather sign up for the alternative that would be HHH-HBK against each other at Mania.

Why Edge had to beat out Batista and Cena:

The Final Four participants remaining last night in the Rumble match were Edge, John Cena, Batista, and Shawn Michaels.

Just before these four were left standing, a returning Edge got his moment of revenge against Chris Jericho by eliminating him from the Rumble, and so none of us knew if he would really win it all against three other true main eventers.

However, after Batista raised his profile by eliminating HBK (which caused HBK to start snapping into possible crazy heel mode), I had a feeling that between Edge, Cena, and Batista, Edge had to be the one to come out on top.

It’s became pretty obvious that WWE has been building to a Cena-Batista angle for WrestleMania due to the fact that there’s just nothing else for both of them to do at the moment. Batista is not going to be the one to go against The Undertaker’s Mania streak, and with Taker keeping the title there was just no way he was going to become the #1 Contender. Cena eliminating Batista from the Rumble just may be the first salvo of this storyline.

Meanwhile, a Cena win would have been a huge letdown because it would have simply solidified a Sheamus-Cena rematch that no one really wants to see as the Main Event at WrestleMania. I also have a feeling that we might get the final Sheamus-Cena title match at Elimination Chamber with Batista costing Cena the match (if they don’t create Batista-Cena tension in the Chamber match itself). We’ll just have to see which direction they go with all of this, but either way there was no real reason Cena needed to win the Rumble this year, especially if they have Batista lined up for him at Mania.

Therefore, after Michaels was out, Edge made the most sense to win the Rumble match. It creates a sense of added excitement for Edge’s return, and it really does make Edge a true Wild Card on this Road to WrestleMania. There are plenty of theories that can be tossed around, such as Edge-Taker at Elimination Chamber instead of Mania and Jericho costing Edge the win, but all of that is sheer speculation at this point.

All I know is that I’ll be tuned into Raw tonight with the kind of anticipation I have only felt a handful of times over the past few months, and only once recently (January 4th thanks to the TNA-WWE battle).

And ultimately, that 49 minutes and change just may go a long way after all…

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