Nobody likes clichÃ©s, bout some clichÃ©s are just so true and so classic that you can’t avoid using them. A perfect example to that is “The road to WrestleMania starts here!” about the Royal Rumble. The Rumble signals the start of what is usually the best three months of each year in WWE. As always, the Pulse team is here to give our predictions for the first major PPV event of 2011.
40-Man Royal Rumble Match
Steven Gepp: Is 40 men at 90 second intervals too much? Well, if nothing else, it guarantees an hour long rumble. 2010 was the best Rumble in a long, long time, with very little down time and so many little stories woven into it. It was CM Punkâ€™s show, then it was Shawn Michaelsâ€™ show, and it finished as Edgeâ€™s show â€“ how many Rumbles have had 3 people make such an impact in one? So, will 2011 be as good? Hard to say. Thereâ€™s not really the same star power, and without the stories leading into it â€“ apart from the Nexus/Corre rivalry. These two groups at one point will have the big brawl (sans leaders) before Kane or Big Show comes in and starts the eliminations. There is also the ongoing saga that is Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio.
Overall, I do not think it will be as good as 2010, but I also do not think it will be as bad as 1999. However, I also do not think it will mean as much in the long run as many seem to be hoping. I still expect to be thoroughly entertained for all that.
The Rumble has always been my favourite PPV, and even when I was in an anti-WWF/E phase, I still watched the Rumbles. Even if 1999 does stick in my craw.
How I think this will go down:
* Surprise entrants: HHH, Sting (a man can dream, canâ€™t he?)
* Legends entries: Jerry Lawler, Arn Anderson (leading to a HoF induction announcement)
* Longevity: John Morrison or Daniel Bryan
* Brevity: Santino (again)
* Most eliminations: Big Show
* Final Four: And this is where it gets ridiculously hard. I can think of at least 9 who could potentially be there. Letâ€™s say Sheamus and HHH eliminate one another to set up their â€˜Mania match. Thereâ€™s two gone. Bryan might be taken out by Ted Jr, to set up their feud (especially if their match this past week is anything to go by), so thatâ€™s another. Rey eliminates Alberto, and then Albertoâ€™s ring announcer helps eliminate Rey, so thereâ€™s two more. If Stingâ€™s there, I expect him to be at the end as well, but letâ€™s assume my dream is a pipe dream.
So weâ€™re down to: Cena, Barrett, Punk and Morrison.
Cena convinces Barrett to help him and together they go after Cena, Morrison interjects himself, and is eliminated. Punk then turns on Barrett and eliminates him. This leaves Cena/Punk. And this is a real pick â€˜em. But Iâ€™m going to risk it and say a heel wins the Rumble for the first time in a while, probably with the help of Nexus. Howâ€™s this: Punk is thrown over the top by Cena, but is caught by the members of Nexus so he does not touch the floor. They throw him back in where Cena is celebrating â€“ GTS, over the top rope, bye bye Cena, hello winner!
* What this means: We have Rey/Alberto, Bryan/DiBiase Jr and Sheamus/HHH for WM, Corre v Nexus in some form as well. With Money in the Bank having its own PPV, I donâ€™t think theyâ€™ll have one at WM this year (shame), but Morrison v Miz in a ladder match could be good fun. I expect Orton to win the title at Elimination Chamber, and then Punk/Cena/Orton 3-way at WM (which could well be worth the money for WM alone). Barrett with Kane or Big Show, or Undertaker if heâ€™s back. And a Womenâ€™s title match. That leaves Edge, who I think will get Dolph again at WM, maybe with Swagger thrown in for fun; if Dolph does well at the RR, then he may well get the win at WM. Throw in a tag title match (Usos v Champs) and thereâ€™s your card.
Of course, all of this will most likely be completely and utterly wrong.
Winner: CM Punk
Rhett Davis: With the first 40 man Royal Rumble, I believe they are going to use this to break some records. Kane’s number of eliminations in a single Rumble and Rey’s longest time in a Rumble record are two for sure. My selected five to win are Punk, Cena, Wade, Del Rio, and John Morrison. My Final Four would be Punk, Wade, Cena, and JoMo. Therefore…
Winner: CM Punk
Paul Marshall: 40 entrants, 90 second intervals (which won’t be followed, it’s a guarantee), and one winner. I could go on and on about what I would do if I was in Creative…on second thought, I will. I’d book Daniel Bryan to win the Royal Rumble.
(hears the sound of a pin drops)
I’m serious. Daniel Bryan would be the perfect man to go to WrestleMania to face the Miz in what would be a WWE v. U.S. Title match. Think of the history between the two since NXT. I mean, I wouldn’t be foreshadowing a Miz/Jerry Lawler match at WrestleMania since I feel Jerry Lawler should stick to commentating, even if he’s better than 97% of the locker room. Daniel Bryan wouldn’t have to win the match and he’d STILL be more over than Vickie Guerrero.
Going back to reality…I know Daniel Bryan won’t win. Hell, I’d be surprised if he lasts longer than five minutes in the match. In fact, I’m going to wager that a certain “King” returns to reclaim his throne from the Curse of the Irish, which leads to this.
Final Four: Triple H, Sheamus, John Morrison, CM Punk
From there, Trips and Sheamus take each other out and Punk can toss Morrison over the top rope sending him to the Elimination Chamber. Yes, I’ve actually left John Cena out of this because it was hard to decide between Sheamus and Cena. Besides, John Cena could always do another Elimination Chamber and such.
Winner: CM Punk
Chris Biscuiti: In my column earlier this week, I named my top five contenders for the Royal Rumble Match: CM Punk, Wade Barrett, John Cena, Alberto Del Rio, and John Morrison. The fact that Del Rio and Morrison are even in the conversation shows that WWE has done a solid job elevating these two to another level, and out of those two I would say Del Rio has the best chance to actually win. With that said, I can’t quite pull the trigger on Del Rio winning outright, mainly because that would be one of the most telegraphed Royal Rumble wins in WWE history.
While I do think Triple H will return to make his presence felt, I also think his sole purpose will be to get a huge pop, possibly eliminate a couple of mid-carders, and then focus on making sure King Sheamus gets thrown over the top rope at all costs.
I also said earlier this week that Jerry Lawler would be my sleeper pick to shock everyone and win the Rumble to ensure he gets his WrestleMania moment. If you think about it, Miz has more chemistry with Lawler in the ring than just about anyone else, but again that’s just wishful thinking on my part.
So who do I think will win? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the winner of the 2011 Royal Rumble will be a familiar face and a previous Rumble winner. No, not John Cena, but instead I pick Rey Mysterio.
Rey winning his second Rumble not only would surprise everyone, it would “Royally” anger Alberto Del Rio. In fact, Rey and Del Rio will be the last two participants remaining, and Mysterio will essentially rob Del Rio of his “destiny”.
Del Rio will then win the Big Gold Belt in the Elimination Chamber, and Rey vs. Del Rio at WrestleMania will settle this feud once and for all, until next time.
Royal Rumble Final Four: Rey Mysterio, Alberto Del Rio, CM Punk, John Cena.
Royal Rumble Winner: Rey Mysterio
Matthew Michaels: Not sure what there is to day about this one. My favorite match of the year, and with only 34 of the 40 entrants, I’d love a surprise or two. In fact, while I wouldn’t be surprised if HHH is one of the six surprises, my money’s on Miz somehow ending up in the match, maybe by virtue of the Raw GM…
Final Four: Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, John Cena, The Miz
Winner: The Miz, who goes on to challenge for the Smackdown title at Mania in a unification match! (Or Daniel Bryan who challenges Miz… nah.)
Raffi Shamir: The Rumble is my favorite gimmick match and last year’s match was one of the best I’ve ever seen, if not the best ever (And I still have to defend this view to friends who completely hate it). This year’s Rumble will have a hard time eclipsing the 2010 match, but it should still be good and tell a couple of stories. One thing I don’t like about the Rumble in recent years is that it stopped being a match that elevates wrestlers to main event status (Like it did in the nineties to HBK, Stone Cold, Batista and others, but rather another trophy given to established main talent. Money in the Bank replaced the Rumble as an elevation tool, and while it’s nice, just think about the momentum that a Rumble win could a give a wrestler on his way to winning the WWE title for the first time in his career, at WrestleMania. However, despite everything I just wrote, I think/hope this year will be different. Sure, Triple H will most likely return, but he won’t win. The Punk/Cena feud is good enough that it doesn’t require the added championship. And with both brands developing new title contenders, the Rumble is coming exactly in the right time for John Morrison, Alberto Del Rio or Dolph Ziggler (Despite his title match earlier in the night). Soâ€¦
Final Four: John Morrison, Alberto Del Rio, CM Punk, John Cena
Winner: John Morrison
M.C. Brown: There might be a dark horse here and it’s almost impossible to pick a winner without knowing all the potential surprise entrants. If you want a break out star, it has to be John Morrison. But would Morrison face Randy Orton if he wins Elimination Chamber? What about Champion vs. Champion at Mania as was rumored last year? Del Rio and Morrison would be solid up and comers and Edge vs. Del Rio would be good, but by the same token, not going to draw a huge Wrestlemania buy rate. Nor would a Dirt Sheet match(yet) or Morrison vs. Orton. CM Punk vs. Randy Orton or CM Punk vs. Edge has huge potential and Punk has been featured very prominently on Raw. It would further cement Mr. Pepsi Plunge’s legacy to add a Royal Rumble victory to his legacy and would probably complete the transition back to main event player again with a Rumble victory. Punk is also the type of person who can win by crook and also lose his title shot and title match and still come out strong, which I think if they do change gears or plans to unify the belts, Punk can still recover more than a Morrison or Del Rio could. I’d have to say that John Morrison, Wade Barrett, Alberto Del Rio & John Cena would be there in the end with Punk. Mason Ryan will help Punk get rid of Cena. Punk will get Barrett and Morrison will get Del Rio. Punk will eliminate Morrison to win. Sheamus and Triple H will eliminate each other somewhere in the middle for a pop. Rey will probably be one of the early entrants along with Del Rio &/or Morrison going the distance.
WINNER: CM PUNK
Blair A. Douglas: So I don’t keep up with WWE religiously. That being said though, the Royal Rumble is always a PPV that I watch, along with WrestleMania. WWE always does a really good job on the Rumble. While I have had a hard time being excited about the WWE product in the last few years, I do plan on watching this one.
When I first heard they were doing 40 guys, my first thought was to wonder if WWE actually employs 40 wrestlers. But I looked at their site, if you include the nWo Hollywood AND the nWo Wolfpac… and whatever a “Trent Barretta” is, they do.
With Orton, Miz, Edge and WWE Buff Bagwell in matches, for the first time, it’s not very obvious who is going to win the Royal Rumble. That’s a good thing – in the last 10 years, you can usually narrow down the winner to 1 or 2 guys before the match even starts. The match is still fun, but that’s not the case this year.
I think that The Nation Of Domination and D.O.A. will probably mostly be eliminated by SuperMarine Cena, but that in the end, it will be Punk’s Evolution that will knock Cena out, setting up Punk and Cena at WM. Punk and Cena is one of the few things that I could get excited to watch in WWE. Then, The Undertaker can eliminate Barrett’s Los Boriquas which will set up the revenge feud for them helping Kane bury him? Those strike me as logical.
But, since that takes Punk and Cena out of the winning equation, I guess that makes the Rumble winner somewhat vague. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do. I’ve heard that HHH will be back for the Rumble – and if he is, he will either win, or take down Shaemus. And nothing in between. So my dream pick is Kofi. But my actual pick is HHH.
The Miz (C) vs. Randy Orton
Steven Gepp: I am still not convinced by Miz as champ. Sorry, but thatâ€™s the way it is. Having said that, he has taken this opportunity and made the most of it. His first run as champion and heâ€™s still hanging in there, not stuffing up and delivering when he has to. I donâ€™t think heâ€™ll be the champ going into Wrestlemania; I think the seeds have been sown pretty much for Cena/Orton part 6,239 and that match needs the title to mean anything (but it could be made better with Punkâ€™s involvement â€“ see my Rumble Match for details!). But whether the Miz loses here or at the next PPV (Elimination Chamber, I believe) is a bit of a pick â€˜em. I think this is Mizâ€™s audition for Wrestlemania, though; if he can hang with Orton on the 2nd biggest stage of the year, then heâ€™ll get his high order Wrestlemania slot. If he drops the ball here, then expect him and Riley to be in a tag match. I think it all comes down to this. And, no, I do not believe the WWE has long-term booking plans leading into Wrestlemania anymore. They used to have year long feuds (or in the case of Hogan/Savage, two year long stories!) where it was leading to that distant point. I think they book in advance, but maybe only from PPV to PPV (except in the case of Undertaker/Michaels 2). At least, thatâ€™s how it seems to me, whose wrestling involvement has been solely Australian (and damn lousy I am at it, too).
Rhett Davis: I’m not expecting too much from this match, but I can’t see a reason for Randy to win nor can I really see any of the possible Rumble winners fighting him… So I guess I’ll haveta go with…
Winner: Daaaaaaa Miz.
Paul Marshall: Regardless of who wins this match, the Elimination Chamber WWE Title match seems filled out already. My picks for that match include the Miz, Randy Orton, John Cena, John Morrison, Sheamus, and Jerry Lawler (bear with me). Either the Miz finds another way to beat Randy Orton or they make the switch and mess up my potential Elimination Chamber match for next month.
Winner: The Miz
Chris Biscuiti: The Miz has been an “Awesome” WWE Champion, and while I know a red-hot Randy Orton has to get his revenge at some point, I still think it’s too soon in this spot. Besides, The Miz as the Champ does create mainstream buzz, and that’s the kind of press Vince McMahon covets during the Road to WrestleMania. By hook and crook, Miz retains, and Riley and/or Cole then get punted in the skull to give Randy his heat back.
Winner and still champion: The Miz
Matthew Michaels: Miz has to retain here, right?
Winner: The Miz
Raffi Shamir: With Morrison as my Rumble pick, The Miz has to retain and defend against him at WrestleMania 27. For a while now I’ve been a bigger Miz fan than Michael Cole and Alex Riley combined, and he hasn’t disappointed me during this title run, despite some shoddy booking. While I don’t see any feud for Randy Orton come WrestleMania, and the default choice would be to have him win here and defend the title against a random challenger, this will not happen. This may be a case of my heart taking over my mind, but I still see John Morrison beating The Miz at WrestleMania to win his first WWE Championship.
Winner: The Miz
M.C Brown: WWE will protect Orton. He may indeed get the belt before Mania, but I believe they’ll tease The Miz headlining Wrestlemania 27 first. Riley interferes and WWE does it’s customary screwjob finish at the Rumble.
Winner: Randy Orton via DQ
Blair A. Douglas: Yeah… I’m not going to lie, this sounds like it’ll be a terrible match. I really, really don’t think that The Miz will carry the belt into ‘Mania. So if Miz does squeeze by here, he’s not making it through Elimination Chamber. My pick is Orton.
Winner: Randy Orton
World Heavyweight Championship:
Edge (C) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Steven Gepp: If Dolph can hang with one of the big boys here on the 2nd biggest PPV of the year, then I expect his star to continue to rise and shine bright, with a semi-main WM payday. This is his most important audition. The WWE have actually built a heap of new main event talent in the past 12-24 months. Yes, we still have Orton, Rey, Edge and Cena dominating the top, with Kane and Big Show hanging around the edges (and Undertaker when he can be bothered turning up), but Sheamus is seen as a legit star, Miz is champ, Dolph, Alberto and John Morrison are on the rise, Punk is back and even little Daniel Bryan has been allowed to have TV time and has been allowed to get a personality. Has the WWE learned from the mistakes of the past, pushing the same old faces over and over and over and over again to the detriment of everyone else? I think 2011 will be the year we see. Yes, Cena sells stuff, but he doesnâ€™t need to be champ to do that. So letâ€™s see if someone else is given the ball and, more importantly, if they can run with it.
Rhett Davis: I really like Ziggles, but I think it’s too early for him. This is his first big feud for a title and, as long as he looks dominant, he should have no problem keeping credibility.
Paul Marshall: So banning the spear is supposed to handicap Edge? I don’t see a title change here, but as the Road to WrestleMania progresses, what would be a decent SmackDown match to headline that show? I’m having a hard time thinking of names since it seems that Wade Barrett v. The Undertaker is already penciled in. The SmackDown Elimination Chamber match participants is a bit harder to find due to the lack of heels I care about. I could pencil in Edge, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Kane, Big Show, and either Alberto del Rio or Kofi Kingston…but SmackDown’s title picture is a bit cloudy right now. Either way, though… Spear or no spear, the winner’s name is NOT Dolph Ziggler. On a side note, is the WWE booking the Rumble to go longer than 60 minutes and have the three title matches take up two hours? I sincerely doubt that…I just wonder what matches they are going to book on the fly…
Chris Biscuiti: With Vickie by his side, Dolph Ziggler has capitalized on his opportunities and he now finds himself in his biggest match to date. Edge really became bogged down by the Kane/Paul Bearer for a long while, but he’s regained his stride again thanks to Vickie’s heat-generating involvement in this storyline. I think Edge will find a way to win even with The Spear banned from this match by Vickie, but not before he and Ziggler put on a great show that will continue to raise Dolph’s profile in 2011.
Winner and still champion: Edge
Matthew Michaels: This match is all about Dolph proving himself in a semi-main event, but he is NOT winning here. (If he does, maybe we’ll be lucky and he’ll change his name back to Nicky and do a cheer.)
Raffi Shamir: I love seeing Ziggler fighting for a major title on PPV. He’s earned it the hard way, by going through several gimmicks and abandoned pushes, but now it seems like he’s about to move up the ladder. I doubt he’ll win here, but I believe he’ll put on a good showing and prove that he’s ready for the main event.
M.C Brown: This will be an exciting match and counter booking would say Dolph could win, but I don’t think he’s ready for a title run just yet. Plus Edge is reaching his stride. Edge will find a way to win and Vickie may even get speared yet.
Blair A. Douglas: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. For reals? I don’t know. I don’t think it matters. I’d say Edge wins it and takes the belt to Mania so he can lose it to someone, but I flipped to a Dolph match once where he was fighting Kofi, and I watched Daniel Bryan fight him another time, and both of those were good. So I’m going with Rick Rude.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Divas Championship, 2-on-1 Handicap Match:
Natalya (C) vs. Lay-Cool
Steven Gepp: I still think theyâ€™re going to go for Beth Phoenix/Natalya at WrestleMania, and I donâ€™t think the women would get a look in if they werenâ€™t in a title matchâ€¦ although leaving Mrs Taker out of a WM payday seems slightly unlikely. But Iâ€™m going with my gut instinct here, and feel the WM match might even be face-face, with the Natalya heel turn at the end of it (reuniting with Tyson Kidd or something).
Rhett Davis: I had some hope we were past this feud. Guess not. So instead of moving the much feuded Natalya/Melina match to the Rumble, they created a last minute rematch clause match with Laycool. Ugh…
Paul Marshall: Just when I was breathing a sigh of relief, they brought back Lay-Cool for no good reason. I mean, there are plenty of divas on both shows…GIVE ME SOME FRESH COMPETITION! Is that too much to ask for? Hell, I wouldn’t mind an all-diva rumble with the Diva’s Title on the line. The guess here is that Awesome Kong is going to debut at the Rumble getting involved in this match. Maybe she’ll squish McCool and Layla. One could hope. Then again, these rumors seem to not have any merit. Either way, Natalya wins because she has a bigger challenge waiting for her at WrestleMania.
Chris Biscuiti: My hope is for a no contest after Awesome Kong debuts and simply destroys every heel and every face Diva that tries to stop her before CM Punk walks out and gives her a New Nexus armband. Why not?
Winner: No Contest due to Awesome Kong’s debut. Kong then joins the New Nexus.
Matthew Michaels: Awesome/Amazing Kong makes her debut and kills all of them.
Raffi Shamir: Haven’t we seen this match way more than we should? I like both sides here but enough is enough. Natalya has to win here because she should defend against either Beth Phoenix or Kong at Wrestlemania.
M.C. Brown: This might be an excuse to get the title back on Lay Cool and off Natayla, but I would argue why put the title on her in the first place if you aren’t going to let her have competitive 1 on 1 matches with other highly skilled Divas such as Beth Phoenix or Gail Kim. The deck is stacked here and I don’t think other championships are going to change hands yet, so sadly, Natalya’s reign may come to an end as I don’t think WWE wants to fully invest in the Hart clan yet.
WINNER: Lay Cool(New champion)
Blair A. Douglas: I thought Lay-Cool was 2 people. So this doesn’t even make any sense to me. But I’m guessing whoever the heel is, Lay-Cool I’m guessing, will win. Then the Natalya can chase her through Mania and win the belt there.
And that’s it for the Royal Rumble roundtable, which was also the last roundtable that I host, after two and a half years. Starting next month Kelly will take over and will probably do a much better job than I have so treat her well. Of course, be sure to visit Pulse Wrestling on Sunday night for full live coverage of WWE Royal Rumble 2011.
Tags: alberto del rio, cm punk, Dolph Ziggler, edge, john cena, John Morrison, Laycool, Natalya, randy orton, royal rumble 2011, sheamus, the corre, The Miz, The Nexus, triple h, Wade Barrett, World Heavyweight Championship, WWE, wwe championship, WWE Divas Championship