Pop-Preview: Royal Rumble 2013

michael dworkis looks ahead to one of the best WWE PPVs of the year…

Not in Entry Order!!

• John Cena
• Randy Orton
• Dolph Ziggler
• Sheamus
• Wade Barrett
• The Miz
• Antonio Cesaro
• Kofi Kingston
• Drew McIntyre
• Heath Slater
• Jinder Mahal
• Kane
• Daniel Bryan
• Bill Bodkin
• Cody Rhodes
• Damien Sandow
• Darren Young
• Titus O’Neal
• Ryback
• Brodus Clay
• Big E. Langston
• Michael Dworkis
• David Otunga
• Michael McGuillicutty
• Tensai
• Ricardo Rodriguez
• NXT person
• Surprise Entrant
• Surprise Entrant
• Surprise Entrant

There is my list thus far, guessing who will be involved in the Royal Rumble match. Why did I list so many unlikely champions? Well, you need your elimination fodder. Tensai is the token “big guy” while Khali is the “oh no, how will ANYONE eliminate him?” guy, which happens every single year when he is thrown over by everyone, or kissed into eliminating himself. Yes, that happened. Go ask Beth Phoenix. It is also an opportunity for lesser-known names like McGuillicutty to start gaining attention. We learned on Friday that a tournament will take place and one man from NXT will get the opportunity to participate in the WWE Royal Rumble. I would have liked to see more than one, as WWE uses NXT as its minor league, and a Rumble appearance is a sure-fire way to see who from NXT has potential to become noticed by the WWE Universe. There will be the obvious comedy spot, although last year, the Socko vs. Cobra altercation was pretty awesome.

Ziggler will enter either number one or two, either way, he will be “that guy” who lasts the longest in the match. My question is, will this be one of those years where the Rumble match itself is not the main event. It is all about match positioning right now, and timing may be on the side of Mr. Money in the Bank. What if Ziggles wins the Rumble, and then cashes in during the World Title match? That would make WrestleMania very interesting.

So let us see… Ziggler wins Royal Rumble. Rock beats Punk for WWE Title. Del Rio retains World Title, but then loses to Ziggler upon his cashing in. Ziggler challenges Rock at WrestleMania 29. WWE and World Title unification match?

Highly unlikely, but a man can dream now, can’t he?

As always, the Rumble will be a fun match, but I maintain the nagging fear that it will not be Dolph Ziggler who wins, but John Cena. It is not a bad move by WWE. Before you close the window in disgust, hear me out. Keep in mind old-time fans like me are not the target audience anymore. The younger and newer wrestling fans are. Seeing Rock vs. Cena, with the WWE Championship on the line at a Mania main event would be huge. I think Ziggler vs. Rock would be better, but that is just me.

It would be cool, I think, if this was a year where the swerve of someone we did not expect to win took place. How about Kofi Kingston, or Wade Barrett, maybe a surprise entrant? Maybe the title matches take place before the Royal Rumble, and somehow Rock and Big Show, losing their matches wind up as surprise entrants this year? I will never forget in 2001, when Mr. Perfect was a guest entrant, and he was in the final four of the match. It IS the Royal Rumble after all, so you just never know.

A lot of titles are on the line. First let us take a look at the undercard before the big two title matches.

The PPV pre-show match is Antonio Cesaro defending the United States Championship against The Miz. This feud only began a few weeks ago, but took an interesting turn with the involvement of Ric Flair. It will be a good match, but I do not see Cesaro dropping the title yet. He is being pushed as the next top star and a “great” U.S. Champion. Miz will probably take it from Cesaro, but not at the Rumble.

Team Hell No defends the WWE Tag Team Championships against the Rhodes Scholars. This might be the night were Sandow and Rhodes are finally successful. The Kane/Bryan pairing has been fun, but I think their graduation ceremony, their uninterrupted ceremony I should add, was likely the signal for the conclusion of this team. These guys are great together, but perhaps it is time for them to move on to bigger and better things. Kane is a powerhouse, but the comedy routine once again took over, ironically, it was probably the only way to get him over once more with the WWE Universe. It comes down to a simple thing. Whichever team loses the match will likely part ways and resume singles competition. No one will really come out a loser since whichever duo splits up will likely see individual success in 2013.

Kaitlyn will probably defend against Tamina Snuka. Kaitlyn now uses a spear as a finisher. I can live with that. She is being built into the new Trish Stratus. If you take a close look, which you do, she is pretty built. Thank goodness Kelly Kelly is no longer around to beat her for the title in a completely believable match. Was that sarcasam? Naaaaaaaaaaaaah.

Now we get to the big stuff.

Alberto del Rio defends the World Heavyweight Championship against The Big Show. This would be the rematch, and Big Show will have his chance to reclaim gold in the same match he lost it in, a Last Man Standing match. Show is a dominant guy, but the no-DQ aspect weighs heavily in favor of the current champion. The Mexican Aristocrat won the title just three weeks ago to major fanfare. The title change was quite abrupt and many wondered what the motive was for it. The obvious conclusion is that Alberto del Rio is being set up for Ziggler to cash in on. I think it would be interesting if Show won the belt back, only to lose it to Ziggler after the match. A lot of possibilities.

The match we are all taking about Rock vs. Punk, is on the horizon. The Rock is back and in the title hunt. The interesting part of this angle is how well Punk speaks the truth that we all think about, but manages to maintain his heel-attitude. He talked on Raw how he competes every week, title match or not, while The Rock just rolls out of bed and into a title match. Before fans could align themselves with the Voice of the Voiceless, the WWE Champion immediately calls the fans sheep for drooling over The Rock and disrespecting the WWE Title Belt. It is a wonder how Punk is so good with words that he can make the most accurate and honest of statements while making it sound so wrong, so evil. Punk has held the title for such a long time, it would be a shame to see it end. I honestly had hoped he would hold it all the way to WrestleMania 29. This one is a tough call. The Rock winning is the obvious outcome, but having Punk retain spoils the comeback, unless there is interference. We will see on Sunday.

Thoughts heading into Sunday:

• If the main championship matches take place before the Rumble, the losers of the WWE/World title matches should make Rumble appearance.

• I already went over my Ziggler/Punk/Rock cashing in/WrestleMania guesses, how crazy would it be if it came true?

• Speaking of Royal Rumble participants, did anyone notice the two jobbers who should not even be there?

• Cena is in the Rumble, and it feels like people say “he always wins.” Not true, John Cena was victorious is only ONE Royal Rumble match, in 2008. In both 2005 and 2010, Cena was the last man eliminated allowing Batista and Edge to win, respectively. Cena has been a participant in the 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, and 2011 Royal Rumble matches, while in other years either had a singles match or in a title match. He might have always won the title, but not the Rumble. Will 2013 see a second win for Cena? For his sake, I hope not. Now is not the time for Cena to chase a title. Trust me.

• It is time for NXT stars to stand out, and not just by showing up abruptly on Raw or SmackDown! television, in the same way Langston or The Shield did. Bring up the newcomers and let them show the WWE Universe what they can do.

• Surprises, surprises. Will there be any this year? Where is Undertaker these days? Triple H did elude to a return, perhaps at the Rumble?

• Brock Lesnar. The more I think about him, the angrier I get. Brock was once dubbed “The Next Big Thing” by then-manager Paul Heyman. That moniker has long gone by the wayside. The former UFC Champion is still in cahoots with WWE, and based on his last two angles with Triple H and Cena, both were a clear waste of time. Unless WWE changed their mind for the better, Lesnar is still on the WM29 poster, which means he will be back soon.

• February 17, 2013 is the last major event before WrestleMania 29, and that is the Elimination Chamber Pay-Per-View. This event is always a game changer. Keep that in mind before thinking the ‘Mania matches are set post-Rumble.

To recap my predictions:
WWE Championship Match – CM Punk retains
World Championship Match – Alberto del Rio retains, Ziggler Cashes In
Tag Team Championship Match – The Rhodes Scholars
Diva Championship Match – Do Not Care
United States Championship Match – Antonio Cesaro retains
The 2013 Royal Rumble Winner – Dolph Ziggler

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