By Matt Straub
A few days ago I crushed the WWE for wasting its final chance at making you care about the Royal Rumble by bringing back a bunch of popular legends who will have no factor in tonight’s card whatsoever. In the process, they made the people on tonight’s card fell less important, which is a shame because tonight has a chance to be a good show.
So since the WWE didn’t care enough about its current project to try and make you watch one of my two favorite shows of the year, I thought I would give you a preview of the show and hopefully convince you to give it a shot. (Vince, I’ll expect my check soon).
There are some definite must-see matches on this card, and plenty of chances to go to the bathroom or grab some snacks before sitting down for the last 90 minutes or so, which should be spectacular.
It’s not a good sign when there are three candidates for the opening match. At least we know one which won’t even get that distinction. On the pre-show, in a tag team match, the New Day, which is just a bad idea on so many levels, takes Tyson Kidd and Cesaro. There is literally no reason to get to the computer or TV early for this one.
Prediction: The New Day, for no good reason, much like this match.
The show will probably begin with a divas match. I have nothing against female wrestlers. Trish Stratus and Lita were phenomenal back in the day. This one, however, is bogged down with bad wrestling and even worse storylines. Natalya and Paige, who I guess are the faces, though it’s hard to tell, are fighting with each other. Can they stay on the same page long enough to beat the Bellas? Does anyone care? And why the heck are the Bellas back together after a good feud in which they broke up and fought? If my sister made me her “assistant” just a few months ago and gave me embarrassing things to do, I wouldn’t want to tag with her. These and more questions will either be answered tonight or dragged into future shows. Fortunately, because of the need for time for the two big events of the night, this will be quick.
Prediction: Boredom. I mean, the Bellas after Natalya and Paige somehow cost each other the match.
The other early match is another tag team affair, as the champion Uso brothers take on the Miz and Damien Mizdow. The Miz and his “stunt double” are sometimes hysterical to watch together, but a title match should be about more than that. The Usos aren’t a bad team by any means, but they’ve always had a hard time making me care about them, largely because the competition they face is weak.
Prediction: The Usos, which will set up something bigger I’ll get to in a minute.
I’m assuming the lack of time for a lot of matches and the need for so many guys to be in the Rumble itself is why there are so many tag matches tonight, but the last of the bunch should be a good one. In fact, if WWE wants to try and kick things off with a bang, this one could be the opener, but a hot one, not one in which you used to make sure your connection is working. The Ascension is a decent, young tag team saddled with a Road Warriors knock-off gimmick whose shtick is to talk about how lousy the tag teams of the past were in comparison to this new group. On the Monday reunion show they were attacked by a number of those teams, including the New Age Outlaws, who come out of mothballs to wrestle the new guys tonight. There could be just enough fans who remember DX who would give the Ascension respect for beating the Outlaws, giving them a much-needed rub after last week. To me, it doesn’t elevate them to beat 50-something year-old men, but losing this match would be the death of the Ascension.
Prediction: The Ascension dominates and earns a shot at the Usos, in what could be a strong tag team feud for a change.
I hope you’ll suffer through the early part of the card to get to the good stuff, because it might be worth it. The co-main event is a triple threat match between Seth Rollins, John Cena, and the occasionally-appearing champion, Brock Lesnar. Triple threat matches are always interesting because the champion doesn’t have to lose the match to lose the belt, and there is the extra wrinkle of Rollins being able to cash in his Money in the Bank contract after the match. The combination sets up an unusual circumstance where there could actually be a number of scenarios at the end of the contest, which always makes things more interesting. I honestly don’t know who will have the belt when it’s over, a rare and exciting occurrence in WWE these days. The promos and angles leading up to the match have been good, and the setup makes for a fascinating finish. This is a real must-watch for a WWE fan.
Prediction: Cena beats Rollins for the belt. A livid Lesnar lays waste to everyone, but the Authority comes out and stops him. Rollins then cashes in his MITB briefcase and beats an unconscious Cena for the belt.
The Royal Rumble is my favorite non-Wrestlemania match of the year. I love the suspense of who will come out next, which big returns we’ll see, or the nostalgia of the big returns. I love the way the rivals always end up together, the strange alliances which form, and the one guy every year who lasts almost an hour. There’s also the old mainstays such as Kofi Kingston’s annual elimination avoidance using some sort of crazy prop or the big man who has to be eliminated by six other guys. Also making this year’s Rumble special is another case of unpredictability. I could make strong cases for Roman Reigns, Dolph Ziggler or Daniel Bryan winning and getting the title shot at Wrestlemania. Or one could win and the three could end up fighting for the spot between now and Santa Clara. Or, my darkhorse pick could come in.
Prediction: Randy Orton returns, wins the Rumble, and feuds with his last rival, Seth Rollins, for the belt.
The first part of tonight will likely be a snoozefest, but after 9 p.m. or so, business will definitely pick up. If you haven’t watched WWE in a while or you’ve been turned off by recent events, the last two events, if the company doesn’t screw them up, could get you back on board.