My good friend Greg Houde and I are unabashed wrestling supporters. As such, the Royal Rumble, and thus Wrestlemania season, have us very excited. We exchanged emails discussing tonight’s Rumble event and the potential fallout of different booking scenarios.
Blake: Alright Greg, the Royal Rumble is Sunday. It’s the second biggest event on the WWE calendar and has huge implications for Wrestlemania. It’s basically the start of “wrestling season.” Are you looking forward to the PPV event? What about the Wrestlemania season in general?
Greg: I only shell out a redback for a PPV event twice a year, and the Rumble is one of those instances. It is one of the longest standing traditions in the WWE and I enjoy it throughly each year, irrespective of the outcome of the actual rumble match itself. My enthusiasm is in high gear all through Wrestlemania season, and I generally find that if the Rumble is booked well, it only makes my passion stronger. I’m looking forward to this event simply because there are so many possible outcomes for the final two matches on the card, that being CM Punk vs. The Rock, and the Royal Rumble. Who is the favourite for the Rumble — I have no clue!
Blake: Well then who do you WANT to see win the rumble? I know we’re in the same boat and strongly do NOT want the King of PG WWE to win (again). It’s been booked well in that if it’s not John Cena winning, I’m at a loss for who it might be, which is important. But again, who do you WANT to see take it home…a little fantasy booking, I guess.
Greg: Unfortunately this show could very easily be setting up a Rock/Cena rematch at Wrestlemania if both of them win their respective matches. I really have no interest in seeing that again. My favourite Rumble moments are always when the match vaults a mid-level performer to main-event status (Yokozuna, Chris Benoit, and Batista come to mind). Wade Barrett is a guy I think could benefit from it, but he’s currently in the midst of an Intercontinental Title reign. Antonio Cesaro is in a similar spot as the US Champion, but it might be too early for him to get that kind of push. But if we are talking pure fantasy booking, my winner has to be Dolph Ziggler. So many different story lines erupt from him winning the Rumble if he holds that distinction as well as the Money in the Bank. He has two guaranteed title shots, and can use them in his slimy fashion to somehow leave Wrestlemania a champion. It makes sense to me to have one of the most over guys in your company leave the biggest show of the year with a title.
Blake: I agree on Dolph…he’s a huge star in the making despite WWE’s best efforts to have Cena bury him. They could go in a bunch of different directions with him having two title shots (trying to unify the belts, losing at WM and then immediately cashing in his MITB, cashing in before ‘Mania and trying to “sit out” since he’s the one owed a title shot but he’s also the champ, etc). He’s also the “Show Stealer” and there’s a tonne of bragging he could add to his promos if he had a big Rumble performance, even if it’s a length or elimination record over an actual victory.
You make a good point with Barrett but I think it’s still a bit too soon – he’d need a really strong face to draw against, and Alberto del Rio is still new in that role. I wouldn’t mind it, they’d just have to book it carefully.
As for Rock/Cena, it just makes no sense to do a rematch. They drew last year, sure, but Cena has somehow gotten even less over in the last year. Rock’s only back for a little bit, and I certainly don’t want to pay to see him in the exact same feud as last year.
Say somehow Cena doesn’t win, and/or Punk wins agains the Rock…who do you want to see Rock facing off with an ‘Mania, and how do you get that story going?
Greg: The only guy I can really come up with is Brock Lesnar. What other heel is worthy of getting into a big program with The Rock? Lesnar obviously has the ties to Paul Heyman, and can interfere on behalf of Punk because The Shield can not. As I write this email, Arda Ocal comes on the television and says exactly what I’m thinking. Now I feel like an idiot — too.
Blake: Great minds think alike, perhaps?
I don’t see them going the Rock/Brock route because a) the company doesn’t give ANY current wrestlers the rub that way, and b) earlier in the winter I read that a Brock/HHH rematch was potentially on the horizon (I’m about as interested in that as I am Rock/Cena II).
I’m very interested to see what happens with The Shield heading into ‘Mania – as a three-man stable, it’s tough to find them an exciting 3-on-3 match-up, while it’s probably too early for WWE to trust them in singles matches at The Grand-Daddy Of ‘Em All. Thoughts on where Rollins, Ambrose and Reigns go over the next few months and specifically at the Rumble on Sunday?
Greg: Ugh. I was hoping you wouldn’t say that.
The thought crossed my mind of a Rock n’ Sock vs. The Shield match, but that whole angle was already done at Wrestlemania XX with Evolution, so I don’t see it being reused. If the Shield doesn’t play a part in the WWE Championship match, I think they almost certainly do something to their biggest rival, Ryback. Their interference results in him getting eliminated/not winning the Rumble, and he says he has had enough. I see something like him taking out one member at the Elimination Chamber, one a few weeks before Wrestlemania, and then takes on the last remaining member in a 1-on-1 match at WM.
Blake: Yeah, I’m not on board with a Rock’n'Sock kind of thing. I guess if they wanted to keep it multi-man they could build to The Shield against three top faces “who have had enough,” like possibly Orton, Sheamus and Ryder (sorry, just trying to get the guy a ‘Mania pay day).
Eventually these guys are going to be singles wrestlers. It’s a bit of a diversion from our original topic, but which of the three guys do you see having the highest eventual upside?
Greg: Oh. I’m definitely not on board with a Rock n Sock reunion. I was just thinking out loud!
I really think it’s too early to tell at this point. I’ve seen all three perform on NXT and was impressed by each one.
My initial instinct is to say Roman Reigns has the brightest future purely based on his tremendous size. I view Dean Ambrose as Seth Rollins to be a little on the small side, but that certainly doesn’t put a ceiling on talent in this day and age (CM Punk being a prime example).
Can we discuss this before the 2014 Royal Rumble?
Blake: Definitely. For me personally, it’s Ambrose though. The other two are unique and pretty good, but Ambrose is heads above them, and just about anyone, when it comes to working the stick. His indie work as Jon Moxley is some of the best mic work going, reminiscent of Punk’s quality in ROH.
Anyway, we’ll leave The Shield aside. What’s left with this year’s Rumble. Let’s talk surprise appearances, which are always a fun (but kind of wasteful) treat in the Rumble match. How many, and who are you hoping/expecting to see?
Greg: I feel obliged to mention the talents of Rollins as well. As I said, I feel all three have great potential and I think where Rollins shines is his in-ring athleticism. I hope all three have a bright future.
I’m going to take this time to mention that my favourite special appearance in the Rumble was Mr. Perfect in 2002. The guy was a stud as lasted to the final four with HHH, Austin and Angle.
But in terms of guys still kind of active that I hope make an appearance, I really want to hear the Mr. Ass theme song hit and Billy Gunn himself come out. I love the dudes with the bleach blonde hair — pause.
Blake: Rollins really has to do something about that lame hair, though.
Mr. Perfect was a great one. I could see Gunn being a guest – there’s rumors that D-X will be inducted into the Hall as a stable this year, so having him and/or Road Dogg and/or X-Pac as an entrant wouldn’t surprise me.
For whatever reason I always want to see Vader, too. I’m not really sure why, but I hope it’s Vader Time, too.
What else is left to discuss about the Rumble – surprise entrants, possible outcomes, Wrestlemania matches…what else are you looking forward to on the show, before we wrap this up?
Greg: I really started enjoying wrestling for what it is. I enjoy a show if it is well booked. As long as everything makes sense to me and no one gets buried, I’ll be okay
But if I’m gonna be selfish, I want the final shot of the show to be the Show Off standing tall, with pocket aces in his hand as the money in the bank and Royal Rumble winner. Otherwise I break Arda Ocals back and make him humble.
Blake: I’m with you but my pick is CM Punk. It’s an insane long shot but losing the strap and then entering the Rumble to guarantee a shot at it is so unique and would fit perfectly with his character. Long shot, but I can hope.
Enjoy the show Greg!