Ah, my second favorite PPV of the year, only behind WrestleMania. This is the 22nd Annual Royal Rumble, a Pay Per View that I grew up watching. Thirty men enter, twenty-nine leave over the top rope, and since 1993, the man left standing would go on to challenge for a World Championship at WrestleMania.
On top of that, there’s a few matches going on – all of which could also have major implications on the WrestleMania 25 card, seeing as how they’re title matches.
One thing that bugged me about last year’s Royal Rumble match was that then-ECW Champion Chavo Guerrero was competing in the match. The ECW Championship is the top championship (not to mention the only one) on the ECW brand, which means that the winner of the Royal Rumble could theoretically challenge for the ECW Championship in lieu of the World Heavyweight or WWE Championships. We won’t have to worry about that this year, however, as the ECW Championship is on the line when former champion Matt Hardy gets his rematch with the man who took his title, Jack Swagger. Hardy took quite a beating this past Friday night on SmackDown at the hands of Swagger, The World’s Strongest Man Mark Henry, and The Rated R Superstar, Edge. Given Hardy’s history, that could really motivate him going into tonight’s match. I, however, feel as though there’s going to be bigger things coming up for Matt Hardy than the ECW Championship, so by hook or by crook, I’m expecting Swagger to retain.
Recently on the RAW side of things, Melina has been a thorn in Beth Phoenix’s side. The WWE Women’s Champion is fed up with Melina’s antics, and looking to punish her. What role, if any, will Rosa Mendez or Santino Marella play in thier WWE Women’s Championship match? I look for Rosa to somehow cost The Glamazon the match, but likely by DQ. I don’t see Melina getting the title just quite yet.
Speaking of RAW, World Heavyweight Champion John Cena will be bringing his title with him to the Motor City. While the self-proclaimed “Hockeytown” is no stranger to championships, neither is Cena’s opponent, John “Bradshaw” Layfield. In recent weeks, JBL has had his employee, Shawn Michaels, at his side and doing his bidding. With the Heart Break Kid in his corner, can JBL defeat the man who ended his only WWE Championship reign, taking his title in the process? Doubtful. While it would be great for JBL to win the Championship here, only to somehow wind up defending it against Shawn Michaels in Houston at WrestleMania, I don’t think the WWE is comfortable enough with JBL at this particular moment to give him a two month title reign. John Cena wins this one, with a potential rematch at No Way Out in February.
A black cloud has been hanging over the head of WWE Champion Jeff Hardy since last year. He missed Survivor Series because of it, and after winning the WWE Championship at Armageddon, he’s been involved in a hit and run accident and had somebody try to blow him up by tampering with the pyrotechnics. This hasn’t stopped Jeff Hardy though, he’s determined to show up at the Joe Louis Arena and defend his WWE Championship against the man he took it from, Edge. Will Jeff Hardy’s emotions get the best of him? Or will Edge’s overconfidence cost him the belt that he lives and breathes for? Will we finally find out who is behind the bizarre things that have happened to Jeff Hardy over the past few months? So many questions to be answered. My prediction is that Edge will win the WWE Championship back, and this will eventually lead to a huge match at WrestleMania. I won’t say what I think that match will be, but I will say that it won’t be a one on one contest.
Finally, the Royal Rumble match itself. 70% of the winners since 1993 have gone on to win a major championship at that year’s WrestleMania. This year, it could be anybody, as the men I’d predict to win it at this point are all in singles competition earlier in the night. After giving it a lot of thought, the only man who we know for sure to be in the Rumble that I can say I’d expect to win it all is… Randy Orton. I see Orton having a rough next couple of months though, instead of smooth sailing into the main event at WrestleMania. His punt to Mr. McMahon’s head this past Monday pretty much ensures that.
Guys, I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. I want to know, who do you think is going to win the Royal Rumble? Leave a comment and let me know!
BONUS! One of my favorite promos of all time, courtesy of The Rock!
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