So the first PPV of 2014 is almost upon us. The Royal Rumble is this Sunday at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. There is a lot of uncertainty and definitely a lot of hostility with WWE fans involving this show. They want what they want and they feel that WWE really doesn’t care what they think and are not listening to them. That may be partially true, or WWE is listening to them and is building the tension better than ever. Let’s break it down (no pun intended). We have five matches including the pre-show match. Only three matches on the undercard (outside from the Rumble), which means the main event may be pretty long. Let’s dive in!
WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
The Rhodes Brothers © vs. New Age Outlaws
This is the Rumble pre-show match. The NAO received this shot after beating Goldust & Cody on Smackdown last week. I’m thrilled to see the NAO back in the mix. The tag division is really burgeoning again with a myriad of solid teams fighting for that title shot and those straps. I’m not crazy about them being “Authority Stooges”. Does that make them the New Age Brisco/Patterson? In any event, this will be a solid match to get the crowd going, but I’m torn on the outcome. On the one hand, I love the Brothers Rhodes and the work they’re doing. However, Cody has a great solo career ahead of him and the longer he’s in this team, the tougher it will be to shake off a “tag guy” image. I feel the NAO may eventually win the titles, but not here. SCOTT’S PICK: The Rhodes Brothers
Now for the actual PPV card:
BROCK LESNAR vs. BIG SHOW
One of Lesnar’s long-standing rivals from his 2002-04 run comes back to rekindle the flame. Unless this is the main event, we won’t see a repeat of that 2003 moment when the ring collapsed after a superplex. Big Show has dominated Lesnar the past few weeks, the first time since his return that Lesnar has really been manhandled. This is nothing more than a holdover match for Lesnar until we see what’s going on with the Rumble and the Title match. I like big guy power matches and this definitely fits this category. I think this may be the beginning of the Big Show retirement tour. After 19 years he’s done pretty much everything that needs to be done. Lesnar wins and sits in the weeds waiting for the title shot. SCOTT’S PICK: Brock Lesnar
DANIEL BRYAN vs. BRAY WYATT
Ah, here it is. The match that is pissing everybody off. Not really the match itself, but more the fact that one of the participants should apparently be doing something else. Daniel Bryan was WWE’s Superstar of the Year, but instead of being primed as the top babyface on the Road to WrestleMania and winning the Rumble and blah blah blah. Here’s the question I need to ask: How do the naysayers know that Daniel Bryan isn’t in the Rumble? Double duty is commonplace in Royal Rumble history, announced and otherwise. There’s no reason that Daniel Bryan won’t be in the Royal Rumble. This match is nothing more than a “practical Red Herring”. It’s needed to complete this feud, but it’s also to lull the crowd into a false sense of “insecurity.” They want the fans to be upset, and then when #30 buzzes and Bryan comes running down the ramp, the place can go crazy. So this match – much like the previous match – is nothing more than filler. It honestly doesn’t matter who wins because Wyatt has bigger fish to fry for April 6, and Bryan? Well, wait about an hour from this point and many may still be smiling. SCOTT’S PICK: Daniel Bryan
ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH
For the first time since 2009, the Royal Rumble has gained some of its significance back. When the Elimination Chamber PPV started in 2010, plus the fact there was two belts, the Rumble was important but it lost that specialness since there was a “second chance” for contenders in February. Now with the belts consolidated, the Royal Rumble is big again and the Chamber PPV will be the enigma. They should probably bring No Way Out back for February and move the Chamber PPV to a month like September or something. In any event, this Rumble will be intriguing because of the roster of guys. There’s two clear favorites: Batista (who’s in the Rumble match) and Daniel Bryan (who most are ASSUMING will be in the Rumble match). CM Punk is an outside shot, even though he will be #1. Incidentally, I like how Michael Cole mentioned Monday on Raw that two guys won the Rumble from #1, yet didn’t mention the two guys. Of course it’s Shawn Michaels in 1995 and Chris Benoit in 2004. Either you mention both or neither. Smart move by Cole. As for a winner? Well I’m gonna take the less popular route and pick Batista. I think Bryan will win the Chamber and the title and face Batista (who I think will eventually turn heel) at WrestleMania. I’m not comfortable with that theory, but for now I will stick with it. Roman Reigns will be this year’s version of Diesel in 1994. He will be the beast and maybe go face to face with Batista. Punk will be in there the longest and probably end up in the final four, but The Authority will stick it to him in the end. SCOTT’S PICK: Batista
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Randy Orton © vs. John Cena
It went from the match no one wanted to see at TLC, to the rematch no one wants to see Sunday. I love how “the match must be won by pinfall or submission” has to be treated as a stipulation. Isn’t that how EVERY match ever should end? Well almost every match. I’m getting the feeling these two are going to attempt some kind of epic title match to end all title matches. Almost what Triple H tried to do with Scott Steiner at the 2003 Royal Rumble. We saw how that went. These two have had great matches in the past and there’s no doubt that they can have a great match. However, I’m concerned they’re going to try to make “the perfect match” and it won’t work. On top of the fact the fans don’t really care about either of these guys as champion anyway, and we could get heat that matches Philly at the King of the Ring in 1995. I think Orton retains the title because whoever the challenger is at WrestleMania will be a babyface. How Cena loses will be interesting, considering there’s “no interference” according to The Authority. So who knows how it’s going to end, but it will end with Orton retaining. WINNER: Randy Orton
So there you go, there’s my picks for Sunday’s Royal Rumble show. Join Dan McGinn and I for the Royal Rumble live blog right here on Place to Be Nation, keeping you up to date on everything from Pittsburgh. Enjoy, and think of Vince doing the old school opening with all the rumble participants. HAKU!