John: This Sunday is WWE Royal Rumble. With me as always to talk about the show is my buddy crazy David Kay (just like Homer Jay Simpson!). It’s probably WWE’s second biggest PPV of the year after that little show in the spring called WrestleMania. It’s only a 4 match card…at least so far, which means we don’t have as many matches to talk about although we always find a way to cover everything. Make sure to read our thoughts and vote in the polls as well. I’m definitely interested in seeing who the majority thinks is winning the Rumble match. I’m not sure if there’s an obvious winner this year. Or is there? I should add here that I’ll be writing about the Rumble live on Sunday night only at thejohnreport.net, so check it out!
David: The 2011 PPV lineup for the WWE starts off with one of the biggest attractions, the Royal Rumble. With an added 10 competitors, a few Championship matches, and a bunch of surprises, the WWE sets the tone for the year with what they bring to the table this Sunday. Will they shock the world, and bring back a big name like a returning Edge last year? Or will a newcomer rise to the top, and be the one to keep his feet in the ring? We break down our predictions and see what we think of it all.
NOTE: There’s a very minor spoiler in the Ziggler/Edge match writeup, so if you haven’t seen Smackdown and you hate spoilers you might want to turn away. The match didn’t change. Nothing too major. Just a warning, though.
Divas Championship: Natalya vs. Laycool
John: The Divas Title is on the line as our girl Natalya defends against both members of Laycool in a handicap match similar to their match at Survivor Series when Natalya won the belt. Is it time for a title switch due to possible interference from somebody we know has signed (Awesome Kong) or does the champ continue her reign over the divas “division?”
David: I see Kong coming in, but I don’t see LayCool with the titles. Would they make three of them then? Possibly, but I just can’t see them taking the belt off her here. I see her losing it at Elimination Chamber only to win it back at Wrestlemania. Here’s my question though: Logic says that if you’re friend is getting beat down, you should run to their assistance. Will we see Beth in this match somewhere as well?
John: I’m pretty sure they’re back to having just one belt. What I think happens is Natalya’s dominating, she puts them both in the Sharpshooter (I loved that spot) and then you hear this new imposing music as Awesome Kong comes out. Everybody stands in awe marveling at this giant woman. She doesn’t do anything except walk out. Natalya stares at her, then she eventually turns around and Michelle decks Natalya with a knockout kick for the win. Then Kong comes in the ring, they triple team Natalya and Beth comes out. Eventually Kong lays both of them out with powerbombs. Title switch and debut.
David: I see Nattie winning via DQ, with Kong coming in for a brawl post match. Probably won’t get any of it though, because WWE hasn’t had a well timed debut in awhile. I’d love to see Nattie retain, then go into Elimination Chamber as a tag with Beth, and have Beth turn on her mid-match to set up Beth vs. Nattie for the belt at Wrestlemania. Ah, one can only dream. Side note: Kong, Beth, and Nattie are all Shimmer alumni, so if you want to see the future of women’s wrestling, look no further than the Chicago based promotion. Check it out, you’ll thank me later. Tell ’em The John Report sent ya.
John: Hey that’s my line! I don’t think they are turning Beth. They need faces to go against Kong, who has to be a heel. Later in the year she’ll be in the comedy love angle with Santino because that’s WWE being stupid, but she’ll start as a heel. Just my opinion, anyway. I’ll officially pick Laycool to win here while you’re going with Natalya.
David: Frankly, I’m going to have a tough time following the match as it is. The only thing I’m going to think of during this match is Nattie’s pussy. What? It’s all over the internet. Gizmo is such a cutie.
John: That was almost as bad as the vegan/virgin joke on Raw. But I’ll allow it. Might as well put the belts on the heels now so the babyfaces can chase it. And here’s to hoping it’s not a terrible multi women tag match or battle royal at WM again.
David: Kid Rock FTW!
John: Santina FTW! Or not.
David’s Pick: Natalya
John’s Pick: Laycool
World Heavyweight Championship: Edge vs. Dolph Ziggler
David: Next we’ve got a battle between the Rated-PG Pornstar and the Rated-R Superstar, Ziggler vs. Edge for the World Heavyweight title. Ziggler’s sudden push has put him into the title picture, and a PPV away from going into Wrestlemania as champ. Think he’ll make it that far?
John: Hell no. Edge keeps the belt. I’m glad Ziggler got elevated because his work in the ring has improved a lot in the last year. I think he won over management during his matches with Daniel Bryan and also the one with John Cena on Raw. His work in ring has earned him the match. Vickie adds a lot to his act in terms of the heat she brings, so it’s a good pairing. Edge won the belt a month ago, though, so it’s unlikely he drops it here.
David: I disagree. While Edge just recently won the belt, I think a Ziggler win here would be very similar to Swagger’s run. He’ll get it for a month to test the waters, then lose it at Elimination Chamber. Edge is a great performer, and probably one of my fave’s right now, but this title run seems a bit bland compared to his reigns in the past. I see a Vickie distraction … Zig-Zag … champ.
John: I don’t think they have enough confidence in Dolph to put the belt on him right now. We should add that there’s an additional stip in the match with Edge being DQ’d if he uses the spear. He’d be DQ’d and lose the belt. I’m guessing they do that because maybe Edge wants to use a submission finisher to add to his arsenal or it could be a rollup/counter type of win. Also, shouldn’t the addition of Vickie tell WWE that they need more seconds (managers or valets) because they can enhance a struggling act?
David: (see Eve with R-Truth for the answer to that). I think with the Rumble being the huge draw here, and the Chamber giving the champ only a small chance at retaining, it’s the perfect time to put it on somebody new.
John: I was thinking more like a guy like James Mitchell, who can talk and be a good manager of a stable. As for the belt, I think Edge holds it all the way to WrestleMania. Then again the belts don’t matter that much, which is why when they did Champ vs. Champ on Raw nobody seemed to care. A damn shame, really. There’s not much of a “special” feel anymore.
David: I was all in favor of changing their appearance to “freshen” them up, until I saw what TNA did with the Hardy-belt … then I threw up for a few hours, and decided that fresh isn’t always better. I think the belts need to play a bigger role this year than ever, with the younger talent not having a whole lot of cards to bring to the table yet.
John: So I’m going Edge and you’re going with Ziggler becoming the worst named World Champion in wrestling history.
David: To quote Funaki … Innnnnnnnnnndeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed.
David’s Pick: Ziggler
John’s Pick: Edge
WWE Championship: The Miz vs. Randy Orton
John: Next up is the WWE Title with The Miz defending the belt against Randy Orton. I was really disappointed that they didn’t put John Morrison in this spot. They’ve already had some Miz-Orton matches and none of them were as good as the Miz-Morrison one. This one won’t be either. It would have been nicer to see a fresh face in this spot. How do you see it playing it out?
David: Miz is not surprising anybody with how well he’s performed in the spot. I think if you want to argue the point that you can still be great under the PG umbrella, the Miz would rise to the top of your argument. The problem here is that there’s not a whole lot of hate between the two of these guys. Orton’s flip to the face side of things hasn’t been as good as hoped for, and I think a lot of it has to do with him not changing a whole lot. When guys like the Rock and Jericho changed from face to heel to face, they dressed certain ways, changed their mannerisms, etc. etc. Orton’s basically the same guy, he just RKO’s different people now.
John: Miz is booked like an idiot though. He did beat Morrison clean and in impressive fashion, but he also lost to the 61 year old announcer and has never really gone over Orton clean. If they want Miz to draw against Cena at Mania, which is where I think this is headed, then he needs a decisive win here. Of course it’s WWE and nobody gets decisive wins over babyfaces like Cena or Orton. I think Miz retains and Orton will still get another title shot next month as part of the Chamber match.
David: I agree. This is where blood could really help put Miz over. If he were to bust open Orton, and take him out, that would elevate him a ton. Obviously he can’t take out Orton, because they’re lacking in star power as it is, but they’ll get as close to that as possible. Riley will eat an RKO though by the end of this match. Miz retains.
John: All Riley does is get beat up. It’s the same every Miz match. He’ll use that briefcase behind the ref’s back to retain. It might even be DQ because they protect Orton so much. The heels need to look stronger and the faces need to look weaker at some point. Miz retains. He’s going into WrestleMania as champion.
David: Has Riley even put a guy out with a finisher yet on WWE TV that wasn’t NXT? Even I don’t have the stats to back that up.
John: Only if he’s drunk driving, I guess.
David’s Pick: The Miz
John’s Pick: The Miz
John: It’s interesting that I picked both Edge and Miz to retain. I think both guys are going to WrestleMania as champs too. Last year both belts changed at Elimination Chamber. Am I crazy to think both guys holding the belts now are walking into Mania as champs?
David: Yup. I think your national pride is blinding you on the Edge situation. The Miz is probably a lock to retain, as he’s been doing as much PR for the WWE as any Superstar of the past 10 years, I just don’t think Edge will make it all the way. He might win it back at EC, but I don’t see 3 title retentions in one night before the Rumble.
John: We’ll see what happens. I don’t know if they believe in Dolph, so it could be somebody else that gets it at Elimination Chamber. Let’s have a poll!
The 40 Man Royal Rumble. The winner earns a WWE or World Title shot at WrestleMania 27. The 28 announced competitors thus far: Del Rio, Punk, Rhodes, Bryan, Darren Young, Smith, Otunga, McIntyre, Jackson, Slater, Harris, Swagger, Cena, Morrison, Gabriel, Henry, Ryan, McGillicutty, Primo, R-Truth, Mysterio, Sheamus, Dibiase, Kidd, Barrett, Regal, Tatsu and Ryder
Note: That’s the list of 28 from the Wrestling Observer. And that’s the graphic I got from WWE.com. That’s weak WWE. A collage of headshot pics would have been better!
John: This year’s Royal Rumble was changed to a 40 man match instead of the usual 30 man match. The changed happened two Mondays ago. Yes, this is the long term planning that WWE seems to have. Apparently it was Vince’s call and that the idea that it would be the “biggest Rumble match ever” is a good thing. To me, though, all you’re doing is adding 10 guys who the audience knows can’t win. Leave the Rumble at 30. It was great at 30. Why change? It’s a shame. Do we have more than 5 people that are legitimate THREATS TO WIN?
David: I basically put everybody in Nexus and Corre into that category of non-threats. So that’s 9, plus a legend that’ll return, so that’s 10. Throw Henry, Santino, Kozlov, Kofi, Cody, Swagger, The Uso’s, Tyler Reks, Yoshi Tatsu, Tyson Kidd, and DH Smith, and that’s 22. I’ve eliminated half already. Is that disappointing?
John: It’s like that every year. The only true threats to win are Cena, Punk, Del Rio, a returning HHH and maybe Morrison as an outside shot. Everybody else is filler.
David: Yeah, obviously you’d know more about the history, considering you’ve reviewed every Rumble that’s been on PPV. (cheap plug time). I think we’re both can agree that Del Rio has the most to gain from winning the Rumble, considering he’s been pushed on both Raw and Smackdown, and is on the Smackdown roster (which needs rating-boosting). I don’t see HHH winning the Rumble, but I could see him taking out Sheamus here, considering the King isn’t weak enough just yet.
John: I think we can both agree HHH comes back here. He should get a big pop. I think he goes straight for Sheamus, eliminates him and then he gets thrown out near the end. Maybe Sheamus comes back out to cost him. I think Morrison might be one of the first five guys in the match and then makes it to the final five. For my final four I’m going with Del Rio, Punk, Barrett and Cena. My winner? John Cena.
David: I’m going to say Del Rio, Barrett, Cena, and Morrison. Barrett gets distracted by a GONGGGGGGGGGGG, gets eliminated, and runs for the hills. Morrison gets tossed by Cena, and Del Rio wins in cheap fashion. Here’s my real head-scratcher though … how many guys will it take to toss Mark Henry over the top rope? Over/Under on 6.5
John: I would absolutely love it if Del Rio wins. I think he’ll be WWE or World Champ at some point in 2011, but I don’t think he wins the Rumble. As one of my favorite guys in the company it would be great to see. As for the Mark Henry question, he’ll come in, eliminate nobody and the announcers will be shocked when he gets clotheslined. That’s how he rolls. Mark Henry, sponsored by KOOL-AID~!, is a THREAT TO WIN!
David: Haha, and who’s the suprise appearance? Rumors are Jim Duggan, but will we have somebody like RVD (in 2009) make a one night appearance? Batista? JERICHO??
John: I don’t think we see Jericho or Batista. I’d love to see Christian or Evan Bourne, but I don’t think either guy is ready. Triple H is the surprise we all kinda know about. I’m sure a legend like Duggan is possible as well as others. Maybe Ron Simmons shows up since he’s likely going in the Hall this year. I don’t think, other than Triple H, there will be any huge surprises.
David: See, I think that with 40 guys and a longer run-time, there’s gotta be more surprises to keep my attention for that long. I don’t think straight-wrestling with over-the-top eliminations will keep my attention for that long with so many jobber-level talent there.
John: Are we ever really surprised anymore though? I don’t think so.
David: Well, whatever the outcome, nobody will beat Edge’s beard from last year. You Canadians sure can grow ’em.
John: I don’t think it’s a Canadian thing. I’m capable of the beards too, but that’s because I’m of Greek descent rather than my Canadian-ism. Anyway we’re both going with beardless winners here as you pick Del Rio and I pick Cena. Let’s see what the readers think in the polls. For the record I hope you’re right!
David’s Pick: Alberto Del Rio
John’s Pick: John Cena
John: Will somebody in the Rumble break the all-time record of lasting the longest due to the extra 10 bodies in the match?
David: No way, too many losers in the match. Maybe most eliminations though. Go Kane!
John: I think so. It’ll be Punk, Morrison or Del Rio. One of the favorites who is elevated by doing well in the match.
David: Only a few matches announced, and with the extra 10 guys in the Rumble, any chance of a Tag, US, or IC Title match?
John: No. I wish there was, but I doubt it. I think the Rumble’s going to take up 80 to 90 minutes. I think there will be some kind of promo segment and backstage segments. Both title matches will get 20 minutes and the women will get 10 or so. That’s a full show to me.
David: I bet it’s a dark match, released to DVD. I see Bryan vs. DiBiase, Jr.
John: They just had a great 15 minute match on NXT this week!
John: Who returns first in 2011: Jericho or Batista? Or neither?
David: Batista. I think Mason Ryan will make that extremely awkward, but I feel that Jericho has too many other projects to commit to a full year. What’s Batista doing except hitting on your girlfriend?
John: I know what’s been said, but I think Jericho’s back in a match at WrestleMania. He’s 40 years old. He doesn’t have that many years left. He can be a rockstar the rest of his life. He can’t wrestle the rest of his life. He’ll be back for Mania.
David: The WWE and NFL have teamed up during past Battle Royals, what current NFL player would be the most dominant in the Rumble today?
John: Got to go with my boy James Laurinaitis, Middle Linebacker of MY (future Super Bowl champion) St. Louis Rams who is the son of former Legion of Doom member Animal. And his uncle Johnny Ace is the head of talent relations. That doesn’t mean I think he’s doing a good job.
David: Chicago fans are going to hate me for this, but I gotta go with my boy from “The U” Ray Lewis. Those Old Spice commercials work on me.
John: Or Caleb Hanie.
David: Who had the best QB Rating in the NFC Championship game? Look it up, you’ll be pleasantly suprised.
John: Whatever cheers you up, buddy.
John: Should they do the Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania this year even though there’s the MITB PPV in July?
David: Yes, yes, and more yes. The pay-per-view was a mistake, and will be a mistake again. It’s become a staple of Wrestlemania, and should be exclusive to it. One Briefcase per year, don’t ruin the magic.
John: I think they should keep it. I love the MITB match and it’s become a staple of Mania. It’s a good way of elevating somebody quickly.
David: HBK in the Hall of Fame … chances he returns as a non-active role?
John: No. I don’t think he needs the money and he seems to be busy with his hunting show on some channel I’ve never heard of. Use him for rare appearances, but he doesn’t need to be on weekly. As much as I love the man as my all-time favorite they need to focus on the present.
David: I want him back as GM! Best GM’s of all time: 1. Mick Foley 2. HBK 3. Sgt. Slaughter. I think him showing up every week for a quick pop on TV would be great. But alas, he’s moved on to other ventures. I think what Flair did really hurt him, and he doesn’t want to do that to Taker.
David: 2011 … the beginning of a new year, the beginning of Wrestlemania season, and for a select few in history, a beginning of Stardom. The Rumble serves as the launching point for so many careers, who go on to cement their places at Wrestlemania. The talent is getting younger, which has been a long time coming. Here’s hoping the WWE does something right to set the pace for the rest of the year.
John: I love the Rumble. It’s why I’ll be writing about it live. The wrestlers aren’t the draw to me. The match is. It’s also why I’m writing about every Rumble in history. I don’t know that it’ll be a great show, but I’ll find a way to enjoy it. I always do as far as the Rumble is concerned.
I’ll see you Sunday at thejohnreport.net for live coverage of the Rumble. Enjoy it!
Thanks for reading,
John Canton firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter.com/johnreport
David K. Twitter.com/DaveTheAwesome