Setting out five men who could win the big one at Wrestlemania XXX.
(This post contains spoilers for the 20/12 edition of Friday Night Smackdown.)
As the dust settled on another uneven PPV performance at TLC, it was Randy Orton who had unified the WWE title and World Heavyweight Championship, leaving John Cena out in the cold. Now that there is only one title, the focus turns to who will have a shot of winning it at the 30th Wrestlemania event.
30 men enter, one man remains at the Royal Rumble, set to take place in Pittsburgh on January 26, 2014. This iconic event is getting on in years too, as the next one will be the 26th! The Royal Rumble match is probably my personal highlight of the whole wrestling calendar; not only because it’s given fans some of the standout wrestling performances of all time from the likes of Kane and Shawn Michaels, but because of the opportunities that the unique nature of the match gives for storyline development. Alliances are formed and broken in quick time, feuds rage on, and any deserving winner of the match always gets a massive popularity boost from the achievement.
Suffice it to say, whoever will be world champion by then had better be looking over his shoulder between now and Wrestlemania XXX; here are five men who I feel could be his opponent in the big main event by winning the Rumble next month.
Cena will probably face Orton in a rematch for the belt at the Royal Rumble itself, and what with the stakes already being raised under TLC rules – not to mention the historic occasion that was the title unification – we might see yet another interesting stipulation added to the match.
If Cena loses – and the fact that a World title has only changed hands four times at the Rumble since 1999 suggests he might – then he could always muscle his way into the Rumble somehow. Personally I hope this won’t be the case; much as I’m starting to actually like the guy I definitely feel like I’d rather see a different guy at the top of the heap. Y’know, a relatively fresh face, I dunno, someone like –
Big E Langston
A surprising pick I know, but Big E’s work and attitude of late have led to a real surge in popularity; enough to see him turn face and capture Intercontinental gold from Curtis “Son of Mr Perfect And That’s All He’s Good For” Axel in recent weeks.
At the conclusion of this week’s yet-to-air WWE Smackdown, Langston came to the aid of CM Punk and John Cena during a beatdown from The Shield. Getting Big E out there to back up two of the three biggest stars in the entire company is surely another shot in the arm for his own standing in the WWE. Once he’s dispatched of Fandango in about 27 seconds to retain the IC belt at the Rumble, there’s every chance we could see him again later in the night, turning in a big performance – if not going all the way? Traditionally the Intercontinental title has served as an early sign that its holder has a bright future ahead of them – and hopefully the same will ring true for Big E just as it does for the equivalent US Title, which neatly brings me to hope that the winner of the Rumble will be –
NOT a member of The Shield
In the past, the WWE has been guilty of rushing the build-up to a big event. In fact, they do it more often than not. Since Roman Reigns’ MVP performance at Survivor Series for The Shield, taking out four members of the opposing side, the accelerator is very gently being pressed on a Shield split, but I personally think there’s a whole hell of a lot left in their collective tank.
Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose together are an absolutely amazing combination and I don’t think I’ve seen such an all-round talented stable of wrestlers in years. Saying that though, the cracks are already beginning to show since Reigns inadvertently speared Ambrose in The Shield’s losing 3-on-1 effort against CM Punk at TLC last weekend. At the Royal Rumble I can see Reigns putting in a similarly crushing shift; he won’t get the elimination numbers of Kane but the spotlight being on Reigns won’t go down well with the Shield leader Ambrose.
I just hope they don’t blow this; it is quite possible that, if done correctly, a Shield split could see Reigns and Ambrose feuding over Ambrose’s United States title with a massive match at Wrestlemania XXX; hey, now that there’s only one World title they’ve got to give the others a bit more importance too, right?
AKA my boyfriend, CM Punk is storming the WWE right now – his exceedingly unlikely win against The Shield in a handicap match at TLC shows the faith the company has in booking the big wins for Punk. Along with Cena and Daniel Bryan, Punk is streets ahead of the rest of the locker room right now and the only thing which could top that off is a win at Wrestlemania XXX against Randy Orton which would really be one in the eye for the COO of the WWE, Triple H; it would be the prime example of what the fans want to see which is anti-authority picking up the big win over The Authority.
However, his attack on Triple H during the recent Ascension Ceremony of the two World belts on Raw hints towards a little more towards a match between the two of them at Wrestlemania rather than Punk’s being in the main event for the WWE World Heavyweight Title. I can easily see HHH or one of his cronies in The Shield screwing Punk out of a victory in the Royal Rumble match next month, meaning Punk would want to settle the matter personally.
All of which leaves one outstanding candidate – really the only man who has something left to prove out of all these other potentials:
Had you going there for a second, didn’t I? No? Fair enough. But the next time you hear his entrance music hitting, just try and strain to hear a single note of it being played above the absolute bedlam that breaks out for Daniel Bryan – my ears were ringing for days after from the crowd’s chanting for him and CM Punk at Leeds Arena last month.
The former Nexus man is so, so over with the fans that I can only believe that WWE is throwing a major swerve on the fans who are baying for this man to be WWE World Heavyweight Champion; having Triple H try so often to bury him on the mic can only be a tactic to draw heat because surely the eventual victory will only be so much sweeter.
Which is why I find it all the more frustrating that he’s in deep with the Wyatt Family. They’re good, but they’re not that good yet. By losing to them in the other 3-on-1 match at TLC Bryan isn’t doing the Wyatts any favours, he’s only hurting his own star power. By all means WWE should try to stall Bryan’s ascension to the big prize, but the rivalry against Wyatt, Harper and Rowan looks to be far from over. The longer it goes on without Bryan getting any back-up – which he’s hard-pressed to receive when Punk and Cena have their hands full with The Authority – will distance him further from the main event, and thus the big title win at Wrestlemania XXX.
I know I started off by naming five (four, if you don’t include a Shield member, which I’m not) guys who could feasibly win the Royal Rumble this year in the quest for the WWE World Heavyweight Title, but I’ll say this right now: if Daniel Bryan aka The Man Who Gave Me Tinnitus doesn’t win the Rumble, I riot.
Who’s with me?