John: This Sunday night it's the 27th annual Royal Rumble pay-per-view event taking place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
There are only four matches announced in addition to the actual Rumble match, which usually goes about an hour in length. Since one of those matches will take place on the Kickoff show, that means only three matches on the actual PPV. Looking at the Rumble card from last year, it would be similar to what they did then too. Since the three singles matches all look like they could go more than 15 minutes then based on the timing of the matches, plus all the video packages and hype for WWE Network, it's likely that this is the full card.
The rumor is that if they feel like there is time for one more match then it will be AJ Lee defending the Divas Title against Naomi. If that happens I'd expect AJ to retain the Divas Title. She shouldn't lose it in an unadvertised match. That would be silly.
Joining me for the preview are TJRWrestling's Christian Michael and Andrew Johnson.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner is courtesy of our friend Steve Melo.)
WWE Tag Team Championships: Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. The New Age Outlaws (Kickoff Match)
Christian: I'm a bit surprised that this is the Kickoff Match. You'd figure that there's going to be enough time on the actual PPV to let these guys have a 10-15 minute match.
It makes sense that the New Age Outlaws would get the title shot here. They turned heel and then beat the Tag Team Champions on SmackDown two weeks ago. I know a lot of people might complain that there are more deserving teams like the Usos or Real Americans that should be in this spot but it doesn't bother me. The Outlaws are still really over and they are still good enough as a team to have a solid match.
It's tough predicting a winner because The Brotherhood has been so great as a team but with The Road to WrestleMania starting they could use this match to start building to a Cody vs. Goldust match that both guys want to have at WrestleMania.
Losing the Tag Team Championships is the start of the explosion of The Brotherhood and I can see it happening here. A little miscommunication followed by some more dissension in the Royal Rumble Match all leads to a bad night for The Rhodes Brothers.
The Outlaws would only be short term champions anyway. They can be used to transition the titles on to the Usos who are more than deserving.
Prediction - The New Age Outlaws become the New WWE Tag Team Champions
Andrew: This is all my fault.
From The Smacking of WWE Smackdown 01/17/2014:
"So I walked into this match with a clear bias and was prepared to write so many bad things about this match. What I got instead though was a perfectly cromulent match, because I foolishly forgot that Smackdown is edited and because Goldust and Cody are together King Midas and can make even the worst things seem like f**king gold.
On paper The New Age Outlaws in 2014 doing literally anything is the pits, but the opening tag bout was fine. Gunn looked good when he was in the ring, he and James sold offense really well, Cody did some creative drop kicking, and Goldust continued to prove that he’s Benjamin Buttoning and rocked the damn house. I would’ve preferred a different ending (because that means they might do this again on Raw, and I don’t think I can be this gracious twice) but for a quick opening Smackdown match, I can’t really complain."
I'm so, so, so, sorry. And you know what? I was right. I can't be that gracious twice.
Winners: Cody Rhodes & Goldust
John: There have been rumors of the Goldust/Cody split leading to a WrestleMania match (with Goldust likely as the heel) ever since they started teaming up. They've done a great job as a team, though, so it's hard to know if that's still the plan or if it was. The Goldust/Cody rumor was something that Goldust has been talking about on Twitter for a couple of years now. Whether WWE actually does it or not, we don't know yet.
The challengers for this match are a team that's only wrestled a couple of times this year, yet they're getting a tag team title shot. The story is that since they bailed as CM Punk's partners in a tag match, their old buddy HHH gave them a non-title match on Smackdown, which they won (after a Vickie Guerrero promo). They have done a good job in the matches they've had. While they're obviously not as good as they were 15 years ago, they're still two charismatic guys with good chemistry.
I think there will be a tag team title change soon. A heel team will win them, but I don't think it will be at this show. Drop them to the Real Americans on Raw and then they can drop them to the Usos at WrestleMania. That would be the best way to do it. This is actually a hard match to predict because the Outlaws winning makes sense from a story perspective although I don't think they're the right team to win the tag titles. I think it will go 12 minutes, the champs may mess up a couple of times and tease a mistake, but ultimately I expect them to find a way to win. Both of them are in the Rumble match too, so maybe they can tease some tension there.
Winners: Cody Rhodes & Goldust
Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt
Christian: I give a lot of credit to WWE for having a storyline go from before Survivor Series and having the big payoff at the Royal Rumble with the story being excellent and entertaining the whole way. It may not sound like a big deal but with WWE these days they sometimes have trouble keeping stories going for more than two weeks. My only minor gripe is that once they had Daniel Bryan become a Wyatt, two weeks was too soon to have him break away from the group. You needed to see him infiltrate the inner workings of the group more. I'm not really complaining though because it created one of the greatest RAW endings in recent memory.
It's time for D-Bry to put the Wyatts in his rear view mirror and begin his march to WrestleMania. Bray can recover from this loss just as long as they keep booking the Family strong. Losing to a top guy on a big PPV isn't the worst thing in the world. To me, it shows the faith they have in Wyatt to allow him to have this long running program with Bryan.
Prediction - Daniel Bryan
Andrew: I'm honestly pretty excited to see this match, even though it's potentially keeping Bryan out of the Rumble. That's not a foregone conclusion or anything, but I've got this looming feeling that WWE is leaning another way with the Rumble winner, but we'll get to that later.
As for this bout, I'm psyched for it. A lot of people were saying they hoped Bryan's triumph over the family on Raw where he kicked the shit out of Bray to be the end of the feud, but that's shortsighted and dumb. Bray needs a big PPV match, and the feud needs closure. This is wrestling dammit! Nothing is finished unless there's a match involved!
Winner: Daniel Bryan
John: The obvious choice for this match is Daniel Bryan and that's who I'm going with just because there's no reason for him to lose to Wyatt. He lost the 1 on 3 handicap match they had, then he joined the group and he got some vengeance when he unleashed an attack on Wyatt a couple of weeks ago on Raw. The thing is, this could just be a part of the story they're trying to tell without ending it here. There's the Elimination Chamber PPV that could see both guys as part of the 6 man match in the chamber or they could have another singles match.
I also expect a really hot crowd for this match because Bryan's as popular as ever and when he returned to his old self on Raw it made the fans love him that much more.
Bryan's my pick to win although it's far from a lock and I think a Wyatt win makes a lot of sense too. It's just a shame that both of these guys aren't advertised for the Rumble match, especially Bryan.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar
Christian: Since we only get about three Brock Lesnar matches a year it's a rare treat for wrestling fans to see The Beast compete in the ring. That's why you get a bit upset when he faces Triple H three damn times or he's squared up against The Big Show.
These two have a history dating back to 2002 when Paul Heyman turned on Brock to help Show win the WWE Championship. They also exploded a ring in a match on SmackDown. Do we hear about any of this? No. Of course not. Why not make the story more interesting than Show just not liking Lesnar?
I'm usually all in for a monster vs. monster match like this one provides. My problem is the booking of The Big Show. I just can't take him serious as a threat to Lesnar no matter how many times Brock super sells a hip toss from Show. I mentioned all of this in my Week in Review column about how he went from the biggest threat to Randy Orton and The Authority to Rey Mysterio's partner in a filler match at TLC to a guy dancing in a diaper. Now we are supposed to believe he is badder than The Beast. I'm not buying it.
They'll probably go about ten minutes since any Show match that goes longer than that dies a slow and painful death. Hopefully they'll throw a bunch of haymakers and we see Brock hit an impressive F5 on Show.
Prediction - Brock Lesnar
Andrew: You know what I'm going to type, don't you? Well, guess what, I'm not your goddamn monkey.
I have a lot of issues with this match—main one being that WWE has selective continuity because they live in a timeline that's constantly in flux. It's like WWE has their own Homer Simpson that keeps traveling back in time to step on fish and kill dinosaurs with sneezes. One day we're going to tune in and Zack Ryder will be WWE Champion and it will be raining donuts.
That being said, I can't overtly object to a battle between a colossus and WWE's own leviathan. Brock Lesnar is a genuine genetic freak, and I'd much rather watch him drop bombs with other big dudes than put Triple H and his sledge hammer over. Hell, just thinking about the potential hossy implications of this is making me salivate.
Oh man, I know I said I wouldn't type it, but...
HOSS FIGHT HOSS FIGHT HOSS FIGHT HOSS FIGHT HOSS FI—
Winner: Brock Lesnar
John: When Lesnar signed with WWE two years ago it seemed likely that they would go back to this match because of their past. From the time when Show beat Lesnar for the WWE Title in 2002 to the time when they did the superplex spot where they broke the ring in 2003, they always had good chemistry. Sometimes two bigger guys wrestle and it's not entertaining, but Lesnar vs. Show is usually pretty solid.
What I think will happen is Show will hit Lesnar with everything he can (including the KO Punch) only for Lesnar to keep kicking out. The point of this match is to make Lesnar look like an absolute beast that can take punishment and overcome it to find a way to win. The final visual will likely be a Lesnar F5 on Show, which is always an awesome sight. We haven't seen it in a very long time, so I expect a huge reaction when it happens.
Big Show is just a guy for Lesnar to beat on his way to bigger opponents at Elimination Chamber (assuming Lesnar is wrestling there) and at WrestleMania 30 (possibly Undertaker). Lesnar winning this match is the biggest lock on this show.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton vs. John Cena
Christian: Let me check to see if I could care less about this match. Nope. Explain to me how this is the "biggest rematch in WWE history" when the Hulk Hogan/Andre the Giant rematch on The Main Event had something like 33 million people watching that bout? Granted that match aired on NBC but even if this match aired on NBC it would do what 5-6 million viewers?
WWE has had a terrible go at promoting this feud. There was almost no interest in their match at TLC until the excellent closing segment to RAW before that PPV. Then for the rematch they've done nothing to make you want to see this match. Randy Orton beating up John Cena's dad and hopping into a stranger's SUV isn't my idea of great TV.
It's hard to pick against Cena when he lost at the last PPV but it doesn't make sense for him to become champion. There's a whole slew of babyface challengers awaiting for Randy Orton but there is no one on the heel side that is ready to take to challenging the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Orton will retain through some nefarious means. I can't see him winning clean.
Prediction - Randy Orton retains the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Andrew: This will be the second WWE pay-per-view in Pittsburgh in the past 5 years. I attended Bragging Rights in 2009 where John Cena defeated Randy Orton for the WWE title in an Iron Man Match. Now, nearly 5 years later, John Cena will be battling Randy Orton in the regularist of matches for the WWE title in the (assumed) main event.
Pittsburgh, you are doing pay-per-views wrong. I think I'm going to try and convince Jacob Lindsey that this should be our bathroom/merch/pretzel break.
Winner: Randy Orton
John: I think the build up for this match that WWE is trying to label "the biggest championship rematch in history" has been very poor. Since their TLC match for the WWE WHC, which was won by Randy Orton, they really haven't interacted all that much. The only noteworthy thing that happened in nearly six weeks is that Orton decked Cena's dad with a cheap shot punch to the head. How did they follow that up? By having John Cena wait THREE FREAKIN' HOURS on Raw one week later to avenge the pain that his father suffered at the hands of Orton. So we're supposed to believe that Cena took three hours to get to the building where he was working at? It's so silly.
The booking for this match is going to be interesting too. It's unlikely that Cena is going to leave as WWE Champion because Orton was put over Cena at TLC and it would hurt Orton too much to drop it so soon after he won it. Even WWE's booking team is smart enough to know that. Right? Assuming they are smart enough, my question is how does John Cena lose this match? He rarely loses clean. What happened at TLC was a very creative finish, but it's not like they can be as creative in a regular match with no stipulations.
What's also interesting is that with Elimination Chamber on the horizon on February 23rd, it's likely that the main event is going to feature a WWE Title match. The champion will likely defend the WWE WHC against five other guys. I would say the chances are high that these two will be involved in that. With that in mind, I can see Orton retaining the title here using some kind of cheap tactic or perhaps the help of somebody else that we don't expect.
My prediction is Orton retains after 20 minutes although I don't think it will be that clean, so it may be a DQ or Countout win by Orton. Perhaps they end up brawling outside the ring for the double countout? Could happen. I believe Cena will be getting another title shot at some point, so if you're sick of this rivalry then too bad. It's likely going to continue.
Winner: Randy Orton
The 30-Superstar Royal Rumble Match
(Official entrants listed on WWE.com: Batista, CM Punk (#1 Entrant), Alberto Del Rio, Big E Langston, The Miz, R-Truth, Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, Cody Rhodes, Goldust, Rey Mysterio, Fandango, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Erick Rowan, Luke Harper, Damien Sandow, Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso and 10 others)
Christian: Whenever predicting the Royal Rumble Match it's best to narrow things down to who actually has a chance of winning the match. The two favorites are CM Punk and Batista. I'd thrown Daniel Bryan in there but he's not advertised for the match. That leaves Roman Reigns as the only guy I can see at having an outside shot at winning the match. It's hard to create drama when there's so few viable winners. If you take last year's match for example, John Cena, Ryback, Sheamus, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho and Dolph Ziggler were all in the final six. Ryback and Ziggler were pushed like big deals last year and the other four are all former multi-time World Champions. So, even though it was pretty obvious Cena was going to win there was still some doubt because of the amount of top guys in the match. You don't have that this year.
CM Punk has been made the number one entrant by Kane. It's being done to make Punk the fighting babyface defying all the odds. I'm ok with it. Punk seems to be destined to face Triple H at WrestleMania so The Authority doing whatever it takes to keep him from the title makes sense. Unless the plan is to have him win the title at WrestleMania then this is still a good route to go by having him go through everything The Authority throws at him en route to his ultimate goal.
Batista is such an easy one to figure. He's back after four years away, a proven main event guy with the look they like and he's a Triple H guy. It makes all the sense to in the world to WWE to have him main event WrestleMania. We may not like it, but if you look at it from WWE's perspective you can see why they'd do it.
If Daniel Bryan was in the Rumble it would be a real no brainer to have him win. The reactions he gets on RAW are as loud as anything I've heard this side of Steve Austin. The people love him and they people should get what they want. I can't pick him though because WWE hasn't announced him for the match. If he is in the match and WWE doesn't announce it then that is just stupid. And if he's not in the match then it's even stupider because the match needs some D-Bry.
Roman Reigns is my wild card for this year's Rumble. If you asked me after Survivor Series if he had a shot to win I'd say yes. Now, I'm not as confident. He hasn't been made to be a serious threat to win the match. He's a force that people will fear in the match but WWE hasn't gone out of their way to say "hey, look at this guy".
CM Punk will last the longest.
Roman Reigns will eliminate the most people.
Prediction - Batista will win the 2014 Royal Rumble.
Andrew: My biggest fears lie in the anticipation of this match. I'm so SO worried I'm going to be present to watch Batista win the Royal Rumble after being gone for 4 years, reaping the rewards of a story that another man has worked so hard to tell. Batista's whole story at this point is "I'm back, baybee!" which is dog shits of creative storytelling. If WWE thinks all we want is to see some movie star show up every once in a while wearing track suits and shades pinning our hard working Superstars in the top matches on the card...
OH SHIT. THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS.
My plan during this match: The second Batista comes out I'm going to start chanting "Dan-iel-Bry-an *CLAP, CLAP, CLAP-CLAP-CLAP* until the match ends or I'm dragged away by security.*
Daniel Bryan says "F**k it, I'll pull double duty" rolls out there, wins the match, and finally finishes his story at WrestleMania strong. I hope this happens. I'm going to lean with toward hope.
Person Who Will Last the Longest: CM Punk
Most Eliminations: CM Punk
Winner: Daniel Bryan
*Credit to @DumpsterDroese for that chanting idea.
John: Batista is going to win this match. The 45 year old that hasn't been in WWE for nearly four years, that won this match nine years ago is going to win this match even though it really should be Daniel Bryan or CM Punk. Why will it be Batista? Because that's what WWE does. They push the bigger guys with the bigger muscles with the history as a main eventer over the guys that have been doing their best to carry the company for the four years while the other guy was gone. It's the most frustrating thing about being a WWE fan. It's the wrong guy at the wrong time. That's what this is.
In WWE's defense, they can point to this week's Raw and say "we got our best ratings in 10 months." That's their way of being proven right. They spent one month airing promos for Batista, telling the fans he was coming back at Raw and the fans tuned in for it to give them great ratings. Their thinking is that a guy like Bryan didn't do that great in terms of PPV buys or ratings when Cena was out and he was pushed heavily, so they're not going to push him as "the man" right now. The other way to think about it is that since WWE knows they will have a bigger audience during this time of year (no NFL competition plus WrestleMania season) they should be more willing to push a guy like Bryan to the top because more people are going to be watching every week.
As of right now, Daniel Bryan isn't even booked for the Royal Rumble match. He hasn't mentioned it on television. He hasn't been mentioned as a participant. It would have been nice if he was in the match as a way to give fans hope that he was going to win. By not even advertising him you're making him look like a loser by not including him in a match like this.
In terms of surprises, I think we'll see Sheamus back. He'll likely be a heel sooner or later just because the roster is currently loaded with faces. Christian should return here also. Evan Bourne is said to finally be healthy, so he's a possibility. It would be cool if there was the return of Jake Roberts because he has been tweeting about wanting to do it for many months now. If he can do it then let him. Also Kane's not listed in the match, but I expect him to be there too since he's always booked strong in a match like this. There might be other surprises too although I really doubt they will be big names.
The good thing about this match is that CM Punk is the first entrant. It's expected that his WrestleMania 30 opponent will be Triple H, so expect him to be eliminated in some kind of screwjob fashion. Due to the lack of star power in the match I also expect Punk to make it near the very end, which could mean final four or five. He's certainly a well conditioned athlete and will be fine if he has to go 45 minutes or so.
There should be some tension with Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins too. While I don't expect a full breakup of The Shield yet, it's likely going to be teased throughout the match. Expect them to work together early, then we could see Ambrose try to eliminate Reigns, fail at that and then Reigns would end up dumping him out. A match like this is the perfect spot to plant the seeds for that trio falling apart.
In the end, I think the final two will end up being Batista and Alberto Del Rio with Batista winning the match. It's not what I want to happen. It's what I think WWE will do.
Hopefully it's a well booked match with some memorable spots because going into it the whole thing feels really predictable. I realize that two years ago most had Chris Jericho pegged as the winner when it ended up being Sheamus. Both of them ended up getting major title shots at WrestleMania and Jericho's was the bigger one. The winner didn't really matter, did it? Things are different now. The winner gets the WWE WHC match. It will be Batista.
Person Who Will Last the Longest: CM Punk
Most Eliminations: CM Punk (Reigns is a good choice too.)
Christian: The Royal Rumble is one of my favorite events of the year, wrestling or otherwise. It begins the Road to WrestleMania, a time when WWE is usually at their best. I've said this before and I'll say it again, I love the fact that it happens the week in between the NFL conference title games and the Super Bowl. It really helps the football withdrawals.
The Rumble Match is always a fun match that's filled with surprises and I look forward to it more than any match all year. As usual, I'll be on Twitter during the PPV so feel free to chat and discuss the event with me.
John: I think it will be a good show with strong matches in the undercard and the Rumble match has the potential to be really good like usual. My concern is that the the Rumble lacks the unpredictability factor that has helped it in the past. Last year we knew Cena was winning. This year it seems pretty obvious that Batista is winning. A lot of WWE booking has been pretty predictable the last few months, which is a bit disappointing. Ultimately what matters is that the show is entertaining and I think the singles matches on the show are going to be very good, so that will definitely help.
I'll be writing about the Royal Rumble live on Sunday night right here on TJRWrestling.com, so join me for that live on Sunday or check it out after the show is over. From a fan perspective and a writing perspective, it's my favorite show to write about. It's never easy to write about it either, but I've gotten used to it over the years. I plan on enjoying the show. I hope you do too.
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