There’s been a lot of hype about the WWE recently, and with good reason. Raw turned 20, the WWE champion CM Punk returned to action, The Rock came back, and the road to Wrestlemania is about to start – kicking off with the Royal Rumble this Sunday.
As we all know, the show will be main evented by those two men I mentioned above – CM Punk and The Rock – facing each other for the biggest prize in the industry. It seems to be generally accepted that Rocky will be winning the belt – but what if he doesn’t? I’m going to take a look at just some of the possible scenarios for the Royal Rumble 2013 and beyond…
This is the one where everything happens exactly as has been reported, and exactly as people are expecting. The Rock wins the belt at the Rumble, and holds it all the way until Wrestlemania. John Cena wins the Rumble match, and goes on to win the WWE championship from The Rock in the main event of Wrestlemania. We see Triple H and Brock Lesnar return to face each other – with HHH avenging his loss from Summerslam, as well as CM Punk try to finally earn the WWE Universe’s recognition as the best in the world by attempting – and failing – to end the Wrestlemania streak of the Undertaker.
The World Heavyweight Championship match would feature a newly-turned-heel Randy Orton taking on Sheamus in a match that at this point could go either way. Obviously, one of them will have to beat Del Rio for the title, which would happen at Elimination Chamber. Also expect Dolph Ziggler and Ryback to be featured prominently, and something stupid to happen to the Divas division. For Ziggler, there is of course the chance that he will cash in his Money In The Bank briefcase before the show. I doubt this. It would feel more special if he does that at Wrestlemania itself. It hasn’t been done that way before, and that was hyped for the first few years of its existence – the opportunity to cash in to headline Wrestlemania. Still, it’ll probably happen after Wrestlemania.
This scenario will mean we see two victories that will mean nothing for the victors – Undertaker and HHH – and John Cena on top of the mountain again. Of course with Cena facing off against Rock again there will be the usual speculation that Cena will be turning heel. In short, he won’t. It will probably be years until he does. He will most likely show some heelish characteristics, but there won’t be a full blown turn. For CM Punk, he could turn face by earning the fans respect in a masterpiece against Taker, or he could be the heel that could only be beaten by the best ever and use that mind-set to be arrogant, or he could even turn into a heel that makes excuses, making up reasons for his loss to the Undertaker. As for Orton-Sheamus, I would have thought that the face would come out on top at Mania, but there is still a lot of mystery over what will happen after the biggest spectacle in wrestling. I think everybody will agree that this scenario is the most likely to happen.
Another option in the build to Wrestlemania, with the same matches and results occurring at the event itself, deals primarily with the WWE Championship. There is always the possibility that Punk could retain through controversial means at the Rumble – probably because of The Shield – and extend his 400+ day reign as champion. Doing things this way gives Punk the right to claim that he is the best to ever be in the company, easily setting up his match with Taker. This would then mean that Rock beats Punk at Elimination Chamber for the title. I would have this done in a one-on-one match, with Cena earning the number one contendership in the chamber. That would then leave open the Rumble for a winner, which would be used to set up the World Heavyweight Championship match, with either Sheamus or Orton winning and the other winning the belt at Elimination Chamber.
So if that’s what people are expecting, what are the alternatives? The obvious change to me affects the proposed Cena-Rock match at Wrestlemania. How about this: Rock beats Punk at the Rumble, but Punk then enters the Royal Rumble match and wins, setting up a rematch for Wrestlemania! Cena and Rock battle over the belt at Elimination Chamber, with Rock coming out victorious again, while Punk brags for 2 months that he has now done practically everything there is to do in the company – he has won Money In The Bank (twice), been World Heavyweight Champion, Tag-Team Champion, Intercontinental Champion, had the longest WWE Championship reign since Hulk Hogan, held a McMahon to ransom, lead a stable, been on commentary, beaten the best the company has to offer and now won the Royal Rumble. The one thing he hasn’t done, is main-event Wrestlemania (this idea could be brought up again next year if they want to go down the Punk-Taker route a year later, with the one thing he hasn’t done being ending the streak). At the very least, this would set up a triple threat with Rock, Punk and Cena, where Rock could “pass the torch” to the two biggest stars in the business instead of just one.
Having Punk in the title picture leaves open a space for someone to face The Undertaker. I have two names in mind here – Brock Lesnar or Dolph Ziggler. Lesnar would of course be the big money match, but it would really establish Ziggler to try and end the streak. He doesn’t even have to win – in a similar way to how John Cena will always be the top dog in the company regardless of who is WWE Champion, facing Undertaker at Wrestlemania is a huge show of confidence in any superstar. We know he won’t win, but he could have a great match and if he even gets close it could propel him to new heights in the eyes of the fans. As I said, Lesnar would be the money match out of the two, and so is much more likely to happen. My issue with it is the lack of build-up. Neither of them are on TV right now, and I doubt either of them will be until at least after the Royal Rumble. The quickest way I can think of is to have Undertaker enter the Rumble match, teasing a feud with Punk, but Punk eliminates him. Undertaker wants revenge the next week on Raw, but since Punk is already committed to the WWE Title match at Mania Paul Heyman brings out Brock Lesnar to protect him. Further down the line, this could also set up a Lesnar-Punk feud if Brock re-signs with the company, playing off the idea that Brock didn’t appreciate being used like that only to lose to Taker with no reward. Wait, that’ll never happen. It’s far too logical and forward thinking…
As for the supporting cast, I honestly don’t see the need for Triple H to wrestle again. He can still get pops without wrestling, and if he’s just going to do an Undertaker and come back for Wrestlemania every year – well, it’s not like he’s got the streak to come back for. For the World Heavyweight Championship there could be any number of possibilities. Pick any combination of Big Show, Sheamus, Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio and Ryback and you’ve got yourself a World Title match for Wrestlemania.
Now there are slightly fewer variables – as I just wrote, at this point you could just throw two or three out of 6 or 7 people into a credible title match at Wrestlemania. The Rock said himself that his goal is to be WWE Champion again. So, purely because of that, surely it would be a better story if he didn’t? What if he didn’t walk into Wrestlemania as champion? Wrestlemania is the biggest show in the wrestling world. It truly is the granddaddy of them all. It really is where history is made, legends are born. And to borrow another tagline – “Where it all begins… Again.” Both CM Punk losing the belt after a 400+ day reign and The Rock reaching the top of the mountain again should be regarded as huge moments. The two happening in the same instance should be one of the biggest moments in WWE – maybe not in their entire history, but definitely in the last 9 or 10 years. How do you make a moment like that even more special? Simple. Make it happen at Wrestlemania. Imagine the reaction at the Rumble if Punk beats Rock by any means necessary. Then, in the Rumble match, last man about to come in… 3… 2… 1… IF YA SMELL! The crowd would go absolutely ballistic. The story building up to Mania would then be that Punk already beat Rock, so questions would be asked as to whether he could do it this time.
As for The Undertaker, John Cena is left. I know most people are kind of expecting the Taker-Cena confrontation to happen at WM30, but I really believe that with the right build Punk can be the best heel in the WWE for YEARS and one of, if not the, top star in the company. That level of heel vs Undertaker at a show as big as Wrestlemania 30 just seems to fit better than a stale face vs Undertaker at a show as big as Wrestlemania 30.
And as for Brock Lesnar in this scenario? Well, it won’t happen, so this is really out of hope more than possibility, but I would love to see Brock face Dolph Ziggler. Dolph is a bumping machine, and Brock is a powerhouse. The two match each other perfectly. One would have to turn face, so I’ll say it again – I don’t think this has any chance of happening this year, but wouldn’t it be great?
I didn’t give this the honour of “Scenario 4” because what I’ve got left is more individual ideas instead of full shows and storylines. One name that I’ve only briefly mentioned so far is Ryback. I think it’s more than likely he faces off against The Shield in some form at Wrestlemania, but if he can sustain his popularity he would deserve a more prominent role. I think he suffers most from the part-time returns of The Rock, Undertaker and possibly Triple H, because he has been built to the level of main event face only to be pulled back down the card for a few months. That can’t help anybody – Ryback in the short term, and the company in the long term. For that reason I can envisage a situation where he is World Heavyweight Champion at Wrestlemania, but that looks unlikely. What if he won the Rumble? I didn’t think there was a possibility of this, but Ryback’s tweets the night Rock returned made me think there would be some sort of interaction between the two. There hasn’t been much between the two, so could Rock face Ryback at Wrestlemania? It’s actually possible. A lot has been made about Cena avenging his loss from last year, but Rock might be looking to hand over to the future of the company. Cena isn’t that. Yes he will be around for years as the top guy in the WWE, but he has already been in that role for years. He’s stale. Half of the crowd hates him every week. As a face, there is nowhere left for him to go. Ryback on the other hand, still feels a hell of a lot more fresh, and I think has legs left in his top face run. If The Rock is looking to hand over the People’s Champion, Cena is not the guy to give it to. Ryback, while maybe not perfect, would fill that role much more successfully than Cena in terms of having the support of the people.
Two other people I haven’t mentioned are the current Tag-Team Champions, Daniel Bryan and Kane. Being honest, right now, I think they’ll still be teaming together come Wrestlemania. Not necessarily as champions, but still together as a team. The rest of the card is going to be so stacked that this would be the only way they have any real significance on the show. I don’t think many people would have expected them to still be teaming now when they joined forces in the middle of last year, so why can’t they last even longer? The same goes for Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow. I think these two teams will probably face off in the final match in their feud over the Tag belts at Wrestlemania, and after that the losing team will go on to move up the card as solo competitors. So of course now I’ve said that they will both break up after one eliminates the other from the Royal Rumble match.
I think we’ll wrap it up there for the first article of 2013! Hopefully content will be posted more frequently this year, and from more than just myself. That will possibly start from the Royal Rumble Predictions, which should be posted soon.
If you’ve made it this far, please pass us on to other wrestling fans. And as always, I want to know what you think! Do you think Scenario 1 is a foregone conclusion? Would any of the others work? What do you want to see happen on the Road to Wrestlemania XXIX? Let us know in the comments below or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.