Monday, January 28, 2013

Royal Rumble: Good Surprises, Predictable Finishes

The road to WrestleMania has begun. The Royal Rumble is in the books, and from the size of my hangover this morning, it was a good showing. I almost went perfect with my predictions. Had I not kept out hope for a Punk win, and gone with the obvious choice of The Rock winning, then I would have batted a thousand. Oh what could have been.
The show itself was a very entertaining watch with some great surprises during the Rumble match. For three hours I had a blast watching with about fifty other wrestling fans at the sports bar near my house. Tons of "Yes!" chants and reactions to everything. That really is the way to watch a wrestling show.
I didn’t see the internet pre-show match. Cesaro won and Miz screwed up a spot. Pretty much how I thought it would go. It truly was one of those matches you didn’t need to see and could put the result in pen. That belt isn’t going anywhere until Cesaro gets a real feud going.
The start of the pay per view with Alberto Del Rio and Bret Hart was great. They really have done a lot in a short time to make Del Rio into a top baby face on Smackdown. The match with Big Show was an enjoyable watch. The crazy choke slam from the floating beam on the stage was sick. Both men worked their asses off and it showed. In the end the finish was campy, but that is usually how they try to protect a beast like Big Show.
Next time somebody gets duct taped in a last man standing match I hope to see them climb the ropes and stand straight up. It would be a cool false finish spot. I would expect for Big Show to be in the elimination chamber and move onto new territory come WrestleMania. As for Del Rio, he might have a longer reign than I expected.
The new WWE tag team division has stepped up their game. Rhodes Scholars and Team Hell No was a fun match. I’m glad I could barely hear the announcers during the match and got to enjoy the action. This was a text book tag match. Nothing special or ground breaking here.
Bryan and Kane work well as a team and I hope the WWE doesn’t rush to break them up. People still enjoy their antics. The post-match vignette with the Rumble numbers was funny in a sophomoric way. Again another example of how great the two are as a duo. I’m still holding out hope for a match between them and the New Age Outlaws. Yeah, probably not.
I was shocked the Rumble went on before the WWE title match. That was when I knew Rock was walking out champ. He has enough pull to push the namesake of the event to the undercard. He isn’t staring at the lights if that is happening.
The 30-man Royal Rumble match was good times had by all. Chris Jericho shocked everyone. I was in the bathroom when he came out and a whole room of guys stopped mid-pee to high five each. That is how cool that surprise was. Golddust showing up to fight his brother was great. He really has gotten a lot of his popularity back. I hope Goldie gets another run with the company. Even the Godfather and his hoes made for a good cheer. It would be cool if in the future the WWE actually does more old school surprises than some of the lower card talent. Nobody really cared that Tensai, Khali, and Zack Ryder were in the Rumble.
With Bo Dallas from NXT lasting as long as he did I had a small feeling he might make it to the end with John Cena. I like that he did get into it with Wade Barrett. It was a good way to debut a talent most didn’t know. The Kofi jumping on Tensai and Bryan jumping onto Kane spots both were great new twists for the match. Again with Bryan and Kane I hope they don’t end their team too soon.
In the end John Cena wins. Nobody was shocked. They teased us with Ryback and Sheamus. Yet it never felt like anything but Cena’s match. I would say this year had less drama than the year that HHH won it. Very predictable.
That set up the epic dream match between The Rock and CM Punk. The promo from The Rock was the best he has done since he has been back. That intensity and the lack of silly catch phrases made it seem finally like this match wasn’t a joke to him. Would have been nice to see this kind of promo two weeks ago.
The match was hyped up too much. It had an extremely high bar to reach in the eyes of the fans. The Rock had some ring rust and Punk did everything in his power to carry him. After the table broke before the Rock Bottom, it felt like both men kicked it into high gear. That last chunk of the match was some excellent wrasslin.
The finish can be debated. It protected Punk and it gave the crowd a little bit of swerve. Vince is about to strip the title from CM Punk and Rock stops him so he can take the belt off him. It was very action hero like. It took the crowd on a roller coaster and that’s not bad.
Man, I can’t help but feel that the WWE is losing money by not building towards a rematch between Punk and Rock instead of Rock and Cena. This match wasn’t epic but it was really good. The mic work has been top notch. It feels like there is more to tell with these two than with Cena and Rock. The yearlong build for Rock and Cena drained all the juice out of that match up. This feud between Rock and Punk feels like it just got started and now it is over.
The safe money is Rock and Cena. There isn’t much creative has to do. This will deliver a good buy rate just with the two names alone. Punk and Rock could have done more but it would have taken work between now and WrestleMania. It’s not my money, and the WWE seems to always go after the easy money. That and I don’t think their creative staff is really the kind of staff that wants to take on a challenge when the easier work is right there in front of them.
Now the WWE begins the build towards WrestleMania. Rock will build towards Cena. Punk will probably get tapped to carry the Undertaker through a match. Ziggler looks to be gearing up for a shot at Alberto Del Rio. It looks to be another strong WrestleMania card.
Myself, and those who dare to dream bigger, will just have to be stuck with notion of what could have been. Still being the longest reigning champion of the modern era is something pretty impressive. Maybe in the end the most important thing was that CM Punk will be the face of the WWE come WrestleMania 30. What’s Steve Austin doing then?

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