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WWE Royal Rumble PPV Preview
January 28, 2005

Compiled by Rick Scaia
Featuring All Your Favorite OnlineOnslaught.com Semi-Stars


Don't lie: somewhere, deep down, you're fired up for the Royal Rumble. You might get burned come Sunday, you might be disappointed in your own naivetť... but right now, you're excited for the show. Because it's the Royal Rumble, baby!
WrestleMania is the undisputed granddaddy of 'em all. But just cuz it's the BIGGEST show of the year doesn't mean it always comes through as the most fun show of the year. That's where the Rumble has a leg up on just about every other pay-per-view event. Even with a flaccid undercard, every Rumble PPV you know fully one third of the  

show is gonna be entertaining. The Rumble match lasts upwards of an hour, and EVERY 90 SECONDS, it gooses you to the edge of your seat (and for a few of the entries, might even goose you up and out of your seat).  That's a unique hit rate the likes of which most matches don't have.

It's an hour straight of actually caring what's going on. At the end of the night, maybe "what's going on" isn't the most satisfying thing in the world... but just knowing ahead of time that this proven match format is making its once-a-year appearance ALWAYS fires me up for the Rumble.

And I DARE anyone out there to be such a cynical smark jack-off that you can't admit to the same thing.

Another bonus is that the undercard to the Rumble is usually pretty solid. Just by nature of the Road to WrestleMania, you usually see a nice combination of major feuds being blown off along with the seeds sown for the even-more-major new ones that will take their places in time for WM. The Rumble is a PPV where shit HAPPENS. And you gotta love that.

So what kind of shit is gonna happen this year? Well, that's where the staff of Online Onslaught dot com figure they'll toss their two cents in. And it's not just for your information and edification that they do this, either. It's for Intergalactic Bragging Rights over the Swine at WrestleLine. OO is UNDEFEATED in 2005, baby! And looking to keep it that way.

On that note, and with my personal limit for ado having been surpassed, let's take a look at the entire as-announced 2005 Royal Rumble PPV card, complete with predictions and thoughts from your favorite Online Onslaught semi-stars...


For a WM21 Title Shot Against the Champion of Your Choice

I'm not even sure where to begin here...  with 30 guys involved, there certainly a handful of simmering issues I could get into. But on the other hand, the star of the match is.... well, the Match itself.

Two randomly selected men start (there is a school of thought out there that Tough Enough Toolbox Daniel Puder is already assigned the #1 Entry; I believe this to be a misunderstanding from an interview in which Jim Ross said Puder was the "first man in the Rumble," intending to say he was the "first man QUALIFIED FOR" the Rumble; so yeah, I really do think the first two spots are still wide open); and then every 90 seconds, a new randomly selected man enters. This continues until all 30 men have entered. Elimination is by getting tossed over the top rope and having both feet touch the floor. By the end of the night, 30 men will have entered, but only one will remain standing in the ring. That man will be the 2005 Royal Rumble winner, and he'll earn the right to challenge his choice of champions at WrestleMania 21. Pretty neat stuff.

In fact, the format of the match allows for the once annual playing of The Royal Rumble Game (as perfected over the past 6-7 years by me and my crew). You can play the game for pride, if you want; if you're going out to Hooters (or if your Hooters is among those that has ditched PPV, it's nearest equivalent), I'd suggest you play for the winner getting his tab picked up by the losers; or you can play like us, for money. 

The game is simple: however many people are gonna play (3, 5, 6, or 10 are the ideal numbers), you write the numbers 1 through that number of players onto scraps of paper. Then everybody picks one of those scraps out of a hat. That becomes your spot in the rotation (such as: in a five person game, "#4" will "own" entries 4, 9, 14, 19, 24, and 29), and when your turn in the rotation comes up, that wrestler is assigned to you. 

You then accrue points this way: one (1) point for a solo elimination, one-half (.5) of a point for being involved in any group elimination (whether it's 2 guys working together or 10, everybody gets a half point), five (5) points for having the most assigned wrestlers in the final five Rumble participants, five (5) points for owning the Runner Up, and ten (10) points for owning the Rumble winner.

You think that scoring is simple to the point of stupidity and that you could do better? Well guess what? You probably could. But then you'd also have to be sitting there with a stopwatch and notebook to keep track of everybody's scores. The beauty of this elegantly simple Royal Rumble Game is that you can play it while watching wrestling as god intended: while drinking and chatting with your buddies. It's real easy to shout out your claim to a point as eliminations occur (everybody keeps his/her own score, and you're on the honor system), and then bonus points are super-easy to keep track of. And trust me, any game that can get you up off your chair cheering for Kenzo fucking Suzuki to do something is a GOOD thing. NO wrestler is worthless when you play the Royal Rumble Game. So drink up, have fun, and play along! [Another cool thing is that the backloaded bonus points for winning/running-up means that you're always gonna be vested until your last wrestler is eliminated. So the game is simple, yes; but stupid, no.] 

Also: if you have an uneven number of players (i.e. NOT 3, 5, 6, or 10), Science has shown that those who receive one less wrestler than other players should be awarded 3 points. Science has not yet perfected a system in which an extra wrestler might be traded for those 3 points if two players are willing, but Science is looking into it.

Anyhow, that's one way the match format is exciting. As history shows, you can also tell great stories with "iron men" like Flair in '92 or Benoit last year. You can have comedic interludes as palate cleansers. You can have a monster come in and just take over the match. All this stuff combines to make the once-a-year Rumble a long-standing favorite of mine.

But I guess I should give some lip service to this year's Rumble, specifically...

For whatever it's worth, here is the official line-up for the Rumble.

From RAW: Batista, Ric Flair, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, Edge, Kane, Snitsky, Shelton Benjamin, Muhammad Hassan, Christian, Jonathan Coachman, Hurricane, Viscera, and Simon Dean.

From SD!: John Cena, Eddie Guerrero, Booker T, Rey Mysterio, Orlando Jordan, Luther Reigns, Mark Jindrak, Kenzo Suzuki, Rene Dupree, Bob Holly, Paul London, Scotty 2 Hotty, Charlie Haas, and Daniel Puder.

Yes, that is correct: not only is SD!'s biggest name (Cena) approximately as likely a winner as RAW's seventh biggest (Kane), but SD! also only has 14 qualified entrants at this point. Just so that you dorks out there don't notice this and start fantasizing about all kinds of implausible scenarios, let me ASSURE you that this "Mystery Entry" will be none-other-than Brock Lesnar, who will shock the world by winning the Rumble. And conveniently enough, Kurt Angle will have won the WWE Title earlier in the show, setting up a much-anticipated re-match from 2003's Feud of the Year which produced multiple entries on the Top Ten Matches of 2003 list. To quote the Bulldog: BANK ON IT!

Or don't, and that way, you won't be disappointed if it turns out to be one of the losers in the WWE Title match demanding to be given one more chance in the Rumble itself, or Taker deciding he wants in, or something lame like that.

Storywise, the thing you can count on carrying the match is the Batista/Evolution dynamic. At some point, Batista and Flair are gonna be in the ring at the same time, and who knows what might happen? At this point, I don't even feel like re-hashing the many ways Batista has been outstanding the last few months in making his character ready for a split from Evolution, without actually rushing ahead with the split itself. Will HHH himself get involved? How will the result of the World Title Match affect the storyline here? All good stuff, and it's certainly set up to make Batista the star of the match, if they choose to do so...

On the RAW side, you have a couple other dance partners who are guaranteed to cross paths: Shawn Michaels/Edge, and Kane/Snitsky are both long-standing issues that'll pop up. And color me intrigued by the possibilities for Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho: do they work together, and if so for how long before one or the other does something to annoy the other?

On the SD! side? John Cena's only in there because he's got nothing else remotely enthralling on his plate, and also to scare me into thinking WWE might actually see "Cena vs. JBL" as a money match; bleh....  I guess we're also supposed to care about the "Team Angle vs. JBL's Cabinet" thing in the form of Luther/Jindrak and Orlando Jordan, but that ain't happening...  which leaves, I'm sorry to say, just about ONE SINGLE interesting thing happening on the SD! side: the odd dynamic among Eddie, Booker, and Rey; Eddie's had tense moments with both of his friends lately, and although Eddie proposed that they work together as a team in the Rumble match, let's just say Booker and Rey are suspicious. As I outlined on Monday, I'd love for there to be a moment where Eddie, Rey, Benoit, and Jericho are all in the ring together on Sunday, and have it break down to Eddie/Benoit vs. Jericho/Rey. But that's just me dreaming; I truly am no better than anyone out there who stiffened up a bit at that previous Lesnar scenario.

But that does bring me to one final note: RAW and SD! superstars will co-mingle in the same ring for the first time since last year's Draft Lottery. Even if it's not Eddie/Benoit/Rey/Jericho, you can count on some unique cross-brand confrontations taking place. And with both RAW and SD! taping in the same building on the same night on Monday, who's to say those cross-brand confrontation won't lead to bigger and better things as we head down the Road to WM21?

And again: if that doesn't get you just a little bit excited then I can't help you... you're a lost cause.

The OOutlOOk
Batista wins: 7 votes   --|--  John Cena wins: 2 vote
Edge wins: 1 vote
(No Other Superstars Received Winning Votes)

Erin Anderson Says... Batista wins.
Considering that Smackdown! wrestlers have won in the past two years, and which brand WWE has focused most of its creative energy on, I'm thinking that a RAW guy will win it this time around. A month and a half ago, I would have picked Randy Orton, but at this point, Batista has all of the momentum. And if Orton was going to be in the main event of Wrestlemania, then he would be entered into the Rumble match. He is not. Batista wins it, but doesn't break away from Evolution for at least another month: the tension between him and Triple H would be awesome.

On the off chance that a Smackdown! star wins it, I would guess it would be John Cena. He'll last longer than anyone else on his brand, at least. A friend of mine suggested that RAW doesn't need one of its stars to win the Rumble to set up the Wrestlemania main event, while Smackdown! does, and I agree; I just don't think that is going to happen, given the way WWE is treating the two brands. I expect Batista to come in sometime in the early 20s and clean house, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. The Rumble should come down to him and Flair, with Triple H at ringside. If I'm booking things, here's how I would set it up:

  • Shelton Benjamin and Rey Mysterio start, just because that would be awesome. Shelton lasts a long time, but gets tossed by Batista.

  • Edge enters sometime before #10 and has an admirable run, but is eventually tossed by Shawn Michaels.

  • Jericho and Benoit each enter about halfway through, lasting until at least the final six. One of them eliminates the other, setting up a feud for Wrestlemania.

  • Booker T and Eddie Guerrero will work together until Eddie tosses Booker with no apologies. Again, that's a pretty sweet Wrestlemania match, if you want to do it.

  • When Paul London is tossed, he'll fly high and fly far. I'm guessing at least the fifth row, especially if Batista is the one who does the tossing.

  • The Coach will serve the same purposes Nunzio and The Cat did last year: providing comedy by staying out of the match for as long as possible, and then getting tossed the second he gets in the ring.

  • Kane and Snitsky will still be selling their injuries, and either eliminate each other, or via interference from Taker or Heidenreich. And I just shuddered when I typed that.

  • Viscera won't have nearly as big of a role as Big Show did last year. Benoit should get rid of him, if there's any justice in this world.

  • Final Four prediction: Batista, Flair, Cena, and Jericho.

  • Final Two: Batista and Flair.

And there you have it.

Canadian Bulldog Says... John Cena wins.
Wow, a real tough one to call down the bat. This is one of those situations where are not one, but two, really logical and plausible conclusions that set up for WrestleMania (and as always, most of predictions here are keeping in mind that this show is essentially a preview for "The Grandaddy Of Em All". I'm predicting (not bold predictions, mind you) that we'll be seeing Cena/JBL and Batista/Orton/HHH as the two big matches at that particular event.

So why did I pick Cena instead of Batista? Basically, I'm of the feeling that Cena needs this win a lot more to legitimize his chances at Mania. Eric Bischoff could name Batista the # 1 contender to the Raw title any time over the next two months, and it wouldn't be a stretch at all. Meanwhile, Cena has to start establishing a history with JBL, and knowing SmackDown, they'll need all the help they can get.

Here's how I envision it going down: Chris Benoit will enter early, but be eliminated in the last 15 minutes of the match, sort of a false hope spot and some continuity to his kick-ass performance last year. Batista tosses more people than anyone, getting this year's Diesel Push. The final four are Batista, Ric Flair, Cena and, oh, let's say Luther Reigns. The two SmackDown stars make a temporary pact against Evolution, but it does them little good. Batista tosses out Luther, making it a two-on-one situation. Triple H comes to ringside and "accidentally" helps Cena eliminate Batista, triggering the big blow-up once and for all.  Cena makes quick work of Naitch, winning the whole thing and gets his ticket to the Road to WrestleMania.

The Cubs Fan Says... John Cena wins.
What a fascinating turn of events for this year's Rumble! Most years, you can take a pretty easy stab at the victor based on plans for WrestleMania. This year, in an amazing innovation, they seem to have forgotten the plans! Anyone can possibly win, because they can just have them lose the title shot when they figure out what the heck they're
doing, and that is why I choose Psicosis as your 2005 Royal Rumble Winner!

And then Rick said not to try and get people's hopes with random picking of people who aren't actually in the Rumble. Buzzkill.

Anyway, I think my point is - with the possibly exception of Batista, there's no one in the Rumble who'd make people thrilled to see a match versus JBL or Triple H or just for the title, like Benoit last year. JBL's beat all his rivalries back to the midcard, and HHH's facing his main rival. Batista's story seems to need another backstab by Triple H to cause Batista to turn on him, so I don't think it'll progress with a win here.

I think it'd be a fantabulous move to have Edge win the Rumble, and some how lose the title shot between now and Rumble by yet another stroke of bad luck/backfiring cheating. Win or lose against HBK, he's gotta completely snap and kill someone at some point, and that'd be perfect
motivation. Plus, he needs to actually get a major win at some point if he's going to be taken as a major player, and winning the Rumble is a bigger win than being HBK before it.

WWE's is playing it safe all around right now, taking no major risks. The easiest move is just to have Cena win the match, though we haven't really been building in that direction and it doesn't feel like the right time. Easy trumps all, so [blurred] wins it, probably denying Benoit a repeat win.

I suspect it'll come down to some final combination like Eddie (after questionably eliminating an ally), Coach (so people can go 'COACH?'), Benoit (possibly repeating the iron man stuff of last year - or at least doing enough so announcers can make allusions to it), and Cena.

Other spots in the match will see Flair 'accidently' knocking out Batista after a quite predictable run of throwing people out (including an amazing bump by Paul London), bad karma causing Edge to leave and Kane and Snitsky eliminating each other. I hope for cute bits like Shelton and Charlie ending up in the ring together, but if they don't seem to have a plan to set up the winner, I can't count on subplots.
Matt Hocking Says... Batista wins.
Longest Time in the match:  Edge
Most Eliminations: Batista

Here's how I'm thinking for some big spots:

  • Edge gets in early, first ten, but guts out the whole match waiting for Michaels, who comes in at 25ish, Edge finally gets his hands on Shawn, but is eliminated almost immediately.  Shawn gets his heat back for eliminating Edge, Edge now still has a beef with Shawn.  Edge flips out and goes back to the ring to beat down HBK, who is easily dumped by Batista.  Yes, I realize they already did this with Jericho, but it's effective enough to work again.
  • Flair and Batista will both enter one right after the other, right around the late-middle, they will work together for a long stretch, eliminating almost everyone before Batista quickly turns on Flair and dumps him, making the universal signal for "Every man for himself".
  • Eddie Guerrero will eliminate both Rey Misterio and Booker T.
  • Viscera will be impossible to eliminate from the moment he comes in, however Batista will eliminate him immediately. 
  • There will be a comedy spot, mid-match during which Tajiri and William Regal will conspire to get Jonathan Coachman eliminated.
  • The Final Two will be Cena and Batista, it will carry for a looong stretch of time before Flair comes back and distracts Cena long enough for Dave to get the win.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Batista wins.
Yes, Batista already is the front runner, but I'm picking him for a reason that hasn't really been touched upon.  Most people are now confident that Batista will fight HHH at WM.  With that in mind, it seems to me that the only viable way for that to happen is if Batista wins the Rumble.  If he doesn't we have to go through a bunch of hoops that won't really make sense and will just be lame.  Cena has an outside chance, but there are easier ways of getting him to the main event without winning this match.
As for some other predictions:

A lot of people believe it will come down to Flair and Batista.  I don't see it that way, but I do believe that Batista will eliminate Flair.  He'll have to chalk it up later to being "in the heat of the match".

I think it should come down to Batista and a strong heel from Smackdown.  As I look over the list, there isn't anyone that really fits what I'm looking for.  So I'll say it comes down to Edge and Batista.  Edge will get screwed and we have a potential feud down the line.
I'll go out on a limb and say the "iron man" will be Coach.  He's the kind of guy who will get under the crowd's skin enough that they will be begging for him to be tossed, yet he'll somehow find a way to hang on throughout most of the match.
If he comes out early enough, Batista should be the one to have the most eliminations.  However, if not, you gotta go with the man who currently holds the record, Kane.
I don't believe there will be any surprise entrants.  The last Smackdown spot will probably go to some scrub from Smackdown who's usually on Velocity.
Jeb Lund Says... Batista wins.
I donít want to go into this in too much detail. I chatted with Rick last night, and he and I had very similar ideas. Iím sure heís going to share his with you, so my adding mine would just be needless repetition. Suffice to say, I think Batista will win. I think that it will come down to Flair and Batista, and Orton will help (or outright) eliminate Flair as a ďscrew youĒ to Triple H and Evolution. How this plays out is where Rick and I differ.

Fantasy Crap: Triple H panics that Batista might beat him for the title, so he tries to persuade him to vie for the WWE Title on Smackdown. Batista sensibly argues that ďkeeping the title belt within Evolution is best for Evolution,Ē so it makes more sense to wrestle Triple H at WrestleMania. Whoever wins doesnít matter, because Evolution wins. Triple H is steamed at this and doesnít know how to argue around it whenÖ enter Randy Orton. Orton demands a number-one contenderís match against Batista. This sets up an Orton v. Batista free-per-view match.

You can go two ways with this. Option One: Triple H interferes on Ortonís behalf, figuring he can beat the little pipsqueak again without a headache. Only it backfires. Batista powers out of the interference, defeats Orton, and suddenly heís a full-fledged babyface about to take on Triple H at WrestleMania. Oh, and Ortonís (maybe) in his corner, providing a little tweener heat for Randy.

Option Two: the one that makes more sense. Triple H and Flair intervene in the number-one contenderís match on Batistaís behalf. They crush Orton. Itís Triple H v. Batista at WrestleMania. However, during backstage segments, Triple H tries to convince Batista to lie down for him, for ďthe good of Evolution.Ē Also, Batista overhears some quips about how, even if he didnít lie down, he could never beat Triple H, because he lost to Orton in the past and couldnít beat Orton without Evolutionís interference. Thus, he goes into WrestleMania as a tweener Ė albeit with huge babyface heat Ė and we have no idea what he will do, or if Orton will support or sabotage him. And thatís the last time I fantasy book for months. I promise. Also, many thanks to Rick for letting me air these ideas to doublecheck if they were retarded.

"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... Batista wins.
I agonzied over this one for a long, long time. OK, maybe a minute or two. But I see two logical winners for the Royal Rumble: Batista, and Edge.

The logic behind having Batista win is obvious. The signs point to Batista facing Triple H for the belt at Wrestlemania - maybe with Orton thrown in, maybe not. There's also the tease of Batista telling HHH there's only one real world's champ - he could be referring to the Smackdown! title. I don't see that happening, but either way, Batista has all the momentum right now.

Then there's Edge. When you have Shawn Michaels telling Edge to go out and prove himself and win the Rumble - well, there ya go. Batista vs. HHH can take place regardless of the Rumble, but Edge needs that feather in his cap at this point. Thing is, he'd have to jump to the SD! side, and I'm going with the train of thought that says that brand already has its WM main event dialled up.

So it's Batista. I think he'll be given a later number, but not so late that he can't have a Diesel moment and clear out six or seven guys once he hits the ring. The endgame will feature Ric Flair somehow, and I'm guessing Shawn Michaels and Edge. I can see a scenario where Flair and Batista are on the same page all the way up to the Final Four, then Flair tries to sucker Batista and fails. You could then finish with Batista vs. Flair or vs. Edge. I love Flair, but I think it's safe to say Batista facing Edge in the end would be more interesting.

Here's a thought: Evolution could help Edge win and then, in return, he'll go to Smackdown! to chase that title. Hmmmm... now I'm inserting myself as booker, and that's bad for predictering.

I'd like to see Benoit and Guerrero start off. Then they immediately team up to dump Entrant No. 3. Lather, Rinse, Repeat until, say, Viscera at No. 6. Then the ring starts to fill up.
PyroFalkon Says...  Batista wins.
Okay, Iím going to get all insider on you. When we get together for these PPV predictions, Rick e-mails us and gives us general instructions. Like how to format our picks when we send them to him, to ease the insanity that is copying and pasting from eight or more different documents into one, reformatting shit, and so on.

This time, Rick has asked us to explain the Rumble in more detail than the other matches because of its importance on the card. And as anyone here at OO can tell you, I work damn hard for this website. Sure, Iíve got the shittiest show the WWE offers, but I truly try to work hard and be professional when I recap it. Everyone else here, from Canadian Bulldog to Jeb Lund, are the same.

But tonight, Iím making the mistake of writing this just after writing my Byte This! recap. And let me tell you, hearing Ortonís segment has completely drained me of all inspiration for wrestling, and right now, I truly do not give a shit about writing up notes and predictions to a PPV Iím 98% sure Iím not going to buy. I could wait until tomorrow to do this, but to be honest, I donít want to. And if you knew me, youíd realize how serious me slacking off is.

So, the point is, Iím not going to be half-assing this oneÖ itíll be closer to one-tenth-assing.

For this match, I looked at the list of wrestlers competing in the Rumble, and Batista is the one who makes the least sense of losing. So he wins.

Big Danny T Says... Edge wins.
Your final 4: John Cena, Edge, Batista, and Paul London

Paul gets eliminated quick because he's a cruiserweight, Batista gets eliminated when HHH, while trying to "help," causes Batista to go out. Cena and Edge will slug it out with Cena hitting the FU. but he'll be unable to capatalize because he'll spend the next minute or so showboating like a jackass, Edge will get up, and hit a spear that carries him all the way up and over the top rope.

Starting 2: Shelton Benjiman and Luther Reigns

Ironman: Shelton Benjiman (getting eliminated somewhere around 24 or 25)

First Elimination: Coach, who, after entering 4th or 5th, will get beat down for 3 minutes and tossed out, by EVERYONE!
Rick Scaia Says... Batista wins.
No need to get fancy, here. So a lot of fans might "know" that Batista's gonna win...  guess what? IT DOESN'T MATTER. Because even among whatever percentage of smark fans who "know" such things, I bet most or all of them also WANT Batista to win. At least, if they still have a shred of Actual Fan in them, they do.

This is no different from 1998, when everybody "knew" Steve Austin was gonna win the Rumble. Did the fact that it was obvious make it any less fulfilling an experience to watch? I think not. Batista's in that same kind of spot. Everybody can talk before the match and agree, "That Batista, he sure seems like the odds-on favorite," but then when the match happens and he's bad-ass enough to follow through? Everybody still loves it. He's the kind of juggernaut that's so bad-ass people LIKE seeing him obtain the obvious outcome. Some handful of smarks might bitch and moan about it, some might even have thought they got all clever on me by sending me e-mails claiming this Rumble would be "anvilicious," but just listen to the fans: they'll tell you they want Batista to win.

And I think WWE will oblige.

Some other thoughts about what to look for:

  • I'd love for it to come down to Batista and Flair, and could fantasy book you a half-dozen different really awesome ways to go from there... my preference is that whatever happens at the Rumble NOT be the final split from Evolution by Batista. I'm loving the simmering, the character building, and the Nothing Happening, and think the coolest possible thing would be HHH vs. Batista at Mania and have it still be a tenuous Evolution vs. Evolution match, with Flair caught in the middle.
  • Speaking of Flair, I view him as the only real possible "dark horse" winner, because again: if that happens, the mind races with awesome possibilities to keep Evolution hanging together by a thread, without Batista actually turning or being turned upon till Mania. (Obviously, Flair vs. HHH isn't the WM21 main event, by then, you'd have moved the #1 Contender spot onto Batista by some plot contrivance).
  • On the SD! side: christ, what a mess. John Cena is, I promise you, the only guy WWE would even think about letting win from SD!. Which is retarded. Not just because of my newfound loathing of Cena, but because if you still want to shove Cena in as the #1 Contender come Mania, you can accomplish that simply by virtue of Teddy Long making the match (hell, it's even BETTER that way, since I'm sure such a ruling would totally sand Carlito Cool's vagina). Whereas the Rumble win for Batista is necessary as the best way to tell his story (otherwise, he has to outright mutiny against HHH, which is not our Logical Monster's MO).  Plus: Cena might be the "only" option on SD! in "WWE Think" but I tell you this... in "non-retarded think," Rey Mysterio should be the only SD! guy who is even discussed as a possible winner. Rey's been playing exclusively with the heavyweights for several months, now, and doing it convincingly; he's showing some personality in backstage bits and the little story with Eddie; and basically, Rey has turned into the single best reason to watch SD!. I'd LOVE to see the ultimate underdog be the one to finally topple JBL (and only after 2 tasty months of fending off his jealous friend, Eddie, to boot! SO much potential High Quality there). That said, I still think Batista needs it, which is fine, cuz WWE is too tunnel-visioned to appreciate the possibilities of Rey Rey winning the Rumble.
  • I'm going with Edge as my "Iron Man" of the match. This ties into my prediction for his undercard match, too. But I figure Edge comes in hot off a win over Michaels, has an amazing showing in the Rumble, and then -- POOF -- Shawn eliminates him, and the WM title shot dreams are dashed yet again.
  • Chris Benoit is my "getting screwed the fuck over" pick of the match. They did nothing with the story of him qualifying, they clearly have no designs on utilizing Benoit at the main event level in the near term. I guess there'd be nothing wrong with having a Jericho/Benoit confrontation end in Benoit getting eliminated, to possibly further their pointless (but fun-to-watch) feud, and so that's the likeliest scenario... but a few night's ago I was doing some chatting and stumbled across an even BETTER idea: have Benoit and Batista be the final two guys in the Rumble for a lengthy one-on-one tease-laden segment, and do all the Evolution/Flair drama earlier in the match. Not only has Batista's best match ever been against Benoit, but Benoit just DESERVES to be put over as a potential main eventer.... and how's this for thinking ahead: you have Batista eliminate Benoit to win, and combine that with Benoit's problems with Jericho, and maybe by the time Batista wins the WWE Title, there's a heel Chris Benoit waiting for him as a challenger, the PERFECT guy to help establish Batista and help him to have quality matches and stuff over the summer. It's a great idea; which, as we know, means Benoit will indeed be the "getting screwed the fuck over," because great ideas are worthless to WWE.  But I thought I'd share that one with you.
  • Kane and Snitsky will be too busy with each other to eliminate anybody else, and will draw numbers conveniently close to one another and somehow get eliminated simultaneously (this would be a funny spot for Coach to shove them both over as they're tied in the ropes, and then act all macho and proud for about 2 nanoseconds before somebody -- oh, let's just say Rey -- tosses him).
  • When it comes down to the final four, I'm having a hard time justifying ANY SD! star in the mix. I guess maybe Cena, but then the other three guys should probably be Batista, Flair, and Michaels. Cena will be recognized as a possible winner, but fans will be more interested in the RAW side of the story. Batista and Flair can start out teamed up as heels, and there's so much history between Michaels and HHH that fans won't completely dismiss the possibility that Michaels could win (this also "gets his heat back" from dropping a match to Edge). From there, I don't know how you do it... probably down to either Batista/Flair or Batista/Cena, though. [Or, not to harp on it, you could just take Cena out of the equation completely and put Benoit in, and things would be pretty awesome. But I'm sure WWE's hard-on for Cena knows no bounds, so why bother getting all attached to my fantasy booking?]
  • If you play the Royal Rumble Game, you will pretty much have to draw Batista to win, since I imagine he'll be the winner AND rack up the most eliminations.  I don't know if any other lucky combination of assigned wrestlers will be able to make up the difference...


World Heavyweight Title Match

By most accounts, this match is happening two months sooner than originally projected by WWE. Once viewed as the RAW brand's money match at WrestleMania 21, it now appears to be a mere stepping stone to WM. A miscalculation by WWE? A simple case of Batista's stock rising as Orton's drops? This is not the time nor the place to pick apart these issues, though....

This is the time and place to explain what's gotten us to this point. And unlike Orton and Lazy WWE Writers, I won't just say the word "Destiny" and leave it at that... I'll at least TRY to make it a compelling tale.

Although, it gets off to an awful rocky start when I tell you that Orton was the randomly-decided World Title Challenger to Chris Benoit after winning a battle royale. In the interim between Orton's battle royale win and his SummerSlam title shot, his boss, Triple H, tried frantically to relieve Benoit of the World Title. But he kept coming up short, and to this day, does not hold a victory over Benoit. At SummerSlam, though, punk kid Randy Orton did what HHH couldn't, and he DID beat Benoit. HHH respectfully submitted that Orton should lay down and give the title back to HHH. Orton decided not to, thus launching an alleged face turn, complete with shitty new entrance music and lingering boos that just never went away. For his troubles, Orton was beaten by HHH in their first major PPV title match, having held the title for all of a month or so.

And then it at least starts to get a little bit interesting: Orton was so angry and wanted a rematch against HHH so bad that he agreed to a stipulation match in which he'd face Ric Flair. If Orton won, he got a title shot, but if Orton lost, he'd NEVER get a title shot as long as HHH was reigning as champion. Needless to say, Orton lost. But WWE didn't want us to forget just how amazingly awesome and awesomely amazing Young Randall is, so they had Orton continue to best HHH in all manner of non-title settings. This included Survivor Series last fall; when Orton's team beat HHH's, those four men earned the right to be Guest General Managers of RAW for one week each. And that gimmick started out promisingly enough, but quickly devolved into one of the single dumbest nights of television of 2004 (yes, the one I dubbed "NITRO is ORTIN~!"). On that night, Orton (when he wasn't too busy ordering a slew of floozies to get naked in front of him, apparently under the misapprehension that he'd teleported to Planet Cinemax) unmade his own stipulation about the World Title being up for grabs in a Battle Royale, and instead made the Battle Royale a #1 Contender's Battle Royale. Chris Benoit and Edge ended up tying, so BOTH were granted a title shot (Triple Threat style) against HHH later that night. And in that match, Edge pinned Benoit at the exact same time Benoit made Edge tap out. And although this should have been a draw and HHH wasn't even involved in the finish, he was stripped of the title.

Fast forward through the holidays, and HHH regained the title in the Elimination Chamber, thanks in no small part to Batista. But the last guy HHH eliminated was Orton, who thought that maybe that'd be enough to get him a title shot. GM Bischoff ruled that Orton WAS eligible for title shots, since this counted as a new reign for HHH, and thus, the previous stipulation was off the books... but he had one more hoop for Orton to jump through: Bischoff made a #1 Contender's match between Orton and Batista. And in that match, Orton won, but only thanks to inadvertent interference by HHH. So the Royal Rumble match was made...

It's telling that when you finally get towards the end of the story, you feel yourself gravitating more towards the Batista vs. HHH elements than towards the Orton vs. HHH elements, isn't it? Batista doesn't, technically, fit in here... and yet, he's the shiny other side of the coin to ANYthing HHH does these days. And the fans have spoken: if you flip a coin that has Batista on one side and Orton on the other, they want Orton's pretty little self face-down in the mud.

The current vibe between HHH and Orton is one of Orton whining again about his destiny and how he'll take back what was stolen from him, while HHH is smugly confident that he'll be OK against "a kid." HHH's mindgames the past 2 weeks have established him as the Cerebral Assassin yet again (although mindgames with Randall is like pointing a InterContinental Ballistic Missile at a single unarmed man)... to his own credit, though, Orton's still found ways to circumvent those mindgames to do things like pin Ric Flair on Monday.

What ever will happen? I don't know, but I'm guessing it'll take about 25 minutes, be flamboyantly mediocre as a wrestling match, and will hopefully be picked up by storyline elements involving Flair and Batista for a few, final, tasty moments of drama and intrigue.

The OOutlOOk
Triple H wins: 7 votes  --|--  Randy Orton wins: 2 votes
Nobody wins (No Decision): 1 vote

Erin Anderson Says... Triple H d. Randy Orton.
I'm almost positive that Randy's almost inevitable WrestleMania title win isn't going to happen. They've already done this match several times before, and they're doing it again now? Yeah, Randy's going to lose, because there's no way he's walking into Mania with the title around his waist. The match should be decent, if nothing special, and I think that the bulk of the workload will actually be carried by Orton (that was the case in their last one-on-one encounter.) Triple H will win clean, and there's really not much else to say about it. The creative focus of RAW has shifted elsewhere, and this match will feel more like filler than anything else. Besides, when in doubt, look at what happened on Monday: Randy won. He loses come Sunday.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Nobody wins (but HHH retains).
I can vote for a tie, right? And if they end up in a tie, I get points, right? Judges? If not, put my money Orton winning the match but not the belt in a screwy finish.

I'm thinking that the backstory here is that Batista doesn't come to ringside at all, pissing off Triple H royally because he's busy "getting ready for the Rumble" or somesuch. Flair tries to help out, but he's TOO OLD to make a difference. The Cerebral Assassin ends up getting himself DQ'd, as does Orton, leaving the issue unresolved and setting up things quite nicely for my proposed Mania match. The next night, you can throw Disgruntled Dave in there and start towards a triple threat match.

The Cubs Fan Says... Randy Orton d. Triple H (but does NOT win the title).
Has anyone made the Lex Luger comparison to Orton yet? Probably. It doesn't make sense for Orton to get his big win here and have nothing to do at WrestleMania, and it doesn't make sense for him to be a complete failure. There's always middle ground - boring but inoffensive middle ground, Orton's style - where neither can happen. Either Orton gets himself DQed while being a moron and hitting HHH with the belt at the wrong, which sounds fitting, or Orton getting announced as the winner, but not going home with the belt. The latter option makes Orton seem slightly better, and it's fairly Luger, so that's what I'll go with this.
Matt Hocking Says... Triple H d. Randy Orton.
I remember a time when this match was MONEY~! for WrestleMania.  Now it's barely filling up a PPV spot on the undercard of the second best PPV of the year.  All that said, I think Orton and Hunter can put on a good, solid entertaining match, especially with eachother.  I think, though, that when it comes right down to it, you need to have Triple H as the heavyweight champion heading into Mania, so there's no way that Orton can really win here.  I think that Hunter gets Flair and Batista to give him a hand en
route to a bloody victory over Randy.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Triple H d Randy Orton.
Well, if there was any mystery about the result when the match was announced, it's been completely eradicated in the past few weeks.  They've done this strange booking where they've booked Orton strong, yet completely pathetic at the same time.  It's like we're supposed to believe that by beating Flair he has a real good chance of also beating HHH.  Thank goodness the Orton era has come to a close.  We all know the match won't be good, but let's hope it won't be awful.  I'm guessing it will be somewhere between HHH other two Rumble defenses.  Better than Steiner, but worse than HBK.  By the way, I just checked with Vegas and they informed me that the over/under on number of chinlocks in this match is currently at 7.
Jeb Lund Says... Triple H d. Randy Orton.
I am constitutionally incapable of saying that Orton wins this match. Also, I think that it would be a very stupid idea, even if I didnít loathe the puling bastard. I think Triple H needs to win this one with a little difficulty, preferably by cheating. This will impel Randy to try to screw with Evolutionís chances in the Rumble match. I also predict this match will be utterly miserable to watch.
"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... Triple H d. Randy Orton.
Remember the RNN updates? I liked those. Trips wins this one hands down, or at least as down as hands can be these days. Not that Orton will be buried in the process. I think it's safe to say HHH will have to cheat to win, and I suspect we'll see a Triple Threat match at WM21. Phooey.
PyroFalkon Says...  Randy Orton d. Triple H.
This result would completely piss me off, so Iím sure itís gonna happen.
Big Danny T Says... Triple H d. Randy Orton.
Hoping beyond hope here, but I hope the WWE has realized that the Randy Orton Experiment needs to be brought back down to midcard for a while. They'll try their hardest to put on a good show, and they just might do it, but HHH should be holding the title when Batista comes after him to make it all the more interesting (see Rumble match predictions)
Rick Scaia Says... Triple H d. Randy Orton.
There's a right way to do this match, and then there's the WWE way to do this match.

The WWE way would be something screwy in which Orton wins by DQ or count-out (maybe even wins the title) so that he remains in the WM21 main event mix, necessitating some convoluted three-way feud among him, HHH, and Batista.

The right way would be to have Trips score the win here, send Randall off to go play with somebody else, and focus on the story of HHH and Batista, one-on-one, simple and compelling.

So which way do I pick? Well fuck it, I'll pick the right way. Because at some level, I've adopted the mindset that I've got no problem finishing dead last in the PPV picks as long as I can know my ideas made more sense than WWE's.

So instead of some complicated, Hollywood writer-y thing in which Orton stays in the mix (maybe you even like the idea of using the three-way feud as a tool to double turn Orton and Batista? Guess again, there are also better ways to do THAT than to spoil the essential goodness of Batista/HHH)... I insist on keeping it simple.

HHH wins via pinfall, and will do so with an assist from Batista. Batista will then win the Royal Rumble. The next night on RAW, I don't want fireworks, I don't want idiotic over-reaction. I want more Logical Reasoning, I want more As Little As Possible Happening, but still building the characters up. I want Evolution holding together by a thread all the way up till WM21 itself.

Here's an idea that I like: after Batista helps HHH retain the title and then wins the Rumble, on RAW, you have HHH calmly propose a compromise: "Hey Dave, congrats on the Rumble win, but I was kinda thinking you might decide to jump over to SD! and wrestle for that title. You know, and then I'll just keep this title safe over here on RAW." Maybe milk it with more of Batista "thinking about it," but eventually his response is more of his bulletproof logic: "You know, champ, you wouldn't even have that title today if it wasn't for Evolution having your back. I'd hate to think about Evolution losing the World Title just because I selfishly decided to go over to SD! and break out on my own. No, champ, I think it's best for Evolution if I just stay right here on RAW, and we keep the group together and we keep that title around your waist. And look at it this way, champ: no matter what happens at WrestleMania when we lace 'em up, Evolution still walks out with the gold. And isn't that what's important, champ? Evolution? Good, I thought so."  Delivered properly, Batista could again toe that line between confidence and insubordination, making him a fan favorite even though he remains loyal to Evolution. The vibe should be "I'll do everything in my power to keep that title on you, HHH, and then I'm gonna be the man who personally takes it away."

That'd be so badass.  And it requires HHH to beat Orton and for Orton to evaporate (or at least, just poke around the edges of this story, not be a part of a three-way feud).



I don't think there's much use denying it: Edge's heel turn has been a beautiful thing to watch play out. He's even better at twisting a story to make himself a victim than Muhammad Hassan. He's even better at self-centered self-promotion than JBL. And the best part is that while he's doing all this outstanding heel work, this is a guy (unlike those other two) who you KNOW can bring it in the ring.

And once you appreciate the heel turn, another thing you can't deny is that the whole thing really has been centered on Edge's loathing of Shawn Michaels. Even the little mini-feud with Benoit during HBK's injury absence was clearly just marking time. The story here is how Edge thinks that Michaels has, on multiple occasions, robbed him of a chance to become the World Champion.

It started last October, when Edge was still ostensibly a babyface. In a three-way fan vote to determine the #1 Contender to HHH's title, Edge finished second. To Shawn Michaels. To a Shawn Michaels who had, before voting even started, revealed to fans that he had a serious knee injury. The fans still trusted Michaels to give it his all, though... and they voted HBK into the match against HHH.

This enraged Edge. He was angry at the fans for picking an injured Michaels over a healthy Edge. He was angry at Michaels for not just stepping aside and giving the match to somebody healthy who might actually have a chance at beating HHH. He was just angry.

For all his doubts about Michaels' ability to beat HHH, Edge still felt the need to MAKE SURE that Shawn didn't win the Taboo Tuesday main event... at a moment where it looked like Shawn might almost pull it out, Edge ran in and attacked. The attack cost Michaels the match, and in storylines it also aggravated Michaels' knee injury to the point where he needed to take 2 months off for surgery.  To Edge, it was vigilante justice: Michaels cost him his World Title Shot, so Edge cost Michaels HIS shot at winning the gold.

Fast-forward past the holidays, and Michaels made his return to TV as the special referee of the six-man Elimination Chamber match. And in that match, Michaels, being in possession of the Jesus and all, was more than happy to try to turn the other cheek and call the match straight down the middle. But when Chris Jericho dodged and Edge accidentally speared Michaels, the jig was up: at the first available opportunity, HBK got back to his feet, and superkicked Edge. Edge was thusly eliminated, and saw another shot at the World Title slip through his fingers because of Shawn Michaels.

The few weeks since have included some outstanding bitching and moaning from Edge, and some sage fatherly advice from Michaels (telling Edge to "shut up and earn it"), and a whole LOT of crazy ass brawling. Give 'em a chance to hook it up one-on-one, and we might start out with some Actual Wrestling, but by the end of the match, fists will be flying, and the action should be fast and furious. That mix should be quite a treat, and if you give 'em 20-plus minutes, I'm promising you right here and now that if anything should misfire in the Rumble match, THIS will be the highlight of the night.

Although, a quick note: both these guys are ALSO in the Rumble match. They stand to contribute substantially to the night's 2 best matches, and the double duty does open up lots of interesting possibilities in terms of how you book the men into each match... should be good stuff, is all I'm saying.

The OOutlOOk
Edge wins: 6 votes   --|--  Michaels wins: 4 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Edge d. Shawn Michaels.
Damn, I am looking forward to this one. This will NOT be the last time we see these two clash, either, so look for an inconclusive ending: either a DQ, a ref bump, someone cheating to win, something. And what else can be said about the expectations for the match itself? It should be awesome, and if WWE is smart, they'll give this one at least 20 minutes. I'm very torn on how it will end because it could go either way, but if I'm booking things, Edge wins by cheating. Michaels will have cause for a rematch that way, and then he'll also be able to get a measure of revenge on Edge by throwing him out of the Rumble: yet again screwing Edge out of a title shot. The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that Edge can't lose here. He can't keep acting as HBK's bitch, and he needs some bragging rights in their feud other than slapping a submission hold on Michaels after a match a few weeks ago. I'll enjoy it either way, though, and it's one of the main selling points of the PPV for me.
Canadian Bulldog Says... Edge d. Shawn Michaels.
Another tough one to call, but this is part of a two-part scenario that would set up Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania. Will HBK actually do the right thing and put Edge over as part of this? As someone I know quite well is fond of saying, BANK ON IT!!!

As Michaels is being interviewed by Coach pre-match, Angle happens to be walking by. He questions something Michaels says about being a showstopper and brags that he's been a World Champion four times (by my count). Michaels says he's a four-time champion too (again by my count). Michaels then hits some sort of sore spot with Kurt, leaving him seething and HBK prances to the ring.

Then, shock of shocks, Kurt costs Shawn the match, leading to the next match on this predictions list.

The Cubs Fan Says... Shawn Michaels d. Edge.
Shawn should usually lose this matches. Outside of the one time to Randy Orton, Shawn always wins these matches. Is Edge Randy Orton? Edge is not Randy Orton. Shawn Michaels will not lose to Edge. (At least not yet?)
Matt Hocking Says... Edge d. Shawn Michaels.
I'm not as thrilled over the prospects of this match as Rick is (judging by his comments in the match listing he sent me), but it should be pretty good.  The reason I'm not any more excited is that a) Edge hasn't consistantly REALLY good solo TV matchs since before he got hurt, and b) because, unless
they're eliminated early, both guys are going to have to save something for the Rumble.  Then again, this is easily the most unpredictable match on the card, if for no other reason than because they could continue this storyline with either guy winning this match.  I'll say Edge cheats to win a
hardfought match.
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Shawn Michaels d. Edge.
I'm very surprised that they opted to do this match here.  This certainly seemed destined for WM.  I guess they felt that the undercard was lacking so they tried to beef it up by throwing this on there.  Given the fact that it's now being rumored that Shawn will face Angle at WM, we need some finality here.  Whenever finality is needed, you have to go with the face.  That's why I've picked Shawn.  The loss will give Edge more fuel to his argument that everyone is out to screw him.  However, I'll say that Edge will get his heat back by dumping Shawn out of the Rumble.
Jeb Lund Says... Shawn Michaels d. Edge.
Aside from a feel-good Batista win, I imagine this will be the only other fan-pleasing moment on the card. I think this can be a good solid match with entertaining spots. But I also think that Michaels will win cleanly. Edge will be furious, leading to his eliminating Michaels from the Rumble match. Their feud can then continue as Jericho v. Michaels II, leading to a WrestleMania blowoff. Only, this time, Michaels should do the right thing and lose at ĎMania. (Instead of losing months later on a throwaway RAW that no one remembers.) Heís here to put over new stars, folks, and he might start now that heís nearing Year Three in that plan!
"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... Edge d. Shawn Michaels.
This one I'm not very confident about. If Edge is actually the one to win the Rumble, then I think Michaels should win this match. But I'm sticking with my guns. That means an Edge win here. He needs a victory of some importance to elevate him to main event status. If he wins here and loses the Rumble, he gets the key victory and yet can continue to bitch and moan about getting screwed. Perfect.
PyroFalkon Says...  Edge d. Shawn Michaels.
Edge needs a win to keep the feud going, and itís not over yet.
Big Danny T Says... Shawn Michaels d. Edge.
The Show stealer. Expect great things out of this one, and i predict HBK will take it, as I've given the more important win to Edge.
Rick Scaia Says... Edge d. Shawn Michaels.
This one's a pretty easy call for me. I realized last night that since these are the only two guys on the card being asked to pull double duty, the obvious outcome is that the "split" their encounters. And once you realize that, the best way to split it up is to give Edge the match win, and then to have Shawn get the better of Edge in the Rumble.

Just based on my vision of the awesomely dickish promos Edge could cut after the Rumble, it's GOT to go down this way. Imagine: "Shawn Michaels, you've screwed me again. I beat you, I beat you fair and square, one-on-one in a tough match. And then I went on to the Rumble where I enter #5 and gave the performance of my life, and was within a few minutes of going on to WrestleMania. And then out comes Shawn Michaels at #28, and what's the first thing he does? He's upset at having been exposed as a has-been, so he waits, attacks me from behind, and takes away my chance to wrestle for the World Title yet again. So Shawn Michaels, I may have beaten you, but this is far from over. I will not rest until I END you, Shawn Michaels, and can rest secure in the knowledge that you won't be lurking around the next corner, waiting to ambush my career one more time. See you at WrestleMania, Shawn. Let's say we make it Hell in the Cell."

OK, so I started to paraphrase at the end, there... but you get the idea. Edge winning the match, but "getting screwed" by Shawn again in the Rumble is the PERFECT way to keep this thing simmering. Hell, screw "simmering," after this, Edge's hatred should be up to a full rolling boil. Which should make for a couple fun months leading up to a WM rematch with a stipulation attached.

And even if that stip match is the money match of the feud, I'm not exactly expecting chopped liver on Sunday, either. These two will bring it, and the personalities are strong enough that it ought to have plenty of heat and sizzle to it, too. 


WWE Title Match

You know that thing I said above about being able to make up for WWE's creative deficiencies when telling the stories of these matches? Well, I don't know if I can do that here.

I guess I'd start by saying that "JBL vs. The World" seems to be SD!'s new theme. In December, he was forced to face all three of his primary challengers from his first 5 months as champ in a single Fatal Fourway match. And just as he had in one-on-one encounters against Eddie Guerrero, Undertaker, and Booker T, JBL wound up coming out on top against all three of them at once.

So now, the thin SD! roster and the sometimes-dubious storytelling exhibited there brings us to this point: JBL versus two more capable challengers in a single Triple Threat Match. Because lord knows, JBL is so mighty that there's no point sending one single man against him!

The story started out randomly enough: with JBL celebrating his title win, and Kurt Angle for some reason (a reason I don't recall, and thus, probably wasn't particularly sensible) interrupting the celebration to talk about how awesome he was, and to attempt to get fans interested in calling JBL "Bucko" (note: it hasn't stuck). For GM Teddy Long, that looked enough like a feud for him to order a JBL/Angle match... and though JBL retained, when Team Angle and His Cabinet got involved, the real story was that the Big Show was still angry enough at Kurt Angle for the preceding months of anguish that he ran out and beat up everybody.

So, OK, it didn't exactly make sense to start, but it was simple enough at that point. Angle and JBL don't quite like each other, Show hates Angle, and after besting Angle in their singles feud, Show might also have designs on JBL's belt. Crisp, clean, no fuss, no muss.

Of course, that's where Stephanie McMahon Phalanx of Idiot Hollywood Writers hit the scene. Making use of not one, but TWO Useless Diva Search Losers, we are subjected to awful "acting," hokey dialogue, and contrived plot twists involving women that fans have been given absolutely no reason to care about. And instead of taking the time to make us care about them, WWE just shoehorns them into main event segments, causing me, for the first time EVER, to not want to watch Kurt Angle on my TV.

I'm not gonna bother with the details, but suffice it to say this WWE Title feud has included such "drama" as Useless Diva Joy being locked in a trunk, Kurt Angle getting naked in front of Useless Diva Joy when he thought he was getting naked in front of Useless Diva Amy, Useless Diva Amy getting a yogurt smoothie poured all over her implausible cleavage by Useless Diva Joy, and so on and so forth... a month ago, Big Show was on a roll the likes of which I don't think he'd been on since the Lesnar feud. But since then, SD!'s creative team has castrated him and made him more concerned about some Useless Diva that the fans don't care about than he is about the WWE Title. Awful.

I guess I should mention that JBL and Angle have tried, at every turn, to form partnerships to get the better of Big Show.... but they always fall apart. No honor among thieves and all that. And in fact, it was Show who ended up getting the better of JBL and Angle last: last night, JBL and Angle were forced by GM Teddy Long to have a Last Man Standing Match, and at the end of the 20 minute match, BOTH men stayed down for the 10 count while Big Show revealed that the match was HIS idea to wear down his opponents for Sunday. WHEEE~! It almost has to do with wrestling!  But it's also too little, too late for me...

A lot of this is gonna have to be on Angle on Sunday... even with his neck condition, he'll be the one to carry the match. As last night's match against JBL showed, JBL seemed OK for about 10-12 minutes, but then Kurt had to go to restholds and stuff (and they did a bunch of 10 count spots, too), to let JBL get his wind back. Or so it appeared to me. Show is a lot of things, but capable of 15 minutes of non-stop action isn't one of them. I'm sure all of this will be taken into account when they lay out the match, but I'm equally sure that the solution, if they are to keep the pace up, will involve a lot of Angle versus One Guy while the Other Guy takes a breather. Which is not conventional (the lone babyface would normally be the straw that stirs this drink), but which could work.  But then by the end, I think we will bring it home with JBL and Big Show as the focal points. They're the only two with Useless Divas affiliated with them (unless you count Mark Jindrak!), and their storyline ties seem a little tighter. Angle's kind of an add-on, here... but he's the add-on who'll be charged with making the two key storyline players look good. Cross your fingers that it works out, kids....

The OOutlOOk
JBL wins: 8 votes
Angle wins: 1 vote --|-- Big Show wins: 1 vote

Erin Anderson Says... JBL wins.
It's no secret that I really don't watch SmackDown! much anymore, but this seemed pretty easy to predict: if JBL is still the champion at this point, there's no point in taking the title off of him until WrestleMania. I can see a case for Big Show or Angle winning (I was a big fan of the Angle v. Taker for the title at WrestleMania, but it looks like Taker will be stuck in a shitty tag match instead), but JBL is like Triple H at this point: that belt isn't going anywhere. If it's kept short enough, I think this match could be surprisingly good. I still can't make myself care, though.
Canadian Bulldog Says... JBL wins.
See my Edge/Michaels prediction for the backstory here (or, if you're too lazy to go back and look, Angle costs Michaels the match). So Michaels responds in kind here and takes Kurt out of the picture. Meanwhile, the dreaded Cabinet proves to be too much for Big Show, allowing JBL to (once again) get the win. Not to mention, that sets up nicely for the JBL-Show cage match rumored for No Way Out - after all, that way, there's no outside interference. And JBL will STILL figure out a way to win... FUCK!
The Cubs Fan Says... JBL wins.
I believe the theme of this show, like many before it, will be keeping the status quo. They want to keep the setup as is, so they can do the designed shake ups at WM, and so JBL goes on another month for a PPV.

This is a lot easier to pick given the barbed wire match expected for next month.
Matt Hocking Says... JBL wins.
Here's a match that's pretty easy to predict, at least with the ebb and flow of action.  JBL and Angle team up to fight off Show, but can't get along, so they fight, then Show comes back and destroys them, repeat.   Here's the thing.  They've done SO much with the Diva-Lites, that I don't think they'll be able to keep them from the finish to this match.  I say that Amy and The Cabinet threaten to do nefarious things to Joy, distracting Big Show long enough for JBL to KO him with something illegal.  Angle is taken out by something else (Orlando Jordan?) , and JBL gets the win.  
Adam Gutschmidt Says... JBL wins.
Wow, I haven't had this much apathy toward a WWE title match since, well...I guess since the Fatal Four Way at Armageddon.  I keed, I keed.  But seriously, this feud has been horrible.  I can't fathom why anyone would care about a feud centered around pathetic divas.  On top of that, I can't believe that these guys would bother even caring about these wallflowers when there is a limitless amount of other ways you could go about getting under your opponents skin.  I've come to accept that the JBL train will not be derailed until at least WM, so he has to win here.  Big Show doesn't deserve the title anymore now that he's more concerned about a pair of tits than the strap.  And unfortunately, I don't think Angle is in their title picture at the moment.  So once again JBL overcomes the odds.  Sigh 
Jeb Lund Says... JBL wins.
JBL v. Big Show in a Barbed-Wire Match at No Way Out is pretty much the most pertinent detail you need to know. Add the fact that Angle canít work very often, due to his physical condition, and you have a reason to eliminate Angle from contention. Add the fact that JBL has held the belt for so long that he might as well take it to ĎMania. Eh, Iíll pick JBL. No reason to have the face win this match, only to have a rematch, where he wins, then go to ĎMania as a stale face. Better to have him lose and garner more heat.
"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... Kurt Angle wins.
I expect to see Kurt Angle vs. Undertaker for the WWE Title at WM21. I also believe Angle is the best of the three to put the belt on during the Road to WM, since his higher recognition value is important. JBL and Show can essentially cause each other to lose and set up a match for themselves at WM.
PyroFalkon Says...  JBL wins.
I am now convinced that JBL will not lose the title in anything but a one-on-one match.
Big Danny T Says... Big Show wins.
This one should be solid (if J"B"L and Kurt bring their intensity they had on Thursday), and I see Big Show walking out with this one. J"B"L has had the title for long enough, and Kurt vs. Big Show should make for an entertaining feud.
Rick Scaia Says... JBL wins.
This one is just simple "connect the dots" for me. JBL vs. Big Show is the main event of the February PPV, and it's in a barbed wire steel cage. To me, that doesn't sound like something JBL would request for his contractually obligated rematch against the New WWE Champ. That sounds like something a besmirched Big Show (and his new best buddy, per last night's SD!, Teddy Long) would dream up and FORCE upon JBL as a stipulation. Because lord knows, you don't mess with Big Show's vapid pretend TV girlfriend! There's nothing to do about it other than to use barbed wire to try to pry that title off of JBL in February.

Which of course makes Sunday a bit of a foregone conclusion. If I've got JBL with the title in February, that means he's got to walk out with it from the Rumble. 

The only other possibility (this is actually the FAR better idea, which of course means it'll never happen) would be that Angle wins the title, and immediately secrets it away to some sanctuary, where no more Suck shall be allowed within 100 yards of it, and where Chris Benoit will suddenly be booked to win the Rumble and jump back to SD! to face Angle in the OMG WORKRATE~! main event of WM21, and Big Show and JBL just go off and do their stupid shit arguing over useless women and yogurt smoothies without the title involved.

Who am I kidding? It'd be nice if Angle won and took the title to safety, and it would actually make perfect sense... but I already picked something the "right way" instead of the "WWE way" once today... in this match, I'll toss aside my big brain and it's damned impeccable logic and undeniable imagination and creativity and just pick the WWE way. The wrong way: JBL retains via nefarious means.

There will be enough extra players around to pull it off. Big Show's Useless Diva will no doubt be present, as will JBL's Cabinet (complete with another Useless Diva, so I guess maybe those two have the clothes-ripping catfight, since there's no other spots on the card for women) and Team Angle. JBL's Cabinet has the most people, so therefore, they orchestrate the screwy win, and it should probably come by pinning Big Show in some particularly cheap or humiliating fashion to set up the February PPV. 


Casket Match

And SD! goes 2-for-2 in the "Matches I Don't Really Care That Much About" category...

And fuck: I already had to try to polish this turd once before (these two had a singles match at Survivor Series). So I'm not gonna duplicate the effort. I'm just gonna cut and paste and see if any of you actually notice the difference or where I go back to writing fresh hype...

The story: Paul Heyman did something with the Dudleys, and they fought the Undertaker, and so as a result, Undertaker had to bury a Paul Bearer doll in cement.  I don't know.  This is pretty much equally as retarded as Lita's crap, and there's no super-hot Trish involved, so it's REALLY hard to get motivated to remember any details.

Then Taker wound up taking a few months to feud with JBL over the WWE Title, and that didn't work out so well, in part because Paul Heyman finally got himself a new charge: Prostetnic Vogon Heidenreich.  The poetry-spewing bohemoth sodomized Michael Cole (yay!), but then also decided to take out his inner pain and frustration by stuffing Undertaker into a hearse and then ramming said hearse with OJ Simpson's white Ford Bronco (boo?).  Again: retarded, and neither Taker nor Heidenreich do much for me when they wear tight jeans, so screw this noise, I'll just gloss over the details...

We discover that Heidenreich (who in addition to being a sub-par character, is also an almost-inconceivably poor in-ring worker whose matches range from god-awful  -- and that's the high end! -- to injuring his opponents -- at the low end) desires a match with Taker, and through the magic of one of SD! shittiest vignettes of the year, Paul Heyman gets Taker to sign a contract for said match. And so they fight at Survivor Series, and Taker wins a match that was about 10 minutes of action stretched into a 20 minute ordeal. Not as awful as maybe smarks would have liked for it to be so we could shit all over it, but also soul-crushing in that it indicated that WWE intended to keep Heidenreich around. Otherwise, they would have squashed him back to OVW.

Coming off the loss, Heidenreich has a nervous breakdown, since he can't cope with loss. Paul Heyman gets him institutionalized, and in lame skits, Heidenreich seems happy there. But somebody must have screwed up the dosage on his meds or something, since out of left field, Heidenreich showed up (without Paul Heyman) at the Armageddon PPV to cost Undertaker the WWE Title. And just like that, the feud was on again. Lucky us.

Heidenreich just walked out on a rematch against Taker held in Iraq, and so GM Teddy Long decided to make a re-rematch in which there would be no count outs: he made it a Casket Match. Heidenreich, of course, is a monster, but because he's a WWE heel, he has to be terrified of caskets. It's a rule. Paul Heyman made a one week cameo to try to lift the casket stip, but instead, got tombstoned into June (12th, to be specific) so that Steph wouldn't have to put up with his Actual Good Ideas or anything backstage. And now it's just poor, poor Heidenreich having to endure all the spooky Undertaker's head games. Except that the head games, such as they've been, have been classic old Gay Spooky.

In short, nobody expects Heidenreich to win. Because he shouldn't. He's overmatched AND he's terrified of the match's gimmick. But let us not forget that Heidenreich could have a secret ally in Baby Killer Gene Snitsky. Actually: let us forget, because even THINKING about those possibilities makes the Baby Jesus cry... and Baby Jesus, if you're up there, please keep this match from being too long, or the booking of it from being too stupid.  Thanks, little guy; I'll hook you up with some primo frankincense if you have our back on this one....

The OOutlOOk
Undertaker wins: 5 votes
Heidenreich wins: 5 votes

Erin Anderson Says... Heidenreich d. Undertaker.
Jesus H. Christ, is this feud still not over? Okay, WWE, if you let Taker beat Heidenreich for good, I promise I'll start watching Smackdown! again. Pretty please? Because it's painful just thinking about it, let alone watching it. Just get rid of this guy already! Gah.

[Edited upon writing my "Extras"]: Goddammit. I think Heidenreich is going to win with Snitsky's help.

Canadian Bulldog Says... Undertaker d. Heidenreich.
Even though Taker's track record of casket matches at the Rumble (Yokozuna, Michaels) is pretty bad, I would still be SHOCKED to see him give Heidenreich any credibility whatsoever by winning here. Hey, I like John; even though he's not great in the ring, he's making the most of this over-the-top gimmick. But let's be honest; I don't see Taker doing anything resembling a job here, even with the pending DREAM MATCH of Taker/Kane vs Heidenreich/SHNITSKY at WrestleMania. 
The Cubs Fan Says... Heidenreich d. Undertaker.
I'm throwing this contest! I'm giving up! I don't really care! How about Snitsky runs in and helps Heidenreich in the build to the biggest tag match of all time.

Undertaker may be really good at WM, but doesn't far as well in casket matches - lost to Yoko in '94, lost to HBK in '98 - so maybe he should check to see if all the heels and/or Kane have been paid off before the match.
Matt Hocking Says... Undertaker d. Heidenreich.
You'd think that Heidenreich should probably win a few more of these things, but this hasn't ever really been a competitive feud from the start.  So, I'm just going to go way out on a limb and make a wacky prediction.  Heidenreich
is inconsolable about the casket stipulation, but tries to beat down Taker anyway.  Taker no-sells everything, hits a Tombstone and is about to lock Little Jonny into the casket when who makes the save?  Snitsky~!  He loves the poetry, you know.  The two dopes take advantage of Taker for a few minutes when BOOM, through hellfire and brimstone, it's KANE~!  The brothers of Destruction make a comeback and lock both Snitsky and Heidenreich in caskets.  They celebrate in the ring, and hey, there's your Mania match.  I
know Rick'll LOVE it.  
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Heidenreich d. Undertaker.
Please, please, please...if there is any justice in the world, let this be a 5 min. squash and have it be over with.  But, there isn't any justice because this match is happening in the first place.  Convention says, Undertaker wins his specialty.  Convention says, this feud has been going on long enough and Undertaker should finish it with a win here.  Convention says, that Heidenreich is at a level he doesn't belong at and should lose and be demoted.  But let's face it, WWE doesn't like convention.  They like having it be "anything can happen in the WWE".  Plus, Taker's record in casket matches at the Rumble isn't stellar.  I'm picking Heidenreich but I'll gladly be wrong if it means ending this feud.
Jeb Lund Says... Heidenreich d. Undertaker.
I donít like making ďthe smarkĒ choice when picking match outcomes, but I think I have to go with it this time. Simply put, smarks say that Undertaker never wins these matches. They also say that itís a dead (no pun intended) guarantee that there will be a Snitsky/Heidenreich v. Kane/Undertaker match at WrestleMania. Okay, Iíll bite. Heidenreich wins, with or without Snitskyís help. No matter what, Snitsky is involved in some post-match thing with Kane. And we all blissfully forget that Kane buried his brother, got beaten by his brother last year, then forgot all about it.
"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... Undertaker d. Heidenreich.
Heidenreich takes the one-way trip in the pine box, or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon, see if I don't!
PyroFalkon Says...  Undertaker d. Heidenreich.
Iím going to kill someone if Heidenreich wins. Probably myself.
Big Danny T Says... Heidenreich d. Undertaker.
AKA, the piss break! When was the last time Undertaker won one of his signature matches? Look for the intrusion of Snitsky (Remember, he likes Heidenreich's poetry!) and Kane will get involved as well, thus setting up the interpromotional match EVERYONE (if by everyone you mean no-one) wants to see at Wrestlemania.
Rick Scaia Says... Undertaker d. Heidenreich.
No, I'm not in denial. I still fear that Taker/Kane vs. Heidenreich/Snitsky WM21 match, and am not making this prediction to get away from that. Although I wish I was.

I just think that the best way to set up that match is to give us a Feel Good Moment here...  Taker and Heidenreich do whatever they're gonna do for about 10 minutes, and then (after a previous backstage encounter between the 2), Snitsky will suddenly run out to Heidenreich's aid. The two will almost have Taker beat, when THROUGH HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE IT'S THAT GUY THAT'S THE BROTHER OF THE ONE GUY. Kane comes out and just goes after Snitsky; doesn't lay a finger on Heidenreich or do anything that could be construed as helping his brother.... he's just here for that bastard Snitsky, and pounds him good enough that he eventually gets the idea to leave; simultaneously Taker completes his superman comeback on Heidenreich, and stuffs him in the casket.

The Brothers of Destruction (is that the right stupid-ass name for them?) then Share A Look In the Center of the Ring. They were rivals when last we saw them, but baby bro Kane has done a lot of growing up in the last year...  Taker shoots the Probing Stare of Uncertainty, Kane slowly starts nodding and smiling, Taker gets down on one knee in his classic "worship the urn" pose, indicating Respect For Kane, at which point Kane raises his own arms skyward and blows the Corner Pyro. WHEEE~! Everybody's happy!

Except those of us who will tremble in fear of the inevitable Mystery Attacks that start to beset both Kane and Taker, and are revealed as Snitksy and Kane working together across brands in the name of the Match So Unappealing I Shan't Name It.



Could five matches be it? Of course not... there will be all manner of skits and confrontations and promos. An outside chance exists that they might be compelled to throw in another match (although that seems unlikely, since the Rumble will eat an hour, and they'll probably book the four undercard matches to go 20-25 each). And let's not forget that no WWE program is complete without Useless Divas~!

So here's what the trOOps have come up with in terms of bonus features that will shock and surprise you... 

The OOutlOOk

Erin Anderson Says... I Need a Do-Over. Dammit.
I'm working on three hours of sleep and have said enough about the Rumble match already. I think Shelton Benjamin, Jericho, Benoit, Cena, and Eddie will have the longest runs in this match. After Triple H retains his title, I expect a very interesting backstage segment with him, Batista, and Flair. Perhaps Trips will ask both of them to throw the match and set it up so that somebody from Smackdown! will win it, or maybe he'll just very warily wish Batista luck. It should be good stuff either way. Edge and Cena will both cut promos, and Snitsky and Heidenreich will share another tender moment.

Aw, shit, I just realized something. If WWE really is dumb enough to set up Taker/Kane v. Snitsky and Heidenreich at Mania, then Snitsky and Heidenreich will probably have an alliance of some sort, with Snitsky helping toss Undertaker in the casket and Heidenreich helping to toss Kane from the Rumble match. I hate it, but I'm changing my predictions. Taker loses in the casket match.

Canadian Bulldog Says... Perfection is Fleeting...
Wow, this has been a tough show to predict. Much like La Resistance, this thing could go either way. My PERFECT track record at New Year's Revolution is definitely in jeopardy, folks... Still, the Rumble is my favorite PPV of the year; I'm really looking forward to this one, no matter who wins (except maybe Undertaker).

Supposed tag team champions La Resistance vs Hurricane and Rosey is YOUR Sunday Night Heat match for only the 65th time in a row. Or else it will be Funaki vs Akio; tough call... I'd expect Tajiri and Regal to lobby Bischoff for the elusive final spot in the Rumble. That said, I'm not sure Bischoff will give it to either man. Perhaps an aging legend; one that was deemed TOO SHITTY for that Wrestle Reunion thing the same weekend, will get the spot, though I'm not sure who.... There will be some sort of HILARIOUS Teddy Long-Eric Bischoff backstage nonsense, and I'm guessing Michaels-Angle will be the majority of this PPV's Requisite Interpromotional Backstage Tension, or RIBT for short... I don't expect Austin to show up here, although he certainly could be announced for Mania as the dreaded "special enforcer" for the main event. The Rumble is already loaded enough as it is without giving away an unadvertising appearance here.

The Cubs Fan Says... Won't SOMEbody Please Think of the Mania?
I'm guessing Heat sees the battle for the last spot in the SD! Rumble, and maybe that's where Regal and Tajiri find themselves getting involved?

While I think the winner of the Rumble is going to be on the SmackDown! side, I think this is more important PPV for Raw. They're done from here until WrestleMania, and only five guys on the roster (Edge, HBK, HHH, Orton, Batista) have any sort of momentum. Hopefully this show will be start sorting out things for WrestleMania, because there's too much muddle to convincingly put things together at the last second.

SD!'s got to start sorting things out too, but they've got another big stop between now and then to help. If I'm right, this will be a lot more about portraying Cena as a top level guy, and a lot of future business depends on how well they accomplish that.
Matt Hocking Says... New Jack attacks Cena, and the Rick is Just Ashamed He Didn't Think of That One Himself.
The Royal Rumble is a doozy of a PPV every year because everybody loves the Rumble match so much.  There is just inconcievable amounts of variety and fun spots that it could possibly bring to the table that even if one doesn't like the current direction of the company, it's hard not to get amped for this one PPV (plus Mania).  Really, there's no dominating story this year either (like there was last year with Benoit) so the match itself is up for grabs.  Sure, most people will probably take Dave, based on current storylines, but there's cases to be made for Cena or another suprise winner from Smackdown, seeing as No Way Out is between here and the main event of Wrestlemania.  Plus, the undercard (with the exeption of Taker/Hnnrnnr) ismore solid than most Rumble undercards, which is nice because they usually slack because of the sheer enormity of the Rumble match at the end of the night.  Enjoy it!  Or else!

Four things I think will happen:
  • On Heat:  Victoria will defeat Molly Holly in a "Look!  We're still pushing the women, honest" match.
  • Teddy Long and Eric Bischoff will bet dolla dolla bills, y'all on who will win the Royal Rumble.
  • Some kind of intimation will be made towards the ECW PPV.
  • This year's suprise entrant: New Jack who will attack Cena and then leave through the crowd, allowing Cena to valiantly stay in until he's eliminated by Batista.
  • If it isn't him, it'll be Joy.   
Adam Gutschmidt Says... Bask in the Behind the Back Whisperings of Secret Lovers Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle.
I guess the plot by Regal and Tajiri is to get a tag title shot.  I don't really see how that gets revenge, but whatever.  I never see the Heat match anyways, so it doesn't matter in my mind whether it happens or not.  I just hope that they don't put it on the show and short the intervals of the Rumble match.
Speaking of the intervals, they better be at least 90 secs. if not two minutes.  60 secs. is unacceptable.  Especially with such a sucky undercard.
There will be some interpromotional interaction going on to set the wheels in motion for WM.  Since Angle badmouthed HBK to Edge back at Survivor Series.  I'll guess that HBK and Big Show share a conversation to allow HBK get a retort on Angle.
Jeb Lund Says... Try as you might, you will never escape the enchanting Randall Orton.
At the beginning of the show, Vince McMahon will announce that, no matter what happens, Randy Orton will be guaranteed a title shot at WrestleMania because even Vince himself is besotted by the elusive scent of Ortonís body spray.

Perhaps a tag match between La Resistance and Regal/Tajiri? If so, Regal and Tajiri win by DQ, and then they celebrate by doing some stupid East/West dance, then stripping Christy Hemme naked in the ring, hitting her with the black mist and the Power of the Punch.

Maria Tennyson Lund interviews a Mic Stand and weeps salt tears when she becomes convinced the mic stand is, ďTotally blowing her off.Ē

Horribly hungover from my wifeís birthday party the day before, I will be strangely affected by Mariaís plight. However, my faceís simultaneous attempt to weep and laugh derisively will cause me to choke on my phlegm and nearly vomit into a bar basket of unshelled peanuts. Enthralled with his steady stream of prostitute jokes, my friend Jon wonít notice.

Tomorrow, twenty-three minutes of Arrested Development will prove more entertaining than three hours of this pay-per-view.

Prior to his match with Triple H, Randy Orton will come to the ring to demonstrate the awesome power of his RKO. He will do this by attempting to RKO a giant papier-mache dinosaur suspended 20 feet above the ring. Despite missing it by 19 feet, WWE personnel will rig the dinosaur to drop at almost exactly the same time Ortonís idiot frame ascends from the mat. The dinosaur will hit him in the head and knock him to the ground. While he orients himself, a clearly faked replay of Orton RKOíing the brontosaurus will play on the Titantron. Randy will prance around the ring to a resounding chorus of indifference, then hold his hands high and wide apart in his glorious Lord of the Dance manner. From high in the rafters, a giant inflatable globe will fall into his mighty hands! (He has captured the world!!!) Finally, after four minutes of posing in this way, he will chuck the inflatable globe at a passing Chris Benoit, beaning him in the head and saying ďSUCK IT!!!Ē As soon as Chris Benoit stands up and takes one step toward him, Orton will wet himself. While Orton holds a folding chair in front of his crotch and waddles to the back, Val Venis will come out and mop up the ring. Itís gonna be a slobberknocker!

Even though people have paid for three hours of pay-per-view Ė and despite this being a cross-brand show, and despite members of both rosters sitting backstage with nothing to do Ė this show will go off the air at 10:40.

Dan Puder will do something to cement his last name as a suitable euphemism for a sexual organ or an orifice.

The Coach will be put over a wrestler or several wrestlers. A part of that wrestler or those wrestlers will quietly die.

Having examined reactions on e-Bay and wrestling websites following his pre-show Orton-related guarantee, Vince McMahon will announce that national security concerns and terrorist threats have forced WrestleMania to be held at the 6,000-seat home of East L.A. High Schoolís Fightiní Football Panthers!

"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth Says... You don't even know about Aberlour is, do you, cretins?
Stone Cold! Stone Cold!! By Gawd Almighty, Stone Cold is the Guest Referee at WrassleMania!!!

Many interchangeable non-wrestling divas will display their interchangeable cleavage.

Calum Macbeth will spend the day recuperating from wrestling consecutive nights on Friday and Saturday, and from too much haggis and Aberlour on Robbie Burns night the previous Tuesday.
PyroFalkon Says...  Blame Orton.
Donít worry, Iíll be better the next time. I hate Ortonís talking skills so very, very much. Hereís to not blowing my percentage already.
Big Danny T Says... When Out of Ideas, Insert T&A.
Maybe a Diva Battle Royal? A Diva LINGERIE Battle Royal? Not saying I want to see it, but wouldn't be surprised if they throw their wastes of space into the ring to kill 5 minutes somewhere. If so, I'll pick Trish to win, because apparently she's the only diva worth mentioning.
Rick Scaia Says... Hey, Baby Jesus, You Ain't Seen NOTHING Yet...
Ummm... I'd love to see a brief Molly/Victoria #1 Contender's match squeezed onto the show, just so that WWE can use that as a "palate cleanser" instead of lame skits backstage featuring useless divas. But who am I kidding? Why would we want to remind people that there's some of these girls who, in addition to being easy on the eyes, can also contribute substantially to a WRESTLING show? I'm sure the fans are a LOT more fired up for the electrifying moment when RAW Useless Diva #4 meets SD! Useless Diva #2 in catering, setting off a food fight as the back-ups arrive.  Resulting in ANOTHER CrossPromotional Showcase at WM21: Maria, Rochelle, Melina, Spaz, and their Fearless Leader Stacy against Joy, Amy, Torrie, Jackie, and Dawn Marie in a very special Lingerie Elimination Match To Prove Which Brand Has The Hottest Useless Women (possibly held in a big bowl of pudding or something).

Dammit, I think I made Baby Jesus cry again. And the sad thing is, I'm not ENTIRELY joking about this scenario. Remember last year? We were supposed to care about Stacy and... umm, I don't even remember who versus Torrie and Sable in the "Cross Promotional Let's Pretend This Is Really About Who Will Be in Playboy Even Though The Photo Shoot Has Already Happened" Match. They'll try something equally stupid this year, I'm sure, in an attempt to wring some value out of these girls. Plonk, says I!

I don't want the promise of William Regal and Tajiri having a way to get revenge on Eric Bischoff to be ignored... the two of them versus La Resistance on Heat might be cool. Especially because I might even believe a title change to be possible: remember, *IF* WWE had any ideas for the tag division, they were built on Regal and Eugene holding the gold... so it might be entirely possible that they want to get back to that plan, which would mean Regal and Tajiri coming out on top. I'd dig that.  

In addition to a Diva Crossover and the Snitksy/Heidenreich cross-over, I'd have to imagine a Teddy Long/Bischoff confrontation... maybe to lay down some possible lot points for cross-promotional stuff, but even just Bischoff doing something like say, "Hey, Teddy, RAW's kicking so much ass that even if one of your SD! losers wins, I bet I can get him to come over to Mondays" or something...

I will savor every minute of the PPV, no matter how bad it sucks, cuz hey, at least I'm not at Hooters. Nope: Dayton's finest submarine sandwiches and alcoholic beverages of my own concoction and my buddy's PlasmaTron 4000 TV for the very special event that is the Rumble. I'm stoked.


There you have it: the Royal Rumble in all it's glory. It may not be the biggest show of the year, but it is, in many ways, the one that turns out to be the most fun. So of course, I encourage you to check it out on Sunday night. Play the Royal Rumble game, if the muse strikes you... and unless Randy Orton wins the World Title for some ungodly reason, you'll probably have a blast.

And if you don't feel like making the effort? Well, that's what OO's here for: my immediate post-show recap will be posted at some point proximate to midnight on Sunday, and you can just make a stop off here before bed to get all the results, analysis, and other gOOdness that you expect.

See you then.

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RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28



Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.




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