The Royal Rumble is nearly upon us. Judging by how the storylines, pushes, and general enjoyment from the WWE Universe are going, this 25th Royal Rumble (it's not the 25th anniversary so I will not call it that) is shaping up to be one of the best Royal Rumble pay-per-views ever put on by the WWE.
There are a number of superstars heading into the January 29th event that have a very good chance of winning the match that guarantees a main event match at this year's WrestleMania, as well as two heavyweight championship matches that are becoming more and more intriguing as the weeks go by.
All in all, the 2012 Royal Rumble is coming along very nicely.
Those are what we know we'll be seeing in a little over a week's time, but what about what we won't see?
While there are a great number of things we are sure to see, there are many things that we won't see as well—some of that's good, some of that's bad, but all of it is relevant.
Here is a list of what we won't be seeing on January 29th, 2012.
By this, I mean that regardless of who wins the world title matches on the night, neither match will end with a clean decision. Be it a screwjob finish, a cowardly cheap win, or shenanigans that will create chaos in the match, neither world title will finish with a clean, decisive win.
And I'm okay with that.
As we get closer to WrestleMania, the road isn't just about building up new stories for match-ups on April 1st. It is also about building up current stories for the blow-off matches on the Grandest Stage of Them All.
Whether the Punk/Laurinaitis storyline continues on with Big Johnny trying to make the Straight Edge Superstar's life a living hell, or if Daniel Bryan carries on with his cheap wins and escapes with the title, both storylines could do with controversial endings that will continue to build up for big payoffs in Miami in April.
There are a lot of names being tossed about as potential winners of the Royal Rumble Match. Barrett, Rhodes, Ziggler, Christian, Kane, Henry, Miz. All have legs to stand on for why they might win the Royal Rumble.
Now, while it hasn't been uncommon for WWE to have a heel stand tall at the end of the night, it is more likely from the way things are going now that a face will overcome the odds and head into WrestleMania as the challenger in one of the title matches.
And I'm okay with that.
Whether the impossible happens, and CM Punk drops the title only to win the Rumble to win back his title a little over two months later, or Randy Orton makes his surprise return to win the Rumble in his hometown, the fact of the matter is it is much easier to get behind a face challenging for a title than it is getting behind a face defending their title.
Even if a certain Chris Jericho stands tall at the end, despite the great attempts to have the audience boo him, there is no doubt that Chris Jericho winning the Rumble would have the entire arena on their feet in celebration because of how over Jericho is.
Even if by April Jericho has the entire WWE Universe hating his very guts, there is no doubt that a win on January 29th would still be treated like a face winning rather than a heel.
Regardless of how you like or dislike the usage of Kane and John Cena in this storyline, the fact is that these two men have put together a program that has given fans of WWE a vested interest in the outcome.
There are those that crave for a John Cena heel turn, and there are those that stand by his "Rise Above Hate" and "Hustle Loyalty Respect" slogans, but either way, the majority of fans going into Royal Rumble are going to be very concerned with how this storyline turns out.
Kane has been a thorn in Cena's side for well over a month now, and his attempts to have Cena embrace the hate have left many people in conversation of if Cena will finally give in. But when Kane two weeks ago turned on the WWE Universe and declared them "in denial," the writing was on the wall that John Cena will not be turning heel any time soon in time for his big money match with The Rock at WrestleMania.
Instead he will have a back and forth match against Kane at the Royal Rumble but ultimately will win and remain the unflinching good guy of the WWE.
And I'm okay with that.
John Cena is a great spokesperson for WWE. He has a large fanbase that buy his new shirts, cheer for him, and look up to him. He is to the one side of the WWE fans as what The Rock is to the other side of the WWE fans. When these two titans clash, it will divide the WWE regardless of who is the perceived heel and face.
And WWE knows that it doesn't matter what they do with John Cena. There will always be a large group of fans that will boo him because he is the face of the company and the person WWE put their faith in.
And personally, I'm just glad that, like with most of 2010, John Cena has not been involved with the WWE title. It's a breath of fresh air to see him in big matchups where the title is not on the line. In doing so, it gives other superstars a chance to compete in the pay-per-view main events.
Cena can branch out more. Rather than every pay-per-view match having Cena close the show in the WWE title match, be it defending the gold or challenging for it, we can see others have the opportunity.
Although it has not been announced, there's a very strong chance we might see the US Championship defended at the Royal Rumble with Zack Ryder trying to regain his US title after the emphatic victory by Jack Swagger on Raw earlier this week.
But the match won't be a back-and-forth contest, like Zack Ryder against Dolph Ziggler at TLC. It is more likely to be a squash match, with Swagger coming out on top again and Zack Ryder unable to overcome his injuries sustained at the hands of Kane two weeks ago.
And I'm not okay with that.
While it makes sense to have a credible heel champion for the babyface to face as they chase for the title, throwing Zack Ryder to the wolves isn't the answer.
The reason for the likelihood of this outcome in a potential rematch is down to one big problem: ever since WWE decided to get behind Zack Ryder, they have never given him the chance to show how good of a competitor he is.
Back when Ryder was on Superstars and was in one of three matches taking place in the hour time slot, Ryder was able to work very good 15-to 20-minute matches weekly. He was able to show that, with no promo time, and solely relying on technical ability, he was a very good talent.
But ever since his mega push on Raw, Ryder has only competed in squash matches against Michael Cole or Jack Swagger when he was a squatter in Jobberville. The only time Ryder was able to play with the big boys was in tag team matches or jobbing to Alberto Del Rio.
Dolph Ziggler was the only person that was able to provide an avenue for Ryder to showcase his abilities, but now Ryder is stuck in a situation where Creative don't know what to do with him and aren't confident he can hold his own in a match.
And so, as the Jack Swagger train continues to trundle along, it will be at the expense of Zack Ryder and his Ryder Revolution.
Jinder Mahal has, for many months now, been the guy who has had futile feuds that have never amounted to anything. A month ago it was a program with Ted DiBiase; a few months ago it was The Great Khali and Ranjin Singh; and now, it's Sheamus.
All of these feuds have something in common: they are typical feuds that would garner the no. 2 or 3 spot on a SmackDown pay-per-view as filler before the matches that people have paid to see.
Sadly, with WWE pay-per-views being cross-branded, there is no place for whatever subpar storyline the C-list WWE superstars are involved in.
And I'm not okay with that.
At least because of Sheamus' part in all of this.
Ever since Christian's injury, Sheamus has been stuck in no man's land. He hasn't had a proper storyline fitting with his push from the middle of 2011, and at TLC he was flung into a pointless match with Jack Swagger.
Sure, he will be in the Royal Rumble Match, and might even make the last five in the ring, but his likelihood of winning is solely based on his exploits from two or three months ago, not from his form recently.
Hopefully by the time Elimination Chamber comes around he will be back on form in time for a good chance of winning the Elimination Chamber Match—depending on who wins the Royal Rumble—or at least in a high profile match on the night that will dig him out of this ditch of mediocrity in time for an actual televised match at WrestleMania.
Can someone tell me what's happened to Beth Phoenix?
She hasn't been on WWE television for the last couple of weeks, with Kelly Kelly and Eve busy with either the Bella twins or Zack Ryder—or even both. And the whole Divas of Doom angle seems to have been dropped with Natalya busy on SmackDown with Tamina.
No doubt we might get an obligatory Divas Championship Match on the night, but with pretty much no build up, are we really going to care?
We make fun or even vent our frustrations of the current divas division, but it goes without saying that going into the Royal Rumble, the divas division is at its worst point for several years.
And I'm not okay with that.
We have seen that, while the majority of the divas aren't technically gifted, WWE have more divas in employment that can at least have mediocre matches, while when Trish Stratus and Lita were still in employment in 2006, there was only Mickie James there as well to provide competition.
WWE have been without both Michelle McCool and Layla for over six months now, and with the steady departures of diva talent over the past two years, WWE is very lacking in credible diva talent.
And not even building a program for a Divas title match at one of the Big Four pay-per-views is most definitely a step in the wrong direction.
To think, this is the last image we've seen of The Undertaker for months on end. Since then he's been out of sight, out of mind.
And with WrestleMania XXVIII on the horizon, any chance of seeing 'Taker's 20th' Mania Match means he must return in a little over a month at the very latest in order to start a program with whoever his opponent will be, be it Triple H, CM Punk, Brock Lesnar, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Dolph Ziggler or whoever.
But, right now at least, the chances of seeing The Undertaker return at the Royal Rumble are highly unlikely, if not completely ridiculous. There's no way The Undertaker would return just to be thrown over the top rope and ruin any chance of competing for a World Title at WrestleMania.
And as this is the same for Elimination Chamber in February, what we're most likely going to see is The Undertaker return and engage in cutting promos every other week on Raw in the build-up for his match like with Triple H in 2011.
And I am definitely not okay with that.
One of the biggest problems facing The Undertaker in April will be that it's been a year since he competed in the ring. Now while I don't doubt he can still put together a good story with his opponent on the night, ring rust will play a major role in the match if 'Taker does not have warm-up matches in the weeks leading up to Miami.
Giving the Phenom a chance to get back into the swing of things will lead to a much more well-rounded match with his opponent than just the brawl with Triple H at WrestleMania XXVII.
On top of that, having both competitors engaging in matches every other week would help add to whatever storyline WWE decide to go with, leading to the all-important brawl finish to a match on the last Raw before 'Mania.
There's no denying that the buildup for the No Hold's Barred Match last year was very dull, only finally becoming interesting when Shawn Michaels was thrown into the mix on the last Raw before the event.
If the same build-up is done again, there is no doubt the response from the crowd will be more negative and more vocal than a year ago.
Make no mistake about it, the Royal Rumble on January 29th will be a monumental pay-per-view. Everything is in line that, with the matches that will take place, there will be a lot to talk about once WWE goes off the air in time for Raw the next night, as the Road to WrestleMania will officially be underway.
Whether or not we will see any titles change hands on the night remains to be seen, but as has been the case with the past few pay-per-views, WWE is certain to leave us talking about what we have just seen.
We will see if John Cena will in fact give in to hate, and we will be left wondering what match WWE will be gearing up for at WrestleMania depending on who wins the Royal Rumble.
We will see if superstars currently under contract with WWE return as surprise entrants in the Royal Rumble, or just in random segments on the night, and we will also see if WWE will give us one more dancing segment during the Royal Rumble with a certain Funkasaurus while we wait for another entrant to make their way to ring.
But one thing is certain: the Royal Rumble will leave us excited for WrestleMania in the coming months.
What do you think? What are you looking forward to at the Royal Rumble? Please comment below.
Thanks for reading.