With Tables, Ladders & Chairs just two weeks away, the WWE’s focus is sensibly on promoting it as much as possible.
In stark contrast to the previous event—Survivor Series—the company’s plans for Tables, Ladders & Chairs are coming together impressively. Both major championship fights have been signed, and a John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler match is bound to be the additional special attraction, bringing extra depth to the card. Add in the tables, ladders and chairs theme—which is likely to entice hardcore wrestling fans—and a good buyrate ought to be likely.
This means the WWE is presented with the perfect opportunity to launch into its Royal Rumble preparation early, which opens up the opportunity to start the Road to WrestleMania with a bigger bang than normal.
Even more delightful is the idea that the rumble match itself could take center stage in the upcoming weeks.
The WWE title picture will be focused on the return of The Rock and—presuming that CM Punk retains at Tables, Ladders & Chairs— whether he can topple Punk’s monumental title reign. Sheamus and Big Show are in the middle of a hot feud over the World Heavyweight title, so that rivalry will continue to the Rumble as well, unless Dolph Ziggler cashes in his Money in the Bank contract. Thus the majority of the roster can be focused on the rumble match itself.
Even better for the WWE is the fact that there are now more wrestlers on the roster who look destined to have a run at a major title than at any time in the past five years.
There are a plethora of former champions—such as The Miz, Daniel Bryan, Kane, Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio—who have had a title run within the last couple of years. These men could jump back into the title picture at any time, and any of them would be more than acceptable as one of the main-event competitors at WrestleMania.
They are joined by a crop of talent—led by Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes and Kofi Kingston—who have been just under the championship radar for the past couple of years, and are on the verge of breaking through to join the big time. Then there are the relative newcomers—like Damian Sandow and Antonio Cesaro—who may be a little early in their WWE careers to headline the biggest show of the year. Then again, a surprise could be called for.
This list is swelled further by three injured or missing former champions—Mark Henry, Jack Swagger and Christian—who may want a say in the action, and the high-flying duo of Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio. Finally, there are the current group of superstars—including John Cena, Dolph Ziggler and Ryback—who have been in the title picture recently but who will be at a loose end when The Rock emerges.
This leaves the WWE with around 20 legitimate contenders to win the Royal Rumble match.
Such unpredictability has not been afforded to a rumble match in several years, so the WWE should do everything in its power to get that idea over to the audience. Wrestlers should start mentioning the rumble match now, and start talking about getting in the mind of those who they think will be their main competitors.
Normal matches should have displays of strength and guile inserted into the action, intending to show that the Superstar in question is quite capable of eliminating their opponents when the rumble rolls around. These displays could escalate across the WWE over the next few weeks—hopefully building the tension to a crescendo by the time the Royal Rumble comes along.
This can be done within the existing rivalries currently on WWE television, such as the already booked Intercontinental championship match between Kingston and Barrett at Tables, Ladders & Chairs. Both of these men want this belt, but it can be shown that they both have an eye on the bigger prize as well.
The Royal Rumble is the starting point for the most important time in a WWE fan’s year, so the event should be treated with respect. This year there is an opportunity to use the entire roster to reinforce what it means to hold a major championship, and be immortalized at WrestleMania.
Such a chance to highlight everything that should be important to a member of the WWE universe comes along rarely, so the WWE must start its preparations for the Royal Rumble now.