When Alberto Del Rio defeated Big Show for the World Heavyweight Championship on SmackDown two weeks ago, it came as a big shock to most. The match itself was fantastic, though, and it generated some interest in a potential Del Rio vs. Big Show feud. Now they're scheduled to lock horns again at the Royal Rumble, but it won't be easy to replicate their last encounter.
Just a couple months ago, Del Rio was a floundering heel with fairly bleak future prospects, but things changed quickly at TLC. Del Rio saved Ricardo Rodriguez from a 3MB attack and then teamed with The Miz and The Brooklyn Brawler to beat the musical trio at the event. It was a random and sudden transition, but it has paid big dividends.
Big Show, on the other hand, beat Sheamus for the second time on pay-per-view at TLC to retain his World title, so it seemed sensible that he would move on to feud with someone else. At first it looked like the Big Show-vs.-Sheamus feud might inexplicably continue, but Big Show began to bully Ricardo, so Del Rio got involved.
The Big Show-vs.-Del Rio feud has been developing over the past month with Del Rio saving Ricardo from Big Show attacks on a couple occasions, and it certainly came to a head when they went one-on-one on SmackDown. Their match was of the Last Man Standing variety and it made for a great atmosphere as Big Show couldn't put Del Rio away no matter how much of his arsenal he threw at him.
Del Rio kept answering the 10-count and ultimately used some resourcefulness to defeat The World's Largest Athlete. Del Rio pushed the announcer's table on top of Big Show, and the giant was unable to get to his feet in time. With that, Del Rio was the new World Heavyweight Champion and it appeared as though the WWE had a new star on its hands.
Ever since the victory, Del Rio has received a very favorable crowd reaction. The fans loved it when he interrupted Big Show at the start of the 20th anniversary episode of Raw and they were very much involved in his championship fiesta on SmackDown. Del Rio hasn't changed his attitude a ton, but he has focused his attention on defeating heels and he now comes off as cool and slick rather than arrogant.
Heading into the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, all of the focus is on the Rumble match and the WWE Championship contest between CM Punk and The Rock. Because of that, there has been very little talk about the World title match. While it can be argued that the lack of hype will hurt the match, I view it as an advantage.
With no expectations being placed on Del Rio or Big Show, they can simply go out there and perform without pressure. If the match is subpar, then nobody will really care due to the other big matches on the card. If the match is anywhere near as good as their SmackDown encounter was, Del Rio and Big Show could very well contribute to the greatest Royal Rumble event of all time.
As of right now it looks like no stipulations will be placed on the match, so it will be a typical singles bout.
If that is the case, then I'm not confident that Del Rio and Big Show can top their previous match. Del Rio is very underrated as an in-ring worker as I rate him among the best in the WWE in that regard, while Big Show has always impressed for a man his size. Without a hardcore environment, though, it limits what they can do.
It's so late in the game that I doubt a stipulation will be added with less than a week remaining until the Rumble. With that said, I would make this an "I Quit" match. It isn't the same as a Last Man Standing match, but it has similar aspects and would make for an extremely exciting match.
Causing opponents to submit with the Cross Armbreaker is Del Rio's specialty, while Big Show has dabbled in submissions as well with the Colossal Clutch.
The WWE is obviously trying to get Del Rio over as the next big face, particularly with the Latino demographic as he has begun to incorporate the colors of the Mexican flag into his attire. There is no better way for him to reach the next level than to force a giant to submit.
Regardless of the conditions surrounding the match, I do expect it to be a pleasant surprise. There is no question that the match is already being overshadowed by the contests that are more publicized, but Del Rio and Big Show seem to have a good amount of chemistry and it should lead to a great supporting match to go along with the Rumble and Punk vs. Rock.