As we head into WWE’s second biggest pay-per-view of the year, one thing is clear: this year’s Royal Rumble match absolutely needs to deliver.
For one thing, there is a real risk of the 30-man bout being upstaged by the highly anticipated Rock/CM Punk match.
Indeed, over the past few weeks Rock’s return has taken priority, with the Battle Royal becoming almost an afterthought.
This in itself isn’t terribly surprising: After all, it’s The Rock. The Hollywood star was always going to be pushed above and beyond everything else.
However, the truly worrying thing is that Rumble has fallen so far down the list of priorities.
Come on; is anyone that bothered about who emerges victorious from the match?
All the usual suspects are the mix. Sheamus, the winner of the 2012 Royal Rumble, claims he intends to replicate his success this year. Randy Orton has vowed to win. On last night’s Raw, John Cena also cut a joke-filled promo saying he was going to be triumphant.
But is there a real sense of excitement and anticipation that there have been in previous years? Not really. It’s simply not an urgent priority any more. (It doesn't help that most of the top candidates already have a Rumble victory under their belts, therefore it doesn't seem like to big a deal if they win again).
This is regrettable.
Sure Rock/CM Punk is a great one-time attraction, but this is the Rumble we are talking about. It’s a long held WWE attraction—one of the few matches left that genuinely still means something. To see it fall so far is greatly disheartening
So how can WWE turn things around and return the match to its former glory?
Well, the Rumble itself is absolutely going to have to deliver in-ring wise. A sloppy, boring bout filled with mediocre wrestling action is going to do WWE no favors whatsoever. Hey, we’ve seen this before.
Thankfully, in this respect, things are currently looking good, with Vickie Guerrero spitefully announcing on Raw that her ex-boyfriend Dolph Ziggler was going to be either No.1 or No.2.
Yes: it looks like Ziggler is going to be in the bout for the long haul. Considering his unrivalled in-ring skills, this along guarantees the match is worth watching.
The company should also go for some shocks and swerves in the match.
OK, so Cena seems the most likely candidate to win—assuming Rock wins the WWE Championship, this would then set up a Cena/Rock rematch at WrestleMania—but, come on, is that really the result that’s going to surprise everyone and get them talking?
Of course not.
WWE should therefore go for a surprise winner, maybe someone like Antonio Cesaro or Daniel Bryan.
Hey, from a storyline perspective, it’s not like Cena needs to win so he can get a title shot at WrestleMania. He’s John Cena, after all. It’s become an on-screen joke how frequently he gets title matches.
As well as wowing people, a surprise winner would also emphasis the “anyone can win” nature of the Rumble.
Whatever happens, hopefully WWE try to deliver some surprises come Sunday, because the spotlight really does need to be back firmly on the 30-man bout. It’s just simply not the priority it used to be.