With one of the most memorable Royal Rumble matches in history last Sunday and a wild week of wrestling all behind us now, it’s time to reflect on the action and try to determine which unheralded stars that shined will be heading toward a monster 2013.
There were plenty of big-name surprises over the last seven days—everything from Chris Jericho coming out No. 2 in the 30-man Royal Rumble match to the return of Brock Lesnar on Monday night—but the best work was done by the existing WWE talent.
All of the following stars don’t get enough credit for the amazing work they have done, but a great job Sunday, coupled with the success of the last week of WWE TV, should have these unheralded future champions on everyone’s radar.
Full Royal Rumble results, eliminations and times at WWE.com.
Team Rhodes Scholars
While the duo of Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow broke up their tag team on Friday’s edition of SmackDown, Team Rhodes Scholars have remained workhorses for the WWE and proved it once again at the Royal Rumble.
Not only did Team Rhodes Scholars participate in a very fun tag team match that they lost earlier in the evening, Rhodes and Sandow both made a big impact on the 30-man Royal Rumble match.
Sandow spent an impressive 16:26 in the Rumble, but it was Rhodes that lasted 27:39 and eliminated Santino Marella, Goldust, Kofi Kingston and Brodus Clay.
As much as this team breaking up is a sad announcement for the tag team division, the WWE Universe shouldn’t be shocked if this is just a ploy to catch Team Hell No off guard and steal their titles.
When Bo Dallas won the NXT tournament to see which young star would have a chance to be called up to the main roster and wrestle in the 30-man Royal Rumble match, most fans expected a quick elimination for Dallas.
After 21:42 in the ring, not only did Dallas surpass everyone’s best expectations for the young star, the NXT standout became the longest-lasting rookie in the history of the event. Only five Royal Rumble entrants—Dolph Ziggler, Chris Jericho, Cody Rhodes, Sheamus and Cena—lasted longer than Dallas.
Add in the fact that Dallas eliminated Intercontinental champion Wade Barrett and has begun working an extended program with him that could culminate in a shot at Barrett’s title, and the WWE has booked the NXT star perfectly.
Being a former world heavyweight champion and a current Money in the Bank briefcase holder typically means that a star is not unheralded, but in the curious case of Dolph Ziggler, one of the company’s best all-around workers continues to fly under the radar.
The WWE Universe is enamored with the final three—John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus—and the eventual winner Cena, but Ziggler chose to come out at No. 1 and remained in the ring for an astounding 49:47 with two eliminations (The Godfather and Chris Jericho).
It has become very clear that the WWE is biding its time before it has to pull the trigger on Ziggler cashing in the briefcase and becoming world heavyweight champion, but in the meantime, the company continues to watch Ziggler shine every chance he’s given.
Ziggler will be this generation's Shawn Michaels.
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