At the Royal Rumble pay-per-view later this month, expect the spotlight to get shone on several wrestlers and their marginalized programs and feuds.
While the major names like Randy Orton and John Cena will undoubtedly get their fair share of the attention, the nature of the 30-man bout essentially guarantees that some midcard storylines will be highlighted too.
Brodus Clay, for example, has just turned heel after a lengthy stint as a happy, dancing babyface. Having been abandoned by the Funkadactyls, he's now out to get his former tag team partner Tensai.
OK, so no one is expecting much out of this new direction—Clay has spent much of the last year as an afterthought, and it will be hard for WWE to convince fans to care about him again—but it should be interesting to see just how aggressive and dominating a performance he puts in at the show.
Presumably we'll also get some follow-up to the Tensai/Clay angle too. Will Tensai be able to gain revenge from his former friend for all he’s put him through, possibly by eliminating him from the battle royal match?
Wade Barrett is another star to watch out for.
After a long period of inactivity, the former Nexus leader has finally gotten back on television with his Bad News Barrett gimmick, a heel character who originated on The JBL and Cole Show.
While this isn't yet taking off as a gimmick, it's still early days. With some better material, Barrett could very well make this a winning act. What will the wrestler have in store for everyone at the Royal Rumble? Will his gimmick finally go somewhere?
There’s the Divas division to consider too.
While champion AJ Lee has been picking up several strong victories lately—including a win over Natalya at the TLC pay-per-view last month—it does seem like WWE isn't quite sure what to do with her right now.
Ideally, she’ll resume her crusade against the Total Divas crew, possibly by taking on Nikki Bella or—shudder—newcomer Eva Marie. (She’s already faced Brie and Natalya on pay-per-view and television too many times to count.)
While former model Eva Marie would be a fresh opponent and is someone whom WWE clearly has big plans for, it’s hard to see even someone as supremely talented as Lee dragging her to anything remotely decent. Even Manami Toyota circa 1994 would struggle with that lofty task.
While Eva Marie can be an asset to the company in the future, it certainly won’t be as a wrestler.
The booking team might be better going with Nikki—who can occasionally look competent, despite her general mediocrity in the ring—and hoping for the best.
Hopefully we get some development in the aforementioned storylines on January 26. It would be disappointing to think WWE will have completely dropped them by that point.
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