John Cena and Randy Orton will write another chapter in their historic rivalry at the 2014 Royal Rumble as they fight for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but this round will fail to woo fans barring outside help.
It is not that Cena and Orton cannot put on a quality match. Quite the opposite, actually.
But WWE's creative team has yet again painted itself into a corner and has relied more on the rich history between these two to promote the match instead of fresh, enthralling ideas.
This would explain why Orton chose to attack Cena's father on Raw to aggravate the feud:
The attack in turn led to the two brawling through the crowd on the Jan. 20 edition of Raw:
These are tried and true formulas—that worked six or seven years ago.
More recently, Cena and Orton have been in the ring together more than a handful of times, and this latest feud is flirting with the two-month mark. A simple fight between the two once more is not going to cut it, especially on the pay-per-view event widely heralded as the best, behind WrestleMania.
Part of the problem has its roots in how stale both characters have become. The Rock and Stone Cold had a memorable feud that always kept fans entertained, but Cena and Orton are in the same roles as always.
To WWE's credit, there is a lot of potential here for a swerve. The company has its finger on the pulse of the WWE Universe and understands what it has in a guy like Daniel Bryan. He has presumably been carefully kept out of the main-event scene for the sake of his momentum—and for the sake of not losing the fans' desire for him to win it all before he can have his big moment at WrestleMania XXX.
This match is destined to end dirty. Cena getting another triumph and title win does not make loads of sense, and Orton winning clean is unlikely.
Perhaps it will be The Authority, who wants to once again protect their hand-picked champion. A better bet is Batista, who returned on Raw, much to the support of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, before telling Orton he was after the title:
Do not count out Brock Lesnar, either. The Beast Incarnate has also made it known he is back in the WWE to come for the title. He is clearly in a holdover feud at the moment with Big Show, which will end early in the Royal Rumble's card.
And who was driving the car that Orton used to escape after his bout with Cena? Is someone else in play? Was it Triple H? Are fans going to find out that it was Batista helping an old friend?
Most importantly of all, no fan likes to shell out a large amount of cash for a pay-per-view, only to have a title match end in a disqualification or something of the sort.
But this is the Royal Rumble, an event perfectly suited for such shenanigans, with the 30-man match itself taking the main-event slot to close the show.
It does not matter who actually runs the interference, so long as it happens to save fans from yet another redundant match with a generic ending. Anything else will be a massive disappointment for a match already fighting for attention in the shadow of a better spectacle.
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