Royal Rio Is Mania Bound; A Tale Of Two Spinaroonies

Mike Killam

Royal Rio is Mania Bound!

By Mike Killam


Ladies and gentlemen, the Road to WrestleMania is officially underway! The Miz has stolen another victory, Edge is still your World Champion, Alberto del Rio has won the 2011 Royal Rumble, and… Jerry “the King” Lawler is the number one contender to the WWE Championship? Just another example of the “anything can happen” attitude surrounding the biggest spectacle in sports entertainment! There is so much to talk about, but if you’re looking for a more in-depth analysis of the Rumble, I highly suggest checking out Chris Cash and Nick Paglino’s back-and-forth review of the event. And now…on with the show!


His name is Alberto del Rio, but you already knew that. Even the fans who only catch Raw would be hard-pressed to ignore this guy’s presence in the WWE. He has literally been a part of every single WWE broadcast in 2011 (keep in mind he is still a “Pro” on NXT). He is the fastest rising star since Sheamus. He is Alberto del Rio…and he is headed to the main event of WrestleMania. There has been a lot of talk about del Rio’s massive push, and many say the WWE has jumped the gun once again, as they’ve done with Sheamus and the Miz. However, I think his push has been flawlessly executed, and I’m willing to bet he’ll pay off even better than any of the aforementioned names because of it. With Sheamus they had the daunting task of legitimizing the monster after his instantaneous push into the role of WWE Champion. Miz also had a push that came out of nowhere, but that is often the case with the Money in the Bank roles. His issue comes more from Cole’s man-love and phrases like “the future of professional wrestling” being shoved down our throats. While I’m sure both men have a very bright future ahead of them (Miz is most likely facing John Cena for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania after all…), they have a lot to overcome before the fans can look at them as the future of the business.


Now, my man Alberto del Rio showed up after a month of vignettes and battled in the mid-card, putting Christian and Mysterio out with injuries in order to gain instant heel heat and credibility. He participated in Smackdown’s Bragging Rights team and after a successful showing he was given his own Survivor Series team against the returning Rey Mysterio. Both men led a great feud for the rest of 2010, climaxing in a World Championship match at TLC, and ending in a final match on the first Smackdown of 2011. In the following four weeks WWE began showcasing him on Raw as a main player in the Royal Rumble, even letting him take the final Sweet Chin Music we may ever see. I can’t argue that del Rio has been pushed since his start in the WWE, and I’ll even admit that it’s been a really quick ride to the top for the man, but he’s handled the responsibility well, and the push has definitely been given the time it needs to breath. Another year would only stagnate his character, and it’s likely he would get lost in the mid-card mix on the mid-card show. WrestleMania is still two months away, and in that time there is great potential to make him even more of a credible main eventer. Fear not doubters, del Rio will be ready for the “Big Dance”.


As for the rest of the Rumble… I thoroughly enjoyed this years event, and I’d go so far as to say it was my favorite Rumble since Chris Benoit won it all in 2004. Not only did Edge and Dolph Ziggler put on a killer match for the World Title, but Miz and Orton had a technically sound WWE Championship match, and even the divas showed up to put on an above-average contest (trust me, that’s high praise for the women of the WWE). But the best part of this year’s show for me was the Rumble match itself. There’s plenty of room to disagree with me on this, and I’ll even admit that it was lacking in certain areas. It wasn’t the technical performances, the comedy bits, or the big name returns that got me… It was the fan service WWE provided throughout the entire match. Never before have I seen an hour of wrestling that appealed to virtually every corner of the WWE Universe. The indie-fanboys had their dream collision of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. The old-school fans had their “mark out moments” with the returns of Booker T and Diesel. The heel lovers got to see Nexus demolish the Raw locker room, and John Cena’s fan base had to love him eliminating every member in response. The kids had their moments with Hornswaggle and Santino’s face at the end was so priceless it’s hard not to love him. The WWE’s pet monkey John Morrison was even given time to show off his mad skills before being eliminated (he should have made it to the final four). And in the end a fresh new talent stood victorious, while Miz, John Cena, Randy Orton, and the Nexus were all able to get their potential WrestleMania matches over. Everyone has been able to find faults in the Rumble, and nobody loved every minute of it. But for the first time in a long time, every fan was given something to enjoy, and that’s what I like to see. There has never, and will never be a day when every wrestling fan is appealed to, but the 2011 Royal Rumble made leaps and bounds in that direction.


A Tail of Two Spinaroonies


Continuing on in the spirit of old-school fan service, let’s talk about Big Sexy Kevin Nash and Booker T. It was reported on Wrestlezone earlier today that Kevin Nash will reportedly be signing a Legends contract, and working closely behind the scenes for the WWE. It remains to be seen whether or not he will be making an on-air return as well, but anyone with a pulse could tell that Diesel was the most over superstar at the entire Royal Rumble PPV. That reaction goes above-and-beyond the standard Rumble return pop, and the WWE would be smart to capitalize on it. However, I would caution them to wait until after the Elimination Chamber PPV to bring him back, if they do at all. Even though his reaction was off the charts, it’s very likely that it would deflate if Nash was forced to wrestle and pull promos for two months leading into WrestleMania. He could be a great sell if they used him in a Mania match or at the Hall of Fame, but allow people the chance to give up all hope on a return, and then spring it on the fans at the last second, hyping up Mania even more! Now…onto Booker T. The guys looks great, and I have no doubt he can still “go” in the ring. He’s always been a solid mic worker as well, and he COULD be a valuable asset to the WWE locker room. However, there’s already a lot going on, and I don’t know that he’d really help the picture going into Mania. This isn’t the time to be building up new stars, it’s the time to capitilize on the ones you have built. I love Booker T, and I’m glad they didn’t go with his old King gimmick, but with the returning Undertaker, Triple H, a possible Diesel return, and the whole 2/21/11 vignette, leaving Booker on the line until after Mania might just be the best thing they can do. Speaking of the vignettes…my money is on Sting. But I’m not doing any further speculation, as I don’t want to get my hopes up too high.


This has truly been an exciting week in wrestling, and my hat is off to the WWE for finally giving Jerry “the King” Lawler a shot at the title. We all know it’s just a way to keep the belt on Miz, but keeping the title out of the Chamber match is a refreshing idea. I’m much more excited to see a WrestleMania match on the line inside of the Elimination Chamber than the standard title defense, and Lawler is over enough with the fans to put on a sub-main event bout. There’s a lot to look forward to, and if WWE learns from its mistakes and never does another dance-off again, I think the Road to WrestleMania is shaping up to be just as exciting as this last weekend’s Royal Rumble PPV. But before I can really focus all my energy and attention on the world of professional wrestling, I have just two more things to do… Watch the team I’ve been faithfully following all of my life win the Super Bowl, and rub it in Brett Favre’s face. Let’s go Pack!

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