On The Road Again, Starting With A Rumble

Mike Killam





On the Road Again, Starting With A Rumble

By Mike Killam

 

The Road to Wrestlemania is famous for producing some of the best content professional wrestling has to offer. It’s what interests the new fans and keeps the old ones coming back year after year. It builds stars into superstars, and distinguishes the workers from the slackers. The Road to Wrestlemania has made careers, beginning with the Royal Rumble and continuing on through the main event of wrestling’s biggest attraction. It is the wrestling playoffs, and it’s where the all time greats like Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, the Rock, and Triple H have made history in the most intriguing feuds and programs of all time. It is the best 3 months of the WWE’s calendar year, and tomorrow night…it begins again for the 24th time.

 

Now, I may have added a bit more “pomp and circumstance” than is warranted, but I think it’s definitely necessary. This week I made a promise that I would simply sit down and enjoy WWE programming. For just one week I have resolved to put my pretentious analyzing of the wrestling industry aside and be a fan once again. And you know what…? Monday Night Raw… was awesome! I loved seeing Edge back on Raw causing chaos for the Anonymous GM. I freaked out when the Nexus and the Corre went face to face. I gasped at the thought of one of the teams being eliminated from the Rumble, and cheered for Cena as the guest referee. I loved the Champion vs. Champion match and called the dual RKOs before things even got started. I was disgusted at the entire Daniel Bryan segment, and I really enjoyed watching Cena call the double DQ as a result of WWE’s PG product. (I also marked for the return of Rated RKO to Smackdown, but don’t tell anybody…) It’s been a great week and I am pumped up for tomorrow night’s Royal Rumble! Don’t get me wrong, I love journalism and the crazy community of wrestling enthusiasts who get together online and share their opinions. But every once in awhile we need to realize we’re fans first, and the product is made to be enjoyed, not scrutinized. And now…for my hypocritical analysis of the wrestling product…

 

Last Man Standing

As per usual, everyone and their mothers have put in their predictions for the outcome of the 2011 Royal Rumble. This year’s Rumble is actually quite exciting, because for the first year in a very long time I don’t feel like there’s a clear-cut winner already scheduled to headline Wrestlemania. This year’s event won’t just be an hour long waste of time that only leads to the inevitable victory of John Cena, Edge, or Randy Orton. It’s true that John Cena and a returning Triple H are heavily favored to win it all, but it’s just as likely that Alberto Del Rio or CM Punk could walk away with an all-inclusive trip to Atlanta, Georgia. It’s unlikely, but even John Morrison, Sheamus, or Kofi Kingston could take the prize. ANYTHING can happen tomorrow night, and it’s good to finally be excited for a WWE PPV! So, who is my pick to win the 2011 Royal Rumble? Well…I’ll admit I expect either John Cena or CM Punk to take it because they happen to be the two names up for contention to the Miz’s WWE title at Wrestlemania. However, I’m always inclined to go with the underdog, and so this year I will be placing my full support in the Shaman of Sexy, the Guru of Greatness…John Morrison.

 

John Morrison is not only a great choice to win the Rumble, but also a safe choice in terms of WWE booking. It’s true that there’s a lot of risk in having Morrison take the big prize. He’s over with the crowd, but he is definitely not over enough to sell a Wrestlemania main event like John Cena could. The issue is, if Cena wins the Rumble, the whole world knows he’s facing Miz at Wrestlemania. There’s no surprise and everybody is disappointed as a result. But if you have JoMo win the Rumble, you not only have a past history with the Miz to draw on (not to mention that fantastic championship match from the first Raw of 2011), but you’ve got the chance to build a new face. They have the chance to do what they did for Cena back when he toppled JBL. Let John Morrison go over his biggest rival, the most hated heel on Raw, and he immediately gets the superstar reaction that the WWE has been looking for. But here’s the safety net… Let’s say the Elimination Chamber PPV rolls around and Vince isn’t satisfied with the reaction Morrison has been receiving in the Raw spotlight. You simply  turn Edge heel and have Morrison decide to take on the Smackdown’s World Champion instead. It’s a win-win situation, because Edge is a much more natural heel than face, and he can give Morrison the huge push that he deserves, maybe even better than the Miz can. That opens up the door for a Cena vs. Miz match to headline the event, and everyone is happy in the end. Now, can you really say that any other possible winner of the Rumble has that much flexibility?

 

Bring Out Your Dead…

This week I got a lot of heat on the forums for posting my opinions on a likely Undertaker-based main event at Wrestlemania. For those of you who don’t already know, a match between the Undertaker and Wade Barrett has been penciled in to headline this year’s Big Dance for over a month. It’s not set in stone or anything, but other than the Brock Lesnar internet hype, there haven’t been many other names floating around to challenge the Deadman’s streak. My opinion is this: The Undertaker has been a huge part of wrestling for more than 20 years. He has put on some of the most famous (and infamous) Wrestlemania matches in history, and the whole show just wouldn’t be the same without him. But after seeing his last couple of matches, I have serious apprehension towards letting the big man main event another Mania. Maybe it’s just that Kane isn’t the easiest worker to put over in the ring, but I think if you really take off the rose-colored glasses, you’ll see what’s staring you in the face: the Undertaker is old. His body is breaking down from the 21 years of non-stop wrestling. Not only that, but since last year’s Wrestlemania, he’s been almost completely irrelevant to professional wrestling. He makes his return, fights a few matches, and takes months off at a time to heal from those fights (that honestly weren’t that great). I respect the hell out of the Demon of Death Valley, but I can hear the gongs in the distance. Now, before I get another flood of angry emails, let me clarify one thing. I don’t want Undertaker to hang up the boots and walk away so that I don’t have to watch a sloppy match. I’m not that selfish. But I don’t want him main eventing a PPV I’m paying $60 to see. Yeah, there’s the fact that Barrett just isn’t good enough to carry Taker through the match, but there’s also relevance to consider. The Miz has been WWE Champion for months, and before that he was the dominating Mr. Money in the Bank. The Nexus has been running everyone with a pulse into the ground since last summer, and there still has yet to be a real conclusion (actually…now there’s two of them). This also could be the last title match we see Edge in… My point is that there’s so many other relevant things going on in the WWE, and I don’t want them thrown to the side just to see Undertaker “send the fans home happy”. This is Wrestlemania. It’s the conclusion of a year’s worth of work, and I want to see just that.

 

It’s About Damn Time…

Changing gears just a little bit… For the past several years, Wrestlemania has played host to the Money in the Bank ladder match. It’s been a fun gimmick that has not only added suspense to PPV, but produced a lot of unexpected title reigns. With the match now evolved into a full fledged PPV, many people have suspected that WWE may remove the match from Wrestlemania entirely. If it’s true than I have just one thing to say…it’s about damn time. For years the WWE has been taking the easy way out with the mid-card superstars by throwing them all together in a ladder match. This way they don’t get in the way of bigger feuds, but are still allowed face time at the biggest PPV event of the year. As a result we’ve seen the exact same main events recycled over and over again. Triple H, John Cena, Randy Orton, Batista, Edge…how many times do we need to see them fight for the title? How many times can Kofi Kingston and John Morrison jump off a ladder until they get a chance to run a decent program of their own? I say it’s about time to let the future stars of professional wrestling do something besides cheap gimmicks!

 

This week the cover of the WWE All Stars video game was released, and it included John Cena, Hulk Hogan, Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, the Ultimate Warrior, Randy Savage…and Kofi Kingston. It’s pretty much assumed that this is a way to increase merchandise sales, and not an indication that Kofi will receive a huge push any time soon. But the fact that he sells enough to merit being on the same cover with 6 World Champions should give you an indication of his potential. One of my favorite programs in the last two years was Kofi vs. Orton. Randy was at the pinnacle of his heel character, and Kofi was pulling off these intense promos and gaining some real heavy reactions from the crowd. And a month later it was gone… Now Kofi is once again the Intercontinental Champion on Smackdown, and he’s probably not going anywhere for quite awhile. The WWE is in a stage where they have to build new stars. You know they realize it too, because in the last 6 months the Miz, John Morrison, Sheamus, Wade Barrett, Alberto Del Rio, and Dolph Ziggler have all been pushed like mad. There’s also Daniel Bryan and Drew McIntyre that have great ability and are waiting in the wings for their own shot at greatness. There is so much potential and youth in the WWE right now, and that’s really why tomorrow night’s Royal Rumble event excites me so much. How many people will Daniel Bryan eliminate? Will Sheamus and Triple H find out who the real King is? Will they follow Del Rio’s massive push through to fruition? Can we expect any last minute guests (cough…Booker T and Kevin Nash…cough)? Like I said, ANYTHING is possible!

 

I want to hear your thoughts on this year’s Road to Wrestlemania!

 

Mike Killam is a writer for WrestleZone.com.  You can reach him via email at MikeKillam@gmail.com.

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