Well here we are. On the Road to WrestleMania and are we all happy? Of course were not! Opinions are divided as usual within the wrestling community as we passed this Sundays Royal Rumble.
Where do I stand? To be honest with you all I’m still unsure. I look at the ingredients of a good Rumble; a decent set of superstars who can win, rivalries that continue within the match, a surprise winner, some close eliminations and a slice of comedy are normally the things that make a fairly delicious course of entertainment. This Sunday was no different. Sheamus was the surprise winner, Kofi had a fantastic spot where he walked on his hands to avoid elimination, a roster which is packed full of talent and Ricardo Rodriguez entered the match. But something was missing... Oh that’s right! THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT! Now it may be different over in the States but when I woke up this morning, the world still seemed to be pretty much the same! Joking aside, WWE had Chris Jericho promise us something that was never delivered.
Am I a fan that is moaning because Jericho didn’t win the Rumble? No. I’m a fan that is disappointed. Jericho didn’t need to win the Rumble but he DID need to at least tease further or deliver what he promised on RAW. When he made that statement after staying silent for 4 weeks, people expect. Even now after RAW the following night we are still left unanswered. It’s simply mind boggling that anyone can think that this is good way to attract fans in to a character. There will have been MANY fans which would have bought the Royal Rumble PURELY for the comment that Jericho made on RAW, and we got nothing. Even after Sheamus won I kept wondering if we were going to get a cheesy grin from Jericho on the ramp or something to make me believe that this is all part of his master plan, but all we got was the usual finger point and a pyro display for WrestleMania.
The match itself wasn’t a particularly poor Rumble but it didn’t manage to grab me like previous entries. Silly comments were made like this was the first ever Rumble where ANYONE is eligible to enter. Only for John Cena and Kane to think “Nah, I’ll give this one a miss.” Whilst on the other hand we had to watch comedy spots with Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler. I didn’t mind the spot with Ricardo and Road Dogg but when the entire announce team is entered in to the match and a living legend like Mick Foley ends up in a duel with Santino’s ‘Cobra’ I couldn’t help but feel, is this really the biggest match of everyone’s career? I’m supposed to believe that this is as close as a lot of Superstars will get to main eventing WrestleMania? This match, where a quarter of the participates is taken up by comedy acts where there is no believable winner?
I don’t want to come across as another person that is just taking shots at the match for the sake of it but I have to go with my enjoyment factor. I’m not over analysing, the Rumble is the one match every year I look forward too but this year something was missing. I wasn’t on the end of my seat for most of it and I had this impending feeling that no matter what happened Jericho would have some sort of surprise for us. Sure, Sheamus and Jericho did a great job on the last spot and the win was the ‘shock’ but it still didn’t seem enough. If we hadn’t been left to believe that something greater was going to happen then I would have taken the Rumble for what it was and most probably felt more satisfied with the Sheamus victory but nothing much else came from the match.
The one area of the Rumble I could never fault was the lengthy promos put on for John Cena and The Rock. Now people know I’m not a massive supporter of Cena’s current character but after watching this video I couldn’t help but sympathise with him. It was obviously based around his work outside of the ring and nobody can argue with the charity work he does. I love the fact that WWE used interviews with fans where they called him a ‘phony.’
The Rock’s video was more Hollywood based and didn’t feel as heartfelt. They played on Rock’s Samoan heritage which humanised him more. If this is a taste of what is to come between these two then I am even more drawn in than I thought I would be. With the announcement of the match a year ago, my interest has dissipated a little just because of the lack of interaction between the two. These videos look to be the kick start that WrestleMania needs and they set the tone nicely.
As we come round to RAW the following night we all prayed that Jericho would have some sort of explanation but the best we got was an attack on Punk. Now Punk and Jericho is what we all expected Jericho to lead too but if this is as far as Jericho “End of the world scenario” goes then I really believe he has had one of the worst returns in history.
RAW felt like an apology for letting fans down, we got two great matches followed by a cracking final segment. Ziggler and Orton was a solid match where Ziggler continues to impress with his ability to make his opponents look ridiculously good. Following that we had CM Punk take on Daniel Bryan. One thing that really stood out to me during the build up to this match was how comfortable Bryan has become on the microphone in the last few months. WWE tested the waters with him and as his crowd reactions started to fade they changed his character into a heel. Since this point Bryan really has broke out of his shell. He makes sense. He reminds me of a Kurt Angle which makes valid points but is the total coward, yet when he gets put in the corner has the technical ability to pull out the victory, something that is missing in a lot of heel characters today.
The match itself was fantastic and worthy of a PPV of their own. Both did well to sell to each other and tell a fantastic technical story in the ring. Jericho interfered as we know but it would be interesting to see these two lock it up again soon.
Then we got the final segment between John Laurinaitis (That’s the first time I’ve not needed to Google it!) and Triple H. The firing option seemed a little too obvious and the tease of Triple H turning heel seemed to be on the cards. Queue the GONG and the Arena went nuts. Hairs on the back of necks rose and seemingly on Undertakers head as well! Out came the Phenom and looked at the WrestleMania sign. This was the carbon copy of last year’s return but just vice versa. Undertaker was calling out Triple H. Triple H stared him down and the tapped him on the back like he had nothing to prove before walking out of the arena. A fantastic spot which leaves all options still open but gave you enough interest to tune in next week. This is how stories should be told. Give us a surprise and tease us the next stage. Don’t tell us something big is going to happen and then forget you ever mentioned it. WWE have quickly turned round my interest in this one segment.
I obviously still want to see Jericho and Punk have a great programme but the sheer fact that Triple H and Undertaker teasing another WrestleMania match for a third time (which is something I’m particularly not interested in) manages to get a better reaction out of me than what Jericho did speaks volumes in my book.
Will Undertaker return to the Badass gimmick before the show? Will the match take place? Who will Sheamus challenge? Will the Rock and Cena be as epic as we hope? The Road hasn’t waited until after the Elimination Chamber to get going, it’s already rolling. The pieces are in place, we just need some logical writing to get us there... Can it be delivered?