My favorite wrestling pay-per-view of the year is this Sunday, the 25th Royal Rumble. WrestleMania is the crown jewel of WWE but the quality of that show depends on the card that is put together. With the Royal Rumble, unless you have Vince Russo booking it, you almost always are assured of an entertaining hour plus match. This year, only three matches have been announced to complement the Royal Rumble match, so I would expect something else get’s added to the show at the last minute. WWE has made a big deal out of any superstar being eligible, so surprises are expected. It is not known what Chris Jericho meant by “the world will change as we know it” come Sunday, so for that reason alone I am excited to tune in. Popular opinion seems to be that Randy Orton will win the Royal Rumble because it is in his hometown of St. Louis. I really hope WWE doesn’t go this route. Orton is accomplished enough and doesn’t need a Royal Rumble win to validate his career. After the jump, my predictions for Sunday’s event.
John Cena vs. Kane
This could end up being more of an angle than a match. The storyline for this is that Kane wants John Cena to embrace the hate, and stop acting like it doesn’t bother him that half the audience can’t stand him. In theory this is an interesting kind of story but the execution has been lacking. As with all things Kane it has turned really cartoonish and while the kids are probably eating it up, its hard for the older fans to stomach. I expect some sort of no-contest result as I don’t think the blow-off for this feud will come until next month at the Elimination Chamber.
WWE Championship: CM Punk (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler w/Vickie Guererro, John Lauranaitis is special referee
This is a match I am looking forward to as both Punk and Ziggler are two of the best workers in WWE. You also have the added intrigue of what role John L. will play as special referee. John L. made it clear last week that he was out to screw Punk of the title after weeks of playing his intentions to the chest. But news came last Monday that his job as Interim RAW GM is up for review on Monday night, so he almost has to call it down the middle to keep his job. That being said, will he be able to after CM Punk gave him the GTS last Monday? Ziggler has beaten Punk in 4 different matches over the last month, so that usually means Punk will get the victory at the PPV. That is what I expect to happen but it will be fun watching how they get to that result.
World Heavyweight Championship: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. The Big Show vs. Mark Henry in a Triple Threat Steel Cage Match
Daniel Bryan has always been a favorite of the Internet but I never really was into him. He was a great worker but he was pretty bland as a babyface. However, since winning the championship and slowly turning heel Bryan has become one of my favorite wrestlers. He plays his role perfect as the delusional champion that retains in ridiculous fashion but still considers himself the best. Big Show and Henry are much larger than Bryan but he has continuously found ways to outsmart them and keep the title. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a recreation of a finish from the Steve Austin/Mr. McMahon cage match almost 13 years ago. In that match, Big Show, making his debut in WWE, threw Austin into the cage which give way, causing Austin to land on the floor and win the match. I think that type of finish will happen in this way, giving Bryan another tainted victory.
Royal Rumble Match
After experimenting with 40 competitors last year, the WWE has gone back to the tried and true formula of 30 participants. Last year’s winner Alberto Del Rio has been out with an injury, but it is possible he could be a surprise entrant this year. I really have no clue who will win this thing. Right now I think either Jericho or Orton, but I could also see them go the star making route and give it to Sheamus or Wade Barrett. It is also possible that the competitors in the night’s earlier matches may end up taking part in the Rumble. I like that they have left a cloud of mystery over who the participants will be.
College Basketball – Top 25
North Carolina State (15-5, 4-1) at #8 North Carolina (16-3, 3-1), ESPN, 7:00 PM ET. The Wolfpack are quietly playing well. Go Heels!
#13 Florida (15-4, 3-1) at Mississippi (13-6, 3-2), ESPN2, 7:00 PM ET.
#17 Indiana (16-4, 4-4) at #25 Wisconsin (16-5, 5-3), ESPN2, 9:00 PM ET.
Boston College (7-12, 2-3) at #21 Virginia (15-3, 2-2), ESPNU, 9:00 PM ET. Remember when BC used to be good at football and basketball?
#20 Saint Mary’s (19-2, 8-0) at Loyola Marymount (12-8, 5-2), 10:00 PM ET.
Hey look, just 2 games on a Thursday night, that’s the NBA I’m used to!
Boston (7-9) at Orlando (12-5), TNT, 8:00 PM ET. If the Magic lose this game will get plenty of burn on SportsCenter, but if they win probably not even a highlight, at least that’s what a Magic fan might say.
Memphis (10-7) at Los Angeles Clippers (9-6), TNT, 10:30 PM ET. Lefty might have some material from this game. Lakers still run LA.