Sidekick Andrew: The joy of having only four matches (announced) on a card is that they are all pretty big deals. With the other two non-Rumble matches containing the blow-offs to big feuds however, this is looking like the weakest on the card. There’s no denying Bryan is a great wrestler, but sticking him in the ring with the likes of Big Show and Mark Henry isn’t necessarily going to give him chance to shine.
That said, I think Bryan will retain the title tonight somehow. His gradual turn towards the dark side bodes well for his character, and having him as the smug “original best in the world” heel champion would be an interesting way to go.
Boss Lady Rae: Firstly, I apologise for the briskness of my predictions in comparison to Andrew’s. I’ve had a heavy writing weekend and my brain is slightly fried. I’m also unable to watch the Rumble live, which has broken my heart slightly. Alright, here we go….
Big Show made me cry during Smackdown this week. When he stood in the ring, weeping at the idea that a tiny girl had accidentally suffered at his meaty hands, I shed a little tear with him. Admittedly I was feeling blue at not being able to go to the Manchester TNA show like my esteemed colleague, but I felt quite endeared towards the big fella’s compassion. I think I just said I wanted to be at a TNA show. Who am I?
I have this fantasy that Wrestlemania will include a triple threat match between CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho. For that to happen either Punk or Bryan need to drop their respective belts. I’d much rather that be Bryan, so I’ll say that Big Show will take the title tonight. Oh. Wait. Mark Henry’s in this thing too. Ummmm….meh, he’s done.
Sidekick Andrew: Never let it be said that I’m not still a massive Kane fan. He takes the ridiculous gimmicks and backstory retcons that WWE give him, shrugs and says “meh, whatever” and just runs with it. As a fan, I feel it’s only fair that I do the same. Whether it’s running around after Edge and Paul Bearer, inexplicably wearing a welder’s mask, or becoming an awkward teenager around ex-girlfriends…
After coming back and attacking Zack Ryder, Kane encouraged Cena to “embrace hate.” Cena manage to portray this magnificently in the best case of WWE emoting since Maria was dumped by Dolph Ziggler)
Logic dictates that Cena wins this match. He’s still the Superman poster boy for WWE, and using this match as a chance to channel some of his more vicious side (like his Last Man Standing match with Umaga for example) could be interesting. Also worth bearing in mind is that there’s nothing to stop Cena & Kane, or indeed any of tonight’s wrestlers, from appearing in the Rumble match as well. Cena could get his win here and avenge Ryder, but all it takes is for them to both clash again in the Rumble match and this feud could continue. After all, Cena needs something to do in the lead up to Wrestlemania other than respond to the Rock’s pre-recorded videos each week.
Boss Lady Rae: Do you know how much I love wrestling? In the midst of a brief and now slain ‘maybe I should give up on wrestling forever’ demon yesterday, Raw happened to be on while I was in my dad’s company. Even during the segment where Eve and John Cena’s acting skills following Zack Ryder’s ‘injury’ came straight out of a cheapo Horror Channel movie, I still defended them. As John knocked Josh’s mic from his hand and hilariously bubbled with fury into the camera lens (see above), I launched into a huge oratory about how wrestling is basically theatre and not a normal sport. Sometimes wrestling is like a bad boyfriend I can’t quit.
Anyway. The match. This whole feud is surely just a time-killing exercise for Cena until we launch into two months of him shouting into a mic for the Rock’s benefit. My guess is that Cena will win but only after Zack Ryder makes a miraculous recovery and runs (limps? wheels?) in to help. That could deliver the biggest pop of the night outside of any yet to be revealed Rumble surprises.
Sidekick Andrew: Much like Homer Simpson when faced with the choice to comdemn Springfield to obesity and diabetes, or listen to Marge and dump the smuggled sugar, I really don’t know what to do when it comes to predicting this match.
Obviously Punk’s been amazing over the last couple of years, and his interactions with Laurinitis helped the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and the Interim General Manager of Raw (ugg) take our Villian of the Year award. On the other hand, Dolph is Dolph and there’s a reason we’ve been singing his praises for a long time here in the Bunker.If Punk is the future of the WWE, then Ziggler is the ideal counterpart. A more corporate heel to balance Punk’s rebellious face, Ziggler aligning himself with an authority figure, while Punk is constantly having the odds stacked against him by the people at the top. I wrote an article a while ago comparing Punk-Cena to the classic Rock-Austin feud, but now I’m wondering if Ziggler isn’t the new Corporate Champion instead.
As such I can see Ziggler winning this, with help from Laurinitis. HHH needs something keep him busy, and chances are he’ll turn up tonight at some point. If Laurinitis knows his days are numbered, there’s no reason for him not to screw Punk over, especially after his attack on Raw last Monday.
Boss Lady Rae: Excellent theorising indeed, young Andrew. I definitely think Triple H will be there tonight, but I think he’ll show up to stop Laurinaitis screwing Punk over. That would release Punk from this brilliant back-and-forth he’s been having with the boss, and give HHH a chance to seek his revenge. And why would Punk need releasing? For my previously mentioned fantasy match, of course. I want to see Bryan and Jericho challenging Punk for both the title and the ‘Best in the World’ crown at ‘Mania. I think Punk will retain until then. Never let it be said I don’t follow my heart.
Of course, we really cannot lose in this match. As Andrew says and as our remaining Report from the Fort awards will attest, we’re both massively smitten with both Punk and Ziggler. Setting the Rumble match aside, which is unique in its greatness, this might not only be match of the night, but one of the best of the year. A bold statement in January, I know.
Sidekick Andrew: We were in two minds whether to predict this match here in the Bunker. We deliberated long into the night over endless packets of Monster Munch and lashings of ginger beer, trying to decide if we just wanted to enjoy what is usually one of our favourite wrestling spectacles simply for what it is. In the end however we agreed to predict it anyway (by which of course I mean Boss Lady Rae held me down and threatened to remove any roast beef flavoured maize based snack priveledges unless I capitulated.)
The trouble with this of course, is that the Rumble is a bit of a bugger to predict. There’s no definite and obvious winner this year, so deciding on just one is a matter of preference in the end.
The Miz could win, bringing him back into the main event picture and explaining why he was given the Number One entrant slot on Monday.
Undertaker could come back, starting his Road to Wrestlemania (which has to start soon) with a late entry and victory.
Christian could make his return, although between you and me I’m not overly excited by that prospect to be honest.
Orton could win, now that he has returned, as could the increasingly verbose Jericho. However, I think this PPV will set up feuds for them, rather than title shots.
I’m going to go for Wade Barrett to continue his barrage and win the Rumble tonight. OK, I’m going with local bias as usual, but he needs something to get him out of the rather boring upper midcard nonsense he’s been involved with recently. You never know, he might even team up with his old mentor Jericho during the match.
Boss Lady Rae: I don’t really want to to predict what might happen during the match. The Royal Rumble remains one of the few WWE repeated matches that still has the genuine ability to shock and surprise. I will say though, I’d love to see some of the ladies make an appearance this year. What better way for Beth Phoenix to return to TV than showing up in the Rumble for the second time?
Predicting the Rumble is a curious business, because picking a winner means you’re predicting the next few months of storytelling. I’d love for Chris Jericho to win, but it all seems a little too obvious now, and he doesn’t need to win to end up in my fantasy match. There are also quite a few people coming to the end of genuine injuries who may return. Running with my Big Show prediction and assuming Punk retains, I too am going to have to pick Wade Barrett. I know, I know. It seems like we’re just going with local bias again and it’s definitely a powerful force. But he’s been getting such a steady push on Smackdown recently. It’s all got to mean something, right? RIGHT?