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411 PPV Roundtable Preview - WWE Royal Rumble 2013
Posted by Stephen Randle on 01.26.2013





Introduction

This Sunday, it is time for WWE to start rolling down the Road to WrestleMania once again, and the first stop is the Royal Rumble, where thirty men will battle in an over-the-top rope, hour-long contest in which the winner receives a WWE or World Heavyweight Title match at the biggest PPV of the year, WrestleMania XXIX. It is the only way to guarantee your presence at Mania this early, so everyone involved will fight tooth and nail to nab a victory.

Meanwhile, CM Punk's 434 day WWE Championship reign will be in danger of ending like it never has before, as he must go one-on-one with The Great One. This is without hyperbole the biggest challenge Punk has ever had to face as champion, and there are very few who give him much of a chance against The Rock. Can Punk overcome this massive obstacle and continue his momentous title reign?

Plus, after shockingly defeating The Big Show and becoming World Heavyweight Champion early this month, Alberto Del Rio must attempt to beat the odds, and an angry giant, for a second time in the same match where he won the title, a Last Man Standing affair. Del Rio escaped once, can he do it again?

Also, Hell No will defend the tag titles against Rhodes Scholars, and Antonio Cesaro will try to show that no American can defeat him for the US Title as he faces The Miz on the YouTube pre-show. With a whole lot of WrestleMania implications on the line this Sunday, here's the 411 Staff with their thoughts on what the outcomes might be at the Royal Rumble!

The Staff

Stephen Randle, The Wrestling News Experience

Jericho Ricardi, 411 Games Zone contributor and www.coronajumper.com

Michael Weyer, Shining A Spotlight

James Wright, The Heel Report

Michael Benjamin,

TJ Hawke, Views From The Hawke's Nest

Jack Bramma, Ring Crew Reviews




Antonio Cesaro © vs The Miz
United States Championship
YouTube Pre-Show Match


Stephen Randle: What does it say when you give Miz an endorsement from Ric Flair, including his signature figure-four finisher, and the first thing he does is forget how to apply it properly? It says that Cesaro's not losing his US Title yet.

Winner: Antonio Cesaro

Jericho Ricardi: Fresh off of his loss to Randy Orton on this past week's RAW, Antonio Cesaro rolls into the Royal Rumble with all the momentum that going 100+ days as U.S. Champion will bring you. No American can defeat him for the title, he claims, and so far no American has. ...okay, I can't parrot the WWE company line any more. It's stupid the way they job out their secondary champions, to the point where statements like the one above, so often thrown out by Michael Cole, completely lose whatever power they have. When you realize how frequently Cesaro loses "non-title matches", it's hard not to feel bad for the guy. It's up-and-down booking that makes little sense when they make Cesaro look so good some weeks. Then they wonder why he isn't catching on with fans. They did the same thing to Kofi Kingston. During the Attitude Era, would The Rock or Triple H have caught on during their star-making Intercontinental Title reigns if they had frequently lost non-title matches? Remember what a big deal it was when Raven lost to Goldberg and gave up the U.S. Championship? We can't get moments like that in the modern climate. In any case, Cesaro wins this one, defeating Miz (whose own recent secondary title reign was derailed when he was squashed by Ryback in a non-title match).

Winner: Antonio Cesaro

Michael Weyer: Antonio has been on a role, unlikely he'll lose here. They'll want to build it up a bit to Mania and don't see it going in a pre-show anyhow. But should be a good match nonetheless to get the crowd going and help sell Cesaro more as a threat.

Winner and STILL US Champion: Antonio Cesaro

James Wright: This is actually a pretty tough one and I'm not sure why it has been consigned to the pre-show considering the match has been built for several weeks, albeit most of that build occurring on Main Event. Cesaro has been going strong as champion and looks to be in high standing with the company. Then you have the Miz, still finding his feet as a face and just recently becoming the recipient of the Figure-4 Leg-lock from Flair, which was a surprise to pretty much everyone. Miz could really benefit from a win here but I just can't see Cesaro dropping the belt right now, especially on a pre-show, so the Swiss Sensation gets my vote.

Winner: Antonio Cesaro

Michael Benjamin: I was going to say that the US title wouldn't change hands on the pre-show but that's how Cesaro won it in the first place. Still though, his reign is too important to end on YouTube. It's kind of like Punk's reign, in that it's building up to a special feud/angle that Cesaro will ultimately succumb to. Or, you know, Miz goes over in an attempt to get some last minute orders. Gotta go with Cesaro though.

Winner: Antonio Cesaro retains

TJ Hawke: The Miz is so goddamn awful, and I hope this is a squash. The only reason for Antonio to lose this match is if the WWE decides to shoot a rocket up his ass, and he wins the Rumble later in the night. The Miz needs to go away.

Winner: Antonio Cesaro

Jack Bramma: I was predicting a Miz face turn through most of last year and it looked to get off to a good start in Miz's home of Ohio on November 12 of last year. But it has been awful in ways hard to comprehend. His segments with Rhodes Scholar, Flair, Punk, etc. are worse than bad; they are boring. Face Miz is bad differently than Heel Miz. As a heel, Miz has gotten lazy but as a face, he's just the derivative frat boy who appeals to the lowest common denominator and even John Cena doesn't do that. Cesaro is the future and should have a feud with Miz where he beats him every way possible for like Benoit did Orlando Jordan before Miz snaps and re-turns heel. That or Miz should just learn how to do the Figure Four correctly.

Winner: Antonio Cesaro


Hell No © vs Rhodes Scholars
WWE Tag Team Championship


Stephen Randle: While Hell No has been less and less dysfunctional, the time is probably ripe for Rhodes Scholars to hold the tag belts, because I think Kane and D-Bry's story has pretty much reach a natural end. They fought, they teamed up, they won the titles, and they (sort of) worked through their anger issues. It's time for them to move on to other things and let someone else in the tag division have a shot on top.

Winner: Rhodes Scholars

Jericho Ricardi: The Rhodes Scholars are on a roll, and are probably the most interesting tag team in WWE right now. Both heelish and fun to watch, they are sort of WWE's version of Daniels and Kaz. When the team formed up I thought Cody Rhodes was the guy to watch, but now I'm thinking Damien Sandow is going to be the breakout star of the two in the future. He's got all the tools and that "it" factor, while Cody's time may have passed. In any case, I feel like Team Hell No has run its course and it's time for Daniel Bryan and Kane to get back into singles competition (after perhaps a Wrestlemania rematch with the Scholars).

Winner: Rhodes Scholars

Michael Weyer: This one is a toughie. The Rhodes have been built up well and a pretty entertaining pair so I can see them winning the belts. But Team Hell No is the best thing WWE has going, these two just so great together, hate to see them lose and break up. I'll lean to the champs managing to retain this time out to set up a rematch but should be pretty entertaining nonetheless as these four are clicking well.

Winners and STILL WWE Tag Team Champions: Team Hell No

James Wright: Sure Team Hell No is still super over but I say this with all conviction: Team Rhodes Scholars better bloody win the titles this time or they should just give up and go back to being singles wrestlers! The feud between the two teams has been going on for months now and the challengers have yet to take the titles away from the champs and it is just getting depressing. Every time they have faced off I have picked the Rhodes Scholars to win and every time I have been disappointed. The ironic thing is that these two formed as a team because they saw how weak the connection was between the tag team champions, making them easy pickings as a team. But now, when they will probably capture the titles, it will be against a team that is completely on the same page (relatively) and stronger than ever. Despite this somewhat flawed logic I am still going with change, because change is always good.

Winner: Team Rhodes Scholars

Michael Benjamin These guys have wrestled each other pretty consistently since the tag team division resurgence. Kane and Daniel Bryan graduated Anger Management on Monday and could definitely use some conflict to keep them fresh. Also, The Rhodes Scholars have had a quite a few opportunities at tag gold. They need a win here to stay relevant.

Winner: The Rhodes Scholars

TJ Hawke: I keep waiting for these teams to have an awesome match. I hope they are finally able to do it here. Daniel Bryan should be in long singles matches on as many PPVs as possible, but I'm glad he is making money. This match should be at least pretty good.

Winner: Rhodes Scholars

Jack Bramma: Both teams seem to have lost a bit of steam (other than the recent re-focus on Hell No the last two weeks with Shelby). With Rock returning and Punk's streak and The Shield and on down the line, the tag division has taken a back seat and it'll probably get even less time with likely Triple H, Brock, and Undertaker returns coming soon for Mania. I think the recent graduation for DB and Kane is a sign that they are moving on to the inevitable break-up and possible feud going into Wrestlemania. Time for Cody's mustache and Sandow's microphone goblet to get more promo time.

Winner: Rhodes Scholars


Alberto Del Rio © vs The Big Show
World Heavyweight Championship
Last Man Standing Match


Stephen Randle: Adding the LMS stip means the match will probably be better, actually, but I'm not a fan of doing back-to-back matches with the exact same stipulation. At any rate, thanks in large part to his big win over Show, Del Rio is actually doing pretty good as a top face (although hopefully that lasts as the shows move northerly), and hopefully the rumour that Orton-Sheamus is the Mania WHT match is just that, because at this point, Del Rio deserves that match. Show's done his job helping get Del Rio over, I suspect Ryback is next on his plate.

Winner: Alberto Del Rio

Jericho Ricardi: Alberto Del Rio has been great as a face so far. Legend has it that he was a face for most of his career before showing up in WWE, so them turning him heel right out of the gate may well have been a blunder on the level of Scott Steiner: Babyface. On the bright side, we didn't have to deal with any ADR pose-offs. Hopefully Del Rio retains here because he's got a lot of momentum right now. Going on to face Sheamus and Orton in a triple threat for the World title at Wrestlemania - and surviving - would do wonders for ADR going forward.

Winner: Alberto Del Rio

Michael Weyer: WWE should have tried Del Rio as a face before, the guy is much better at it then as a heel and the crowd responding better as well. He just got the belt so I don't seem him losing so fast right off as Show's reign wasn't exactly sensational. Yes, the odds favor show but that's what makes it better for Del Rio, show he can hang in a brutal match like this and a big win will cement him further with the fans. Del Rio has got momentum at last and WWE should push that with a win here to help him get over as a face champ and nice to see the guy finally clicking as a main eventer.

Winner and STILL World Champion: Alberto Del Rio

James Wright: I find it interesting that they want to have the title rematch with exactly the same stipulation as last time, it almost makes me want to pick Big Show to win back the title, but then what was the point in the change in the first place? You know what I would like to see, The Shield attack the Big Show and make sure he loses the match for a second time, just to mess with everyone's heads, and what better way to mask their true intentions. But failing that I'm sure another rousing, against the odds, win for Del Rio on a larger stage will help Del Rio get over as a newly crowned face champion.

Winner: Alberto Del Rio

Michael Benjamin: There's so many ways to go with the World Heavyweight Championship picture that this is more of a stab in the dark than anything. I'm going to stay safe and go with ADR though. He just won the title and could use another win over Show to solidify him as a monster slayer in the fan's eyes.

Winner: Alberto Del Rio retains

TJ Hawke: I cannot imagine that this match will be anything special, but as long as the match is well laid out, it should probably be pretty entertaining. I hope Del Rio wins.

Winner: Alberto Del Rio

Jack Bramma: I'll admit that I have been pleasantly surprised with the way the WWE has booked the World Heavyweight Championship for months now. I thought Sheamus would hold it for practically a year until Ziggler cashed in; I was wrong. I thought Show would lose it back immediately to Sheamus or lose it to Ziggler; I was wrong. I thought Show would hold it for months until losing it to someone other than Alberto Del Rio whose face turn I thought would be a disaster; I was wrong. And again I reiterate, despite being wrong pretty much every time when it comes to this belt, I've enjoyed every decision they've made. I hope and believe they won't turn Del Rio into a pseudo-transitional champ from Show back to Show since he got an instant spark by turning face and winning the belt in a surprising fashion. Let him run with it longer than he did the WWE strap either time (35 days and 49 days respectively) and he'll STAY over this time.

Winner: Alberto Del Rio


CM Punk © vs The Rock
WWE Championship


Stephen Randle: Anyone who thinks Rock is not walking out of this match as the WWE Champion and one way or the other, facing John Cena at WrestleMania, is either out of their minds or just desperately hoping in the face of all contrary evidence. Punk's 400+ day title reign has been more than anyone ever expected, this feud has been superb, and the logical end is for Rock to take the belt. I know we forget sometimes, but Punk is the heel. He's supposed to get his comeuppance eventually.

Winner: The Rock

Jericho Ricardi: This match should be off the charts, easily surpassing the Cena/Rock confrontation last year from a match quality standpoint. The question is, do they want CM Punk's historic title reign to end at the hands of a guy who is already well established (and no longer active) or someone else who could make more use of the "rub"? This is the same question I asked before the Undertaker's last four Wrestlemania matches against HBK and HHH. At this point the smart choice may be to leave the title on CM Punk. If The Rock loses, it'll be because his Wrestlemania opponent (Brock?) interfered. Punk already set the record for the modern era, so an extra 60 days added onto his title reign wouldn't make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. That said, I suspect that The Rock will be walking out with the title to pop the ratings. Plus, I'm picking a heel to win The Rumble, so...

Winner, and NEWWWW champion: The Rock

Michael Weyer: I know, I know, everyone is saying that Rock wins the title, Cena wins the Rumble and we get Cena-Rock II for Mania. But I just don't know. Does the Rock need the title? That's the key question, especially considering his Hollywood schedule and WWE has to know that. Plus, Punk has been riding so high, doesn't seem right he finally loses the belt to a guy who makes about one in-ring appearance per year. A win over the Rock would cement Punk big-time but I see WWE hedging their bets, Rock wins by DQ so Punk keeps the belt and helps push Punk as champ for Mania to make the title switch there much bigger.

Winner: Rock by DQ (Punk retains)

James Wright: Screw it, you know I was going to go for the safe prediction of: Rock wins the title, Cena wins the Rumble and then the two face off for the title at Wrestlemania, while that will still most likely happen I'd rather not know exactly what the plans for Wrestlemania are and instead go for a different turn of events. That being said I'm going to go with the unlikely scenario of Brock Lesnar coming out and costing the Rock the title, Punk retaining, which will lead to Rock vs. Lesnar at Mania, sure no one current goes over, but that would have been the case with Cena-Rock 2 and HHH-Brock 2 anyway so who cares? I know which match I'd rather see. I expect a damn fine match between the two since going by Rock's two matches last year, he actually takes these in-ring returns pretty seriously and is willing to go the distance. Sure having Lesnar come out unadvertised makes little sense from a business standpoint, but then again nothing about the Lesnar deal has made sense thus far, so why care about that now!

Winner: C.M. Punk (via shenanigans by Brock Lesnar)

Michael Benjamin: I'd grin like an idiot if CM Punk walked away with the title. How awesome would that be? I don't really think he needs it at this point though. He's done all that he can with it. Also, Vince isn't going to walk away from all of the press that will come along with The Rock as WWE Champion on the Road to Wrestlemania. I don't think there's much of a choice here...

Winner: The Rock

TJ Hawke: I really wish this match was the main event of Wrestlemania, and I'm really disappointed that it's not. Maybe (and it's not definite) John Cena vs. The Rock II will do more business, but for my money, Punk vs. Rock is the most interesting match the WWE has, and as such, it should be the main event of Mania. I expect this match to be absolutely awesome.

Winner: The Rock

Jack Bramma: The last time The Rock wrestled in a WWE ring I predicted with my emotions and not my logic. Everything told me that Cena would win at Wrestlemania, but I didn't care. I was picking Rock no matter what because I wanted to believe it would happen – that the WWE would say screw the pattern and the putting under the returning star to the week-in, week-out established star and just roll the dice with having John Cena lose. Luckily in my view, they did that and it has led to the intrigue of this match. I know everybody and their brother has Rock-Cena II for the WWE title penciled in for the Mania main event and I just refuse to go along with it. I'll have to be wrong every day week until Wrestlemania if they go through with the main, because I just don't believe it'll happen. Given how on fire Punk has been since turning his attention to Rock about a month ago, it just makes too much sense for him to keep going. At this point, the sheer length of the reign is more important than just one Royal Rumble PPV or one Rock/Punk program. Obviously, the stipulations thrown in by Vince tease once again that Lesnar will interfere rather than The Shield to help Punk keep the belt, but I'm not talking myself into that armchair fantasy again. Instead, Brad Maddox will probably make his presence felt and help Punk retain. Don't get me wrong, a part of me believe that Punk will be an even BIGGER star and heel once he loses the belt because it'll have an even bigger chip on his shoulder, but I'm just not ready to say it happens yet.

Winner: CM Punk


The Royal Rumble Match

Winner Receives A WWE or World Heavyweight Title Match At WrestleMania XXIX

Official Entrants As Off Press Time: John Cena, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Antonio Cesaro, Wade Barrett, Ryback, Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal, Drew McIntyre, The Miz, Dolph Ziggler

Stephen Randle: Well, here's "one way", in which John Cena wins here and moves on to face The Rock. It would make sense and allow WWE to say "well, ‘Once in a Lifetime' doesn't apply here because it got set up due to already-established stipulations that we couldn't have predicted would occur". That said, I would rather have anyone else win this and set up the WHT match instead, although my first choice in Ziggler basically got screwed by going #1, and he's not getting the HBK story. It's possible he might get the DiBiase one, though. I'm hoping his disastrous go-home promo might have cost him the win here, but I think we all know how this ends.

Most Eliminations: Ryback

Ironman: Dolph Ziggler

Winner: John Cena

Jericho Ricardi: This Rumble is wide-open as to who the winner will be. In some years, we've had a champion more or less set in stone for Wrestlemania (for instance, 2000) which made predicting a Rumble winner a lot simpler. In this case, we've also got a WWE Title clash between The Rock and CM Punk that seems to be completely up in the air. It would help on predicting if we knew which title the Rumble winner would be challenging for, since the previous two Rumble winners only went on to curtain-jerk at Wrestlemania. On that note, they really need to unify the two world titles. With the brand split null and void for a while now, having two world titles makes about as much sense as having the San Francisco 49's be the "NFL Champions" and the Baltimore Ravens be the "World Champions" and just calling it a day. It might just be wishful thinking, but I'm hoping for Dolph Ziggler to pull off the win here, then unify the titles at Wrestlemania when he cashes in on the World champion after their match and goes on to defeat The Rock for the WWE title in the main event. This seems increasingly unlikely given that Ziggler has been forced to start the match. Considering how WWE seems to have little faith in him or inclination to ever unify the world titles, chances are high that my out-on-a-limb predictions won't come to pass.

Most Eliminations: Ryback

Ironman: Dolph Ziggler

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Michael Weyer: Always hard to predict this. Cena seems a safe bet to headline Mania but he has been allowing himself to not have to be in the title scene that much anymore. Ryback is a possibility but not sure they want to pull the trigger there so instead pick him to be the monster eliminator. No, I'll go with Ziggler here, guy is on a roll and winning the Rumble and MITB makes him even more of a threat for the titles and should lead to interesting bits for Mania. Course, always the chance of Undertaker returning to win for "title vs streak" at Mania but go with a fresher face in Ziggler who's been deserving a major main event run for a while.

Most Eliminations: Ryback

Ironman: Cena

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

James Wright: Having said that I'm also going to go with Cena not winning the Rumble, he sure as hell doesn't deserve to right now, instead I'm going with Ziggler and the start of a face turn through a dramatic performance, leading to him challenging Punk for the WWE title in the hopes of capturing both belts on the Grandest Stage of them All.

Most Eliminations: Ryback

Ironman: Dolph Ziggler

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Michael Benjamin: We have quite the exciting Rumble this year. The Wrestlemania card is largely up in the air still, so there's like a half dozen wrestlers who could realistically win this thing. Cena's been telegraphing his win so hard at this point that it almost takes him out of the running for me. OR IS THAT WHAT THEY WANT ME TO THINK?

Most Eliminations: Ryback

Ironman: Dolph Ziggler

Winner: John Cena

TJ Hawke: The Royal Rumble match is my favorite gimmick match in wrestling, BUT the WWE really needs to protect the gimmick better. From 2008-2011, the person who won the Rumble failed to win a world title at Mania. In fact, three of those four winners didn't even get to main event mania. Also, while I'm at it, the WWE needs to combine the world titles. Anyway, this match should be a lot of fun, but I wish WWE was better.

Most Eliminations: The Ryback

Ironman: John Cena

Winner: Sheamus

Jack Bramma: Rather than make a big to-do with several hundred words about the Rumble this year, I'll just throw out a few observations.

--Despite seeming like he wins all the time, John Cena hasn't won the Royal Rumble since 2008.
--Hogan won back-to-back Rumbles in 1990 and 1991.
--HBK won back-to-back Rumbles in 1995 and 1996.
--Austin won back-to-back Rumbles in 1997 and 1998 and 3 overall including another in 2001.
--John Cena has only won one Royal Rumble.
--Every Royal Rumble winner from 2001 to 2007 went on to Wrestlemania and won their title match.
--Since 2007, only Sheamus in 2012 has gone on to win his title match at Wrestlemania. The others either got their title shot a month early and lost (John Cena in 2008), lost in the main event (Orton in 2009), lost in the midcard (Edge in 2010), and lost in the opening match (Alberto Del Rio in 2011).

Given all of these mitigating factors and WWE actively trying to break the cycle of the RR winner getting the Jesus push, it seems we're due for a predictable year with a John Cena win to take on WWE Champ The Rock at Mania, but I'm just not buying it. Instead, I'm going to go out on a limb with my predictions but mostly my prediction for the winner.

--I think Ryback eliminates all of the Shield to get revenge on them.
--I think Lesnar runs in despite not being in the match to toss out Ryback.
--The Undertaker returns at number 30 and wins the Royal Rumble. to set up Punk/Taker, Brock/Ryback and Rock/Cena but not for the belt.

Most Eliminations: Ryback

Ironman: Dolph Ziggler or Daniel Bryan

Winner: The Undertaker

Overall Thoughts

Stephen Randle: If there was no card announced, I would still buy this PPV because it's the Royal Rumble and it's my favourite PPV and gimmick of all time. With that said, if for some strange reason I already didn't want to see Punk-Rock, the promos for the last month would have sold anyone on it. Plus, Del Rio-Show could be a pretty good match as well, and the signature match always delivers in some fashion. There is no way you will regret buying this show.

Buy/No Buy: Buy

Jericho Ricardi: This has been one of the more poorly-built Rumbles in recent memory. It seems like they're selling the show on The Rock Vs. CM Punk, with the Rumble basically revolving around John Cena, and letting things go from there. A show of this magnitude shouldn't be on autopilot when there are so many possibilities for what they could do going forward. I'd like to see something earth-shattering, like the return of Brock (having him do something significant would help) or the reveal of who is behind The Shield (perhaps they'll kill two birds with one stone). We shall see.

Buy/No Buy: Buy. Despite that I have almost no faith in WWE to do anything particularly creative or interesting, there's no way I'll miss The Rock Vs. CM Punk.

Michael Weyer: Admittedly, not as much build as you'd like although Punk/Rock is certainly going to get attention and Del Rio/Show should be exciting. But come on, it's the Rumble, one of the key shows of the entire year that sets up Mania. We all watch and get caught up in it so whoever wins will be set for a major run this year. So yes, buy it to see what WWE has in store for us in 2013 and hopefully the show deserves it.

Buy/No Buy: Buy

James Wright: Looking through the other predictions it seems like others are thinking along the same lines as me. This is what happens when everything seems too unwanted and predictable. Sure it will probably all go down that way and honestly Rock-Cena 2 isn't the worst scenario, but I'd still rather pull for a new star to be made than accept the inevitable of this year's Wrestlemania resulting in main events where no new faces go over at a time where the WWE desperately needs new stars.

Buy/No Buy: Buy

Michael Benjamin: The Rock and CM Punk are going to wrestle a historic match for the WWE Championship. That alone makes this a can't-miss event for me. ADR and Big Show literally JUST proved that they can put on a good Last Man Standing match too and I don't expect their rematch to disappoint. Most importantly, The Royal Rumble is anybody's game this year. That's going to make an already interesting match even more interesting.

Buy/No Buy: BUY

TJ Hawke: I still absolutely loathe the WWE for making their PPV prices ridiculously high. However, it's the Rumble and it's Rock vs. Punk. You have to see the show.

Buy/No Buy: Buy....with some friends.

Jack Bramma: I'm always all in for the Royal Rumble, my favorite show and gimmick match of the year every year.

Buy/No Buy: Buy

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