After a pretty decent showing at the 2011 WWE Royal Rumble Sunday night, I expected to see great things on WWE RAW and that’s exactly what I got…kind of. The quick turnaround to the next pay-per-view gives WWE just a mere three weeks to set up a new batch of matches and put in motion different rivalries, so what better way to make the transition between the Rumble and WrestleMania than to have six guys fight a gimmick match in a tricked up steel cage?
To play catch-up, Alberto Del Rio won the Royal Rumble, opened RAW and eventually announced he will go after the World Heavyweight Championship, currently held by Edge. This wasn’t much of a surprise; Del Rio would have to switch brands and battle another heel to get to The Miz and his WWE Championship. Simple enough, but who would be next in line to challenge Miz for his strap?
My initial thoughts were of practicality-I could really only see two, maybe three wrestlers taking this down, with the rest of the guys as extra fanfare. In fact, based on the recent programming, I broke down their chances like this:
John Cena – 70%
Randy Orton – 15%
CM Punk – 5%
Sheamus – 5%
John Morrison – 5%
R-Truth – 0%
Of course I was going with Cena-a running joke with a colleague is that I never see Cena lose. Either he wins outright, or loses via interference or some other situation that never sees him defeated. This combined with the recent beef developing between Miz and Cena and I thought this was a shoe-in.
Sheamus and Punk weren’t right because it wouldn’t make much sense to send either loathsome character against the equally reviled Miz. I haven’t seen Morrison utilized in a productive way any time I tune in, and I’m pretty sure R-Truth serves no other purpose than the proverbial half time entertainment. And 61-year old Lawler? While a nice swerve, there was no way Vince & Co. could ever sell him a legitimate threat. Zero percent was kind, as The King was hovering somewhere around Bret Easton Ellis’ Less Than Zero.
As I figured would happen, all seven guys entered before anyone was ousted, but what really took me off guard was how quick Punk and Orton were eliminated. Minutes later, R-Truth was finally thrown over followed by Morrison, who provided some riveting in-ring theatrics.
John Cena teetered on the apron with Sheamus before Lawler came storming in to knock off Cena and eliminate him. With Lawler distracted, Sheamus went for his Brogue Kick, but came up whiffing worse than Ryan Howard during a mid-summer tilt against the Braves. Lawler dumped Sheamus…and won the match.
Yeah, you read that last sentence right-Jerry Lawler won the mini Rumble, and now is the No. 1 Contender for the WWE Championship. Really?! Is this what it’s come to, guys? I know TNA is in dire straits, but it’s as if Vince just brushed off his hands and declared some sort of carefree bender.
It’s not like I blame them or anything-the easy revenue of PPVs coming in at twelve a year stretches the story thin, and it’s only so long before fans grow weary of anything relevant involving one of or both John Cena and Randy Orton. But is a man around the same age as Hulk Hogan or Ric Flair really the answer to shaking up the main event scene?
At this point it just seems like the writers are finding any reason to keep a guy like this down, potentially stunting a future surge by dynamic athletes like Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston. Perhaps it is Morrison’s lack of aggressiveness back stage, but for whatever reason the master of Starship Pain, for now, will remain simply a bridesmaid.
As for Lawler and his chances of actually beating The Miz at Elimination Chamber and providing the fans with some semblance of surprise, I give that a big squa-DOOSH. Nada. Zero. But hey…I’ve been wrong
Joe Leininger is based out of Gainesville, FL and writes on The Playing Field.