The 2011 WWE Royal Rumble is fast approaching, and it is one of the most talked about WWE PPVs on the calendar. It should be. Even if the winner is telegraphed far in advance of the Rumble, the match itself has enough unpredictable moments in it that make it one of the must-see events of the year.
With the field being expanded to 40 men (and possibly women with Beth Phoenix and perhaps Awesome Kong looming as potential entrants), that potential for unpredictability is upped. However, this year, the winner is not at all a certainty. There are several candidates to win. Alberto del Rio, CM Punk, John Cena and even a returning Triple H are all in the forefronts of fans and analysts alike.
The guy that I think should win the Royal Rumble isn’t being considered by anyone of note, and for good reason. There’s no way that I think the WWE is going to let him win. However, if they cared anything about their long-term future and having a strong babyface to work at the top of the card, they’d put Kofi Kingston on the road to WrestleMania on Sunday. Why Kofi Kingston?
[adinserter block=”2″]Well, if you haven’t noticed, the WWE is running low on top-level face superstars to carry a crowd and draw merchandise. Shawn Michaels retired. Undertaker is hardly active anymore and he may be the next to go to the nursing home. Triple H is hurt and is quite enjoying his role as producer in the interim between his in-ring stints. John Cena, Randy Orton and Edge are all injury risks, and Edge himself has been hinting at an early retirement. Rey Mysterio has no knees left and has to take months off at a time. Big Show was never that effective as a top level face draw on the level of Cena, and there’s no evidence that he can become one. Furthermore, all the promising up-and-comers seem to be heel. Alberto del Rio, The Miz, Sheamus, Wade Barrett, CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler are all “bad guys” at this point, and well, if any of them turned, it would start depleting the heel ranks. That’s not good. Plus, it’s not like the WWE does any heel favors by booking. While Miz, and recently, Punk have gotten protection, at times other heels get no sort of that benefit of booking. I mean look at Sheamus. The guy, outside of winning King of the Ring, has jobbed his ass off since losing the WWE Championship to Orton. That’s now how you build a star.
Meanwhile, on the face side, the only one who’s gotten a real good faith push that hasn’t been there before has been John Morrison. Now, I like Morrison and all, but let’s face it, he’s no good on the mic as a jokey face, and yet they still expect him to go out and crack jokes, utterly flailing and failing to be as witty as they want him to be. Kingston, however, has proven that he can carry a crowd on the microphone. Remember back to late 2009, when he feuded with Orton? When he got mad heat by trashing his custom NASCAR racer, or when he gave Orton a BOOM! Drop through a table at Madison Square Garden? Yeah, we all thought he was going to get the big push then. But after 2010 started, he was shoved back down to the midcard quicker than you could say “Trouble in Paradise”. Why? Because he was out of position on a RKO attempt and Orton got his panties in a bunch.
It seems that working with Orton is a death sentence if you’re lower than him on the card. You have to work PERFECTLY or else he bitches to management and you get chewed out. It happened to a few people, most notably, Ken Anderson (leading to him getting fired). Now, you could say Anderson deserved it (I think he did), but that’s not the point. The point is, Orton’s out-of-control temper has cost the WWE a guy who could be a house show-anchoring babyface draw right now. If that isn’t backwards thinking, I don’t know what is.
[adinserter block=”1″]Now, there’s still a chance to salvage Kofi. There’s always a chance. The guy is still one of the most massively over faces on the Smackdown roster, and he’s also been improving by leaps and bounds in the ring. He deserves another chance at the top, and I think there’d be nothing better for him or for the WWE than to win the Royal Rumble and challenge someone like The Miz or Kane or maybe even CM Punk for one of the titles at WrestleMania. Of course, it’s not going to happen. The WWE has this preconceived notion about what a WrestleMania match is, and Kofi culminating what would be a mere three month journey at most to the title isn’t a WM match. It’s their fault for not building him up, but at this point, they really don’t have a whole lot of appealing options anyway.
The WWE has dropped the ball with building up new talent, even though, God bless them, they’re trying way harder than their “competition” to the South, who’d rather center the company around aging former WWE or WCW wrestlers than give the ball to their roster of young lions. They need to give guys like Kofi, Morrison, Daniel Bryan, Yoshi Tatsu, Zack Ryder, Chris Masters, Evan Bourne and Michael Tarver chances to run with the ball and see if they can create heat or drawing power. Having Kofi Kingston win the Rumble to have him get his own WrestleMania moment would go a long way to doing that.
Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.