Hello loyal readers and welcome to The Road to WrestleMania. With the 2011 WWE Royal Rumble behind us, all eyes turn towards Atlanta and WrestleMania 27. However, before we get too far ahead of ourselves I would like to take a look back at this past weekend’s Rumble match. Now that a few days have passed and the dust has settled, here are my top five impressions from Sunday night.
5 – I have no idea what the WWE is doing with CM Punk
In my 2011 Royal Rumble preview article, I picked CM Punk as the winner. It seemed like all signs were pointing towards a Punk win. He had been red hot lately and was the focal point of the main angle on RAW. When he interfered in the WWE Title match during the Rumble it further reinforced my notion that Punk was the main man. And then when Punk entered the Rumble at #1, I turned to my son and proudly declared myself a genius. It looked like the perfect set up to have him go all the way. But a funny thing happened on the way to my coronation as the smartest man in the world, Punk was eliminated 21st by John Cena. No problem, I figured he would be back to get his revenge on Cena later in the match. Instead, Miz eliminates Cena, setting up a sure fire revenge title match later on. And then, the following night on RAW, Punk gets eliminated from the RAW Rumble with ease. 72 hours ago I thought the WWE was setting up CM Punk for a big year. Now I just don’t know.
My favorite moments of every Royal Rumble are the surprise entrants. So much so, that I purposefully avoid looking for any spoilers a few days in advance of the Rumble. So I had no idea about the signings of Booker T and Kevin Nash. When I heard that old Diesel music and saw him walk out, I went absolutely nuts. And from the reaction of the fans in attendance so did they. It was amazing to see Big Daddy Cool again, for about 45 seconds. Once Nash got into the ring I was reminded of just how slow and broken down he is now. I think if he were back full time as Diesel it would be old and boring in about three weeks. For me, the idea of Diesel being back is a lot cooler than the reality of Diesel being back. Thanks for a great Royal Rumble memory, but let’s leave it at that.
3 – I am done with Michael Cole and The Miz
I am so over these two it isn’t even funny. It’s one thing to have an announcer pull for a certain wrestler. But when Michael Cole talks all over his partner to the point that it just becomes noise, I tune out. When Miz came to ringside during the Rumble, he and Cole completely ruined the commentary. They were so busy yapping at each other that wrestlers were getting eliminated and there was no mention of it at all. This whole storyline has passed from mildly clever right to annoying. And by the way, I’ve heard some folks mention that this reminds them of Bobby Heenan pulling for Ric Flair back in the early 90’s. This is nothing like that in my opinion. Cole comes off as completely obnoxious while Heenan came off as pathetic in a comedic way with his constant worrying that Flair was getting screwed. And the other big difference is that Miz is a borderline joke as champion who wins by outside interference and looks overmatched for most of his matches. He needs someone pumping up his image because he can’t make it on his own. Flair didn’t need Heenan telling him how great he was, that’s why it was funny.
2 – No Triple H left me wanting more
It was the moment I was expecting all night long. The return of The Game. Every time they showed a wide angle shot of the TitanTron I was sure he was next. As the number of entrants got into the thirties I was sure it was just a matter of time. And then when #40 came out, and it was Kane, I slumped back on the couch just a little. What was a very enjoyable Rumble match suddenly felt a little hollow. Like Christmas morning when you get a ton of cool toys, but just not that special one you were hoping for. And the WWE is partly to blame for this. They did such a good job of having Superstars return from injury at the Royal Rumble (Cena in 2008, Edge in 2010) that it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Triple H would be back. I guess he needs more time to focus on the release of his new movie “The Chaperone”, which judging by the previews looks like total crap.
I had Del Rio as one of my final four participants in my Rumble preview. But I just felt that he hadn’t earned the right to win the Rumble yet. Boy was I wrong. The WWE is putting a lot of faith in Del Rio. Not since Brock Lesnar won the Rumble in 2003 has someone with so little tenure been given the ball. And even then, Lesnar was billed as an unstoppable monster so a Rumble win wasn’t so farfetched. Del Rio’s big feud so far has been against Rey Mysterio and he didn’t exactly dominate it. I’m not saying that he can’t be the man going forward. All I’m saying is that it just seemed a little hasty to have a guy who has only been on television about six months win the Royal Rumble. I’m all for seeing fresh faces at the top of the roster, but I also want them to be ones that can handle it as well.
Vince DeHoratus lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two kids. He has been a life long wrestling fan and he has passed that love onto his son. Though not quite yet “middle aged and crazy”, he is fast approaching it.