13 days to go...
This year, let's be honest, has been substandard, ever since Wrestlemania last April nothing has really stood out immensely. To be fair to WWE, they have lost a lot of star power either to injury (Triple H, Undertaker) or to retirement (Shawn Michaels) or to contract expiration (Chris Jericho, Batista). That's a lot of star power to lose, it's the equivalent of losing half starting eleven in football. Anyone would suffer with that. For months people thought that WWE would have to depend on a lot of their newer talents, the likes of The Miz, John Morrison, Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler. For months, The Miz aside, it looked as though either these wrestlers weren't given the right opportunities or that they weren't taking them when given. For months WWE has quite frankly, sucked. The only thing that was given any momentum was The Nexus angle, which has been mixed, and was definitely waning until CM Punk has given the angle a bit of fresh air. Apart from that WWE haven't done a great deal.
But it's suddenly Royal Rumble season and we all know that WWE pay great attention to their product from January to April, The Road to Wrestlemania, basically. All of a sudden, momentum has been made, and things are getting a bit more excited again. The two biggest stories for me, are that of John Morrison, and Dolph Ziggler, on Raw and Smackdown respectively.
John Morrison has always been seen as this guy who has an unusual and inventive moveset, is decent in the ring, yet can't back that on the mic, and can't draw the crowd in much. Good 'ol J.R. hinted a few months ago that JoMo needs more intensity in his work, he needs to make the crowd believe him when he is kicking that guy in the face, he needs to be aggressive. After working with Sheamus, who is quite stiff anyway, it's given JoMo exactly what J.R. thought was lacking. The crowd digged that feud between Sheamus and JoMo, and you have to give it to Sheamus for actually putting JoMo over... three times is it now? Great stuff from the relatively new guy. This gave JoMo a great push from WWE, and put him in the spotlight against his long term rival and friend The Miz for the WWE Title. They put on a better match on the first Raw of 2011 than the majority of matches in the whole of 2010. The fans have been right behind JoMo for this entire push, and it's really paved the way for the guy, I'm hoping this will actually fully elevate him to the main event status, a status I truly believe he belongs in. I've been a good fan of him for a few years, I liked his authentic in ring ability, in the ring he really does remind me of Shawn Michaels (although he doesn't compete unfortunately, HBK is the king). Does this mean that WWE will give him the Royal Rumble win? I'm not sure.
The other guy I mentioned is the awful named Dolph Ziggler, man he needs his name changed. Call him Nick Nemeth, or something, oh wait, WWE won't let him as they can't copyright someone's real name. Anyway, he was always considered an up and coming wrestler with large potential. I monitored him a lot last year, and failed to see how he could become a big star. I didn't likle much about him, especially that damn Sleeper finisher. The Sleeper is a move used to give the face a recovery phase, to let them turn the tables in the match and gain momentum lost earlier. As a finisher it doesn't spark the intense "tap!" chants and excitement as say, the Crossface, the Sharpshooter or the Walls of Jericho does. Anyway, I saw glimpses of what I'd consider greatness, particularly his great matches with JoMo last year, and Rey Mysterio. Either way, the past few months have been ridiculous for him, he's stepped up his game immensely. He really has made the Intercontinental title have a boost in its degraded reputation. He made it mean more significant than any champ since Chris Jericho. He's now passed that onto Kofi Kingston, and is the new #1 contender for the World title, against Edge, who is exactly the type of wrestler who can really make Dolph look better than before. I really hope he does too. Does that mean that he will win the title at the Rumble? I doubt it, but I'dbe happy if he did. He's got more chance of losing, then Vickie making an announcement in the Rumble that Dolph has been drafted in, and he wins that.
Which brings me to the main point of the article, the Rumble itself. The Royal Rumble is a fantastic tool at giving someone an opportunity to win the big one, similar to the Money in the Bank at Wrestlemania. However since Benoit-gate, and Lesnar/Lashley-gate, the latter just in case you're not entirely sure what I'm referring to, is giving young new wrestlers a big push for the title, only for them to leave the company disrespectfully after, WWE are very sceptical for a wrestler who is new to get the spotlight. Even Sheamus, the only talent to get a major push quickly since (does Swagger count?), wasn't given an opportunity to shine at Wrestlemania. They rarely do it unfortunately, as it's risk to their company they believe.
But with The Miz having reached the big one finally, and John Morrison and Dolph Ziggler getting nice big pushes recently, and Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger looking more refreshed in recent weeks than recent months, is this their time? Can one of the latter four win the Rumble? Or is it just going to be used as similar to recent years, to make an already established star get another title shot? Please WWE, give one of these four great up and coming guys a chance, they are all more than capable of being champion.
Remember how great Kofi Kingston looked last year, after his fantastic feud with Randy Orton? How hot was he at Madison Square Garden then? You know, the biggest venue in WWE? Man, that was fantastic. Then they decided to give up on him. No reason really, obviously there were rumours goign around that he botched Randy's planned finish on one of the Raw episodes (Stupid! Stupid!) but nothing concrete. But he now has the Intercontinental title again, I hope they give him a big push again. As for Jack Swagger, well, how bad was his title reign? It was terrible, and it wasn't even his fault. He was just booked so badly. I don't get that at all, they did it with Rey Mysterio too. But recently he is looking okay again, after being part of horrendous comedy segments. I hope they can really make a good case for him again because he's a fantastically gifted wrestler. He has a great physique, he is good on the mic, he is a fantastic mat wrestler. I never got why they decided to treat the guy so badly.
These five guys, as well as Daniel Bryan, Alberto Del Rio and Wade Barrett, are the future of the company. They are all main event material, Bryan, Del Rio and Barrett willare also contenders for the Rumble, or at least will make a mark on Money in the Bank, these eight will be the "new breed" of WWE. The company needs to trust them, and hope to depend on them when the going gets tough, like the way it is at the moment, with so many injuries and big guys going. Also the majority of the major stars are 40+ now, and that's not healthy. The last time so many major stars were so old was the early nineties, '92 I believe. This needs to change, the WWE have had their hand forced to try and change it. The fans have spoken, will the WWE listen? I hope the Rumble will answer the question favourably. We'll see.