Friday 7 December 2012

Rumble Surprise

This time last year I didn't realise how close the Royal Rumble was. It snuck up on me. As WWE's second biggest event of the year and the show that kicks off the build to their biggest (WrestleMania, you may have heard of it) that's a pretty impressive feat. This year I'm prepared and thought I'd post some early thoughts on who could turn up as a "surprise" entrant in the 2013 entry into wrestling’s longest running annual battle royal.
One of the top possibilities for a surprise appearance has to be the Undertaker. 'The Phenom' is already under contract to WWE, which makes it easier to negotiate his inclusion. He's also without an obvious opponent for WrestleMania XXIX and a return at the Rumble would be an ideal way to set something up.
The last two years have seen 'The Dead Man' tangle with Triple H as part of an ongoing storyline that started with 'Taker facing Shawn Michaels at 'Mania XXV in 2009. He has not needed to participate in the Rumble while feuding with 'The Game'. If he's facing Punk, The Rock, John Cena, Ryback or another member of the regular roster there's no better way to get something started.
Another very likely candidate is Brock Lesnar. WWE have reportedly been very careful to retain a number of appearances from the limited dates deal 'The Pain' signed earlier in the year. It's a smart move, allowing them to use Lesnar as a semi-regular on TV in the weeks prior to WrestleMania, helping to keep TV ratings stable and keep interest buzzing regarding the big show.
It also means WWE can book him in the Rumble match. Matches against the Undertaker and The Rock have both been rumoured for the former UFC champion. While he could interfere in the WWE title match on behalf of CM Punk to set up a match with 'The Great One' a more traditional Rumble origin seems more likely for a programme with the Undertaker.
Of course a Lesnar v Undertaker feud would be big enough in its own right to not require a start at the Rumble. It could be an interesting beginning point though.
More of a long shot is Batista. Since leaving WWE in 2010 he's had only a handful of film roles and one shoot fight. A return to the wrestling business seems likely as it's his best chance of making some serious money again. If he does return to wrestling it's almost guaranteed to be for WWE.
Batista is a big name who could liven the product up with some star power and fresh matches. That's why WWE would want him back. 'The Animal’ could be well served making a one off appearance. In recent years we’ve seen plenty of established stars return for one night only, and it would help Batista's negotiating position for the future should he get a good reaction from the crowd (which he would).

This guy needs WWE as much as WWE needs him
The Hardy brother that everyone wants to see back in WWE, Jeff, will be under contract to TNA until the spring of next year. He's been wary of committing to furthering his relationship with TNA in recent interviews which could indicate he's considering one final big money run in McMahon Land. It won't be a run that starts on January 27th though.
'The Charismatic Enigma's' brother is a more tangible possibility. He's currently working for Ring of Honor but the nature of his deal is unknown. He's confirmed for a TV title match with champion Adam Cole at Final Battle but nothing beyond that is confirmed. There's a chance the former 'Sensei of Mattitude' may be a free agent and eligible to return to WWE for the Rumble.

That's not something I want to see. Matt Hardy has not been worth following since the middle of the last decade. He's beginning to show his age and is only a draw for companies that operate on a smaller scale than WWE. Besides, Jeff was always the good one.

How about John Morrison? He left WWE late last year and has been enjoying the freedom of the indies ever since. He’s expected back in the mainstream at some point and the Rumble would be a nice platform for his return, especially if it were followed up with a meaningful and sustained push.

The same goes for MVP. Since leaving WWE in December 2010 he has mostly worked for New Japan. At first he was granted a premier spot on the card and was the recipient of the newly created IWGP Intercontinental championship. Since losing the belt he has found himself slipping further down the card. It’s possible his thirst for working in Japan will has been quenched and he’s ready to head back to WWE (the only place in North America he is legally allowed to compete as MVP).
Finally there's Chris Jericho. At this point I should probably ask if he would even count as a surprise should he show up at the RR. His schedule over the last couple of years has seen him coming and going from the wrestling world as he pursues his dream of becoming a rock star. He was banished from storylines in August after a loss to Dolph Ziggler but nobody expects that to end up his final appearance. He'll be back, and the Rumble seems a likely destination.

In addition to those seven guys there are numerous veterans (or, if you prefer, Legends™) under contract that could be used to get a nostalgia-based pop. Dusty Rhodes, Kevin Nash, DDP, Ron Simmons and Mick Foley would all fit the bill nicely. There’s even the option of bringing back Ric Flair, although that has to be considered pretty unlikely bearing in mind the ongoing legal saga between WWE and TNA centred on the alleged poaching of talent.

If I had to choose one man from this list to appear in the 2013 Royal Rumble it would be Batista. He’s got the best mixture of name value, potential storylines and reason for wanting to return. But it could just as easily be Norman Smiley.

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