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Rumble stumbles
Latest pay-per-view lacking bang for your bucks
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun




The Royal Rumble is traditionally the second biggest pay-per-view on the wrestling calendar and it nearly always turns out to be a must-see event for mat fans.

But the 2006 Rumble, which goes down tomorrow night in Miami, boasts a lineup that is more uninspired than must-see action.

The main event is the usual over-the-top-rope battle royal, with the winner going on to challenge for the world championship at Wrestlemania 22 in April.

Thirty wrestlers are booked to compete but, with such a major role at stake, only a handful have a snowball's chance in hell of winning.

Triple H was originally the odds-on favourite to be the last man standing, setting up a match with John Cena for the WWE belt at 'Mania.

But now, with Cena out of the world title picture, Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio are the lead choices to get the win.

Other big names in the Rumble include Shawn Michaels, Chris Masters, Rob Van Dam, Matt Hardy, Carlito, Ric Flair and Chris Benoit.

Further diluting the Rumble concept is the fact WWE held a battle royal on Smackdown earlier this month to crown a new world champion.

Fans are being asked to plunk down $35 tomorrow to see wrestlers battle for a shot at the title, even though a similar match (for the title itself) was on free TV just a few weeks ago.

But in spite of the misguided build-up, the Rumble match almost always delivers and tomorrow will likely be no exception.

The undercard, however, is a different story. It starts out with JBL vs. the Boogeyman in what will hopefully be a short comedy encounter. Anything more than a few minutes of gross-out spots and funny exchanges will expose this match as an absolute train wreck.

In women's action, Mickie James will take on Ashley Massaro with Trish Stratus assigned as guest referee.

This one is all about the storyline and you can be sure someone will be turning heel here, leading to a Wrestlemania feud between Stratus and James.

Both world championships will also be on the line in singles matches, although neither is expected to change hands.

Edge will defend the Raw brand's WWE championship against Cena in a rematch from their impromptu clash at New Year's Revolution. Since Cena lost the title, the fans have started to get back on the bandwagon but it's far too early to give him the belt back.

Over on the Smackdown side, world champion Kurt Angle will defend the belt against Mark Henry. Although the build-up for this match has been solid, this is more a case of WWE trying to get some kind of return on their investment in Henry before his 10-year multi-million dollar contract finally expires.

Henry isn't much between the ropes but Angle always delivers in a big-match situation and the outside shenanigans with Daivari and Melina will make the match at least passable.

It's been a strong few weeks for WWE, with both Raw and Smackdown ratings starting to soar, and big TV opportunities --including Saturday Night Live specials on NBC and a guaranteed prime time spot on the merged Warner and UPN network -- on the horizon.

The Royal Rumble airs at 6 p.m. tomorrow night on pay-per-view. Calgary fans can also see the action at most city theatres and at Bottoms Up Sports Pub.


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