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COMMENT





Countdown to the Royal Rumble
By SLAM! Wrestling Staff




The Royal Rumble is back, and this time no one knows what to expect.

Year in and year out, the Rumble winner has been a fairly easy prediction, but this time around you might as well get a dartboard out because there is no clear-cut winner. Similarly, one of the two title matches is a hard call. Let's see who the SLAM! staff picked.


ROYAL RUMBLE
Participants:
Rob Van Dam, Big Show, Kane, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Chris Masters, Carlito, Trevor Murdoch, Shelton Benjamin Viscera, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Jonathan Coachman, Ric Flair, Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio Jr., Randy Orton, Matt Hardy, Orlando Jordan, Bobby Lashley, Slyvan Grenier, Animal, Johnny Nitro, Joey Mercury, Simon Dean, Booker T, Super Crazy, Psychosis (three wrestlers TBA)



SLAM! Predictions

Bob Kapur

The Rumble is always a good way to see who's being groomed for superstardom. I think Lashley will be booked as the monster face and will eliminate some of the favourites like Big Show and Kane. Meanwhile, Coach will be given way too much time - oh well, as long as he's not announcing. The final four will be Rey Misterio and Randy Orton from Smackdown, and Triple H and Shawn Michaels from Raw. I see Trips getting the title match Mania regardless of whether he wins or not, so I'm going to pick Randy Orton to win, going over Misterio.

Andy McNamara

Final 4: Triple H, Kane, Randy Orton, Chris Masters
Raw: Triple H Smackdown: Randy Orton
Winner: Triple H

Chris Sokol

It's hard to narrow this one down to a final four but I am going to do it anyway. How about Shawn Michaels, Chris Masters, Carlito and Randy Orton? After a little McMahon interference and strong disposal of Carlito, Masters will be left with Orton before going all the way and winning the Rumble, thus heading to his hometown for Wrestlemania 22.

Jon Waldman

You have to figure that whoever wins here will be switching shows to keep everyone guessing for next year. For that reason, you have to figure the final four will come down to Mysterio, Orton, HBK or Masters. Mysterio certainly would want to face Edge since the two were former partners and Orton has beat Edge before. HBK has unfinished business with Angle and Masters will pursue SD! gold since he's already beat the Olympic champ with the Masterlock once. While I'd like to see Mysterio go over, it will be Randy Orton going to 'Mania.

John Milner

Is the fact there's no clear cut favourite (ie: Batista last year, Benoit the year before) an indication that WWE has no idea what it wants to do for Wrestlemania or that it wants to be vague and keep us in suspense, hoping suspense translates to bigger buyrates? I'm going to say it comes down to Orton, Mysterio, Triple H and the Big Show. Maybe just for old time's sake, it's former Evolution mates Orton and Triple H, brand vs. brand, as the final two. Of course, we know who's winning and going to Wrestlemania.

Dale Plummer

The final four will be Triple H (he could win it all), Carlito (I hope he keeps getting his push), Randy Orton (Have you seen the Smackdown entrants? Someone has to represent), and Shawn Michaels (The eventual winner, as his lucky streak continues). Last from Raw: HBK Last from Smackdown: Randy Orton. Winner: HBK


WORLD TITLE MATCH

Kurt Angle vs. Mark Henry

SLAM! Predictions

Bob Kapur

Angle wins, and hopefully Henry is not shown on TV again until his contract expires. That 10-year albatross finally gets put to rest.

Andy McNamara

Angle is on fire right now and there is no way he is giving up the strap to Henry. I don't think this feud will end at the Rumble though, so look for a DQ or countout finish.

Chris Sokol

Why do they even bother with Mark Henry? Angle wins as Mark Henry's lackluster return draws him another loss.

Jon Waldman

Did Henry have a KISS Demon clause in his 10-year contract? Sheesh. Angle wins convincingly here

John Milner

All I can say is: please not Mark Henry, please not Mark Henry!

Dale Plummer

If Mark Henry wins, I'll eat my hat. Although, I won't be suprised if there are some sheningans from Melina.


WWE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

John Cena vs. Edge


SLAM! Predictions

Bob Kapur

Edge's championship reign has helped boost ratings, and has made Cena into a full-fledged uberface again. Why mess with a good thing?

Andy McNamara

An interesting match that I believe will have Edge score a pinfall using some form of underhanded tatics. Cena is better in the chaser role and he will continue after the title towards WrestleMania.

Chris Sokol

You don't honestly think Cena is going to cut off Edge's momentum just yet?

Jon Waldman

Edge goes over here convincingly, no questions asked.

John Milner

Maybe it's because he's Canadian or maybe I'd just like to see them elevate someone new to the main event, but I hope Edge retains rather than be, "a placeholder champion like the Iron Sheik."

Dale Plummer

Edge will retain in a "clean" win. But if he holds another live "sex" show on RAW, I cannot be held responsible for my actions.


GRUDGE MATCH

JBL vs. Boogeyman


SLAM! Predictions

Bob Kapur

I thought the Boogeyman was supposed to be a walking nightmare who frightened people to death. Eating worms? That's what we made the nerds do back in grade school! Okay, fine, that's what the cool kids made me do back in grade school. Boogeyman wins.

Andy McNamara

This will be a comedy match and certainly not a scientific classic. Plenty of brawling and gross outs will keep this one short and have Boogeyman win by countout to continue the feud.

Chris Sokol

I love the Boogeyman character. JBL loses via count out.

Jon Waldman

Boogeyman goes over here. Could JBL be nearing the end of his WWE run?

John Milner

As much as eating worms is among the stranger ways to get someone over, it just seems like he has the momentum in this feud.

Dale Plummer

"Nobody likes me, everybody hates me. I guess I'll go eat worms!" Ahhh, a classic song from childhood. I'll go with the Boogeyman, so I can sing during the Rumble.


 

SPECIAL REFEREE MATCH

Ashley Massaro vs. Micke James
(Trish Stratus is the referee)

 


SLAM! Predictions

Bob Kapur

Mickie gets the win, but in the process loses Trish's friendship forever. And that's even more painful. It sucks to have no friends.

Andy McNamara

Wow is this one going to be ugly (technique wise anyway). With Trish as the ref, this will finally be the time when Mickie turns on her hero setting up a run to WrestleMania. Ashley gets the pinfall causing Mickie to attack Trish.

Chris Sokol

Ashley picks up the win setting up Mickie vs. Trish at Mania.

Jon Waldman

As much as Mickie's doing a good job as a heel, evil Trish rocks even harder. Trish turns on Ashley here and reveals a grand plan to get rid of the Diva Search winner, leading to a 'Mania match between the blonde bombshells.

John Milner

This is another one of those matches where the storyline predicts the outcome. Ashley wins by DQ when Mickie attacks Trish.

Dale Plummer

Trish finally has enough and punks out Mickie, after Ashley beats her. Whoops, slipped into the world of fantasy booking again. Mickie turns on Trish. Same old, same old.


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-- compiled by Jon Waldman