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Countdown to the Royal Rumble
By SLAM! Wrestling Staff




It's time for what is arguably the most intriguing PPV of the year - the Royal Rumble; and while some netizens are saying that the winner of the 30 man match is as predictable as the finish of a Hulk Hogan match, the SLAM! crew tends to think otherwise.

Perhaps it's the optimists in us who want nothing more than to see something different happen to finish off the Rumble, or maybe it's the children in us who buy into the hype that anyone, indeed, can win this match, much like Jim Duggan did in the first-ever contest.

Let's take a look at the match, as well as the rest of the admittedly well-planned lineup that awaits us tonight.


ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH

Named Participants: Umaga, Snitsky, Hardcore Holly, The Miz, John Morrison, Hornswoggle, Mick Foley, Batista, Undertaker, Kane, Cody Rhodes, Shelton Benjamin, Carlito, Santino Marella, Shawn Michaels, Mark Henry, The Great Khali, Mr. Kennedy, Triple H, Tommy Dreamer, Big Daddy V, Chuck Palumbo, CM Punk


SLAM! Predictions

Jon Waldman

Last-standing Raw wrestler - Shawn Michaels
Last-standing Smackdown wrestler - The Undertaker
Last-standing ECW wrestler - CM Punk

Surprise entrants: Luke the Bushwhacker, The Big Show (who eliminates Triple H, and was the wrestler that William Regal kept hidden on Raw), Ron Killings and Dude Love

I can see it coming down to the three mentioned above, with Michaels and Punk teaming to eliminate UT to ensure that he doesn't win again. Then, Punk and HBK have a solid 5 minute exchange before Punk wins. Why CM you ask? I think there's a lot of things WWE can do with this emerging feud between Punk and Edge, and could be a great headliner for 'Mania. 'Taker and HBK can have their own WrestleMania match and draw a huge buyrate for that. Plus, this allows both SD and Raw guys to be in the Elimination Chamber, which would make that match all that more intriguing.

Matt Mackinder

Last-standing Raw wrestler - Hornswoggle
Last-standing Smackdown wrestler - The Undertaker
Last-standing ECW wrestler - Big Daddy V

Surprise entrants: Vince McMahon, The Big Show, Rob Van Dam and possibly Ron Killings or Chris Harris

Rumble winner - Hornswoggle - and the fans either cheer like crazy or go home vomiting in their mouths. I personally would be laughing hysterically.


 
WWE HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy
 

SLAM! Predictions

Jon Waldman

At first, I thought this was going to be a cakewalk for Orton, and I'm sure WWE did as well; however, something happened along the way - Jeff Hardy got over with the fans beyond what anyone thought was imagineable. The WWE logic would state that, given the amount of times Hardy has gone over Orton in the past couple weeks, that Randy would take the title; but I can see the Fed doing a smart business move and putting the strap around Jeff's waist and either carry it to 'Mania, or do a switch back at the next PPV (through nefarious means, naturally).

Matt Mackinder

While I think everyone and their mother wants Jeff to taste WWE championship gold here, it's not going to happen. It just doesn't make sense, right? Jeff gets the biggest crowd reaction from the fans, he reportedly has been praised backstage and he's one of the Fed's hardest workers who has overcome personal demons to get where he is. I guess the creative team forgot all that, huh? Orton retains and gets booed out of MSG. Don't boo him - boo creative.


WORLD TITLE MATCH

Rey Mysterio vs. Edge


SLAM! Predictions

Jon Waldman

Let's be honest - there's no way Rey is winning here. There will be a tease of Chavo Guerrero turning on Edge, but in the end he'll beat Mysterio down and help Edge get the duke. Then, we'll have Rey vs. Chavo for the ECW belt at 'Mania, which would be a purely awesome match given their history (perhaps another I Quit match?). Edge wins, and, as mentioned before, goes on to face Punk.

Matt Mackinder

Edge as a champ is epic. He can wrestle, work the crowd and work the mic. So too can Rey. I see Chavo or Vickie or the Edgeheads (what a stupid name!) getting involved and casting Rey aside and keeping the strap on Edge.


  CAREER THREATENING MATCH

Ric Flair vs. MVP
 


SLAM! Predictions

Jon Waldman

I expect that MVP will give Flair his "walking papers", but not tonight. It'll be a classic moment for Flair, getting the win by cheating, which MVP will respond to by challenging Flair again next month, but putting his own career on the line as well. That's where MVP cheats his own way to victory, beating Flair at his own game. Flair will then ask for his final match to be at 'Mania, against Ricky Steamboat.

Matt Mackinder

Flair lose? Yeah, right. If this is booked right (this IS the WWE we're talking about), Flair wins the match with his signature Figure Four. But this is the WWE, so odds are he'll win some way he has on TV the past couple weeks (countout, holding the trunks, etc.) and this match will come off as a bore.


 

GRUDGE MATCH
JBL vs. Chris Jericho



SLAM! Predictions

Jon Waldman

While I'm a fan of the feud, I'm not a fan of the philosophy behind it. Why would you put two returning wrestlers against each other? It's just asking for one of their comebacks to be buried before it really gets started. Logic dictates a DQ here (too much violence from Y2J I suspect), unless JBL's comeback is a one-shot deal (and for those who watch Smackdown, I certainly hope so).

Matt Mackinder

Jericho's big return gets him one title match and now a program with JBL. Whose doghouse is he in? Actually, this feud has gotten more legs the past two weeks and I kind of like it. I see Y2J pulling out the Code Breaker from out of nowhere and landing the Lionsault for the 1-2-3.


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Check out the past Royal Rumbles by getting individual DVDs or anthologies from the SLAM! Store!

-- compiled by Jon Waldman