With the Royal Rumble today, many are speculating as to what is in store on the show, traditionally one of the four big pay-per-views WWE puts on every year. The Rumble is significant due to its proximity and linkage to the Wrestlemania show, usually in March. The idea of the Rumble was actually thought up by WWE legend Pat Patterson and rumour is that he is back from his self-imposed retirement to stage manage this event.
Of course, the big question with the Rumble, a more intricately organized battle royale, is who the winner will be, as he will go on to fight for the title at Wrestlemania. Some years you can predict it pretty easily; other years you don't mind that you can predict it because they are pushing the right person (a sporadic occurrence); and some years there is a big surprise. This year the rumour is that the surprise is none other than Brock Lesnar.
Lesnar, who somewhat famously quit the business in order to pursue his dream of being an NFL lineman, has been holding discussions in private about returning -- which WWE has been publically downplaying. There were bad feelings about Lesnar's departure, with Triple H thinking that Brock should have shined more people on the way out (a legitimate position). But, one suspects that a larger part is the independence factor: that is, when talent can walk away they gain back some control. Despite all of this, I have no doubt that Brock will be back, but not how many are predicting.
Rumours are that Brock may come in and win the Rumble. This is highly unlikely when one examines the traditional four roles that seem to repeat every year. The first is the winner, in this case likely to be Batista.
The second is the Brooklyn Brawler spot: the guy who comes out with a great head of steam and is instantly eliminated (a great spot as you get the pay-per-view payoff, but don't have to put any time in, although it is somewhat career limiting). The third is the guy who gets in early and stays around forever (usually a great worker), teasing that they may win, before getting eliminated (a workhorse spot -- look for Chris Jericho here).
The fourth is the hot shot spot. This role was first played by Diesel (Kevin Nash) and involves a large man coming out and clearing the ring of wrestlers (often six or seven in a 20-second time frame). This often occurs around the halfway point of the Rumble and accomplishes two things: first, it gets rid of some wrestlers quickly, and second, it hot shots the match.
With all of the drama being at the end, the Rumble needs something to spice it up in the middle and this is it. Look for Brock in this spot this year, as a great surprise.
Then look for him to be eliminated by whomever he will be in a program with down the line.
Brock returning could mean big help for the ailing Smackdown brand (if he ends up there) and could provide a great foil for Batista if he ends up (as many are expecting) the world champion after 'Mania. Those who think that Brock might not make it back because of money should look at past Rumbles and watch a Smackdown episode.
Rob Van Dam has had reconstructive knee surgery and is out for six months ... Jeff Jarrett was taken to the hospital with a splinter in his eye after a recent TNA show.