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Countdown to the Royal Rumble
By SLAM! Wrestling Staff





  • PHOTO GALLERY #2: The Royal Rumble match
  • There can be only one.

    Yes friends, it's Rumble time again and this year's round of 30 looks as strong, if not stronger, than any in history. You've got a good number of former world champs already in the bout, plus a strong mix of guys who could easily enter the title picture following tonight's match. As well, we've got four title bouts that really could go either way.

    Let's take a closer look at tonight's edition of the Royal Rumble.


    ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH
    Participants (as of Wednesday, Jan. 21)

    Finlay, Mark Henry, CM Punk, R-Truth, Carlito, Brian Kendrick, Triple H, Big Show, Vladimir Kozlov, Shelton Benjamin, Undertaker, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Kofi Kingston, Rey Mysterio, Miz, Morrison, Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, Santino Marella, Kane


    SLAM! Predictions

    Jon Waldman

    To me, there are numerous possibilities that still exist here. You could have Chris Jericho win and stick it to Stephanie by challenging Smackdown's champ (with her trying to block it, naturally), you could have Triple H win and prepare for the big match with Edge, or you could have Shawn Michaels be a surprise entrant at number 30 and go to 'Mania to face his hated boss, JBL. All would be great storylines. The one they'll likely go with, though, is Randy Orton facing John Cena. The two have had great matches so far and the chemistry is nothing short of awesome, plus, there's the added tension involving "the kick".

    Matt Mackinder

    A friend of mine said that whoever enters at No. 23 will win based on the fact WrestleMania 23 was held in Detroit. WWE usually saves the big guns for the end to sweat less, work the least and get paid the most. In this case, it'll either be CM Punk or Randy Orton. Punk's push keeps getting to historic standards (World title, I-C title, World tag titles in six months and change, won Money In The Bank at WrestleMania 24), but Orton should come out on top here and you know what? Rename him "The Total Package" because Lex Luger, in my mind, never fully lived up to that moniker.

    Andy McNamara

    My finalists are Triple H and Randy Orton. On a side note, Orton is saved numerous times by Rhodes and DiBiase only to eliminate one or both of them in the end. When it is all said and done it will be The Game going to Mania. Mark Xamin

    Having not watched WWE for the past couple of months, I'm happy to say I have no idea who will win the Rumble this year. But let's think of this logically. Hardy is the champ on Smackdown. Possible WrestleMania opponents for Edge, who will likely win the belt back...Triple H. Over on Raw, Cena is the champ. Possible WrestleMania opponents....Jericho, Orton. You have to go with one of those three. Triple H was won the Rumble already and you've got to believe he'll be getting the shot on SD anyways...so that leaves Orton or Jericho. Given that Orton just punted Vince in the head on Raw and has the storyline to back up a Rumble win (Vince can't fire him when he's earned a title shot)...I pick Randy Orton to win the 2009 Royal Rumble.


     
    ECW WORLD TITLE MATCH

    Jack Swagger vs. Matt Hardy
     


    SLAM! Predictions

    Jon Waldman

    If I didn't have Hardy further down on my prediction list, I'd say he's going to regain his belt or at least lose in a way that he'd still be in the hunt for the gold. Instead, this has to be a clean win so Hardy can walk away from the feud. The question then becomes, though, who will face Swagger next, and I'm exceedingly fearful that it will be Boogeyman. Yikes!

    Matt Mackinder

    Ah yes. The Tuesday Night Velocity championship match that, if booked right, will open the show and get a stellar eight minutes. Swagger doesn't have, well, swagger and Hardy will seemingly never reach epic standards most fans think he can attain. Afterall, he's the opposite of his brother in every possible way, so let's push the druggie and put the good brother on WWECW. That makes sense. Oh, and Swagger keeps the belt here, somehow. This will be the match I decide to take a cat nap.

    Andy McNamara

    If WWE wants to keep the push on Swagger then he'll retain at the 2nd biggest pay-per-view. More good can come from Swagger getting the rub at a major event than Hardy so I'm going with Jack.

    Mark Xamin

    Swagger just won the title so I'll pick him to retain in some tainted fashion. I'm not a fan of either Hardy but I do have to say Matt is a good worker, so down the line he'll get the belt back...this just won't be his night.


    WORLD TITLE MATCH

    John Cena vs. JBL


    SLAM! Predictions

    Jon Waldman

    In order for my previously laid plan to work, Cena has to keep the belt here, which means JBL loses, which means we either get the full-out or slow build towards Michaels turning on his boss. I'll vote for the latter and say that HBK inadvertently costs JBL the match (heel trip or botched double-team), giving Cena the duke.

    Matt Mackinder

    Again? Boring. JBL is far past his prime and has no business being in a World title match and one of the big four pay-per-views. Obviously, Shawn Michaels is the wild card here. And it's also blatantly obvious even to a blind and/or deaf person that HBK will cost JBL the match and the two will continue their storyline until it no longer makes sense. Sounds fascinating, no?

    Andy McNamara

    Shawn Michaels finally betrays JBL and costs him the match allowing Cena to keep the gold.

    Mark Xamin

    Cena wins with a little help from HBK, setting up HBK for JBL at either No Way Out or WrestleMania. Either way, Cena is leaving the building with the title in hand. The only question for me is, can they put on a show like they did in their I Quit match a few years ago?


      WWE WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

    Beth Phoenix vs. Melina
     


    SLAM! Predictions

    Jon Waldman

    The double-cross by Santino and Rosa can be smelled a mile away. Like HBK and JBL, the question is whether there's a slow build or a quick end. Given that Beth has to be involved in the 'Mania bout, you'd assume she keeps the title here, then probably head to WM25 against Mickie James or Gail Kim.

    Matt Mackinder

    Beth is wasted time and talent with Santino in her corner. He's a clown and she is one of just two or three women, er sorry, Divas, that has a solid wrestling repertoire. Most gals on WWE are just floozy eye candy. Not that I'm complaining; it's just that if you're going to be in WWE, I think a lady should do what the men do -- wrestle, backstage skits, mic chatter, etc. Phoenix wins with her finisher -- whatever it's called -- and we see Melina's bottom lip come out like my one year-old when he's about to pitch a fit.

    Andy McNamara

    Melina comes back against all odds and picks up the feel good underdog win and the title.

    Mark Xamin

    Beth Phoenix is keeping that belt until WrestleMania, period. At least if they book this smartly. So...Beth for the win.


     

    WWE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

    Edge vs. Jeff Hardy


    WHAT YOU THINK
    Who will win the WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble?
    Jeff Hardy - 50%
    Edge - 50%

    SLAM! Predictions

    Jon Waldman

    This is the one with the biggest question marks, since there are still theories as to who the mystery assailant is. A lot of the signs point to Christian returning, but the scenario I really like is Matt Hardy being behind the assault, the driveby and the pyro, jealous over his brother's success and position in the company. Either way would be great, and guarantee an Edge duke.

    Matt Mackinder

    Jeff Hardy is WWE champion, but has anyone really noticed? With his face makeup, he looks a lot like Vampiro. Doesn't WWE do anything original anymore? You can't beat Edge as champion, though, you really can't. Hardy might be "over" with the crowd, but his title reign is "over" here as Edge and Vickie Guerrero and whoever hasn't been fired yet helps the title come back to where it belongs. Let's hope the Hardy fireworks show, er, sorry, pyro, doesn't "malfunction" again. That would be horrible.

    Andy McNamara

    This one is very intriguing as the outcome will give a good read on how the company feels about Jeff as a top guy. The winner will most likely be going to main event WrestleMania. My heart says Edge, but my brain tells me Jeff...Hardy retains.

    Mark Xamin

    Edge. Please? Jeff Hardy is god awful, I don't care what anyone says. If you boo John Cena I don't know how you can cheer Jeff Hardy, because he's lazier, has a history of drug abuse and has no mic skills. If Cena is the Raw champ, then we need a heel champ going into WrestleMania...and Edge is flat-out the best heel on the planet.

    ROYAL RUMBLE HISTORY

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    -- compiled by Jon Waldman