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Countdown to WWE Royal Rumble
By SLAM! Wrestling Staff





The Royal Rumble is here kids, and this year's 30-man match should be an interesting one.

As you'll see in our previews, there are a few men who would walk away from WWE's single best gimmick match. As always there are pretenders to the throne, but even the most sadsack superstar has the opportunity to elevate their profile here and perhaps start up a new feud.

The other matches on the card are straight forward, one-on-one bouts that will factor greatly into the Rumble bout itself (well, except the Women's match).

Let's take a look at the card.


WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

Rey Mysterio vs. Undertaker

SLAM! Predictions

Greg Oliver

Having just finished reading Mysterio's autobiography, I can say I'm rooting for him, but even if he did win, it would be another short reign. Taker wins.

Jon Waldman

You have to wonder if Rey gets the title here to placate the ever-looming threat of him leaving WWE. I think it will happen, especially when you factor in that 'Taker is likely to be the subject of interference (or "screwing" if you prefer) from Shawn Michaels. There's also a great possible 'Mania bout that would work well for Rey Jr., which I'll talk about more later on. In the interim, take Rey to win the title.

Bob Kapur

This appears to be an obvious situation for HBK to come in and screw Taker out of his title so that the Deadman grants him a Wrestlemania rematch. I'm thinking HBK interferes, but my guess is that he somehow costs Rey the match, setting up for the two of them at Mania instead.

Andy McNamara

No doubt Undertaker takes this one and there is really no suspense as the focus has mainly been on Taker and Shawn Michaels. Rey will make a go of it and get close on a number of occassions, but The Dead Man will finish him off in the end. Watch out for a Batista run in as well.


WWE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

Sheamus vs. Randy Orton

SLAM! Predictions

Greg Oliver

To go with my theory on DiBiase facing Orton at Mania, the belt has to get to Orton at some point. If they want Sheamus to mean something, then I think he should win here, with Orton taking the Elimination Chamber bout and the belt.

Jon Waldman

I don't mind this match since it's fresh, but in the end it does lead back to the all-too familiar 'Mania match involving Triple H or John Cena. Quite frankly, I'm done with both of those guys in WM title matches, and I'm starting to get there with Randy. I think Legacy will botch a run-in here, leading to the long-anticipated split.

Bob Kapur

This seems to be the last step of Orton's face turn. Fans have been cheering for him anyway, so good on them for going all the way with it. Of course, as a good guy, he has to lose this one to set up a series of rematches.

Andy McNamara

I don't know the specific numbers, but I would have to guess that Sheamus is not lighting up the box office as champion, which could be reason enough to take the strap off of him. On the other hand, a babyface would probably be a better choice to slay the pasty Irish monster. I'll go with Sheamus retaining.


ECW CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

Christian vs. Ezekiel Jackson

SLAM! Predictions

Greg Oliver

Christian all the way.

Jon Waldman

Zeke as the title holder intrigues me, so I'll take him.

Bob Kapur

Christian so deserves to be on one of the flagship shows. I say let him lose the belt in controversial fashion, and then move onto Smackdown.

Andy McNamara

Christian will play underdog throughout and make Jackson look like a million bucks. Ezekial is no where near ready to hold a "major" title so it will be Captain Charisma keeping the belt.


  WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH

Mickie James vs. Michelle McCool
 

SLAM! Predictions

Greg Oliver


Is this the place for Mickie to get her comeuppance? It would seem as good a time as any. McCool goes down.

Jon Waldman

For the love of god, let this horrid storyline end here. There's still a temptation to have Beth vs. Michelle at 'Mania, I'm sure, but they could also easily do Beth vs. Mickie in some sort of gimmick bout. I'm going to take James here, but very cautiously.

Bob Kapur

Mickie has been taking a verbal pounding in the last few months. Hopefully they'll finally let her give Michelle a long-overdue comeuppance.

Andy McNamara

One title change has to happen on this pay-per-view so why not with the ladies. McCool has improved greatly in-ring and this should be a pretty entertaining match. Mickie dethrones the blonde champion.
  ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH

 


SLAM! Predictions

Greg Oliver


Like most years, it's pretty obvious that there only a handful that can win. To me, it's HHH, HBK, DiBiase and Cena as the top contenders. I'm going to go with my hunch, and pick DiBiase in a huge upset, star-making role. Then he'll be able to challenge Orton for the title at Mania. My final four would be Kofi Kingston, DiBiase, Punk and HBK.

Jon Waldman

As alluded to earlier, there's a great Mysterio vs. match that I think will come out of this bout, and it will be with a guy who's been getting a lot of background support from WWE of late - John Morrison. The DVD, the larger media presence and the continued exposure on TV have all been building up the Shaman of Sexy very effectively, and he has had the type of slow-burn build that fans really buy into. The match will come down to HBK, Trips, Morrison and Drew McIntyre, with Shawn and HBK eliminating each other while Morrison uses his amazing athletics on the other side of the ring, simultaneously, to get rid of Drew and end their feud.

Bob Kapur

The Rumble generally delivers, and with the names involved this year, and the multiple storylines heading into it, this could be a very entertaining match. I think the last 4 guys will be Triple H, Michaels, Batista and Cena. I predict Cena picking up the win to set him up for a Wrestlemania championship win..

Andy McNamara

Final Four will be Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Big Show and John Cena. There has been such hype put toward HBK facing The Undertaker at Mania that it would seem that Michaels has to win. I'm going with the obvious choice...Shawn Michaels eliminates Triple H.


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-- compiled by Jon Waldman
ROYAL RUMBLE HISTORY