January 27, 2013
Countdown to WWE Royal Rumble
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling
The Royal Rumble is finally upon us; and while this, more than any pay-per-view is a one-match card, WWE has done enough with The Rock and CM Punk to double the usual focus work.
Punk and Rock speculation has been running rampant for months, partly because there was so much sureness among IWC inhabitants that there was no way Punk was dropping the WWE Championship to Ryback. Many figure that Rock's star power and ability to draw will put him over the top, while others are sure that Punk will hold the title until WrestleMania, where one popular theory is that he'll drop the belt to The Undertaker.
Naturally, there are a number of theories that surround Punk, including that The Shield will be involved, or potentially Brock Lesnar will interject himself, setting up the rematch between himself and Rock that has been due since 2002.
Meanwhile, the Rumble itself, as always, is surrounded with speculation. While most pundits expect John Cena to win what is arguably the most anticipated match on the WWE calendar (myself included), the real story for the Rumble centres around the rumoured return to WWE by the likes of Shelton Benjamin, John Morrison and Carlito (or a combination thereof). Benjamin and Carlito have already been reported as being in the area, while "JoMo" is still being talked about as another surprise entrant. The Rumble has also been rumoured to be the return bout for Christian and Mark Henry, bolstering a very depleted WWE roster.
The real interesting part of this year's event, however, is the fate of Dolph Ziggler. At this point, Ziggler is running out of time that he has to truly be in the spotlight. The Money in the Bank briefcase has just about reached its expiry date and his feud with John Cena has done little more than show his dependency on outside interference.
The theory has been offered that Ziggler will cash in after what will be an exhausting match between Alberto Del Rio and The Big Show, one that Del Rio is expected to win. The cash-in moment, however, is more likely to happen at Elimination Chamber.
On other notes, look for Team Hell No to drop the Tag belts and Antonio Cesaro to retain the United States Championship after The Miz.
Enjoy the Rumble and be sure to check out SLAM! Wrestling's report and photo gallery following the show.