By Jake Leonard

This year’s Royal Rumble celebrates its 25th anniversary as a PPV event. For those who have no clue about Royal Rumble, it debuted on January 24, 1988 at the  Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, which aired on the USA Network. The most notable event would be the Royal Rumble match, which debuted in 1989. In this 25th anniversary of this PPV event, it will be held at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri this upcoming Sunday.

 

 

WWE Championship: CM Punk (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler. Guest referee: John Laurinaitis. (Image via WWE)

WWE Championship: CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler (Special Referee: John Laurinaitis)
This match has been a long time coming. However, WWE executive vice president of talent relations and interim general manager of Monday Night RAW, John Laurinaitis (or those who remember him in wrestling over a decade ago…..Johnny Ace), has been a thorn in the backside of reigning WWE Champion CM Punk ever since he took over powers from COO Triple H. Laurinaitis has sided with the villains of the WWE since he took over and well, he’s the reason for Dolph Ziggler’s four-week winning streak on RAW. Finally, this bad blood can boil itself all to hell when the WWE Championship is at stake this Sunday. It was also discovered last Monday by Mick Foley, who is now appearing in the Royal Rumble match, that Laurinaitis, as guest referee, intends to screw over CM Punk. That may have possibly changed since last night, since Laurinaitis was on the receiving end of Punk’s Go To Sleep (GTS) finishing move.

 

It is also reported that Ziggler’s manager Vickie Guerrero and “teammate” Jack Swagger are banned from ringside during this match. Will CM Punk put the showoff Ziggler in his place and continue to get under Laurinaitis’ skin? Or will Laurinaitis screw CM Punk over and make Ziggler the champion?

 

 

A match fueled by hatred: John Cena vs. Kane. (Image via WWE.)

Rise Above Hate vs. Embrace The Hate: John Cena vs. Kane

Over the past several weeks, Kane has returned as Masked Kane with this “Embrace The Hate” campaign, in which he’s mainly focusing on John Cena. Of course, he’s attacked Zack Ryder a few times, but to prove a point to Cena. Kane claims that Cena’s “Rise Above Hate” T-shirt is a farce and that he should learn to embrace the hate, especially from those in the WWE Universe which hate him. It was fairly clear over the past couple weeks that hate appears to take over Cena: first of all – last week, when he was left unconscious in a brutal attack from Kane. Then this week, when Zack Ryder’s storyline girlfriend Eve, blaming Cena for Kane’s attack on Ryder. Not exactly sure if this is an intent to create a heel turn for Cena, so we might have to wait until after the PPV to find this out.

 

The only good thing coming out of this matchup is it’s void of championship implications – neither person will gain the #1 contendership for the United States Championship against Ryder, since it’s very likely that he will be unable to compete after suffering injuries from RAW this week. It is also not a #1 contendership match for the WWE Championship against whoever wins Sunday. Makes me curious if Undertaker will appear and put the Devil’s Favorite Demon back into his place, because Kane has always been cocky, masked or not. But that’s wishful thinking.

 

 

A battle between David and two Goliaths for the World Heavyweight Championship in an unforgiving steel cage: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Big Show vs. Mark Henry. (Image via WWE)

World Heavyweight Championship: Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show vs. Mark Henry
Bad blood has been brewing between the World’s Largest Athlete and the World’s Strongest Man for the longest time, dating back to the Money In The Bank pay-per-view, in which Mark Henry injured Big Show. One of the most notable matches in this rivalry would be from Vengeance, when Henry’s superplex on the Big Show caused the ring to collapse. Both the Big Show and Mark Henry have gone back and forth in this rivalry, including a Mark Henry disqualification for delivering a low blow to Big Show at Survivor Series, until the opportunity arose to injury Henry’s knee in the process.

 

While this rivalry continued, Daniel Bryan got himself involved at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs by cashing in his MITB briefcase. Prior to the event, Big Show encouraged Bryan to cash it in on Mark Henry. Unfortunately, Bryan ended up cashing it on the newly-crowned champion after a brutal chairs match for the championship, fueling this three-way rivalry.

 

How Bryan has survived dealing with both of these giants is shocking. On the January 6 broadcast of Smackdown, with Henry on commentary during a rematch for the title between Bryan and Big Show, an altercation between Big Show and Mark Henry caused a controversial disqualification, causing Bryan to retain the title and Big Show to be without the title. Matters only got worse on the following week, during a No Disqualification, No Countout match, when Big Show unintentionally ran into Bryan’s storyline girlfriend, AJ (who had no reason to be at ringside in the first place). Of course, being as who Bryan is, he accuses Big Show of doing it on purpose and that it was a malicious and deliberate act of aggression. And on January 20, during “Sin City Smackdown”, Bryan managed to escape from a Lumberjack match against the World’s Strongest Man, only to run into Smackdown general manager Theodore Long. It was decided then that there will be a match booked: a triple threat match against Big Show and Mark Henry inside the unforgiving steel cage for the World Heavyweight Championship. Will Bryan have something up his sleeve, or will he be mauled by one of the giants?

 

 

The Royal Rumble match. (Image via WWE.)

The Royal Rumble
Of course, everybody wants to be a part of the main event at the showcase of the immortals, the grandest stage of them all and the granddaddy of sports entertainment known as WrestleMania. It’s hard to do that when you’re facing 29 other wrestlers and you’re the one drawing number 1 or 2. This year, we’ve discovered that Michael Mizanin (known in WWE as The Miz) will be starting off the rumble at #1. We’ve also seen the returns of Mick Foley and Chris Jericho, who are also going to participate in the Royal Rumble match. Others included at this time are Sheamus, Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett, Jinder Mahal and R-Truth. The remainder of those participating will probably be announced by the end of the week, unless there’s surprises we don’t know about on whether Stone Cold or The Rock will be participating.

 

The Royal Rumble match is the most unexpected event. Only one person has won the Royal Rumble drawing #1 (Shawn Michaels, back in 1995), while two people have won drawing #2 (Vincent Kennedy McMahon back in 1999 and Rey Mysterio in 2006). You could be in one minute and gone the next. This is no fantasy wrestling event where you enter the Rumble at #1 on WWE ’12, eliminate 15 wrestlers and still manage to win. You just don’t know what to expect. Oh – and don’t forget about the most revered number in the Rumble: #30: it helped Undertaker in 2007 and John Cena in 2008 when he returned. Did I mention that you don’t know what to expect at the Rumble? Remember, Edge did the same feat as Cena when he returned in 2010. Diesel and Booker T were involved last year, Drew Carey got into the action in 2001 and all three of Mick Foley’s personas – Cactus Jack, Dude Love and Mankind – made appearances in the 1998 Rumble. As they always say, “You have to be in it to win it.”