royal-rumble-logoWe’re less then a week away from the Royal Rumble PPV headlined by the titular match itself and questions still abound. Will anyone announce they’ll be in the match tonight? Who will be the surprise entrants this year? Will it go on last or will the Punk-Rock one instead? How much will the WWE Title hype overshadow the build for the RR match? How will The Rock electrify the RAW crowd in San Jose tonight?

Royal Rumble: The Rumble match itself is more or less the kickoff to Wrestlemania season and should be as exciting as ever. Though only a handful of guys have a chance of winning, the others should provide some good spots, like Kofi waking on his hands last year. The contenders include Cena, whose win might depend on who is WWE Champ. If it’s Rock, it’s a given Cena will choose him. He’s probably the most realistic to challenge for the WWE title. For the WHC, Del Rio recently winning it and the presence of Ziggler’s MITB complicate things. Sheamus already won last year, Orton appears headed for a heel turn and feud with The Pale One, Show is a long shot, Ziggler already has the MITB and others have various reasons they aren’t likely, though I’m sure there’s a contender I’m forgetting. I have a feeling Cena will win, but it could always be someone crazy like Miz or Daniel Bryan.

Beat The Clock: To add a little spice to the impending Rumble match, RAW features a 3 match Beat The Clock series with the winner getting to choose when they’ll enter. The stipulation adds incentive and a change from what is usually a bland match concept. The opening Orton-Cesaro bout quickly dispelled that with a solid 11 1/2 minutes of wrestling that sets the pace. Ziggler-Miz came second in the series and was even better then the first. There were copious amounts of 2 1/2 counts and pin reversals with Ziggler coming out on top in just under 11 minutes, with assists given to AJ and Big E. The final match of Sheamus-Barrett was an entirely different type, with brawling instead of the technical aspect to the previous two. Ziggler and Co interfering to ensure Dolph’s choice of entry number did fit in with his character and what they did against The Miz. In retrospect, celebrating by making out AJ in front of Vickie was not a good idea, since she limited the numbers he could pick to 1 and 2.

Graduation: Having an in-ring graduation ceremony for Kane and Bryan’s anger management course is pure comedic gold. Pomp and Circumstance was playing, the students and teacher were wearing caps and gowns, there were diplomas, Daniel had his hair slicked back and the crowd even got a ‘Dr Shelby’ chant going at one point. The whole segment was so incredibly absurd that it passed the threshold into hilarity. I thought it couldn’t get any goofier then Kane with the cap on top of his masked head, but then the champs started imploring random people in the audience to hug. I know the Bryan and Kane team will break up eventually, but the whole thing has been nothing but hilarious.

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Natalya: Now that Eve is out as top Diva, why Creative hasn’t immediately been put into a legitimate story is mind boggling. She has the bloodlines, wrestling ability, charisma and, most importantly for WWE, the looks that are needed to succeed. Instead she’s stuck in absurd and stupid angles like the flatulence one and now she’s dancing around with Khali and Hornswoggle? I mean what the hell? She’s not farting which is an improvement, but she deserves far better then what she’s been given. She was a decent face during her Divas title run, but can be even better as a heel. Kaitlyn is the face with the title so have Natalya come out and do something heelish like attack her or sarcastically mock here, just something to get an angle going. This is the Divas division, so it’s not like Creative is going to invest much time in developing the story, therefore the basis doesn’t need to be elaborate.

Ryback: So the former Skip Sheffield seems to be coming down off his main event push. While going after The Shield gives him and the group something to do, it is nevertheless a big step down. If Cena hadn’t gotten injured all those months ago, then it’s very unlikely Ryback would be enjoying this amount of success and popularity. When Creative originally put him into the main event, I highly doubt they had a plan for how they would transition him out of it. I mean they aren’t really known for their long-term planning. The Shield will occupy him for now, but who knows what Creative has in store for him down the road. They’ll probably get around to it when the current angle is over.

The Rock: Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed Rock’s promos on Vickie, Heyman and Punk. However Vickie barring Rock from getting into the arena was a lame storyline. Any sort of retribution for breaking that is useless since we all know Rock was going to be in the ring anyways. Happening when Punk is watching from a skybox was a clever to keep the two apart, but Rock invoking MLK’s ‘Dream’ and comparing it to his dream of becoming WWE Champion was not. Becoming Champ is not even comparable to what Dr King dreamed about. Making the connection was a poor choice of integrating MLK into the show. Maybe that’s why The Shield attacked Rock afterwards? They left him spitting blood onto the ring.