The 2012 Royal Rumble pay per view is just hours away. Always a favorite of wrestling fans, the Rumble has long been one of the biggest annual WWE events. Besides the attraction of the Royal Rumble match itself, Rumble shows often showcase some of the most interesting matches. There has been a wide range over the years. There has been matches that you typically would not see on pay per view, such as Hardcore Holly challenging Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship. There has been heel vs. heel title matches like that of Kurt Angle vs. Triple H. Then there is also the epic title matches such as Undertaker vs. Yokozuna. This year the Rumble will once again feature an interesting set of matches, perhaps some of the best built seen at the Rumble ever. Two title matches and a war between John Cena and Kane promise to deliver and begin the Road to WrestleMania.
CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler for the WWE Championship
Punk has been involved in a series of fairly uninteresting matches for several months. For the first time since last July’s Money in the Bank, there is a compelling reason to watch a CM Punk pay per view match. His feud with John Laurinaitis has kept his title reign alive, and will likely be the best program Punk is in this year. In order to really take this thing to the next level, the belt may need to come off Punk per the manipulation of Laurinaitis. Instead of a champion with a distraction, Punk then becomes a man looking for retribution. He could spend the month of February trying to get his title back, only to come up short at Elimination Chamber. How funny/creative would it be for Punk to be challenging for the WWE Championship one of the Chamber matches, only for his pod to never open, while Laurinaitis just shrugs and wonders what happened? It then turns into Punk shelving title hunt to go after Laurinaitis. This could lead to a match between the two at Mania, or a bout in which Punk faces a handpicked talent by the Raw GM.
Ziggler would have been a perfect choice to win the Rumble and go on to challenge Punk at WrestleMania, but he makes for a good challenger at the Rumble. He would be perfect for a transitional champion to get the belt back onto Cena in time for Mania. Ziggler is an incredible talent and this match with Punk will be a crowd pleaser. The addition of John Laurinaitis as referee makes for a great story. As charismatic and entertaining as Vickie Guerrero is, WWE made the right move by banning her form ring side. There is already so much going on in this match that she could potentially be a distraction in this one instance.
John Cena vs. Kane
Having kept Cena off the December pay per view, WWE has slowly built a monster program between him and Kane. Few knew what to make of Kane’s actions when he returned shortly before the holidays and attacked Cena. What has unfolded over the course of the last few weeks has been complex, and a little bit cheesy. Nevertheless, Cena’s character has an added depth that it needs if he is going to have any shot at not being overshadowed by The Rock. Things really came together with Eve and Zach Ryder in how Cena helped raise Ryder up, only to fail him when he needed Cena most. Have you ever watched a show with a larger cast and seen how they are able to somehow tie everyone together in the end? This is a perfect example of that. Cena is the central character on WWE programming. This feud is a perfect example of how to utilize the entire cast in order to further a story that focuses around your main character.
Kane was originally created as a foil to Undertaker, but it really seems like all of these years he has been waiting for a central character to truly revolve around. He is a perfect fit for Cena. The match itself is probably going to have some sort of marred finish, but that’s okay. Based on the build, the focus is on what will transpire in the match, not whose hand is raised at the end.
Daniel Bryan vs. Mark Henry vs. Big Show for the World Heavyweight Championship in a Steel Cage
This match has been building for months. At first it seemed like Bryan was weaseling his way into the Show-Henry feud. Things have now evolved to a personal battle between Bryan and Show, with Henry as the outsider. Typically triple threat matches feel forced or, dare I say, lazily thrown together. This is without a doubt the best build to a triple threat match in years. It makes perfect sense to put all three together in a steel cage on pay per view. If only they could have held this off until WrestleMania.
WWE pulled off a great swerve in having Bryan turn heel, as opposed to Big Show. Instead of a David vs. Goliath battle where an honorable everyman takes down the angry giant, Goliath is a hero with a soft heart whom the fans can’t wait to see tear apart pretentious David. On the surface Daniel Bryan doesn’t seem like a natural heel, but he is the best heel in WWE right now. His character has more depth as a heel than it does as a baby face. Having Henry trying to get back his title really fits. It doesn’t feel shoehorned, but natural, and it actually allows WWE to build more off this match once it’s over.
As always the main attraction is the Rumble match. Still, WWE has built an incredible set of matches to take place before the thirty-man war. All three matches can truly go either way as far as victor. Even better, there are so many roads to take with each outcome. In the end, it all leads to one thing: WrestleMania. The road to it is about to begin.