Photo Credit: Creatively Endeavored
BY POOR SCHOLARS STAFF
In preparation for tonight’s WWE Royal Rumble, Poor Scholars’ Scott Phillips and Rambo Nomolos spent the week exchanging emails; 2,000 words about pro wrestling from grown men with college degrees and jobs ensued.
Scott: It’s here, Rambo; the Road to Wrestlemania! While sports fans generally complain about a lack of interesting programming after the Super Bowl until March Madness, as a former hardcore-turned-casual Pro Wrestling fan, I always get excited for Wrestlemania, and in particular, this Sunday’s Royal Rumble. Now, I generally only follow the big pay-per-views and the occasional episode of Raw, so what’s been happening lately in the world of WWE?
Rambo: I am glad you brought up the entire Road to Wrestlemania, aside from Summerslam it’s the best time of the year to be a wrestling fan and it’s not even close. While you may be a harcore-turned-casual Pro Wrestling fan, I am still very much a hardcore wrestling fan. It’s really hard not to be when your first memory from childhood was watching Ric Flair and Sting wrestle for over 45 mins on a Saturday night in Chicago. With knife-edge chops so loud it was like you were in the ring. But I digress, as fond of a memory as hearing my first “WOOOOOOOOOO” was I believe your question was about the current state of WWE.
I DVR Monday Night Raw every week in order to keep up with what is going on in the WWE Universe (yes I am proud of this). As we are heading into Sunday’s Royal Rumble I believe we are entering a new era in the WWE. Along with long time superstars including John Cena, Randy Orton, Seamus, The Big Show, etc. Vince has decided to make a push with some younger, newer superstars. Most notably Dolph Ziggler, (who would be the best heel WWE has seen in quite some time if it weren’t for WWE Champion CM Punk) Ryback and The Shield (comprised of up-and-comers Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins).
YES! YES! YES! The hardcore wrestling fans have been begging for a new generation of superstars for quite some time and we are finally getting to see a radical shift in the stale product that has been the WWE the last few years. This all started two summers ago with CM Punk’s now legendary worked shoot
that catipulted him into the WWE championship and ushered in the new era of superstars. I believe that it is finally culminating in this years Road To Wrestlemania.
The past few weeks Dolph Ziggler and John Cena have undertaken a feud that started over the bat-shit crazy AJ Lee, included a call back to the Attitude Era as John Cena dumped shit on AJ and Ziggler while they stood in the middle of the ring, and had several good to great matches including a cage match on last weeks edition of Raw. The Shield has continuously intervened during numerous matches between CM Punk and Ryback, I am getting tired of this angle personally as it is getting stale already but I guess that’s what happens when you are trying to push a wrestler who can’t actually wrestle (Ryback).
Now for the most important development during all of this….FINALLY THE ROCK HAS COME BACK TO WWE! At least for the moment he has. His feud with CM Punk is already one of the most memorable feuds to date. Just two weeks ago The Rock and CM Punk had a 30 minute promo in the ring together where the WWE Champion went toe to toe with the Great One on the mic. Seeing Punk out work The Rock on the mic coupled with his in ring talent make it easy to understand why CM Punk is the longest reigning WWE Champion in modern wrestling history. If you have some time I highly recommend you watch the segment on YouTube, CM Punks opening shoot was cut very much in the same vein as his aforementioned “pipe bomb” on Raw from June 2011.
Finally, last week was the 20th anniversary of Raw…can you believe that!? I don’t think I’ve ever done something continuously for 20 years that wasn’t pertinent to sustaining life besides watching Raw and some might argue that is a basic life function…anyway on the 20th Anniversary of Raw, they brought back the “Rock Concert” to close the episode
Obviously we will get to what you are looking forward to in the Rumble and moving forward, but could I get some instant analysis on this legendary spot by The Rock? Isn’t this everything we love about Pro Wrestling?
Scott: I’ve seen the Rock/CM Punk interviews, and the Rock Concert, and they’re phenomenal. I also have heard about The Shield, and I’m kinda excited to see them in action. Before we get into the actual Rumble, let’s talk Rock/CM Punk title match. Our good friend Brett summed it up perfectly when he said, “I feel like my best friend is fighting my brother.”
I’m personally pulling for CM Punk. I think it would make Wrestlemania more interesting if Rock WASN’T the champion and it would make a potential rematch more enticing to watch. What do you think?
Rambo: Brett nailed his assessment on his feelings towards the Rock/CM Punk title match. For me though, it’s more of a civil war. My old wrestling alliances going up against my more mature wrestling fandom (if you can even use “mature” and “wrestling” in the same sentence). I have no doubt that this will be an instant classic. We already know CM Punk is the BEST IN THE WORLD and The Rock has already done more selling CM Punk than John Cena did during the entire Punk/Cena feud. I am expecting a truly great match.
While I do hope CM Punk wins, my fear is that he drops the belt to The Rock that will lead into a rematch of Rock/Cena at Wrestlemania. I do hope I am wrong though and WWE surprises its fans by leaving the belt on Punk. I think you are right about Rocky winning the belt, the possibilities would be endless for WWE if they shock everyone and go that route.
I know they haven’t announced all of the participants, but who is your early darkhorse for the Rumble?
Boy, darkhorse for the Rumble… My darkhorse is Dolph Ziggler. From some reading on the Rumble they seem to be making a big deal about him entering No. 1 or 2 and he seems to be in line for a potential main event push. Plus, the dude has the best wrestling t-shirts
since the Attitude era.
Some other random Rumble predictions:
- Daniel Bryan and Kane — whether they retain the tag titles or lose them earlier in the night — will have some sort of major beef in the Rumble match that leads to their eventual downfall and potential Wrestlemania match. (Think Bret and Owen Hart in 94 Rumble)
- WWE uses the Rumble the build up the Intercontinental division. With some many guys already in the main event picture for Wrestlemania (more on that in a minute), I think guys like The Miz and Antonio Cesaro will have some back-and-forths that lead to more storylines.
- Chris Jericho returns in some capacity.
I think for Wrestlemania the two title matches could have some combination of CM Punk (WWE Champion), The Rock, and Alberto Del Rio (World Heavyweight Champion) as 3 of the (at least) 4, so the 4th spot is really wide open.
But what about Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker and Triple H? Not to speculate too much on a future event, but obviously these three could have some sort of impact at the Rumble because of the looming Wrestlemania.
So here are my questions for you:
- Rumble Darkhorse.
- Random Rumble Predictions.
Also, how excited are you for our annual Royal Rumble Fantasy Draft?
Rambo: Great selection on Dolph Ziggler as your darkhorse. Even greater call out to his excellent wrestling t-shirts, no one even comes close to what he’s got going right now. It also seems like he could be in line for a potential main event push because he has been getting this push already. Over the last month or so he’s had some great work with Cena. Although Cena seems dismissive of it now, so who knows what that means.
I absolutely think that Ziggler entering 1st or 2nd is going to be a big deal because I think he is going to break the record for most time spent in a Royal Rumble. By the way that is held by Rey Mysterio at 1:02:12. Ultimately though I think he will end up losing to Cena. Later in the evening when CM Punk loses to The Rock, the match will be set for Wrestlemana. A Cena/Rock rematch. That’s how I see things working out. It’s obviously not how I would like things to go, but this is the most likely outcome.
In regards to your other predictions:
- Team Hell No has been one of my favorite tag teams in the last 10 years. It would be a shame to see them broken up. Although I would like to see a 60 minute iron man match between Daniel Bryan and CM Punk at some point in the near future.
- Couldn’t agree more about the IC and US division.
- I honestly don’t see this happening but I hope you are right.
- The only thing I am certain about is a Cena/Rock rematch with Cena picking the belt back up at Wrestlemania (god I hope I am wrong).
- If Punk does lose the belt, I think we will see a Punk/Taker match at Wrestlemania. I also think that there is potential for a Triple H/Brock Lesnar match if either of them is involved in Wrestlemania, that will be the match.
My darkhorse for the Rumble aside from the previously mentioned Ziggler is Randy Orton. I think he gets back into the title mix with a strong showing in the Rumble.
Ultimately I don’t think it matters because I think Cena will win, but Ziggler will set the record for longest time in the history of the match. Other predictions for the announce matches: The only belt to change hands in any of the matches will be CM Punk dropping it to The Rock.
Obviously, words cannot describe how excited I am for one of the all-time great events. Nothing is better than the Royal Rumble fantasy draft. I am very much looking forward to defending my title from last year (thank you Seamus).
I know we have had a few different formats over the years. What kind of rules are we looking at this year?
Scott: The Royal Rumble Fantasy Draft is one of our best ideas.
The last five years of the Royal Rumble have been that much better since we’re gambling on it as well.
You can do it two ways:
- If you know (most of) the participants, you can draft by wrestler.
- You can draft by the position the person enters the Royal Rumble.
Since we’re looking at likely a party of 10 or so (we had 10 people enter the fantasy draft last year), it’ll likely be three wrestlers or spots per person.
Scoring is based on whatever we really decide at the moment. Or overall winner. Depends on how we feel after the WWE Power Hour that our buddy Raj compiled (which is legendary).
As we wrap up here, what’s your favorite moment of the Rumble draft/Rumble parties from the last five years?
I personally love our ongoing, “This is the year Kane gets a main event push/ Kane is a Libertarian” jokes and also Raj’s dead-on Jim Ross impression.
Rambo: Personally, my favorite moment was at one of the first Rumble parties when I believe our buddy Mark had his choice between Mystery entrant A or B. (Editor’s Note: We had 28 of the 30 participants and referred to the remaining two guys in the draft by these names.) Mark chose A and then changed his mind at the last minute. Mystery entrant B ended up being Edge, who won the Rumble. (Mystery A was a female wrestler, who it was is eluding me right now)
That pretty much sums up the Rumble Fantasy Draft: you either get mystery entrant A or B. I’m hoping I get B this year and defend my title.
Scott: Mystery A was my pick and I won thanks to Edge’s comeback! I’ll never forget how mad Mark was after that. I’m stoked for the Rumble and the draft this year though. Let’s go CM Punk!