Katz Files: My Royal Rumble Preview & Predictions!

The Katz Files – Arnie Katz

Royal Rumble: Preview & Predictions!

The Kingfish Arnie Katz gets you ready for WWE’s February pay per view event!.

WWE has sometimes drawn criticism for hasty build-ups for some of its pay per view. That’s a mistake the promotion doesn’t make when it’s time to head to the biggest single payday of the year, WrestleMania.

Royal Rumble will see WWE shift into high gear and gain the momentum that will sweep it through this PPV, No Way Out and, finally, WrestleMania 25.

This is not a show at which stories will come to shattering climaxes. It’s a transitional show, but don’t worry, WWE has put together a card of very compelling matches.

Let’s look at what’s announced for the event:

Beth Phoenix vs. Melina
Women’s Championship

The Story: Melina, the former champion, has returned after an injury to challenge her former friend Beth Phoenix for the title. Complicated matters are the mysterious Rosa Mendez, who appears to have a score to settle with Melina, and Santino Marella.

My Prediction: Although the 1/19 RAW pretty much killed the heat for Rosa Mendez, WWE is not likely to change whatever was planned for her to do at Royal Rumble. That most likely is interference that will decide the match. In this case, I think we’re looking at Rosa screwing up and doing something that causes Beth Phoenix to lose the match, though maybe not the title.

Predicted Grade: B-

Jack Swagger vs. Matt Hardy
ECW Title Match

The Story: Jack Swagger is the rising force in ECW. After beating many of the men on the ECW roster, it’s time for him to test his mettle against the best, the champion.

My Prediction: There’s nothing for Jack Swagger to do except either win the ECW title or go to one of the other shows and work his way up from the lower mid-card. That means Swagger can either win this match or lose under circumstances that make a re-match both mandatory and highly marketable. The ultimate plan may be to match Swagger against Tommy Dream in a new-versus-old ECW storyline. The best way to achieve that might be to have Dreamer help Hardy retain the title, perhaps on a DQ win, and then have Swagger and Dream fight on ECW to lead up to a Hardy-Swagger-Dreamer Three-way Dance in which Swagger would pin Dreamer to take the belt.

Predicted Grade: B

Edge vs. Jeff Hardy
WWE Championship

The Story: Who is responsible or the frightening mishaps that have assailed Jeff Hardy (and his girlfriend)? Jeff is strongly suspicious of Edge, who has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence. Fans of the Charismatic Enigma have to wonder if this powerful distraction will be enough to allow Edge to recapture the championship.

My Prediction: The attacks on Hardy serve a dual purpose. They are a way to introduce Christian and an excuse for Edge winning the title from Hardy on this card. I don’t think Hardy will learn who is behind the attacks at this time, but we will probably see some kind of unsettling incident at this show. It is even possible that WWE will take Jeff Hardy right off the card in order to build up an even bigger WM showdown. Most likely, Jeff takes some punishment from Edge, but holds onto the strap.

Predicted Grade: A-

John Cena vs. John Bradshaw Leyfield (with Shawn Michaels)
World Heavyweight Championship

The Story: John Bradshaw Leyfield will do just about anything to gain the World Heavyweight Championship. He has taken advantage of the current Depression to virtually enslave Shawn Michaels, GBK can groan and grimace all he wants, but JBL continues to get dividends from his purchase as one of WWE’s greatest wrestlers does the bidding of the Cowboy Financier. John Cena says that he doesn’t believe that Michaels will help Leyfield win the gold when it comes down to crunch time. When the bell rings at Royal Rumble, we’ll know for sure.

My Prediction: The eventual climax of this type of storyline figures to be Michaels rebelling against Leyfield. This is such an obvious and expectable development that it actually makes it harder to predict any individual match in the program. WWE could decide to speed up the story at any time and have Michaels turn on his employer. Michaels-Leyfield would make a good middle-of-the-card match for WrestleMania, so the revolution is unlikely to happen at Royal Rumble. One way to do that would be to have Cena win by a DQ due to interference by Michaels. They could then do a cage match at No Way Out. From there, Cena could go forward to fight Leyfield or Michaels at WM, depending on how WWE wants to spin it.

Predicted Grade: A

The Royal Rumble Match

The Story: You were expecting a Survivor Series match? The inside-out battle royal gave the show its name. The brilliant decision to give the winner a title shot at WrestleMania gives the Rumble something a lot of similar gimmick matches lack: a point.

My Prediction: The Rumble always has a lot of stars, but WWE has really packed this one with a lot of guys who, if they won, could carry a championship match at WrestleMania. The guy who needs it most is Vladimir Kozlov. It could make a Hardy-Kozlov (or even a Triple H-Kozlov) match at WrestleMania a lot more interesting to fans. We might even see a Rumble finish that leads to Triple H-Kozlov at No way Out with the winner to face Hardy at WM

Predicted Grade: A-

Predicted Grade for Royal Rumble: B+

That’s it for today. I’ll be back on Monday with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising daily wrestling column. I’ll have the recap and analysis of Royal Rumble and you’ll be able to laugh at my predictions.

— Arnie Katz
[email protected]
(1/24/09)