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HeadLocker — Jay Shannon

My Royal Rumble Predictions

Our resident philosopher, Jay Shannon, breaks out his crystal ball, tea leaves and lucky coin to try and decide the outcomes of the first big WWE Pay-per-view of the year.

It’s January and the WWE is ready to get things revved up for Wrestlemania’s 25th Anniversary. The first stop is this Sunday’s Royal Rumble. This show is considered the first of the Big Four WWE PPVs (Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summerslam and Survivor Series. This bad boy sets the pace for the rest of the year. This show is almost always an edge-of-your-seat affair that will keep the fans guessing all the way from the opening match to the ending credits. This year’s show looks to be no exception. I’ve put fresh batteries in the old crystal ball, shined up the Fitzgerald’s Hotel and Casino Memorial Coin and brewed the strongest tea I could find (Earl Grey with a shot of Lemon Lift) for the most potent tea leaves. I’ve rolled up my sleeves and I’m ready to dive into the 2009 Royal Rumble.

Beth Phoenix v Melina
Women's Championship Match

The Backstory: Melina returned after a nasty injury. She immediately focused on Beth Phoenix. Since the Raw Diva division is so pathetic, currently, it didn't take long for her to move to the top of the incredibly short contenders list. Beth has been pretty much ruling the roost for months. She has dropped a few non-title and tag bouts to Melina. Beth has an Ace up in sleeve in the form of SuperFan, Rosa Mendez. In a rehashing of the Mickie James/Trish Stratus storyline from a few years back, Rosa idolizes Beth and wants to become her clone/best friend.

Prediction: Melina should win the title. Beth needs to look less unbeatable. That's not going to happen on Sunday. Rosa will get involved in the whole mess. She will likely attack Melina while Beth has the ref distracted, leading to the GlamSlam. The other major possibility is that Rosa will be so blatant with her interference that the ref calls for the DQ. Beth gets to keep the strap, even though she loses. Rosa will then go on to feud with Melina, while Beth goes back to fighting Mickie James or the soon-to-return Gail "Miss Angela" Kim. The oddball possibility is the Rosa messes up and costs Beth the title. I would book that ending, but I'm sticking with my original thought. Rosa gets involved and prevents Melina from taking the title.

Predicted Winner: Beth Phoenix (with assist to Rosa Mendez)
Predicted Grade: B-

Jack Swagger v Matt Hardy
ECW Title Match

The Backstory Jack Swagger has been pushed as the new face of ECW. He has done well against the talent, such as it is, in ECW. He's defeated Tommy Dreamer, Finlay, Ricky Ortiz and more jobbers than you have shake a stick at. Matt surprised everyone when he won the belt. He surprised so many more by holding onto the strap for so long. This match is going to be the sleeper match of the night.

Predictions: The key to this one is Tommy Dreamer. Tommy made a heartfelt speech on ECW TV, a couple of weeks back, where he said that if he didn't win the title by June 6th (when his WWE contract runs out), he would retire. While Matt Hardy v Tommy Dreamer might be a much better match, I have to think that the booking staff is wanting set up Tommy v Jack for the ECW title. If Tommy does end up going into retirement, it would seal Jack's reputation as a top star. He would become 2009's Shawn Michaels (sending Flair to retirement in 2008). I have to think that WWE is going to pull another stunt with Jeff, which will have Matt off his game. Jack pulls out the Gut Wrench Powerbomb and leaves Matt Hardy in the dust.

Predicted Winner: Jack Swagger
Predicted Grade: B+

Jeff Hardy v Edge
WWE Championship Match

The Backstory: Jeff Hardy has been plagued with a series of so-called accidents. He's been struck with a blunt instrument in a hotel attack. He was involved in a hit-and-run accident. The latest was a mistimed pyro that set Jeff on fire. Edge swears that he didn't have anything to do with the accidents. Edge is, however, ready to swoop in and vulture the carcass of the Rainbow-Haired Warrior.

Predictions: I'm expecting this to be the introduction of The Unholy Three (Edge, Christian, and Tomko). The name comes from an old black and white Lon Chaney horror movie from the 1930s. It will come to light, probably on the following Smackdown, that Christian and Tomko were responsible for the various attacks. Through some major underhanded actions, Edge will win back the WWE title. This could build to a six-man match at Wrestlemania, pitting Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy and The Undertaker against Edge, Christian and Tomko. Edge takes the title with his Spear.

Predicted Winner: Edge (New Champion)
Predicted Grade A

John Cena v JBL (with Shawn Michaels)
World Heavyweight Championship Match

The Backstory: This one's massively complicated. JBL wants the World Title. Cena wants to keep it. Shawn wants to be able to support his family, so he's basically sold his soul to the corporate sleaze, JBL. JBL demands that Shawn help him win the World title. If Shawn does it, he is promised financial security from now on. Batista is waiting in the wings to return after his injury heals. Batista v Cena is almost a sure thing for Wrestlemania, assuming Batista is cleared. Will Cena walk in with the belt?

The Prediction: This one has taxed my brain to the point of no return. There are so many variables in this match that it's almost impossible to really predict anything. The key, of course, is Shawn Michaels. Will Shawn turn full heel and screw Cena out of the belt? Will Shawn put his family's future at risk by ignoring the orders of his employer?

I both love and hate matches like this. If it was just Cena v JBL, then Cena would send JBL to the showers with ease. Again, it all comes back to Shawn. I've touched base with several of my close friends to get their thoughts on this one. They were absolutely no help. What I have to look at is where this situation would go, after the Royal Rumble. Who would sell more tickets going into both No Way Out and Wrestlemania? The answer is John Cena. JBL is a good wrestler but he just isn't at a point where he could carry the 25th anniversary show. JBL will likely have an undercard feud with Shawn Michaels. Cena will probably take on the winner of the Rumble Match.

After taking a few minutes to go outside and watch it rain, my head cleared from all the various options that were spinning through my skull. This match is going to come down to selling tickets. Period.

Predicted Winner: John Cena
Predicted Grade: A+

30-Man Royal Rumble Match

The Backstory: Ok, this is what the whole show is all about. There are so many stories that I could sit here until Monday morning (It's Thursday night as I write this) trying to decipher all the storylines. So, let's take a look at the main ones that affect this one.

Randy Orton made himself a key player when he took out Vince McMahon with a boot to the skull. Chris Jericho got fired and then went through major humiliation to get himself back in the Rumble. C.M. Punk has been setting all kinds of records with his winning year. Vladimir Kozlov is the Nikita Koloff of the 21st century, basically destroying everyone in his path. Triple H hasn't held a title in several months, now. He wants to wear gold and he doesn't care who he has to go through to get it. The Undertaker is getting ready for his last run, most likely, in the WWE. He would likely be wanting to have one more shot at the gold before hanging up the black hat and boots.

The Prediction: This one is going to sound chaotic but I'm more sure of who will not win the match. Triple H has won the Rumble, so he's out. The same goes for Undertaker. Undertaker and HHH don't need the Rumble win to push themselves. Orton's attack on Vince is going to come back and bite him in the backside. Stephanie and/or Vince will send everyone and their brother to take out Orton. Expect Randy to get the number one spot. He will be one of the last 2 or 3 people, but he's not going to win it. Jericho, much like JBL, doesn't have the pull to warrant the title shot at Wrestlemania 25.

I see it coming down to two choices. This is where it gets really bizarre. If WWE doesn't pull any swerves, I'm going to go with C.M. Punk to take the next step in his Cinderella Year with a win at the Rumble. He'd complete the year with a win over the WWE Champ (yes, he'd jump shows) at Wrestlemania. Neither Edge nor Jeff Hardy will be holding the belt, at the time. Cena is going to be tied up with Batista, I think. That would give Cena the additional record of being the first person to hold all three major titles (World, WWE and ECW) within an 18 month span.

The other option is my favorite. This could also flip things in the JBL v Cena match. Shawn was told, by JBL, that he wouldn't be in the Rumble match. Shawn never quite agreed to step out of the match, JBL did it for him. I could see Shawn showing up at one of two numbers: 27 or 30. 27 is considered the lucky number for the Rumble. If Shawn's in it...he wins it. I'll know by the end of the Cena v JBL match how things are going to go.

Predicted Winner: C.M. Punk or Shawn Michaels
Predicted Grade: A+

Final Thoughts: I actually ordered Royal Rumble, No Way Out and Wrestlemania in the Dish Network's package deal. I've got a few new friends (and a couple of old ones) that I will get to share this with. I think WWE really has the potential to take their PPVs to the next big level. I can't imagine that they are going to do anything foolish and mess up this goldmine. There are going to be a million twists and turns with this one. WWE will probably toss in an extra match or two before the show's all said and done.

Final Grade: A
Final Winners: The Fans

--Jay Shannon
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