John Cena was considered by WWE creative as a surprise winner of this year's Royal Rumble to swerve their hardcore fans before they chose Sheamus for that role. Photo via upload.wikimedia.org.
Our friend Mike Johnson of the pro wrestling site with spyware has confirmed that the main reason Sheamus won the Royal Rumble last night was "in order to throw a curve ball at fans" who expected Chris Jericho to win, their previously pencilled in victor. They had Michael Cole attempt to create doubt in his commentary over which champion Sheamus would choose to face at WrestleMania 28 hoping that would whip fans into a lather about all the unexpected new possibilities. This has largely failed with most people being disappointed at the result.
It's not that Sheamus was a bad choice to win the match per se, as C. J. Bradford's robust defence of the winner attests to, but that WWE creative did not even bother to script a storyline that made you think he was in the running as a possible WrestleMania title contender and thus there wasn't any anticipation at that eventuality. It made his victory come off as completely flat, a bit like Edge's surprise win in 2010 (but not to nearly the same extent) when he rushed back from his Achilles tendon tear, but at least he had a ready made feud with Chris Jericho that was teased at the time he suffered his injury. It's a bad start to the mega push WWE wants to give Sheamus this year, so hopefully they can turn it around. Trying to push Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus as a credible World title match, if that is indeed the plan, will likely prove to be a hard sell, after their U.S. title match at WrestleMania 27 last year was turned into a dark match due to timing constraints.
So we indeed ended up with a bad surprise ending to the Rumble, but it wasn't the one that Dave Meltzer teased on his radio show the day before the event. Apparently, WWE considered having John Cena win the match, only to have him decide to forego the WrestleMania title opportunity and face The Rock anyway, as has been the plan for the past ten months. That may have been the one considered finish that hardcore supporters would have crapped on more than the one they delivered.