As with my original post on The Shield, this is half-fantasy booking, half-analysis, half-empirical (hey, that's three halves!).
It's just a collection of thoughts that have been rummaging in my head as I have read through the articles and comments here over the past month or so.
Figured the eve of the Rumble was a good time to get them out. That way, if any of this comes true, I can look like a genius or something.
Daniel Bryan vs. The Undertaker
As much as 'Taker being behind the Shield, as some here have talked about, would blow my mind; as much as Taker using the Shield to set up him vs. Punk at Mania, Streak vs. Streak, is the most genius thing ever and would make a lot of sense, let's go a different route for now just to discuss it.
Namely, another match many of us have discussed: Bryan vs. Taker.
Bryan is already on the right path to face 'Taker because he is involved with Kane and is a very angry man. All it takes is for them to lose their belts to Rhodes Scholars, then enter the Rumble and end up eliminating each other and brawling outside the ring, to having a rematch against Scholars on RAW and losing again, to arguing and brawling again.
Then they fight at EC. Bryan wins. Makes Kane tap out. But he isn't done yet.
Grabs a chair, begins beating the hell out of Kane. Grabs a table, puts Kane through it. Grabs the chair again, puts it around Kane's neck.
"Someone stop this man, he's gonna break Kane's neck!"
Everyone's booing. Bryan gets on to the top rope and prepares to jump. Lights go out. Lights come back on. 'Taker is standing between Bryan and Kane.
Right now, the prominent thinking is that Cena will win the Rumble and go on to main event WrestleMania with The Rock. For reasons I will explain in the "CM Punk" section of this post, I don't think that will happen.
In the mean time, let me just give some thoughts on where I believe Cena's future lies.
That promo the other night was the worst thing many of us have ever heard. And if he legit got heat backstage from his peers for it, then that "speaks volumes" of where Cena is at right now.
The guy fails harder than perhaps any promo-giver in the history of wrestling and you're gonna have him win the Rumble and do another big program with The Rock - even though you advertised it as "Once in a Lifetime" last year, and even though their first program sucked to begin with?
I just don't see it happening.
Right now, and this has been my opinion for a while, the WWE has begun to realize that Cena is unnecessary to carry the show. In fact, Cena might even be beginning to realize the same thing, as put more eloquently than I by resident "Hulk Holland".
In my opinion, Cena should slow himself down in 2013 even more than he already has. He should go back to doing what he did in most of 2012: fighting whatever evil force happens to exist. Except, this year, his feuds should take a back seat to the WWE and World Title scenes. And they will.
Have him wrestle various bad guys in PPV undercards. It will give him face time, make the kids happy, they'll still buy his merchandise, and you keep the title scene going with new talent and new faces who need it more.
Heck, maybe even have Cena put one of these "new faces" over for once (but I won't hold my breath for that). At the least, however, get him the hell out of the way so new stars can be born.
What new stars? The WWE is thriving with young talent right now.
Cesaro is the next big thing. He has the look of a "big man", so that won't hold him back; and he can bring it in the ring and on the stick. There's no reason to rush things, but he should be acquiring one of the Big Two Belts in 2013 because he is simply too good not to.
Sandow has been producing well for quite some time, and he, too, won't have any concerns over his "size." Rhodes has developed a lot over the last year. Once he got rid of that terrible mask gimmick and all the silly faces he was making, he seems to have settled into his own. He looks a lot more comfortable in his current role.
Bryan is a major star and will undoubtedly be pushing himself up the card in 2013. Ziggler, too, is finally looking to make his push after years of knocking at the door.
Then you still have men like Orton and Sheamus, who you can always elevate to the main event whenever you please; and you have veterans like Big Show and Kane who are amazingly producing some of the best work of their careers right now.
Many of you may not like Ryback, but he fits his character and has done a fine job in and out of the ring. Plus, he's over, which never hurts (unless you do a program with Cena - see: Zack Ryder, Nexus).
Last but not least, Del Rio has emerged as a legitimate baby face out of nowhere. He plays his face role so well, makes it seem so natural and right, and the crowd is eating it up.
And we haven't even mentioned The Shield, or Brad Maddox (who I still think needs to stay away from any and all microphones).
"I Have a Dream"
If Rocky can make reference to King's famous speech and treat CM Punk's fake-sports title reign as an allegory to slavery and the systemic oppression of black people in the United States, then I can title a sub-section of my FanPost where I discuss this wild dream I had last night, "I Have a Dream." Sue me.
Last night I had a dream with some wrestling bits. This is what happens when you go to sleep listening to an hour of Ric Flair promos from 1985.
First of all, the Royal Rumble is a two day event. The first day is on Saturday and it involves lots of singles matches. Spiderman ends up winning his match, so thank god I chose him in this week's Fantasy League.
In other news, the San Francisco Giants beat up the the St. Louis Cardinals 9 - 0 in Game 1 of the World Series, finishing off a thorough destruction of the birds with a crazy inside-the-park home run. Perhaps next Sunday another San Francisco team will dominate different birds for a different championship?
Finally, Dolph Ziggler enters first in the Rumble match, but then Cena enters second and eliminates "The Show Off" in 5 seconds. This part was a nightmare. I heard Cena's music and said to myself, "Oh no. Oh no, oh no, oh no. He's going to eliminate Ziggler right away."
And, sure enough, he did. I woke up from my dream after, probably out of disgust. I may or may not have thrown up.
What's interesting, is I actually believe the Rumble will begin much like my dream, except Ziggler won't be eliminated right away.
Him and Cena will start off, and him and Cena will somehow manage to survive for most the match, until he is eliminated and Ziggler goes on to win.
So how does Ziggler pull it off? The Shield.
Why? Because Vickie Guerrero suddenly telling you, after you legitimately won a Beat the Clock Challenge to choose any spot you want in the Rumble, that you can only choose between #1 and #2 is a great injustice.
There are 20 wrestlers guaranteed to be in the Rumble as of this writing, so that leaves 10 spots left. Three of them can easily go to The Shield while still leaving room for another 7 "surprise" entrants (along with the two already heavily reported to appear).
First of all, think about how cool it'd be to have The Shield's music play at #7 and everyone looks around the arena, waiting to see who comes out.
Finally, Dean Ambrose emerges and makes his way down. He becomes the "iron man" of sorts and lasts all the way into the final 10 spots or so.
Then, at #16, their music hits again and everyone looks around the arena to see who comes out next. Then, emerging from a different part of the stands than Ambrose, Seth Rollins makes his way through the crowd. He immediately pairs up with Dean to help him out.
Finally, at #28, The Shield's music hits one more time and, after a little bit of waiting, out comes Roman Reigns. Clean up time.
The way I see it going down is that The Shield wreak all sorts of havoc. One of them may be eliminated before Reigns appears, but he can just show up later and illegally cause more trouble.
At some point Sheamus goes to Brogue kick one of them, but accidentally nails Orton, eliminating him over the ropes in the process. Sheamus is stunned, staring at Orton's body, and Reigns capitalizes by sending Sheamus over the ropes.
Gives us three more weeks of Orton/Sheamus build up heading into their participation in the SD! Chamber, before they continue their feud into what will hopefully be a Mania match, because I could see them putting on a great contest.
Back to the Rumble, however, Cena suddenly supermans up at some point -- even though he's been in the ring for close to an hour and should be showing signs of fatigue, he no-sells that and just begins going on a roll -- he eliminates Ambrose, another wrestler, Rollins, some other wrestler, and then Reigns, all in one fast, corny fury that's going to make every single one of us think, "Oh god... here comes Super Cena to win the Rumble, just like we already knew would happen."
But just as soon as he eliminates Reigns, Ziggler grabs Cena's legs from behind and lifts him over the rope.
Ding! Ding! Ding!
Ziggler wins it.
The only thing cooler than The Shield helping Ziggler is if they helped William Regal win the Rumble. Because what greater injustice is there than Regal never holding a World Title?
Then Regal could go on to challenge Punk at Mania. Old veteran who never made it to the top, sympathetic underdog, the respect of his peers, the company, and the fans ... vs. new generation, "Best in the World", cocky, arrogant, most hated man in the company: CM Punk.
In fact, what if the whole Rumble we think The Shield is there to help Ziggler but then they suddenly eliminate him and let Regal win. :O SWERVE. Okay, I'll stop fantasizing. :(
In the CM Punk "Best in the World" DVD, he mentions his frustration ("Frustrated isn't the god damn word for it. This is bullshit!") over how The Miz main evented one 'Mania and Rock/Cena main evented the next - both times of which he felt like he was the biggest heel in the company and, according to Punk, WrestleMania should be about the biggest heel vs the biggest face.
I happen to agree.
Not to mention he was actually the WWE Champion at last year's main event and was still under-represented on the card.
Punk also mentions his disappointment with how the Straight Edge Society went under, and how his dreams of a vicious, evil stable sank with it ("So much god damn injustice around here! I've had it up to here!").
Well, if you haven't noticed yet, CM Punk eventually gets what he wants.
There was a time when Punk thought he was better than John Cena and that he, not Cena, should be the WWE Champion. We've seen how that worked out: 433 days and counting.
Punk is "the man" right now. Cena might move more merchandise and make more money, but people backstage look up to Punk as THEE guy. And with the excellent work he's been doing recently with Rocky, and with how Cena has been stinking the joint up, even according to his own peers, there is no way in hell CM Punk is gonna stand by while someone else in the company main events another 'Mania without him.
Not to mention, Punk finally has his stable. He may or may not be the kayfabe man "behind" The Shield, but you have to believe, backstage, that the trio are his and Heyman's brain-child. You have to believe their the ones supporting it, helping to write it, etc.
Punk has his belt. He has his stable. He has Heyman. He has his heel gimmick. He has the crowd's almost unanimous hatred. He has everything he's ever wanted.
All that's left is to main event 'Mania, with the belt on the line, biggest heel vs. biggest face, just as it's supposed to be. Maybe that face is Rocky, maybe it's 'Taker, heck, maybe that face is even John Cena - regardless, Punk won't have it any other way.
If Lesnar shows up to help him out, that would not surprise me. If some new, "4th member of The Shield" shows up, that would not surprise me. It also would not surprise me to see the lights go out and Punk does something cheap once they come back on to retain. A ref bump would not surprise me. CM Punk cheating in any and every way possible would not surprise me.
The only thing that would surprise is if Rock goes over. Because somehow, someway, Punk will main event WrestleMania. He's the biggest heel in the company, with the longest title reign of the "modern era."
I understand the Royal Rumble is not some crappy filler PPV like TLC or Over the Limit; but you don't just end the greatest heel title reign of the modern era cleanly at the Royal Rumble. That makes no damn sense and it's an injustice if things go down that way.
You end it where great heel title reigns deserve to end, where every great wrestling story deserves to end, at the grand-daddy of them all: WrestleMania.