Cesaro! The Miz! Pre-Show! United States Championship!
Antonio Cesaro has been on an absolute tear since making his debut on the April 20, 2012 episode of SmackDown. Starting off with a pretty vanilla rugby gimmick, he has slowly morphed into one of the best characters in WWE right now. The Swiss who loves America but hates Americans? Brilliant! Great on the mic, even better in the ring, Cesaro is 6'5", 232 lbs of professional wrestling excellence. This is a man who just gets it.
Then we have The Miz.
This is a man who relies almost exclusively on cheap reactions, who is perfectly average in the ring, who hasn't cut a memorable promo that didn't include the phrase "the pink and the stink" in lord knows how long. This is a man who was given the main event of WrestleMania 27, something only a handful of wrestlers in a generation get to experience. This is a man who could have the entire WWE at his fingertips if he just got a little bit better.
And the absolute worst part is I know he can do better.
Miz's work with Awesome Truth was the most inspired of his career. He was given a clear direction to take his character. Him and R-Truth played off each other brilliantly. You can tell that they were just being natural, and it came off so perfectly through the screen.
That's The Miz I want to see. That's The Miz I know he can be.
I had thought a face turn would give him a similar sense of purpose; I was sadly mistaken. Miz is happy mean mugging the camera, throwing out crappy lines, and botching the Figure Four Lock. If there is a more perfect metaphor about not practice your craft then screwing up one of the sport's most famous moves, I cannot think of it.
Alas, The Miz will continue to be pushed. The Marine: Homecoming is due to drop around WrestleMania 29, and the idea of having a fake wrestler pretending to be a fake marine holding a fake belt with the US flag on it is the type of thing that makes Vince McMahon change his sheets at night. Cesaro will drop the title on the pre-show just as Santino Marella dropped it to him. 'Tis a sad truth, but 'tis a truth nevertheless.
I can only hope this means Cesaro will make an appearance in the Elimination Chamber, and go on to do bigger and better things.
Hell No! Rhodes Scholars! Tag Team Championship!
On Aug. 27, 2012, mankind witnessed the birth of something beautiful. While we would have no idea how amazing this thing would grow to be, there was a feeling from the first second that we all were witness to something greater than ourselves.
Yes, dear Cagesiders, I am talking about Daniel Bryan and Kane being put into anger management.
From the very first scene, all the way to last week's (Jan. 21) graduation ceremony, Team Hell No has been one of the most entertaining parts of WWE television. It's insane to think that these two would ever find a way to turn "Creative has nothing for you" into absolute gold. This team had no business working even half as well as it did.
Like all good things, though, this must come to an end.
Hell No has been great fun, but for the tag team division to be revised it must be done with real tag teams. Team Rhodes Scholars is in perfect position to take the belts and start running. Then WWE builds up a face team to chase them, eventually win the belts, and start its own run.
Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
That will leave Bryan and Kane a chance to enter the Elimination Chamber, end up bickering and trying to one up each other, and reignite their feud heading into WrestleMania 29.
Simple booking is simple.
It is always possible WWE goes in a different direction and make me look like a complete idiot. This wouldn't be the first time it happens, and it certainly wont be the last. I feel extremely confident about this, though. Well, really confident. Pretty confident. Sorta confident. A little confident.
I have no right to be confident at all, do I?
Del Rio! Show! Last Man Standing! Rematch! World Heavyweight Championship!
Tonight, Alberto Del Rio will put his newly won World Heavyweight Championship on the line against The Big Show in a Last Man Standing Rematch. Del Rio won the strap under the same stipulation on the Jan. 11 episode of SmackDown, so we know he has the capability of falling the giant.
The simple question is can he repeat such a feat?
As any regular reader of the Precap will tell you, I have been in love with Del Rio's face run. He is still feeling out the quirks of WWE face style. There's little things here and there that need work. I still hear a bit of heel persona in his promos, and I'm curious to see how well he will do as reigning champion instead of chasing the title. I have no doubt, though, that he is going to continue to improve over time.
And there was no one better for him to work with than Show.
The giant understands the business better than most of the people behind the curtain. Having him feud with Del Rio was the best way to make "The Mexican Aristocrat" a fan favorite. It's the little things such as counting to "diez" that pisses off the audience and creates an emotional connection with Del Rio. Fans want to root for the underdog. We watch pro wrestling to see bullies get what they deserve.
And tonight, I believe that is exactly what will happen.
I do not know how long Del Rio will be champion. I don't even know if he'll make it through Elimination Chamber with the strap around his waist. He could simply be a transition champion, keeping the belt warm until WWE finds a heel worthy of the gold.
What I do know is this; Del Rio has a chance to cement his main event status. WWE is desperate for faces who connect with the fans. The promotion needs someone who the fans will cheer for, as well as buy merch from. Del Rio could become that guy.
All he has to do is be the one standing tall as the ref counts...eight...nine...
Punk! Rock! No Shield Interference! WWE Championship!
CM Punk. For 434 days he has carried the WWE Championship. The most dominating reign in the modern era. Punk has scratched and clawed and scrapped and battled and -- when the situation called for it -- connived and cheated his way to the top of the history books. The man who referrers to himself as "The Best in the World" has proved it at every turn.
Tonight, though, he must prove it against his fiercest test yet.
The Rock. The star from the Attitude Era. The man who left WWE to find his own way in Hollywood. The conquering hero, who has finally come back to the place that made him a household name. Rock made a promise to the WWE Universe that he would once again become WWE Champion.
Tonight he will prove if he can remain true to his word.
The Royal Rumble. The official start to The Road To WrestleMania. Home to some of the greatest moments in WWE history. The beginning of not just the new year, but of a new direction for the promotion.
Tonight we will find out what that direction will be.
CM Punk vs. The Rock for the WWE Championship. The match that needs no extra hype. The moment that has been months in the making. The point in time when questions will be answered, and answers will be questioned. The culmination of a feud that has far exceeded our high expectations.
Tonight will be what we've all been waiting for.
There is little more I can add to the greatness of this story. All parties have played their respective parts to complete and utter perfection. This is what pro wrestling is about. This is what sports entertainment should be. This is what happens when the best in the world meet at full force.
Tonight, no matter what happens, we will be entertained.
The! Freaking! Royal! Rumble!
This is the match that in many fans eyes -- mine included -- is the most exciting event WWE has concocted. 30 men will come down the ramp, each filled with the belief that they can be the last man standing. The promise of main-eventing the greatest pro wrestling show in the history of the business lays ever present on the psyche of every wrestler who makes their way to the ring.
As fans, we know that there are many wrestlers who have no shot at winning. But the beauty of the suspension of disbelief allows us to wonder, even for a brief moment, that perhaps this is an unknown's chance at glory.
As the clock ticks down, the excitement builds. Whether you are in the arena or halfway across the globe, the electricity is palpable. Whose intro will play? Who will be the next man to charge the ring? Who will be tossed over the top rope, and who will be the last one to survive?
Who will forever be known as the 2013's Royal Rumble winner?
There will be surprise entrants. There will be fun spots. There will be feuds formed and friendships broken. There will be that one moment when you turn to your friends in excitement and say,
"Did you see that?!"
For an hour and change, pro wrestling fans will be watching the greatest event in the world. Anything can, and often does, happen during the Royal Rumble.
At the end of the night, there will be a winner. We may cheer, we may boo, we may throw our hands up in the air in exasperation.
Until that moment, though, let us enjoy this together. This is the greatest gift that the professional wrestling gods have given us.
I, for one, plan on cherishing it with my pro wrestling brethren.
Hopefully this has prepared you for the night's festivities. Leave a comment below about what you are looking forward to, and please join the entire CSS Sunday night gang in the Royal Rumble live blog TONIGHT!