As soon as John Cena eliminated Ryback to win the Royal Rumble match, it seemed as though the main event of WrestleMania ("Twice in a Lifetime") was already set, even though the WWE title had yet to be defended. Hardcore fans and "armchair bookers" everywhere were collectively clanking on their keyboards, lamenting this “predictable” outcome and complaining about the lack of surprise.
I was wrong with my predictions (Brock Lesnar costing The Rock the WWE championship and Dolph Ziggler winning the Royal Rumble match). Other than the personal satisfaction you feel when you call a good storyline twist, I couldn't care less that I wasn't right. Because I know that no matter what matches take place at WrestleMania, I will be watching. I fall under that category of WWE viewer. So do 99 percent of those "clanking on their keyboards" above.
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Before you even let it leave your lips, in no way is Rock vs. Cena 2 at WrestleMania 29 "lazy booking." In fact, we are approaching the culmination of a rivalry that has spanned three WrestleManias. Truthfully, it would be very difficult to believe that John Cena, the face of today's WWE, would never eventually get his revenge against The Rock after losing at WrestleMania 28. If anything, be happy you predicted what actually happened and feel good about it!
So what about CM Punk, whose reign ended against The Rock at 434 days (fact: if you add up all of The Rock's eight WWE title reigns, it totals only 298 days). To me, the logical step at WrestleMania would be, since his streak was ended, to try and end someone else's streak. Not since WrestleMania 21 against Randy Orton have I truly felt like "The Streak" could end, and CM Punk vs. Undertaker would provide that illusion. And it would also provide CM Punk his last desired career milestone -- a main event match at WrestleMania.
Going back to the hardcore fans, virtually everyone in the US Airways Center and likely watching at home felt like a fan again when Chris Jericho returned to WWE as entry No. 2. It was a rare moment where most everyone was genuinely surprised and happy to see him return. Jericho played it perfectly on Twitter leading up to it, even posting that he was at a meet and greet across the country. This may be the first Chris Jericho WWE return (or debut) that wasn't in some way spoiled by internet rumors.
Speaking of rumors, they were swirling regarding the returns of Carlito and Shelton Benjamin. Those didn't happen (don't believe every rumor you read, folks!), but we did see the returns of The Godfather and Goldust. The former lasted about 2.4 seconds. Goldust and his brother Cody Rhodes went right at it, with Cody eliminating older brother later on. Between the brothers' matchup and Ziggler vs. Jericho, we have some interesting possible matchups in the next two months, perhaps even at WrestleMania.
Kofi Kingston, who had people talking about his sick handstand "elimination dodge," brought out more theatrics this time around. After being pushed off the apron, he grabbed onto the back of Tensai (who was eliminated) and was disposed on the announce table. Kofi grabbed an announce chair and hopped on it back to the ring. While watching this I wondered if putting the announce cover on the ground and stepping on it would constitute an elimination. Exactly how high off the ground does an object need to be that you are stepping on in order to be considered not eliminated? Hopefully we get an answer someday. At least Kofi gave us a good barometer.
Ryback led the way with most eliminations (five), while Dolph Ziggler clocked in with the most time spent (roughly 50 minutes). Cena won the Rumble entering at No. 19. This year, the interval between entries was 90 seconds.
In other Royal Rumble action:
** Antonio Cesaro defended the U.S. title by beating The Miz, who looked to land awkwardly during the "Neutralizer." Throughout the show, he was hobbling when walking to the backstage, which made it more impressive that he returned for the Rumble match.
** Team Hell No (who eliminated each other in comedic fashion during the Royal Rumble) kept their tag titles against the Rhodes Scholars
** Alberto Del Rio (the "Mexican Bret Hart" as told by the Hitman during the PPV) defeated Big Show after Ricardo duct-taped his legs together on the bottom rope.
Follow Arda on Twitter @arda_ocal for complete coverage from Royal Rumble weekend, including extensive tweets from all three "shooting straight" panels: DX, Montreal Screwjob and WCW.