The Common Denominator – Drama on the Road to Wrestlemania (The Rock, CM Punk, John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Elimination Chamber, NXT, HHH, Brock Lesnar)
by Ralph Hardin on January 31, 2013

Gather ‘round, my Common DenomiNation denizens, for another round of discourse on the Road to Wrestlemania!

So, the Royal Rumble has come and gone, and I would brag about how accurate my picks in the Roundtable were, but I was neither enthused by my predictions coming true, nor alone in most of said predictions. In fact, other than Kane & Daniel Bryan retaining, there weren’t any real shockers (other than the return of Chris Jericho that many have already commented on that my son actually predicted).
Admittedly, I did not want to see CM Punk’s historic title reign come to an end at the hands of The Rock. I get that it makes sense in a lot of ways to a lot of people, but I just would have preferred to see a star made by being the one to beat Punk. Actually, that idea about Dolph Ziggler cashing in Money in the Bank, winning the Royal Rumble, and then unifying the belts at Wrestlemania sounds even more awesome now that I see what the real plans seem to be.
Speaking of making stars, I am fully into the Bo Dallas experiment. I’m still not sure why he doesn’t get to be Bo Rotunda(o), but whatever. I couldn’t help but think of the 1-2-3 Kid and Razor Ramon dynamic seeing Bo and Wade Barrett’s interactions. He showed a lot of potential in his Royal Rumble performance and the big win against Barrett on Raw made me smile, although I’m not sure the belly-to-belly slam is a viable finisher in 2013. I will say he’s a completely different package than brother Windham “Husky Harris” Rotunda. I don’t guess there’s any chance of one of them being packaged with one of the DiBiase borthers at Money Inc. 2.0?
And speaking of brothers, I loved the brief showdown between Cody Rhodes and Goldust at the Rumble. Just the quick cut to Cody when Dustin’s music hit was enough to sell me on it. They ought to get Goldust to be Team Rhodes Scholars’ lackey. Put the belts on them and then have Goldust inadvertently cost them the titles. Then Sandow can lay into Dustin and Cody can make a face turn and save him.
These storylines are exactly the kind of thing I was talking about several columns ago when I compared pro wrestling to daytime soap operas. They’re not outlandishly over the top, and there’s a human element we can all buy into. Another great example of this came up Monday night on Raw. Vince McMahon masterfully hooked viewers at the beginning of the show by promising, finally, some proof of Heyman’s dealings with The Shield and Brad Maddox. And unless I missed it, none of said proof in any way definitively said CM Punk had any knowledge of the conspiracy. Having Brock come out and F-5 Vince is about the only thing that makes sense in an organic way to get us to Brock-HHH II at ‘Mania. You’ve got to love the avenging Trips coming out of retirement to defend the honor of his children’s “Pops.”
More great drama came at the hands of CM Punk’s tirade. It really felt like he wasn’t just cutting a wrestling promo. He was pissed and he wanted justice. I also loved the whole “I’m just going to stay up here on the stage, ‘cause I’m a punk ass bitch and it’s fun to swear.” I’m not the least bit offended by the language, but the idea that Rocky gets to curse and no one else does just kind of rubs me the wrong way.
So, the Elimination Chamber is coming up in a few weeks. We are apparently getting Punk-Rock II, which sounds great. I don’t see Punk getting the belt back, even if there’s just as much justification of a Punk-Cena match at ‘Mania as there is for Rock-Cena II. Again, as much as I don’t need to see WWE Champion John Cena again, it makes sense story-wise for Cena to finally get the best of Punk after being unable to do so in the past (would have been even better if Punk had never lost the belt to begin with, but it’s too late for that now).
So that leaves some questions about the rest of the card. Are there going to be two Chamber matches this year or just the one to determine the World Heavyweight Title number one contender for Wrestlemania? They appeared to be setting up an Elimination Chamber match between The Shield, Cena, Ryback and Sheamus on Raw. Of course, no title would be on the line, but I have no problem with that. WarGames, a similar match from the heyday of WCW, was often used for big feuds between factions, so I say go for it. The back and forth between each side having a one-man advantage during the match would play out nicely. On that note, has any member of The Shield actually wrestled a match in the WWE yet outside of the hastily thrown together TLC 6-man? Assuming they do wrestle at Elimination Chamber, that’s a pretty sweet gig. Occasional pay-per-view appearances only? That’s better than Brock’s deal.
So, on the World Title end of things, I’m guessing we’ll get the blow-off to Alberto Del Rio-Big Show in some type of gimmick match, with the winner (Del Rio, probably), facing the Chamber match winner. Of course, there’s the still-looming Ziggler factor to consider. I’m no longer going to speculate when he might ever get around to cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Although I can see the possibility of him cashing in after Del Rio gets laid out or whatever at the Chamber. Then Chris Jericho can win the Chamber match and we can get a nice build to a grudge match between Ziggler and Jericho at ‘Mania (which Ziggy should win since Y2J is a short-timer anyway).
I’ll mention again how much I didn’t want to see Punk drop the belt to The Rock. I’ll also mention again how well Punk put over the importance of the championship and the continued lack of respect he gets from his detractors. I think this goes a long way toward making it logical that he would challenge The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. It’s easy for him to say he has nothing else to prove other than to end The Streak. And honestly, while I know it will likely never, never, ever, ever happen, I would love to see Punk go over ‘Taker. There’s nothing wrong with 20-1, and that’s about the best rub anyone in the business could give anyone else in the business at present time. Just the promos on the two angles mentioned above (Ziggler-Jericho and Punk-Undertaker) would be awesome enough to justify 3-hour Raws.
WWE Championship The Rock vs. John Cena, World Heavyweight Championship Dolph Ziggler vs. Chris Jericho, HHH vs. Brock Lesnar (Hell in a Cell?), and Undertaker vs. CM Punk looks like an awesome card. Throw in some other matches, like say U.S. Title Antonio Cesaro vs. Ryback, Intercontinental Title Wade Barrett vs. Randy Orton, some massive tag-team title scramble and I guess a Divas title match, and I think you’re looking at the best Wrestlemania in years.
Just a couple of notes about some things I found interesting: Earlier this week the newspaper I work for had a team in a community Corporate Trivia Challenge. We came in second after winning the thing the previous two years. One question I totally nailed, though, was “Held annually since 1985, what event is considered by many to be the ‘Superbowl of Professional Wrestling?’” I have never heard Wrestlemania referred to as such, but it was indeed the answer.
Also, in an older column, I mentioned local wrestler Kevin Nikel, known as Killer Kid Nikels in Traditional Championship Wrestling and other independent promotions, had been signed to a WWE developmental contract a few months ago. Well, he’s been given the ring name Knuckles Madsen and has had a few unaired matches on some NXT shows. I talked to a friend of his who said he hopes to be getting some screen time soon, perhaps as part of the Wyatt Family, a faction of “Redneck Monsters” that is headed by the aforementioned Windham Rotunda as “Bray Wyatt.” He’d fit right in.

Here’s what I’m talking about

There’s some real potential there. And here’s a Killer Nikels match from about a year ago…

Anyway, I’m actually pretty excited to see how Wresltemania plays out and to see some more of the NXT guys get called up to the main roster. Thanks for reading.




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Ralph Hardin

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  • flamingwombat

    As soon as they announced at the PPV that the next match was the Rumble, it made me want to stop watching. I hate when the Rumble isn’t the main event! (Similar to my wrestling pet peeve of when they have Survivor Series without elimination matches.) Then 5 minutes later, when Jericho’s music hit, all was copacetic (including a nice spit-take).

    I like the idea of a Shield non-title Chamber match, although I’d put Orton in there instead and have that be when they pull the trigger on the heel turn leading to a Sheamus match at Mania.

    Also agree on the Bo Dallas commentary. It’s a good use of Wade Barrett, and kudos for him putting over the rookie. It actually helps both of their characters.

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