On Sunday, January 29, Randy Orton’s hometown of St. Louis, MI, will host the 25th anniversary of the Royal Rumble. Though it is customary for the hometown hero to get the nod, there is actually a significant chance that The Viper will not win this year. Not that he isn’t capable of winning a World title opportunity at WrestleMania, seeing as he did win the Royal Rumble in 2009, but there is another WWE Superstar who will more than likely remain as the last man standing on Sunday night.
Chris Jericho brought back the Highlight Reel, his talk show segment, after four years, but didn’t do much talking. Much like he’s been doing for the past couple of weeks, Jericho pandered to the crowd with fans suddenly realizing that he may not even say a word. And he didn’t have to, because the video package that he played of his illustrious career laden with championship gold, including the night he pinned both Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock to become the first-ever Undisputed WWE World Champion, told the whole story of why he returned to the WWE.
Chris Jericho has won multiple World titles, exceeded his own record of most Intercontinental titles held, has had successful runs as a Tag Team champion, even pinning The Undertaker inside of the Elimination Chamber to win the World Heavyweight championship, but he has never won the Royal Rumble. To win the Royal Rumble would mean earning an immediate main event slot at WrestleMania to contend for either the WWE or World Heavyweight titles. And if Chris Jericho is anything, he is a perfectionist.
He has said it before that he is the best in the world at what he does, and to be the best WWE Superstar, Y2J must win the Royal Rumble so as to be solidified in WWE history as a Royal Rumble winner. And not only that, if he then goes onto WrestleMania to win the World title, his legacy will be that much greater.
If there is still doubt in what Chris Jericho was trying to get across with the video package, then breaking his silence to utter, “This Sunday will be the end of the world as you know it,” is all the conviction that is needed.
But what about Randy Orton? The Viper did make an explosive return this past Friday night on SmackDown, to attack Wade Barrett, and to deliver a half-dozen RKO’s to unsuspecting WWE Superstars. Randy Orton, despite being thrown down a set of stairs a few weeks ago, coupled with medical reports stating that he injured his back, looks determined to win the Rumble. But surely Wade Barrett will extract some revenge on Sunday by either eliminating Orton, or exciting Orton’s well-known anger management issues to provoke him to follow him out of the ring.
Then there are your dark horses with minimal chances of winning the Royal Rumble. Cody Rhodes is an option, as the current longest reigning champion, having held unto the Intercontinental championship since August, he can shock the world and attempt to go the route of The Ultimate Warrior by winning the World title while still in possession of the I-C title. Then there’s “The Celtic Warrior” Sheamus, whose actions are still undefined. At one point it appeared that he was going down a spiral of losing his temper, but it now seems that he has channeled his anger into positive ass whoopings towards men like Wade Barrett and Jinder Mahal.
Speaking of, Wade Barrett could win it. In the summer of 2010, the London Brawler was at the cusp of winning the WWE championship after running the WWE into total anarchy as leader of The Nexus stable. But after the mutiny, Wade Barrett lost his edge throughout much of 2011, only to regain it a few months ago with his movement known as The Barrett Barrage. His encounters with Randy Orton alone has proven his self-worth as a main event Superstar.
Yet, don’t count out other WWE Superstars with scheduled matches prior to the Royal Rumble. Could we see John Cena or Kane in the Royal Rumble–that is if they don’t kill each other first. Perhaps Dolph Ziggler, Mark Henry, and The Big Show–if they fail to win their World title matches–will attempt to earn another opportunity? Maybe CM Punk and Daniel Bryan will lose their championships and demand to not let WrestleMania pass them by? What if the World champions themselves go into the match as title holders with the bizarre outcome that no Superstar that night will get a shot at their title?
There are just too many variables, and surprise WWE legends and past Superstars that have yet to be factored into the match, that it can truly be anyone’s night. But if one thing is for certain, Chris Jericho didn’t come back in the best shape of his life to not make good on his carefully chosen words.
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