It is no secret that I am a fan of professional wrestling. Lately, I’ve been able to enjoy the weekly WWE programming via HuluPlus. Sure, it’s a day or two behind and thanks to the Internet I often know who wins, but that’s not a big deal. I see it as the natural progression of sports entertainment. “They” know who wins before it happens, so it is fitting that I know who wins before I watch it.
I do not know who will win Sunday’s Royal Rumble, one of WWE’s biggest pay-per-view events of the year. The Royal Rumble has one-on-one matches, but the highlight is the rumble itself. Thirty WWE Superstars enter the ring 90 seconds apart. Each is eliminated when they get thrown over the top rope and their feet hit the ground. The last wrestler still in the ring wins and gets a shot at a championship at WrestleMania.
This year’s entrants include fan favorite John Cena, Randy Orton, Sheamus, The Miz (more on him later), Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan (originally from Aberdeen), Kane, Ryback, and more. The great thing about the match is that WWE has used it to bring back former Superstars to give them a moment of glory and to increase the buy rate. Part of the attraction is not knowing who might show up and be one of the 30 contenders.
These surprise entrants rarely win, and if you look up the stats there is just as good of a chance to win if you are first in the ring as last. It’s crazy and I wish I had cable so I could watch it. Then again, if I did have cable, I might not be able to afford the pay-per-view cost. (Check with your cable provider for times and rates.)
The good news is that I and all the other cable-less wrestling fans can watch at least one match: The Miz will challenge Antonio Cesaro for the United States Championship in a pre-show match broadcast on YouTube. The WWE has been doing this for a while now and it serves two purposes: It lets folks like me get a small taste of the event and it builds anticipation for the main show. The thinking is that if you watch that one match you’ll want more. And they are not wrong. The Miz has had the United States championship before and has also been a WWE Champion. (There are six championships in WWE and each has a different level of prestige: WWE, World Heavyweight, Intercontinental, United States, Tag Team, and Divas.) The Miz, for those of you who may enjoy MTV more than WWE, was on the 2001 version of “The Real World” before living his dream as a professional wrestler. Cesaro is a relative newcomer but has risen through the mid-card ranks and could be a main event draw soon.
The main event — other than the rumble match — features current WWE champion CM Punk against former champion The Rock. The Rock — Dwayne Johnson to movie fans — faced Cena at last year’s WrestleMania and now wants to be champion again 10 years after the last time he held the belt. Punk has been champ for more than a year. These cross-generational matches always bring in big bucks. Before the 2012 WrestleMania, the biggest moneymaker was “WrestleMania X8” in 2002, when The Rock faced Hollywood Hulk Hogan. If The Rock wins the belt, expect to see him at WrestleMania again and probably facing Cena for the title. It’s not exactly fair to Punk, but that’s the breaks sometimes.
Besides, I want to see Punk try to end the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania. We should have a party for that. Everybody throw in $5 for the show and we could have a bigger bash than a Super Bowl party.
Predictions: The Rock over CM Punk for the WWE championship; Alberto del Rio over The Big Show for the World Heavyweight championship; Team Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow) over Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan) for the Tag Team belts; The Miz over Antonio Cesaro for the United States championship; and John Cena will win the Royal Rumble to set up a match for the WWE championship against The Rock at WrestleMania.
• Backstage Pass is a new blog on www.yakima-herald.com covering pop culture from Hollywood to your backyard. T.J. Tranchell, a freelance journalist and Herald-Republic customer service clerk, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.