#1 Alberto Del Rio [--] (6-2-0) (WWE) [Royal Rumble]
As of today, Alberto Del Rio is going to Wrestlemania to challenge the Champion of his choosing... but you already knew that. I had my doubts, but Del Rio's 2011 push has carried him all the way to victory in the first ever forty-man Royal Rumble! As phenomenal an achievement as it is, it comes bittersweet for the rising star. His entry was late, number thirty-eight, with the final elimination being an utterly unconvincing Santino Marella (#60). While that finish might've been very weak, Del Rio did have the honor of eliminating title contender, Randy Orton (#6)!
Del Rio's Wrestlemania opponent remains to be seen, as does the likelihood of WWE honoring the tradition of Royal Rumble winners getting their shot in the biggest main event match of the calendar. The safe bet might be a bout with current World Champion, Edge (#2), who defeated Dolph Ziggler (#67) in a title defense at Royal Rumble. Keeping Del Rio on Smackdown would seem a benefit to his style as a wrestler, similarly to the strength of the show in Mexican markets, but you never know! Recent appearances on RAW may indicate more than an intent to promote Del Rio ahead of his Rumble win. Given that RAW's WWE Championship seems likely to be contended between a combination of current champ, The Miz (#30), John Cena (#86), and Randy Orton, a switch is long odds, though.
#2 [RE] Edge (5-1-0) (WWE) [World Heavyweight Champion]
#3 [-1] Robert Roode (4-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]
#4 [-1] James Storm (4-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]
#5 [+1] Kofi Kingston (4-2-0) (WWE) [Intercontinental Champion]
#6 [-2] Randy Orton (4-2-0) (WWE)
#7 [+1] Jeff Jarrett (3-0-1) (TNA)
#8 [new] Frankie Kazarian (3-1-0) (TNA) [X-Division Champion]
#9 [-4] Chris Masters (3-1-0) (WWE)
#10 [new] Primo Colon (3-1-0) (WWE)
#1 [--] Robert Roode & James Storm (4-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champions]
#2 [new] Zack Ryder & Primo Colon (2-0-0) (WWE)
#3 [-1] Eve Torres & Brie Bella (1-0-0) (WWE)
#4 [--] Natalya Neidhart & Eve Torres (1-0-0) (WWE)
#5 [--] Natalya Neidhart & Brie Bella (1-0-0) (WWE)
#6 [--] Randy Orton & Jerry Lawler (1-0-0) (WWE)
#7 [--] Angelina Love & Winter (1-0-0) (TNA) [Knockouts Tag Team Champions]
#8 [--] Jeff Hardy & Matt Hardy (1-0-0) (TNA)
#9 [--] Chris Masters & JTG (1-0-0) (WWE)
#10 [new] Yoshi Tatsu & Primo Colon (1-0-0) (WWE)
#80 Booker T (0-1-0) (WWE)
Historically, the Royal Rumble is a match built on the excitement of the unknown. The potential for multiple would-be contenders to win, along with the random draw of wrestlers, is a certain draw, but there's something extra special about the potential for surprise entrants! In 2011, the biggest surprises came in the form of Booker T and Kevin Nash (#84) -- two WCW alumnists who'd left the company, joining opposition TV promotion, Total Non-Stop Action, since.
Booker T, having departed from TNA in 2008, seemed to be heading toward retirement, but with days to go, semi-confirmation of terms met between he and WWE created a new buzz about the first ever forty-man Royal Rumble. It put an end to speculation about TNA's plans for a resurrection of the Main Event Mafia stable, who were tipped to be the most likely party responsibe for "THEY" -- a second incarnation of a teased organization.
Booker (and Nash's) unavailability for the TNA angle appears to have given way to standing plans to return AJ Styles (#70) and members of Fortune to TNA favourite status, creating a silver lining of a situation that would only have been made worse by the return of tiring WCW/WWE retirees. That said, this is no slight to Booker T and Kevin Nash, as they head towards the possibility of a wrestling role in WWE.
Booker T remains a respectable talent, who never truly received the dues he earned in WWE. The prospect of his return garnering some sort of main event situation would be potentially quite joyous in WWE, where RAW remains bogged down in a mix of unworthy champions, aborted prospects, and the usual suspects (Orton, Cena). There's plenty of room for Booker to energize the top title divisions on RAW, or even Smackdown, where he would be forced to compete with Alberto Del Rio's momentum, but would be a pleasant change of pace as a challenger, as opposed to someone like Edge. On Smackdown, he would potentially arrive alongside Nash, who took a moment to stare down Big Show (#22) during the Rumble -- possible build for a feud, or a union against Wade Barrett (#91) and his Corre, who currently have beef with Big Show. Perhaps an opposing trio could form?
It's impossible not to speculate about the these returning WCW alumnists without mentioning 2011's Hall of Fame inductions, which will coincide with Wrestlemania's arrival in Atlanta -- the home of the now defunct WCW. Booker and Nash could easily have been brought in with a view to induct them into the HOF as representing WCW/WWE stars. Speculation persists that Sting might also join them, despite "The Icon's" long history of refusing offers from the company. Diamond Dallas Page has to be considered another outsider prospect, with Bill Goldberg always on the WCW-noted periphery. Also on a Wrestlemania note is the potential for wrestling The Undertaker in his famed Wrestlemania slot, but there's plenty of time for that...
Special Note: This week's Countdown includes results from the WWE: Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View event (Jan. 30). On the show, Eve Torres (#14) defeated Natalya Neidhart (#18) to win the Divas Championship in a fatal four-way match also involving Layla (#48) and Michelle McCool (#23).
The Kayfabe Countdown is based on the cumulative tally of wrestler win/loss records, based on televised matches from WWE and TNA 2010 broadcasts. At present, they includes TNA: Impact!, WWE: RAW, WWE: Superstars, WWE: Smackdown, and monthly Pay-Per-View events.