WWE's 2013 Royal Rumble will take place on January 27th in Phoenix. While the eyes of most fans will be on the WWE Championship match between CM Punk and The Rock, the actual Rumble match will have a longer-lasting impact on the company, since the winner of the match is given a championship match of his choice at the next WrestleMania. WWE needs to make a smart choice when it comes to this year's Rumble match. Wade Barrett should win this year's Royal Rumble.
Traditionally, the winner of the Rumble is either an up-and-coming star ready to move up to the next level, a star returning from injury or a star that WWE is anxious to be pushed to main event status. Barrett fits all three of these criteria.
Since returning from injury in September, Barrett has been the recipient of a solid push by the WWE creative team. He started out by winning squash matches on SmackDown, and eventually moved into a feud with Kofi Kingston for the Intercontinental title, which he won on Raw's New Year's Eve broadcast. Giving Barrett a win at the Rumble would elevate the significance of the IC belt and continue his forward momentum.
Since Rock and Punk figure to be in the WWE Championship picture at WrestleMania 29, it's a fairly safe bet that Barrett will "choose" to face the World Heavyweight Champion in April. That gives WWE some time to build up both Barrett and the WHC belt, currently held by Alberto Del Rio.
It's no secret that WWE's television ratings have been in a steady decline for about a year-and-a-half. SmackDown viewers tend to be younger than those who watch Raw. WWE has catered to this younger audience by booking a particular type of character as the World Heavyweight Champion.
Prior to Del Rio's win, the last two title holders were Sheamus and The Big Show. Both are broad characters, cast to fit a particular archetype.
Sheamus is a cartoonish babyface. He never gets too serious and he overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to win matches. His finishers are White Noise and the Brogue Kick. Both are typical power moves.
Big Show is cast as a monster heel, even though the company has seen fit to give him cowardly tendencies from time to time. His finisher is the WMD or Knockout Punch. He has a limited move set and is only capable of having consistently good matches with other power wrestlers.
Barrett would bring a different motif to Friday nights. His character, though a pure heel, is more nuanced than Show or Sheamus. Barrett is outstanding on the microphone, and could help get more complex storylines across to the fans. He also has more in-ring ability than the past two champions, and could have good matches with just about anyone on the roster.
Barrett is such a strong heel character that he could aid in Del Rio's recent babyface turn, or help Dolph Ziggler to make a switch from heel to hero. Every good face needs a solid heel to play off of. Barrett could be that heel on SmackDown.
Another way that Barrett could bring something new to SmackDown is as the leader of a powerful faction. He's already demonstrated his leadership qualities as the head of The Nexus in 2010. It's easy to imagine Barrett emphasizing the World part of World Heavyweight Champion, and aligning with current United States Champion Antonio Cesaro and some other Europeans to form an anti-American stable. Throw in a heel tag team and have Barrett "gift" his Intercontinental title to someone from outside of the US, and you have the makings of a great faction.
There's no reason to limit Barrett to Friday nights.
If, for some reason, Punk and Rock don't draw pay-per-view buys at the expected rate in a couple of weeks, WWE could easily position Barrett as a contender for the WWE Championship. Barrett would hold up well against either Rock or Punk, both on the mic and in the ring.
WWE needs to build some new top-level stars before the current cast ages out. The best way to do that is to use the current headliners to get new talent over. The Royal Rumble is traditionally one of the places that WWE elevates its new breed.
Wade Barrett is great on the mic and strong in the ring. He has leadership skills and brings something new to the table. If WWE is thinking about its future, giving Wade Barrett a win at the Royal Rumble would be a step in the right direction.
Is Barrett the right choice? Who would you like to see win the Rumble? Speak your mind in the comments section below.