Randy Orton (c) vs. The Big Show
*Randy Orton, but match has no sizzle.
John Cena (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio
*Can never bet against Super-Cena. This match has even less sizzle.
*Punk & Bryan because Wyatts have upper hand heading into PPV.
Goldust, Cody Rhodes, Rey Mysterio, & The Usos vs.
The Shield & The Real Americans (w/ Zeb Colter)
*The Shield & Real Americans, but match is really a toss up.
Big E Langston (c) vs. Curtis Axel
*Big E. WWE is done pushing Axel.
The True Divas vs. The Total Divas
*The Total Divas, but I’m rooting for AJ Lee’s team.
*The Miz. He has a crummy TV movie to promote.
Rob Van Dam – Mr. Monday Night – Mr. Pay Per View – The Whole F’N Show – was a breakout star in the hardcore promotion ECW… Extreme Championship Wrestling. He, along with the “Homicidal, Suicidal, Genocidal, Death-Defying” Sabu, held the ECW Tag Team Championships, but it was Rob Van Dam’s 23 month reign ECW Television Champion that set him above all the rest. His greatest rival may have been Jerry Lynn, who was dubbed by many as the “The New F’N Show.” Unfortunately, the promotion went out of business before RVD had the opportunity to become the ECW Champion.
RVD arrived in the WWF in 2001 when several former ECW and WCW competitors incomprehensibly banded together to form an anti-WWF “Alliance.” As bizarre as the circumstances were, RVD was instantly embraced by fans for his brazen personality and world class athleticism, eclipsing the popularity of more well known superstars. RVD won the WWF Hardcore Championship three times that year, battling the likes of Jeff Hardy, Chris Jericho, and The Undertaker. After the misbegotten invasion came to a merciful end, RVD won his first of six Intercontinental Championships from William Regal at WrestleMania XVIII in Toronto. The WWF was then re-branded as the WWE. RVD was drafted to Monday Night RAW and contended with Eddie Guerrero for not only the Intercontinental Championship, but to also see who the true master of the “frog splash” was.
Additionally, RVD retired the WWE European and Hardcore Championships during the transitional period. RVD was defeated by Brock Lesnar in the finals of the 2002 King of the Ring tournament and, at the time, was considered one the greatest superstars to have never won any world championships. It seemed like that injustice would finally be rectified at Unforgiven 2002 when he challenged Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship, but “Nature Boy” Ric Flair interfered in that match and cost RVD his long awaited opportunity.
RVD formed an odd couple tag team in 2003 with the “Big Red Monster” Kane. These two raised the ire of RAW General Manager, Eric Bischoff, and were actually bumped from the WrestleMania XIX card in Seattle to make room for the Miller Light “Catfight Girls.” Though RVD and Kane eventually won the WWE Tag Team Championships, fending off many of Eric Bischoff’s hand picked challengers along the way, they never bonded and Kane turned on his partner, defeating RVD in a “No Holds Barred” Match at SummerSlam 2003.
RVD successfully defended the Intercontinental Championship against challengers such as Chris Jericho and Christian before being defeated by Evolution’s Randy Orton at Armageddon 2003. RVD then formed another partnership in 2004 with Booker T and together they defeated Evolution members Ric Flair and Batista for the tag team titles. After their successful title defense in a Fatal 4-Way at WrestleMania XX in Madison Square Garden, RVD and Booker T were drafted to SmackDown!, but their partnership did not carry over. RVD formed yet another team, this time with Rey Mysterio, and they too won tag team gold. The RVD / Rey Mysterio combo came to an abrupt end when a severe knee injury sidelined RVD for most of 2005. He made a surprise return at ECW One Night Stand and vowed to make a significant impact when he returned to the ring fulltime.
RVD fulfilled that promise in 2006, once again as a member of the RAW roster, by winning the “Money in the Bank” Ladder Match at WrestleMania XXII in Chicago. He cashed in his guaranteed title shot at ECW One Night Stand II. It was the crowning moment of his hard fought career, defeating John Cena for the WWE Championship and being awarded the ECW Championship by Paul Heyman. The man who had been branded as the greatest superstar to have never won a world championship now held two at the same time. RVD lost the WWE Championship to Edge on RAW in a Triple Threat Match which also involved John Cena, then lost the ECW Championship to The Big Show after surprisingly being double crossed by Paul Heyman. RVD never received a one-on-one rematch for either title. In 2007, RVD banded together with fellow ECW Originals and they were victorious in an 8-Man Tag Match at WrestleMania XXIII in Detroit with RVD scoring the winning pinfall. It was the final PPV victory of RVD’s WWE career for several years as he allowed his contract to expire in the spring of that year, but he was a surprise entrant in the 2009 Royal Rumble Match.
RVD signed with the “boutique” TNA Wrestling in 2010. It wasn’t too long before he won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship from “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles. He was then forced to vacate the title after being injured by “The Monster” Abyss. RVD never regained the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, but did have a reign as the TNA X-Division Champion before leaving the company in 2012. He then returned to WWE at Money in the Bank 2013. RVD defeated United States Championship Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam, but it was via a DQ, so the title could not change hands. Rob Van Dam is currently setting his sights on Alberto Del Rio and the World Heavyweight Championship.
Randy Orton, the WWE’s apex predator, joined the SmackDown! roster in 2002. The third generation superstar was victorious in his debut match against Hardcore Holly, but soon suffered an elbow injury which kept him out of action for the remainder of the year. In 2003, he joined the RAW roster and was recruited along with Dave Batista by Triple H and “Nature Boy” Ric Flair to form the group “Evolution.” The objective of this faction was for Orton and Batista to be mentored by Triple H and Ric Flair and, perhaps primarily, ensure that Triple H held onto the World Heavyweight Championship.
Orton defeated Shawn Michaels at Unforgiven 2003 and adopted the moniker “Legend Killer.” Orton then won the prestigious Intercontinental Championship from Rob Van Dam at Armageddon 2003. “Hardcore Legend” Mick Foley was the special referee in that match. Orton and Foley quickly developed a rivalry which led to Evolution facing “The Rock & Sock Connection” in a Handicap Match at WrestleMania XX in Madison Square Garden. Evolution was triumphant with Orton scoring the winning pinfall. The one-on-one vendetta between Orton and Foley continued and Orton defeated Foley in a Hardcore Match for the Intercontinental Championship at Backlash 2004. Orton’s reign as Intercontinental Champion came to an end at Vengeance 2004 when he was bested by Edge. Orton bounced back quickly by winning a # 1 Contender’s Battle Royal on Monday Night RAW, earning a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship. Orton went on to fulfill his destiny, defeating Chris Benoit at SummerSlam 2004 to become the youngest world champion in WWE history.
Orton’s moment of glory was short-lived however as the jealous Triple H booted him from Evolution. Triple H then defeated Orton for his championship at Unforgiven 2004. Orton was not able to regain the title thanks in part to Ric Flair and Batista, who always protected Triple H. Orton picked up a win against his former mentor at Survivor Series 2004 in a traditional tag team elimination match. This was the second year in a row in which Orton was the sole survivor. Orton then took on a daunting task, challenging The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXI in Los Angeles. The Undertaker was undefeated, 12 & 0, in his career at WrestleMania. Orton challenged “The Phenom” with sole objective of breaking what had come to be known as “The Streak.” Randy Orton came closer than anyone before him, but was unable to slay the dragon and Undertaker became 13 & 0. Undertaker and Orton continued their rivalry after Orton was drafted to SmackDown! and Orton picked up a controversial victory at SummerSlam 2005 with the aid of his Hall of Fame father, “Cowboy” Bob Orton. It was both Orton’s against The Undertaker for the rest of 2005. Orton was the sole survivor for a third in year in a row at Survivor Series that year, but the “Dead Man” ensured that his celebration was short-lived by attacking not only Orton, but most of the SmackDown! roster.
Orton, wanting no more troubles with The Undertaker, set his sights on regaining the World Heavyweight Championship and entered the 2006 Royal Rumble Match at # 30, but was the runner-up to Rey Mysterio. Orton then defeated Mysterio at Now Way Out in a # 1 Contender’s Match, leading to a Triple Threat Match with World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle at WrestleMania XXII in Chicago. Mysterio pinned Orton in that match to become the champion and continue his Cinderella story. It was beginning to seem as if the “man of destiny” was a one hit wonder even after he rejoined the RAW roster as he was defeated by Kurt Angle at ECW One Night Stand and “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan at SummerSlam 2006. Orton started to get his career back on track in the fall of that year when he teamed with Edge to form “Rated RKO.” Edge & Orton beat DX (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) at Cyber Sunday in a match where Eric Bischoff was the guest referee, then they won the WWE Tag Team Championships from legends Ric Flair and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper on Monday Night RAW. Rated RKO eventually went their separate ways after continuously clashing egos and losing their titles to the unlikely tag team of Shawn Michaels and John Cena in 2007.
Randy Orton was looking like the legend killer once again in the summer of 2007 with dominant victories over Shawn Michaels, Rob Van Dam, and “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. Though Orton failed to defeat John Cena for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam 2007, he injured Cena in an altercation on Monday Night RAW which led to Cena relinquishing the title. WWE Chairman of the Board, Vincent K. McMahon awarded Orton the vacated championship and thus began the “Age of Orton.” Orton’s title reign lasted seven months with successful title defenses against Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series 2007, Jeff Hardy at Royal Rumble 2008, and both Triple H and John Cena in a Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania XXIV in Orlando. Orton finally lost the championship to Triple H at Backlash, then injured his shoulder in their rematch at One Night Stand.
Randy Orton returned in the fall of 2008 and began mentoring fellow second generation superstars to be as cold and calculating as he is. He and Cody Rhodes were victorious at Survivor Series, defeating a team captained by Batista. Orton took both Rhodes and Ted Dibiase Jr. under his wing to form the group “Legacy.” With the assistance of Rhodes and Dibiase, Orton won the 2009 Royal Rumble Match. This was a must win for Orton as he had pummeled Mr. McMahon the week before on RAW. A guaranteed title shot at WrestleMania XXV protected his employment, but Orton suffered yet ANOTHER loss to Triple H in the main event of WrestleMania XXV in Houston, a match which was overshadowed by The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels. Orton eventually won the WWE Championship three times during 2009, feuding with Triple H, Batista, and John Cena along the way. He also had run-ins with rising star Kofi Kingston, who put Orton through a table on an edition of Monday Night RAW which emanated from Madison Square Garden.
The end of Legacy began at Royal Rumble 2010 when Cody Rhodes inadvertently got Orton disqualified in a match against WWE Champion Sheamus. A month later at the Elimination Chamber PPV, Ted Dibiase eliminated Orton from the chamber match for the WWE Championship. Orton washed his hands of Rhodes and Dibiase, and defeated them both in a Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania XXVI in Phoenix. That night, for the first time since 2004, Orton was embraced by the WWE Universe.
Orton continued to battle Sheamus for the WWE Championship for most of 2010. Their match at SummerSlam also ended in a DQ, then Orton won a 6-Pack Match for the title, and finally defeated Sheamus in a Hell in a Cell rematch. Orton successfully defended the championship against Wade Barrett at Survivor Series 2010 in a match where John Cena was the special guest referee, but the next night on RAW, The Miz cashed in his “Money in the Bank” contract and defeated Orton for the title. Orton never regained the title from The Miz, but did defeat CM Punk in a show stealing match at WrestleMania XXVII in Atlanta. Orton was then drafted back to SmackDown! and defeated Christian for the World Heavyweight Championship a mere days after Christian had won the title at Extreme Rules 2011. Christian won the title back from Orton at Money in the Bank in a match where the title could actually change hands on a DQ. Orton then won the rubber match, a No Holds Barred Match, at Summer Slam, but lost the championship to the “World‘s Strongest Man” Mark Henry a month later at Night of Champions.
Randy Orton seemed a bit off his game for the next two years. Team Orton was beat by Team Barrett at Survivor Series 2011. Orton was one of the favorites in the 2012 Royal Rumble Match in his own hometown of St. Louis, but Sheamus was the victor. Kane defeated Orton at WrestleMania XXVIII in Miami. Orton was even left off the card for SummerSlam 2012 due to behind the scenes turmoil. Also, Orton was a charter member of Team Foley at Survivor Series 2012 ironically enough, a team which was defeated by Team Ziggler. Orton teamed with The Big Show and Sheamus at WrestleMania XXIX in New Jersey, suffering a loss to The Shield. The Big Show turned on his two partners immediately following the match. Finally, “The Viper” was able to re-ascend the ladder when he won the 2013 Money in the Bank Match for the WWE Championship. Only a month later at SummerSlam, he cashed in, defeating Daniel Bryan, who had just beat John Cena for the WWE Championship. Orton was in collusion with the guest referee, his former mentor Triple H. Randy Orton in now a ten time champion, being backed by Triple H and his in-laws, The McMahons.
John Cena (c) vs. Daniel Bryan
*Daniel Bryan, but Randy Orton will then cash in Money in the Bank.
Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Christian
*Christian, who may have Ricardo Rodriguez in his corner.
*Brock Lesnar. A new Paul Heyman guy might interfere.
Kane vs. Bray Wyatt (w/ The Wyatt Family)
*Bray Wyatt. He needs to win this match. Kane is yesterday’s news.
*Damien Sandow because Cody Rhodes is a lackluster baby-face.
*Brie Bella. I’m pulling for Natalya, but WWE loves the Bellas.
Dolph Ziggler & Kaitlyn vs. AJ Lee (Divas Champion) & Big “E” Langston
*Toughest to call. I’m partial to AJ Lee, but I’ll say Dolph Ziggler & Kaitlyn.
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Rob Van Dam
*Rob Van Dam. The Shield has lost so much momentum.
Dwayne Johnson, a third generation superstar, made his WWF debut at Survivor Series 1996. This event was held in the most famous arena in the world, Madison Square Garden. He competed under the name “Rocky Maivia,” borrowing “Rocky” from his father “Soul Man” Rocky Johnson and “Maivia” from his maternal grandfather “High Chief” Peter Maivia. It was a traditional Survivor Series tag team elimination match and Rocky became the sole survivor. Just a few months later, Rocky won the prestigious Intercontinental Championship on a special Thursday night edition of RAW by defeating Hunter Hearst Helmsley. These two rising stars would become bitter rivals in the years to come. Rocky made his WrestleMania debut at WrestleMania XIII in Chicago. He faced The Sultan, who in actuality was his cousin Rikishi Phatu under a mask. After the match, Rocky was saved by his father Rocky Johnson. This wholesome “goodie two shoes” routine was not embraced by the fans and they soon turned on Rocky. He was serenaded with chants like “Rocky Sucks!!!” and “Die, Rocky, Die!!!” It wasn’t long after that he lost the Intercontinental Championship to Owen Hart. Rocky then vanished from WWF programming for several months while nursing an injury.
In the fall of 1997, Rocky reinvented himself by joining the controversial faction, “The Nation of Domination,” and shortening his in-ring name to “The Rock.” The Rock was now brash and arrogant, trash talking fans as retribution for them turning their backs on him. The Rock then had a run-in with his greatest rival, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who in defiance of Vince McMahon, surrendered the Intercontinental Championship to The Rock, only to then (in typical rattlesnake fashion) toss the championship belt into a river. The Rock’s next opponent for the IC Title was the “World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock. They battled at both Royal Rumble 1998 and WrestleMania XIV, with The Rock hanging onto his title by hook or crook. During this time there was also a power struggle between The Rock and Faarooq, the leader of The Nation. The Rock eventually usurped Faarooq and led The Nation for the remainder of its existence. Ken Shamrock finally defeated The Rock in the finals of the 1998 King of the Ring tournament, then The Rock reignited his feud with Hunter Hearst Helmsley, who was now a member of D-Generation X and known as Triple H. Triple H defeated The Rock at SummerSlam 1998 in a Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship.
The Rock was then booted from The Nation, bringing an end to the group, and was finally embraced by the fans, who accepted him as the “People’s Champion.” This was short lived however as The Rock defeated Mankind at Survivor Series 1998 in the finals of the “Deadly Game” tournament for the vacated WWF Championship with the aid of Mr. McMahon. The Rock had become the youngest WWF Champion in history and re-dubbed himself the “Corporate Champion.” Mankind then upset The Rock for the championship a month later in a match that helped to turn the tide of the “Monday Night War.” The Rock and Mankind continued to clash for WWF Championship in 1999. The Rock bested Mankind in an “I Quit” Match (documented in the film “Beyond the Mat”) at Royal Rumble 1999, only for Mankind to win the title back in the Halftime Heat “Empty Arena” Match. The rivalry culminated when The Rock defeated Mankind in a Ladder Match on Monday Night RAW, which led to The Rock defending the title against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in the main event of WrestleMania XV. It was a “No DQ” Match and Austin won the championship for a third time in his career. The Rock gained a measure of revenge by throwing Stone Cold into a river just as Austin had submerged the IC Championship two years prior.
The alliance between The Rock and the McMahon’s quickly soured when he failed to regain the championship from Stone Cold. The Rock was on his own and again held the moniker of “People’s Champion.” In the fall of 1999, he formed an unlikely tag team with Mankind known as “The Rock & Sock Connection.” The Rock and Mankind won the WWF Tag Team Championships on three occasions. The Rock then won the 2000 Royal Rumble Match, but did not receive a one-on-one WWF Championship match at WrestleMania 2000. Instead, he, The Big Show, and Mick Foley (in what was his final match before officially retiring) all challenged Triple H for the gold in a Fatal 4-Way Match. Triple H retained the title thanks in large to his father-in-law Mr. McMahon, but The Rock won the title from Triple H twice in the next several months, first at Backlash and again at King of the Ring, making him a five time champion, tying the then record with Hulk Hogan and Bret “Hit Man” Hart. His fifth title reign was also the longest of his career. That reign was ended by Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle at No Mercy.
The Rock won the championship back from Kurt Angle at No Way Out 2001, making him a record breaking six time champion and setting up a rematch with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at WrestleMania XVII. Once again, The Rock was screwed over by Mr. McMahon, who shockingly (and somewhat inexplicable) sided with his arch nemesis, Steve Austin. The Rock was then banished from the WWF by Mr. McMahon, allowing him to star in “The Scorpion King.” The Rock returned at the behest of Mr. McMahon to aid the WWF in defending itself from the invading WCW / ECW Alliance. The Rock won the WCW Championship from Booker T at SummerSlam 2001, but there was lots of dissention in the WWF locker room when The Rock lost and quickly regained the WCW Championship from “Y2J” Chris Jericho. Despite of this turmoil, The Rock was the sole survivor when Team WWF defeated The Alliance at Survivor Series 2001. Mr. McMahon and his then co-owner “Nature Boy” Ric Flair choose to unify the WWF and WCW Championships. The Rock and Steve Austin were odds on favorites, but Chris Jericho defeated both at Vengeance 2001, becoming the first Undisputed Champion.
Perhaps the biggest victory in The Rock’s career was at WrestleMania XVIII in Toronto when he defeated Hulk Hogan, who had returned to the WWF after a nine year absence. After WrestleMania, the WWF was divided into brands, RAW and Smackdown!, and rechristened as the WWE. The Rock was the # 1 pick for the Smackdown! brand, which was appropriate since the program was named after one of his many catchphrases. The win over Hulk Hogan may have cemented The Rock as one of the all time greats, but he spent the next two years as a part-time superstar, splitting his time between competing and making movies like “The Rundown” and “Walking Tall.” Though his appearances were sporadic, he still won the WWE Championship for a seventh time. A record that would last seven years. He lost the championship to Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2002 and Lesnar became the new youngest champion in history. The fans also began to tire of The Rock around this time, feeling that he had gone “Hollywood” and abandoned them, so The Rock renounced the people in 2003 and defeated Hulk Hogan once again at No Way Out. The Rock still had once last hurdle to overcome and that was to defeat “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in their final showdown at WrestleMania XIX, which he did. The next night on RAW, The Rock hinted that he would retire, but was instead challenged by former WCW Champion Bill Goldberg, who was making his WWE debut. Goldberg defeated The Rock at Backlash and “Brahma Bull” would not compete again for almost a year. The Rock returned for WrestleMania XX in Madison Square Garden, the same arena where he debuted eight years earlier, reuniting with Mick Foley to take on Ric Flair, Randy Orton, and Batista in a Handicap Match. “Evolution” defeated “The Rock & Sock Connection” and the “Great One” quietly retired.
Seven years later, the “People’s Champion” triumphantly returned to be the emcee of WrestleMania XXVII in Atlanta, but a war of words between himself and John Cena escaladed into The Rock costing Cena the WWE Championship in the main event against The Miz. John Cena accused The Rock of being a hypocrite for leaving the WWE while still in his prime whereas The Rock claimed that Cena was an unworthy successor to the stars of the “Attitude Era.” The Rock vs. John Cena was announced as the main event of WrestleMania XXVIII, but first they had to team together to defeat The Awesome Truth (The Miz and R-Truth) at Survivor Series 2011 in the logical venue that was Madison Square Garden. WrestleMania XXVIII emanated from The Rock’s hometown of Miami and he eventually overcame John Cena just as he had both Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin at WrestleMania’s past.
The Rock was encouraged by his victory and set his sights on the WWE Championship. CM Punk had held the gold for fourteen months, 434 day to be specific, before finally being beaten by The Rock at Royal Rumble 2013. The Rock was now a ten time world champion and a rematch with John Cena at WrestleMania XXIX in New Jersey was made possible by John Cena’s victory in the Royal Rumble Match that same night. The Rock gutted his way through the match after suffering a hernia in the opening minutes, but was finally bested by John Cena after dominated the feud for two years. Only time will tell what is on the horizon for the People’s Champion when it comes to returning to the WWE.