UFC 102 betting odds
Randy Couture vs. Antonio Nogueira (Odds from Sportsbook)
Keith Jardine vs. Thiago Silva (Odds from Betus)
Chris Leben vs. Jake Rosholt
Nate Marquardt vs. Demian Maia
Brandon Vera vs. Krzysztof Soszynski
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Chris Tuchscherer
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This is also an important component of the handicap, since unlike previous years there is now only one major wrestling organization in the US. This precludes a lot of scenarios where a prominent wrestler would “jump ship” to the WWF. Basically, the talent that is currently in the organization is the only talent that will be considered to win the Royal Rumble. There are a few big names that are currently “free agents” such as Bill Goldberg, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall but they’re all still under contract to Time Warner (former owners of the now defunct WCW promotion) and have a very sound fiscal reason for not joining the WWF. Even if they did, it’s doubtful that they’d quickly be elevated into a headline status. It’s just not the way that Vince McMahon does business—the only previous Royal Rumble winner that was a relative “newcomer” was 1992 winner Ric Flair, though he was already a legend in the business.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the WWF is now a publicly traded company, and with ratings, revenue and stock prices down there’s a good deal of pressure to come up with a solid main event for the biggest PPV of the year. As a result, the Wrestlemania main event, and, therefore, the Royal Rumble winner, will be as much of a business decision as a wrestling storyline decision.
Of the previous Royal Rumble winners, only three are still with the promotion. One owns the promotion—Vince McMahon, who won in 1999, another is the current WWF champ (Steve Austin), so we’ll start our handicap with the only active wrestler who’s won the event before:
HANDICAPPING THE ROYAL RUMBLE:
The Favorite: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the favorite to win the event (+350) and for good reason. He’s arguably the most popular wrestler in the promotion, has a “history” with champion Steve Austin, and the recent storyline indicates that he’s very likely the choice to face the champ at Wrestlemania. With the urgency of a strong buyrate for the PPV, the WWF may want to go with the obvious choice.
If, for whatever reason, it doesn’t end up being the Rock vs. Austin at Wrestlemania there aren’t many wrestlers on the roster that the WWF management would want to put in such an important spot. Triple H is due back from injury in late December or early January. He’s got the drawing power to get the nod, he’s juiced in with the corporate honchos in the WWF, and has been romantically linked (onscreen and off) to Stephanie McMahon (Vince’s daughter). We’ll take a small position on him. Kurt Angle, who’s a legit Olympic Gold Medalist, has become one of the biggest stars in the sport in a very short time. He’d be an option for the WWF, though I’d doubt if he’d be the first option. We’ll take a shot on him as well. Of the newcomers, former ECW standout Rob Van Dam (aka RVD) could have a shot. He’s got serious downsides against him—he’s a very vocal proponent of marijuana use (he’s been featured in “High Times” magazine) which wouldn’t look good in the media, he’s been accused of “working” rough with the other wrestlers (leading to injury), and he really doesn’t have a style that would mesh well with Austin’s. Of the “short odds” wrestlers, these are the only ones that have a legit chance to getting to the Wrestlemania main event. Everyone else on the roster just isn’t right for the spot, for one reason or another.
There are two longshots, however, that I’ll throw a little bit of money on. The first is WWF owner Vince McMahon at +2200. He’s a former winner of the event, and is far from shy when it comes to pushing himself in the storyline or promoting himself on television. He could conceivably win “the Rumble” and then somehow lose or give up the Wrestlemania shot the next night on RAW. The McMahon family—including daughter Stephanie and son Shane—has been on TV too much recently, and wrestling fans are starting to get sick of them. I don’t think McMahon would have the nerve to put himself in the Wrestlemania main event with things the way they are now, but then again this is a man who’s not afraid to show his bare ass on national TV. There are worse things to do than bet on a confirmed egomaniac who runs the company and has demonstrated that he’ll elevate himself over his wrestlers if the mood strikes him.
The only other wrestler I could even consider from among the longshots is Chris Benoit, who is a favorite of “hardcore” wrestling fans and arguably the best “worker” in the world. He’s got a couple of drawbacks—he’s been injured and isn’t due back until early 2002 which doesn’t give much margin for error in establishing him as a serious contender. He’s also not as charismatic or as good on the mike as the other choices. I can’t see him as a first choice, but if something happened to the first few choices he might be, in the eyes of the WWF management, the “best of the rest”.
Steve Austin?: There’s some concern that the WWF might have Austin drop the title before the Royal Rumble, and go into Wrestlemania as the challenger after winning the Royal Rumble. Personally, I don’t see it—with the potential opponents for Austin that are available there’s no real advantage to having him drop the belt. For now, I’ll pass on Austin but I’ll keep an eye on developments just in case we need a hedge.
Our Wagering Mix: For now, here’s what we’ll do. The only changes I can reasonably foresee making between now and the Rumble is adding a hedge on Austin should he lose the title. It might be worth adding Triple H to the mix closer to the event depending on how his rehab from injury is going.:
4 units on The Rock @ +250 (Profit if he wins = 7 units)
2 units on Kurt Angle @ +550 (Profit if he wins = 6 units)
1 unit on Vince McMahon @ +3200 (Profit if he wins = 27 units)