Early Rumblings

Early Rumblings

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- It may not have been like staring into a crystal ball, but watching Jeff Hardy stun WWE Champion Randy Orton with the winning three-count for his team in tonight's match pitting the "Rainbow-haired Warrior" & Shawn Michaels against the Legend Killer & Mr. Kennedy may have provided a glimpse into the future, nonetheless.

When Hardy defeated Triple H the night before at Armageddon, he earned the right to battle Orton for the WWE title at the Royal Rumble next month. It was a career-defining moment for the Intercontinental Champion, the victory of his career, and he now has an opportunity to realize a lifelong dream by winning the WWE Title.

Tonight, as he held his arms high and Orton looked on incredulously, observers couldn't help asking this question: Could Hardy's victory over the Legend Killer tonight be a prelude to events at the Royal Rumble?

While the question remains, the victory most assuredly provides more uplift for Hardy's already soaring momentum. The high-flyer has been on a tear in recent weeks, defeating such powerhouses as Umaga, Snitsky and Triple H. At this point, the Intercontinental Champion appears unable to do wrong, his confidence topping the stratosphere.

For Orton, does the loss unnerve him? Despite his confident, cocksure appearance, being pinned by the No. 1 contender to your title could rattle your self-assurance on some level. He'll undoubtedly mask his uncertainty, but the seed has been planted.

How will tonight's outcome affect either man? Can Hardy continue to build momentum going into the Royal Rumble? And will Orton be able to surmount this blow to his ego?

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