The 2014 Royal Rumble proved once again that WWE Creative doesn’t get it.
Randy Orton retained his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against John Cena, and Batista, who returned the previous Monday, won the Royal Rumble to set up his match with Orton at Wrestlemania XXX. Meanwhile, after being the opening match, Daniel Bryan was nowhere near the Royal Rumble and it left the Pittsburgh crowd and the WWE Universe upset.
The crowd was upset because it looks like Bryan will be left out of the title picture for Mania. Instead of seeing the biggest show of the year possibly end in “YES” chants, it will be another boring, predictable finish like last year’s Mania with Cena beating The Rock. It will pretty much erase the incredible development of Bryan, who is officially the most popular superstar in the WWE since Stone Cold Steve Austin said “screw you” to Vince McMahon.
Instead, what he have now is all boring. The crowd was bored at the Royal Rumble. After Bryan and Bray Wyatt put on an early candidate for Match of the Year to kick off the pay-per-view, the crowd grew restless hoping for Bryan to make an appearance in the Rumble match. Even during the title match between Orton and Cena, the crowd chanted for Bryan as well as chants of “boring” and “This is awful.”
Well, WWE Creative, it wasn’t just awful; it was down right ugly. Mick Foley, who is one of the most in-tune people with the WWE Universe and one of the most respected men in the locker room, was absolutely livid. He tweeted, “Does @WWE actually hate their own audience? I've never been so disgusted with a PPV.” He then took to his Facebook page for an even longer rant, and promised to throw a brick through his TV.
Perhaps he wasn’t the only viewer to throw a brick through his TV. Last night, people crossed their fingers that the original-slotted 30th entrant would be scrapped for Bryan when the company heard their obvious please for Bryan. It’s happened before, and was a serious possibility. ... Nope, instead it belonged to Rey Mysterio, who got a worse reception from the crowd than Kanye West at a Taylor Swift convention.
Bryan took to Twitter as well after the show. In two tweets, he said: “Sorry guys, the machine wanted me nowhere near the Royal Rumble match. But I thank everyone for their support. YOU are the #YESMovement” and “They try to keep US down and away from the top spots, but they can’t ignore the reactions forever. Keep voicing your opinions. #YESMovement”
Either this is a work (Bryan has referred to The Authority as “the machine” in promos) or he truly is displeased with his exclusion from the Royal Rumble. Either way, he knows the fans have his back 100 percent.
After Mysterio was tossed over the ropes in minutes, the crowd gave a Bronx cheer. But there was still hope for the match to be salvaged. The final four participants in the Rumble were CM Punk, who came out at No. 1, Batista, Sheamus, who made a long-awaited return from injury, and Roman Reigns, an up-and-comer who was my pick to win the Rumble.
Punk was pulled out of the ring by the corporate version of Kane, which will continue a feud between Punk and The Authority. Sheamus was then eliminated by Reigns, whose 12th elimination broke Kane’s record set at the 2001 Royal Rumble. Reigns was expected to break records at the Rumble after he eliminated four in his Survivor Series match just a couple months ago, so this was a huge push for him.
Reigns and Batista battled for a couple minutes before Batista tossed Reigns over the ropes for the win. The reception he got couldn’t have been any more lukewarm. The crowd booed, not because Batista is a heel, but because he wasn’t the winner they wanted.
The crowd was cold toward Orton too. And once the luster of Batista’s return wears off, less people will tune in to watch a program centered around two average in-ring performers with no charisma and terrible promo skills. It was supposed to be Bryan’s night, but instead, it felt like a brick being thrown through a TV.
Stale PPV -- After Bryan and Wyatt were kicked off the main part of the PPV with a fantastic match, it was all downhill from there. No, I’m not forgetting about the pre-show match in which the New Age Outlaws won their first Tag Team title match in 14 years, beating Cody Rhodes and Goldust. That match was good, but it didn’t touch the show Bryan and Wyatt put on.
Following the kickoff match was Big Show vs Brock Lesnar. Absolutely nothing happened in this match except for Lesnar impressively lifting the 425-pound Big Show on his shoulders and F5-ing him for the win before he beat him with a chair. Boring.
Then there was the title match between Orton and Cena. The match was boring outside of a few cool spots where they stole each other’s finishers that resulted in failed attempts at victories. The match’s conclusion was it’s saving point when the Wyatt Family came out to distract Cena. After Cena lost, the Wyatts dismantled him in the ring, followed by the crowd chanting “Thank you, Wyatts” for ending their boredom. This will set up a potential Wrestlemania match between Bray and Cena that will surely be interesting.
Then the Rumble happened and killed any good feelings from the night.
Roman Reigns’ Major Push -- It had been long anticipated. Roman Reigns is officially going to be the next big thing in the WWE. If there is anything that can redeem the fact WWE is missing big time with Bryan, it’s the fact Reigns just had a huge coming out party on the second biggest stage of the year.
Just months ago, Reigns got a nice push when he led his team to a victory at Survivor Series. Then on the first Raw of 2014, Reigns beat CM Punk in a clean finish, establishing himself as the best wrestler of his group, The Shield.
But Reigns’ push didn’t stop there. Reigns eliminated 12 men in the Royal Rumble match, including teammates Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. He was the last man eliminated in the match, losing to Batista. The crowd absolutely ate up Reigns’ performance, chanting his name in the final minutes and giving him a nice ovation.
Going forward, this is the beginning of the end of Shield. The split was inevitable when Reigns established himself as the muscle of the group. It became even more clear when Reigns eliminated his partners in the Rumble. Raw is going to be interesting with the Shield’s inevitable break up, and it’s highly possible Reigns gets a title shot in the very near future.
Reigns is on the way up. Don’t mess this one up, WWE.
Power Rankings - The best performers of the past week - Jan. 27
1 Batista - In one week he returned and won the Royal Rumble. Watch out, Randy Orton!
2 Roman Reigns - 12 eliminations in the Rumble. Need I say more?
3 Bray Wyatt - He beat Daniel Bryan at the Rumble and is going after John Cena
4 Randy Orton - He got some help from The Wyatts, but he’s still the champ.
5 CM Punk - Lasted about 50 minutes in Rumble, but is on The Authority’s bad side.
6 Daniel Bryan - Despite losing at the Royal Rumble he’s the hottest star in WWE.
7 Big E Langston - He’s a rising star as Intercontinental champ.
8 The Usos - They are the hottest tag team right now, and will be champs very soon.
9 Seth Rollins - Hung in there with Punk for most of the Rumble as No. 2.
10 Sheamus - Returned at the Rumble and looked good.