I will get to the elephant in the room, or internet as the case may be- the online reactions to last night’s Royal Rumble match, show, crowd, and the subsequent meltdown of the Internet wrestling community.
But first, if you missed last night’s show let’s get you caught up with your full match results:
Kickoff Match: New Age Outlaws defeated Cody Rhodes and Goldust for the WWE Tag Team Championship when Gunn surprised Cody with a blind tag Fameasser
Was quite shocked by this result, I’m wondering if this is a transition reign to get the belts on the Usos.
Bray Wyatt defeated Daniel Bryan with two Sister Abigails, one into the outside barrier
Match of the night. Masterful performance, really built Bray up as a buzzsaw, and Daniel Bryan looked fantastic in defeat. Helped both men IMO.
Brock Lesnar defeated the Big Show with the F5
Short, most likely due to Show suffering an injured hand over the weekend. More a segment than a match. Call me a rube but I don’t tire of Brock Lesnar. Lesnar decimated Show with a chair before the match but almost fell prey to a brutal looking KO punch from Show. Lesnar continued to annihilate Show with the chair post match.
Randy Orton defeated John Cena to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship via RKO and Wyatt Family distraction
Crowd shat all over this one, unfairly in my opinion. Yes the match is overdone but the guys worked hard here, I felt, busting out some nice sequences and stealing of moves. The Wyatts attacked Cena after the match to the delight of the Pittsburgh crowd.
Batista eliminated Roman Reigns to win the 2014 Royal Rumble
For better or worse, this match will forever be remembered for the crowd reaction, post-entrant #30. The Shield (Rollins and Reigns in particular). Kofi Kingston, Luke Harper, Rusev, Punk, Sheamus and Cesaro all had good showings here. The last man eliminated, Roman Reigns now holds the record for most eliminations with 13. It will be hard for me to crap on a Rumble match ever. They take an established formula and throw some different elements in every year. Side note: if you’re losing your mind over El Torito being in the Rumble it might be time to reevaluate your priorities. Harmless. Fun.
Now… on to the controversy.
I feel like I’m in the vast minority this morning.
Look, I love Daniel Bryan. But I also enjoy the work of Bray Wyatt. I mark for Brock Lesnar destroying things. I mark for the Shield. I like when Antonio Cesaro swings people around a hundred times. I enjoy Zeb Colter’s signs. I still mark out for Kevin Nash. I love Royal Rumble shtick like Kofi’s Hot Lava game and El Torito getting launched out by Roman Reigns. I like Dave Batista.
Hell, I even enjoyed Orton and Cena’s match, something I wouldn’t have predicted going into the show. The party I was at made it hard to really hear the crowd taking their frustrations out on this match and the Rumble ending, so I watched the show in a bit of a vacuum. With very little web interaction, my opinions weren’t colored by the crowd reactions and… I quite enjoyed it.
Now, I’m not going to tell any of you who paid your hard earned money last night and felt cheated that your opinion is wrong. I’m not going to say Mick Foley is 100% wrong in his FB post. I too pine for Ziggler, Punk, & Bryan’s success. I’m not even going to say the WWE’s decision to keep him out of the match is 100% right.
However, I still feel like Daniel Bryan’s doing fantastic. Bryan was put over big time on the broadcast by Shawn Michaels as a future champion, made Bray Wyatt look very strong going into his presumed WrestleMania match with John Cena, was the focal point of WWE television for much of 2013, is cashing big checks, marrying a Bella twin, and every perceived “setback” is somehow making him stronger in fans eyes.
There were only 3 matches outside of the Rumble. Of those 3, Daniel Bryan was in the longest, and best match on the card. Not only that but the other two top heroes in the company, Punk & Cena, didn’t win last night either. Where’s their funeral dirge?
Maybe I’m not as upset because I prepared myself for this possibility? In WWE’s defense, much as I tried to invent scenarios in my head, they never said Bryan was in the Rumble. Yes, they should take some guff for not making it clearer, a quick segment with Bryan asking for entrance and being denied by the Authority would have worked nice and aligned with Bryan’s post-show tweets. Or working an injury angle as our Alex Wright suggested, but would it have satiated the nerd rage? Doubtful in my eyes. Everyone’s expectations seemed to have been blown out of proportions after that cage match.
The biggest problem I’ve had with this backlash since last night is this idea that in today’s culture everything is the “Worst ________ Ever.” Can we please dial back the hyperbole? Was it the worst Rumble ever? Not by a country mile. Quick reminder: Santino was in the final 2 in 2011. 1994 had two winners. Bob Holly was in the WWE Championship match on the show in 2004. Go check out the lineup for the 1995 Rumble match. Have we forgotten a part-timer defeated the longest reigning champion of the modern era and public enemy #1 of the “smart” fans; John Cena won the Rumble last year? That was way worse than this.
I’ve also seen a lot of chatter about giving the fans what they want. While the Pittsburgh and Internet crowds voiced their choice, that’s not the entire WWE Universe. There is still a large segment of the WWE Universe who aren’t involved in reading the “sheets” every day and get their info straight from WWE. Give the fans what they want? The clear leader in the clubhouse when it comes to merchandise sales is John Cena. If we’re now giving the fans exactly what they want there’s a very vocal portion of the fan base that would have preferred to see John Cena walk out of Pittsburgh with the straps. Give the fans what they want? Batista’s return popped a rating that was 2 million viewers higher than usual last week on Raw. Who’s to say a portion of the WWE Universe not in attendance in Pittsburgh didn’t want Batista to win?
I don’t think Dave Bautista would be catching half the crap he’s catching if he were either a surprise entrant/winner or made his return on PPV rather than RAW. However, they clearly benefitted from the television rating and having him win unannounced results in zero extra pay-per-view purchases, so can you blame them? Additionally, comparing his return to the Rock is even more unfair. CM Punk said he had no issues when asked in his interview with Ariel Helwani about Batista’s return since Dave is, “in it for the long haul.” Batista may take a break for Guardians of the Galaxy, but reports are he’s back for two years.
Being outside the WWE’s target demographic, I don’t tend to get my feelings hurt when WWE doesn’t book their shows to cater to my interests. They have many masters to serve. When their booking and my interests converge, it’s a bonus. To maximize my entertainment, I choose to focus on the parts of the show I enjoy. Sure Bryan’s situation is disappointing, but it doesn’t change the fact I liked a lot of this show. Of all the differing viewpoints on last night’s show, one thing I am sure of, it certainly wasn’t deserving of the moniker of worst Royal Rumble ever, and not worth all of the teeth gnashing of last night and this morning.