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What Ruined Royal Rumble, Not Utilizing Daniel Bryan, Saving Wrestlemania, One Title

The following is today's edition of Ask WNW. Ask WNW is the most popular feature on the website where Richard Gray answers four questions daily, Monday through Friday. To submit your question for the next installment of Ask WNW, click here.
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Do you think with WWE's lack of competition that Vince McMahon is just complacent? He often seems more interested in pushing his own agenda, than he does in giving the WWE audience what it wants. I just don’t believe the once great VKM could be this out of touch with the WWE audience.

I want to start my response by making something crystal clear. It’s not the fact that Roman Reigns won that ruined this year’s Royal Rumble match for the second consecutive year. It’s how the match was laid out and WWE’s blatant unimaginative/lazy/arrogant/illogical booking the company should be ashamed of.

Last year, Daniel Bryan was the hottest name in WWE. The “Yes” chants were taking over sports venues across the world and everyone was behind his rise as the next top babyface in the company. However, Vince McMahon wanted to do Batista vs. Randy Orton for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 30 and was convinced Batista would fill that top babyface role (Batista himself didn’t think it would work!).

When fans realized Bryan wasn’t even in the Rumble match and they were being force-fed Batista in a blatant unimaginative/lazy/arrogant/illogical way, they turned hard. WWE ended up correcting their mistake but at the cost of ruining one of their “big four” pay-per-views.

This year, Roman Reigns was the clear favorite to go over in the 30-man Royal Rumble match. It’s something Vince and Triple H were in agreement on and something we expected to happen. What went wrong was how it was done (Batista was the favorite in '14, but it was also in the execution where things went horribly wrong).

I explained how WWE needed to carefully handle Reigns and his booking, making him “earn it” with a competitive yet dominant performance. The problem is WWE didn’t even give him that chance.

Daniel Bryan shocked the world when he announced he was healthy enough to return to the ring at the end of 2014. This after months of uncertainly following neck surgery in May 2014. In the weeks after his return, Bryan’s crowd responses were amazing, as we’re told even Vince McMahon was surprised how he “didn’t miss a beat” even after being out for so long.

Bryan worked some TV matches against Kane, even having to earn his spot in the Royal Rumble. Keep in mind in storyline, Bryan never lost the WWE World Heavyweight Championship but vacated it due to injury. While Reigns was considered the favorite, Daniel Bryan was a guy many saw in it until the end.

Instead, WWE made him the first notable elimination at #11 eliminated (Fandango, DDP, Tyson Kidd, Zack Ryder, Sin Cara, The Boogeyman, Luke Harper, Bubba Ray Dudley, R-Truth and The Miz were eliminated before him).

After that, good luck on getting anything out of the match. The crowd rejected WWE’s blatant unimaginative/lazy/arrogant/illogical booking and turned. Roman Reigns never had a chance and was put in the exact same situation Batista was last year. He was scripted to win the match, WWE knew it was going to be a risk but they did nothing to protect him.

WWE sending out The Rock in attempt to quell the critics shows just how out of touch they really are with their fan base in 2015. Sure, Rock drew a monster pop but it did absolutely nothing to save Roman Reigns. The crowd made Rusev a babyface and flat-out rejected WWE’s unimaginative/lazy/arrogant/illogical effort.

So to answer your question, I don’t know if Vince McMahon is complacent or clueless. He sure is stubborn. Anyone that reads this website on a regular basis could have seen this coming from a mile away (the EXACT SAME THING happened last year).I haven’t even mentioned how Big Show and Kane — as The Authority’s “henchman” — teamed up to continually eliminate up and coming talent. There is absolutely no reason they should have been among the final four in the match.

Kane (47 going on 48) and Big Show (42 going on 43) are at the stage of their respective careers where they need to be utilized to help get some of this new crop over, not eliminate them by “teaming up.” But it goes right along with what WWE did with The Rock. Relying on stars of the past to make memorable moments at shows in 2015. It highlights WWE’s biggest problem of failing to develop new talent that I wrote about at length in Ask WNW last week.

What if Daniel Bryan turned heel?

Why would you turn the most over babyface in WWE heel? Daniel Bryan is over and ready to go. Unless there is some underlying health issue still looming, WWE should push him to the moon as is. Listen to the crowd! It’s not just a certain segment or certain location, he’s over everywhere he goes. His thoughtless elimination in the Royal Rumble match ruined it for the second year running. And we’re not just talking about the crowd in Philadelphia either.

Royal Rumble received an overwhelmingly negative response from WWE’s fan base, have you seen this poll? 28.K fans voted Thumbs Down, compared to 7.7K fans that voted Thumbs Up. The hashtag #CancelWWENetwork has trended Worldwide since the hours after the show went off the air and is full of screen grabs of subscribers canceling their subscriptions. This is not the response WWE was hoping for!

I’m not saying every show has to feature 3-4 Daniel Bryan segments and that he has to be in every single main event, what I’m saying is WWE has to show confidence in him. They cannot continue to book him like an afterthought, while also trying to push someone the crowd has fully embraced. WWE’s carelessness with Bryan hurt Roman Reigns and it hurt the enjoyment of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view.

How can WWE save the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Wrestlemania 31 after the dreadful Royal Rumble ending?

I hope WWE uses the extra time from Monday to Thursday to figure something out. A double turn could be the best option, because it’s going to be hard (if not impossible) to keep the audience from booing Roman Reigns. I am just so frustrated at WWE and how reckless they are with up and coming talent, while always relying on just a select few to do everything. The WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Royal Rumble was epic, a true “coming out” party for Seth Rollins, while also showcasing the strengths of Brock Lesnar and John Cena. Rollins had to do the job but the crowd was fine with it because of how good he looked in losing. If Bryan would have been given that same confidence, things would probably have been a lot different.

Do you think if there were still two titles people would still be complaining about Roman Reigns winning the Royal Rumble?

Because there is only one world title, the Wrestlemania main event means more. This is what WWE was hoping for, however, it also means WWE has to get it right. So far, they’re zero for two on completely missing it out of the Royal Rumble. I really don’t think all of the heat is from Reigns winning as much as the unimaginative/lazy/arrogant/illogical way it was done. As I stated on Monday, blame WWE, not Roman Reigns.

From the Ask WNW vault…

January 2014: Was it just me or was the Royal Rumble a let down, with the exception of Roman Reigns and the Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt singles match? It just felt like Batista was thrown in to win it, anticlimactic if you will. - I warned everyone on Friday that if you’re going into Royal Rumble expecting some kind of miraculous swerve, you were setting yourself up to be disappointed. I also noted on numerous occasions that Batista was favored to win the Rumble match and would get complete protection to build momentum with his return. However, the crowd didn’t care that Bryan wasn’t advertised for the Royal Rumble match. They didn’t care that Batista was favored or Randy Orton and John Cena had another match for the WWE title, all they cared about was Daniel Bryan getting his moment. That moment didn’t come and it backfired on WWE. Vince McMahon is a smart man and part of me believes this is all part of an angle (more on that later) but WWE ended the night with egg on their face. Regardless of what anyone says, when a crowd turns that hard on one of the biggest matches of the year, it’s a serious problem. Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt opened with a match that was impossible to follow and Roman Reigns is getting his shot. Other than that, this was a “by the book show” that I’m not sure created the momentum towards Wrestlemania that the company was looking for.

I will be off the rest of the week. The next installment of Ask WNW is scheduled to run on Monday, February 2, 2015.

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