Last night was the WWE’s 28th Annual Royal Rumble, and needless to say, it was a bit controversial. Let’s start with a quick recap of how things went last year, before we move on to how things went this year. Last year, WWE was trying their very hardest to ignore the rising Daniel Bryan “Yes! Movement” which grew louder every week. The problem was there was who the fans wanted to win, Daniel Bryan, and who WWE management wanted, Batista. WWE didn’t even bother putting Daniel Bryan in the Royal Rumble match and when number 30 hit and Rey Mysterio came out instead of Daniel Bryan, the fans turned on the match, and they turned hard. WWE ended up with egg on their faces because the fans took over the event and the backlash was loud. Down the road WWE was practically forced by the fans to put Daniel Bryan into the main event at Wrestlemania, by putting him in a match with Triple H to “qualify” and then into the championship match, which he went on to win. He beat Triple H, Randy Orton, and Batista all in one night. It was a satisfying moment for all fans. Unfortunately, Daniel Bryan ended up with an injury shortly after that had him surrendering the championship. Fast forward to last night, WWE had a chance to hit reset and do the whole thing right with Daniel Bryan at the Royal Rumble. So how did last night go? Not well. Most fans will agree, no matter how you cut it, they were displeased to some degree with how last night was handled. There are fans, like myself, that are NOT unhappy with Reigns winning, but was unhappy with the booking of Daniel Bryan, The Authority, and Reigns. There are some fans that are down right livid that Reigns went over, feeling he is too green. There are a lot of fans that are just generally angered by the Rumble match. I’m going to look at all sides of how things went down last night, and try and be as bias as possible.
Let’s start on a positive note about last night’s Royal Rumble. With the exception of Reigns, Kane and Big Show, and Daniel Bryan, the booking was very well done. Most reader’s knee jerk reaction to what I just said is probably “no it wasn’t!” because of the aforementioned parties, but it really was booked well. It told a good story, there weren’t any B.S. throw away entrants like Hornswoggle or Beth Phoenix. The surprise entrants were strong, and well utilized. Entrant #3 was the first surprise entrant and boy was it a doozy, Bubba Ray Dudley. There is a large list of reasons I thought we’d never see Bubba Ray back inside of a WWE ring, but I can rip that list up and throw it away because Bubba is back. At least for the Royal Rumble, we will have to wait to see if his contract was for more than 24 hours. I know that I “marked out” last night, and I wasn’t the only one. Philadelphia was ecstatic to welcome their ECW original home. He was booked against Luke Harper and Bray Wyatt mostly. He also managed to get in the Dudley Death Drop and his other traditional Dudley moves in. Well booked. The Boogyman was another surprise entrant that was really well booked. In most cases, I would say that he would be a throw away, but when you line him up with Wyatt, and they try to out “creep” each other, it made for excellent television. Erick Rowan making his was into the Rumble was another really well booked move. Rowan took out Curtis Axel on the way into the Rumble and took his spot. People are still making jokes that Axel never was eliminated, but fact is he never entered the Rumble. Rowan entered and it was all three members of the Wyatt Family went at it. Again, making for really entertaining programming. The #14 entrant was Diamond Dallas Page, which lead to a big pop. It was great to see DDP back in a ring, hitting Diamond Cutters left and right. Stardust tried to eliminate Goldust, which, if we’re lucky, will lead to a Goldust vs. Stardust/Cody Rhodes feud. We also had Mizdow breaking out of his “stunt double” role just a little. Personally I would have rather seen him eliminate Miz, rather than take his own spot back from the Miz, but you have to appreciate that things are moving in the right direction, even if it’s baby steps.
Now for the bad, Daniel Bryan was put in the Rumble early, so that he could be eliminated early. In terms of booking, it makes sense that WWE management would want to try and get Bryan out early so that the crowd will get tired of booing after a few minutes and go right back to cheering as per normal by the time Reigns entered. That plan MIGHT have worked if they were in any other city than Philly, except maybe Chicago. Philadelphia was unrelenting and was not willing to let go of the fact that WWE STILL refuses to listen to their fans. When Reigns entered the heat was on, because the fans knew that if it wasn’t Bryan, it was going to be Roman. They also booked Reigns as fairly dominant instead of an underdog, except for the very, very end with Big Show and Kane working as a team. That leads me to my next point, Big Show and Kane working together and being dominant brings up two major negatives. First, Big Show and Kane are in the very twilight of their careers, they should not be dominating the Rumble. Big Show and Kane eliminated Bray Wyatt, Dolph Ziggler, and Dean Ambrose. Who does that help?! No one gets over in this situation. I mean no disrespect to Kane or Big Show, but neither of these guys is taken seriously as a threat anymore. Booking them over these guys with bright futures just holds them down, and makes them look bad, for no reason. Second, Big Show and Kane represent the Authority and once again makes them look too dominate for no reason. The fans are tired of the Authority and their nonstop supremacy. Next was the way Reigns was booked, he breezed through 5 eliminations without making it look like he was really “fighting for it” so to speak. They “John Cena-ed” him so to speak, he is being booked as Superman. The fans were force feed this and they immediately spit it out. Honestly, Reigns is NOT a bad choice for Royal Rumble winner. If Daniel Bryan had not been in the Royal Rumble then I think most, a helluva lot more than last night, would have rallied for him. The WWE pulled a dirty move, they brought Bryan back before the Royal Rumble to boost views, then eliminated him early because he wasn’t “in their plans.” They used him for what they needed, then tossed him aside. The fans are booing Roman Reigns, not because of Reigns, but because the fans are, once again, being ignored and overlooked.
The hastag #CancelWWENetwork has been trending since last night, which is not a good sign. The problem with having the WWE Network is now the fans do have a voice. It might not be a huge voice, but it is enough to be heard. If enough fans cancel their subscription immediately following the Royal Rumble, maybe then we will be heard. The question is, how long can WWE ignore the voice of their Universe before everyone stops tuning out? Honestly, WWE is a machine and it will always turn, but how much money do they lose before they decide they’re making a mistake? It all boils down to the stubbornness of the WWE. I saw a hilarious tweet after the Rumble match that said “On a scale of 1 to WWE how stubborn are you?” It is true though! Vince McMahon himself was said to be surprised how much momentum with the fans Daniel Bryan still had after his return, as report on WNW Premium. After last year, and Vince realizing Bryan still had the fans on his side, he HAD to have seen this coming. WWE had the perfect opportunity to correct the error they made last year, and instead they walked they same path a second time. Just like last year, it backfired in their face. The fans turn on the match and all anyone could hear was booing. The WWE even brought The Rock in to try and negate the heat that they KNEW Reigns would be receiving and even The Rock couldn’t get the fans to quit booing. Let me repeat that to let it sink in even The Rock couldn’t stop the crowd from booing. WWE has dug their own grave, AGAIN. The worst part is, as a fan, I won’t get to just enjoy the product. Instead of watching things be normal, I’ll have to deal with unruly crowds and WWE possibly scrambling to fix their mess.