Too much too quick, we’ll slow it down and tell a different story. That’s what I got from this week’s Monday Night Raw regarding the handling of Roman Reigns.
Damned if they do, damned if they don’t; I want to be careful how I address this. I don’t want to sound impossible to please but a part of me just feels that Vince McMahon has lost touch with his audience. Triple H directly put the Rumble’s booking on Vince, so it’s him specifically that I’ll address.
For the umpteenth time, the fans didn’t reject the Royal Rumble because of Roman Reigns winning it. They rejected the Royal Rumble because of how poorly it was booked.
Unceremonious eliminations of Daniel Bryan, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, even Big Show and Kane made for an anti-climatic build to the predicted result of Reigns going over.
Reigns wasn’t booked where he “worked to earn the victory,” he was booked where he disappeared at times and seamlessly handled his eliminations.
I disagree with Steve Austin and anyone else that says the fans rejected the Rumble because they wanted Daniel Bryan to win it. Yes, I’ll admit, Daniel Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31 — the story of total redemption — is one I pushed for and even preferred. But I was fine with Roman Reigns getting the spot at Wrestlemania.
Judging by the way the fans reacted to Reigns at live events over the weekend and on this week’s Raw, I believe they would have been fine with it too.
The hot crowd in Philadelphia was going to be hard on Reigns no matter what (yes, Philly is a heel crowd, like Hunter talked about with Austin) but Vince never gave Reigns a chance. The moment Daniel Bryan was unceremoniously eliminated, the crowd rejected the match. It had nothing to do with Reigns because he wasn’t even in the match at that point.
I understand Vince McMahon likes to manipulate and seemingly “toy” with his audience at times but the way some of the favorites were lackadaisically booked in the Royal Rumble is what resulted in the widespread criticism. Just like last year, it was the fact that a red hot Daniel Bryan wasn’t even in the Rumble match and not so much who was chosen to go over.
Surely, I’m not the only one that sees that.
WWE slowed down the push of Reigns on Raw by having The Big Show pin him, albeit dirty and then had him “help” Bryan in the main event (which could mean a couple of different things).
It’s clear they want to try and push Reigns more tactfully, hoping to ease the criticism on him getting a top spot. I can only guess by having him defend the No. 1 contendership against Bryan at Fast Lane, in Vince’s opinion, will help prove Reigns “earned” his spot. Further, it will leave the company’s options open if they feel Reigns isn’t catching on enough for the Wrestlemania main event.
As I explained earlier in the week, WWE is using the Royal Rumble criticism to their advantage. They’ve taken the “backlash” from the pay-per-view and are using it sell their next show. Let’s also keep in mind they’re doing to the 30-man Royal Rumble match what they did to the Survivor Series main event, invalidating it.
Roman Reigns won the 30-man Royal Rumble match but has now “agreed to defend his title shot,” just like the Survivor Series main event of Team Cena vs. Team Authority was rendered irrelevant when WWE brought The Authority back to television just over a month after Cena “ridding WWE of them.”
WWE was careful to show The Authority admitting they “tricked Reigns” into defending his contendership, but regardless, it is the Fast Lane main event — not the Rumble match — that will determine Brock Lesnar’s challenger at Wrestlemania.
I truly believe much of this could have been avoided if Vince would have been more careful with the Royal Rumble match. The bout was blatant unimaginative/lazy/arrogant/illogical booking and as a result, the audience rejected it.
WWE is going to try their best to correct the mistake — like they did last year with the multiple main events involving Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania 30 — but it’s a mistake that shouldn’t have been made in the first place.
Most people saw this coming a mile (maybe 10 miles) away. I’ll go as far as saying Vince has made every mistake in the book with the handling of Roman Reigns since he went out with the incarcerated hernia last September, yet he is still over!
Just imagine how much more “ready” (which, by the way, listening to Hunter, it sounds like he agrees with me on the whole “not ready” stuff) Reigns would be for the Wrestlemania 31 main event if he would have been handled more carefully from the moment he went down in September.