Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Royal Rumble and Why It Failed

Usually, the Royal Rumble is an annual spectacular that I refuse to miss. Actually, come to think of it, I've never missed a Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View, but I have missed a WrestleMania recently (29). That should tell you how I feel about the event. I've gone back and watched every Rumble match multiple times, even attending one live in 2000. Some aren't good, like 1993 and some are amazing, like 1992, 2001, 2004 or 2010. However, this year's may have been the worst. Let me get this off my chest right off the bat. My feeling this way is not about Roman Reigns winning, but we'll get to that later. Let's start at the beginning. A lot of the time, the best Rumbles got off on the right feet. Whether it be Demolition at 1 and 2, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, Ted Dibiase and British Bulldog or Seth Rollins and Punk last year. A good start is vital. This year we were treated to the Miz and R-Truth. I was even disappointed to see Truth get in. It turns out that he was only in as a proxy to D-Von. Bubba Ray Dudley made a surprise appearance that was fun but it didn't really help how poor the first two entrants were. What followed had potential to be really cool, but came up short. Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper were in the ring together and their past as the Wyatt Family came to light. Curtis Axel drew number six but was attacked by Erick Rowan. He never made it into the ring. I recently listened to the Steve Austin show and they did a review of this Rumble. Wade Keller, his guest, came up with a good idea that there should be a rule stating that if an entrant doesn't make it into the ring within 90 seconds, they're eliminated. It would be just a nice and neat way to handle something like this. Anyway, the Wyatts seemed like they were going for a fun interaction but Bray just dumped them out. That's it. No fun, no fanfare, nothing. Bringing in the Boogeyman wasn't anything bad, but it again could have been better. The weirdest thing about the first half of the Rumble was that Bray pulled a 2010 CM Punk and began to call people out on the microphone. I expected Daniel Bryan or Roman Reigns, but instead it was Zack Ryder. Seriously? I think he's won one televised match in 2014. Maybe Bray mistimed the promo because Bryan was out next. The crowd erupted for their guy and how cool would it have been if it was Bryan to come out after Bray got on the mic? The ring began to fill up and out came DDP. This was another cool surprise as he gave out a ton of Diamond Cutters before getting eliminated by Rusev. This was around the time that the match turned to shit.

Rusev and Bray Wyatt took on Daniel Bryan and Bray eliminated him.
That's it. This was the big issue. Now this is where some fans get the disconnect. Most people that were upset with the Rumble weren't upset that Roman Reigns won and Daniel Bryan lost. A lot of us expected that. The biggest gripe is that Bryan was treated as an afterthought. I understand trying to get rid of him early sensing that the fans would be upset and maybe get over it by the end of the match. But couldn't they have done it in a way that gave the fans something? If their plan really is to go through with Sheamus vs. Bryan at WrestleMania, why not have Sheamus return and eliminate him? If he wasn't ready, maybe have the Authority screw him. Either way, it shows us that there is a direction in mind for Bryan. This was a random elimination that treated Bryan like shit. To take this even further, why did they even put Bryan in the match? You know that the fans, whether unreasonable or not, were going to shit on this. Save Bryan's return for the Road to WrestleMania and you have Roman save face. Before Bryan announced his return, we all thought he was possibly going to retire. There was no reason to put Roman through this. It was clear that the WWE knew Bryan's elimination would get a bad reaction because the next few entrants were rather useless. Even the usual fun Kofi Kingston spot got a bad reaction from the WWE Universe. The first guy to get the crowd back into this was Damien Mizdow. Again, here was another chance for them to save face. Obviously Damien shouldn't win. But the crowd was feeling him, so he should have been able to get some offense in and hell, save Miz for this time in the Rumble and give them interaction. Instead, Mizdow was gone within a minute and treated like another afterthought.

Besides the handling of Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns' booking was actually the biggest issue. He came out at number 19 or so, and DID NOTHING. I know that some fans would groan at Roman dominating, but if he's going to be the man, that was the way to go. I get that Bray was the "dominant" guy this year, but all Roman did was sit in the corner and kill time. He should have gotten in some cool spots but was just "in" the Rumble. Again, the crowd's hopes were dashed when Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler were tossed by Kane and Big Show. Hell, with Bray dominating, maybe the final two should have been Bray and Roman. Bray's elimination after lasting 46 minutes should have been a big deal. Instead, he was tossed like a nobody. The fact that, in 2015, Kane and the Big Show are in the final four of the Royal Rumble is terribly telling. There is no reason why they should be focal points of the show. In the end, Roman Reigns eliminated Big Show and Kane. But not as the babyface hero overcoming the odds. Because Show and Kane began to argue. Not exactly the way you want the guy who is supposed to overcome Brock Lesnar to look. Another gripe was Rusev. The monster heel that you've been booking for nearly a year, hides outside of the ring like a coward. I don't know what they were going for with this. At least it could have led to a battle where Rusev battles with him and Roman at least overcomes him. Instead he dumped out Rusev like nothing. Hell, even the Rock's appearance came off like crap. It seemed like Roman couldn't handle himself and needed help from his big cousin. In the end, the reason the entire Rumble failed was because it was poorly thought out. Their ideas for Ambrose, Ziggler, Bryan, Bray, Rusev and even their chosen one, Reigns all seemed to come with no effort. It's like they wanted everyone to come off looking weak. The Rumble should not only create and establish stars, but it should also allow others to come off well. Nobody did that this year, which caused things to be as bad as possible.