In the wake of last night's debacle known as the Royal Rumble, which was ruined for the second consecutive year by Vince and company's defiantly oblivious booking, I'm reminded of another CM Punk quote: "Ya can't tell me you didn't do that on purpose. Either tell me right now that you're dumb as fuck, and you suck, or that you did that on purpose."
I just don't get it. I don't understand how an entertainment entity can have such unabashed contempt for its own audience. This was worse than last year's Rumble, and here's why: at least in 2014 an argument could be made that WWE didn't realize how badly Batista's comeback and Rumble win would be received. I mean, those of us with the capacity for logical thought knew Batista's return wasn't going to galvanize the fanbase like Vince hoped, and that 2014 was clearly Daniel Bryan's time. But WWE has a history of making shortsighted business decisions.
They made a mistake and when it backfired they worked diligently to correct it, and eventually we got the WrestleMania we deserved. Last night though, WWE made the exact same mistake, apparently having learned nothing. And they knew full goddamn well the Philly crowd would turn on Reigns, which is why they flew The Rock in for damage control. Only problem is it didn't work. Even with The Rock's return (which made zero sense and felt totally contrived), the crowd crapped all over Reigns and actually started cheering Rusev! Imagine that, WWE has become so out of sync with its audience that pushing a new babyface star resulted in the live fans cheering an anti-American foreigner instead.
Look dolts, if you need The Rock to show up and soften the crowd's reaction to your intended next top babyface, HE'S NOT YOUR NEXT TOP BABYFACE. Imagine if in 1998 Steve Austin got such lackluster crowd reactions that they had to bring back the Ultimate Warrior to endorse him so the crowd would buy him as the new top guy. Only a crazy person would proceed with that plan under those circumstances.
Also consider this - at last year's Rumble the heel Roman Reigns was cheered like a massive hero when attempting to oust Batista. One year and a huge megaface push later, Reigns is the most reviled man in the company. If I were Reigns I'd say "Don't do me any favors, Vince. If this is what happens when you make a concentrated effort to build your next top star, clearly you don't have it anymore." Shocking that scripted fairy tale promos and Sylvester the Cat catchphrases didn't get Reigns over. I was sure that would do the trick.
Look, I'm not even that upset that Reigns won the match. Obviously it was a mistake, but it's what most of us were expecting. What I do detest is how the babyfaces who are actually over - Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler - were presented like total throwaway participants and eliminated unceremoniously without a strong showing. Bryan entered at number ten and lasted only ten minutes, being tossed less than halfway through the match. WWE had the chance to tell a great story of redemption, or even attempted redemption that fell just short of the mark. But instead they treated Bryan like a common midcarder who had no chance of winning, and the crowd lost all interest in the second half of the match. The Royal Rumble is supposed to be one of the most fun bouts of the entire year, and for the second straight year WWE has turned it into a massive chore to sit through, (though 2014's Rumble was at least a good match up until the ending - this one wasn't even particularly entertaining).
The closest comparison I can make to this Rumble is the December to Dismember Elimination Chamber from 2006, when crowd favorites CM Punk and Rob Van Dam were pinned in the first half so as not to distract from pet project Bobby Lashley's big moment. Similarly, Lashley was left alone in the match against two irrelevant heels, one of which was The Big Show. Remind me, how did Lashley's big push turn out again? Oh right, he was off TV seven months later and got released the following year. Don't try to maintain that you "listen to your audience" when you have to prematurely job out guys who are actually over, hoping the audience will forget about them by the end and embrace the guy you like best. That's not listening to your audience, that's treating your audience like morons. It's actually comical to hear Vince talk about checking his own ego and doing what's best for business, when a month later he does the exact opposite.
Well congratulations Vince, you've once again delivered a suckfest of a Rumble PPV (minus the EXCELLENT WWE Title match) and kicked off The Road to WrestleMania in horrible fashion. Amazingly, like many fans, I have LESS interest in WrestleMania than I did 24 hours ago. You must see how backwards this is. Good luck hitting that million-subscriber mark. I understand the Subscription page crashed last night due to the barrage of cancellations by pissed-off fans. Attention New Japan Pro Wrestling - your time to capitalize on WWE's ineptitude is NOW.
So what happens at 'Mania, babyface Lesnar vs. heel Reigns? How exactly does that elevate anyone to the role of John Cena's successor? Does Daniel Bryan get added to the match again? Is it not possible for Bryan to actually win a match like the Rumble or Money in the Bank to earn a major Title shot? Does he always have to attain these opportunities by being handpicked?
WWE had a chance last night to make up for last year's horrid Rumble booking, by giving Daniel Bryan the moment he should've gotten a year ago. But instead they put on their blinders and repeated last year's approach, with predictably similar and disastrous results. There's an old saying about the definition of insanity; what is that again? Oh right, "the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results." Yeah, maybe that means you Vince. For the love of all that is holy, RETIRE. Do it now before you alienate your entire audience permanently.
Best Match: Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins
Worst Match: The Ascension vs. New Age Outlaws
What I'd Change: I think I made this pretty clear
Most Disappointing Match: The Rumble
Most Pleasant Surprise: Just how good the WWE Title match was
Overall Rating: 3.5/10