Before we go any further, let me reiterate something very, VERY clearly: I have no inherent problem with Roman Reigns winning the Royal Rumble match. None. I don’t like that he won, as I don’t see any reason for him winning, but I didn’t see any reason for him winning last year either; we have to finally all admit – willingly or otherwise – that the reason he was cheered last year in Pittsburgh was because it was either him or Batista.
No, I have no problem with Reigns winning the Rumble, even if I don’t like the call. The world of professional wrestling is littered with decisions I don’t agree with, but that can hardly stand as a crutch towards my viewing pleasures. There are storylines, matches, feuds, jokes and decisions up and down WWE, TNA, ROH, Dragon Gate, NJPW and TNA that have no reason, but dammit: TNA can make these mistakes all they want.
Thus we complain. We boycott. We march up and down the street and we vote. We boo the outcomes and say we’ll never watch the product again. We’re lying of course: we tune back in to the product the next day. See, I’m upset about the Rumble match even more than those who probably threatened to riot last night (and if the rumors are true those that didn’t let the Rumble winner leave the arena). I was fuming at the mouth, throwing empty bottles of NyQuil across the room, praising the careers of Ryan Reynolds and Ashton Kutcher, I was completely livid. But not because Reigns won.
Let’s face facts: they had hinted at Reigns being the winner for the longest. We didn’t like it but that was the case. The hope was that his mic skills and charisma would match up with the reception he was getting from the crowd. In my case, I was hoping he would switch up his move set a little, gain his own attire, get his own theme music, stop coming out through the crowd, adopt a manager, stop trying to be funny, etc. He was always the silent weak link of the Shield: both Ambrose and Rollins are money. They went in opposite directions and thrived. Ambrose is a lunatic fan favorite who bares no allegiance while Rollins is a calculating mega heel who… I mean, the man brought the Phoenix Splash back to the rotation. The Phoenix freaking Splash.
And still Reigns has one thing in his column that his former teammates don’t: he’s a WWE original. Ambrose is an indie star, Rollins comes from the same camp as Bryan, Punk or Cesaro (it should be noted that Rollins is a former NXT Champ, so they knew he had something about him) and he’s one of the most accomplished guys to ever come into the E championship wise.
Despite what we think, despite who we praise or love, the WWE will ALWAYS push their own first. Corbin made a salient point many moons ago that Punk was a transitional champion despite his impossibly long WWE Championship run, and he’s right. CM Punk is also not a WWE original. John Cena is, and it shows.
John Cena, Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, Batista, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, these are all originals. Big Show is not an original. Chris Jericho is not an original. If anything, it’s a bit funny that Jericho was the first Undisputed Champion and his world title runs are more or less distant memories, like Ziggler’s world title run. He’s a WWE Original though. There’s a reason he’s still there. Same with Zack Ryder. And The Ryback, as Daniel Bryan calls him.
Reigns winning the Rumble was expected, and the crowd response was appropriate. Philly fans are a serious breed: they weed through the BS with fine toothed combs. That’s why they cheered for Rollins: he’s a ridiculously talented wrestler. That’s why they booed Cena: he’s rather mediocre. That’s why they cheered for Mizdow: he’s very entertaining. That’s why they booed the Miz: he’s a douche.
No: I’m not mad that Reigns won the Rumble because it makes sense in terms of the development of Reigns as the top babyface in the company one day. That day is more than likely not March 29, 2015, but one day he will be the face of the WWE, and the company is still in a tailspin due to Punk’s departure, Bryan’s initial injury and the fall of Russia. Maybe one of those things didn’t happen but its just as valid as anything else.
So we’ll likely have Reigns vs. Lesnar at Mania. That’s dumb, but if we’re going to be honest: Bryan vs. Lesnar makes no storyline sense right now either. It’s nice as a David and Goliath narrative, and it’s nice for Bryan and his rise back to the top after never officially losing his title, but does it make sense? Not entirely. Difference is: we don’t care about sense so much when Bryan takes on Lesnar. We like Bryan. He’s a short athletic goat with a sexy Mexican girlfriend that… wait, am I talking about Bryan or JoMo…?
In any case: Bryan going to Mania is a feel good story straight out of Feel Good Inc, but I don’t think people would be so mad if he lost so long as he lost later in the match. If he didn’t lose so inconsequentially, people would still hate that Reigns won, but they wouldn’t have been so upset. The fans weren’t even given the illusion that Bryan could have won.
Bryan is a fan favorite and one of the most over Superstars in modern history. Period. Reigns will be one those kinds of guys eventually. But not right now. And the WWE is trying to make him the face sooner rather than later. The fault isn’t with Reigns: it’s with lazy booking and mistakes that couldn’t be rectified. Maybe the E has leaned on Cena and the like for so long that there was no legit gameplan for when the Cena was too unhealthy for prolonged work.
I don’t know, but the point remains: I’m not mad at Reigns won. It happened. I can accept it, whether I like it or not. But the Rumble still pissed me off. Why?
Because #6 never made it to the ring. I don’t know what PPV y’all were watching, but Reigns outlasted 28 others, not 29. Rowan did NOT replace Axel: I don’t know WHAT he was doing. If there is truly a victim from last night’s travesty, it is Curtis Axel.