By Jake Barnett
1. The Middle Aged Outlaws defeated Cody Rhodes and Goldust clean in less than seven minutes. I wrote on twitter that this was the beginning of a long night, and I had no idea how right I was at the time. We literally entered a thunder dome sized Vince McMahon echo chamber.
2. I don’t know about you guys, but what we saw in Bray Wyatt reminded me a lot of Mick Foley’s first few appearances for WWE in 1996. His offense was brutal, he sold convincingly for Bryan, and he did it all without one crack appearing in the edifice of his character. Bray Wyatt was in the zone at the Rumble, and he and Daniel Bryan tore it down. I hope they continue to get this character right, because it’s really refreshing to see a performer take himself and his character so seriously.
3. It’s a running gag between Will Pruett and I to call Brock Lesnar Bork Laser, based on a sign that appeared in a WWE crowd years ago that made both of us laugh. It also flows nicely into double entendre, with Lesnar’s demeanor and pterodactyl shrieks making him at times seem like an insane American Gladiators competitor. That being said, Big Show got the hell lasered out of him last night, and it was pretty boring. I’m not mad about it or anything, considering the alternatives, but I was ready for them to wheel out the gong after chair shot number 346. Instead, I’m fairly certain Lesnar is still in Pittsburgh, wailing on Big Show in some dark corner of the Consol Energy Center.
4. I have really grown to appreciate Renee Young. Her delivery is very good, and she deadpans very well. For instance, in response to Road Dogg berating her about the proper way to introduce the Outlaws, she panned “I’m sure I’ll have time to learn that…”, referring to the likely short lived title Reign of the Outlaws. I laughed out loud, making my wife question my sanity.
5. The WWE Crowd taking over the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match was something to behold. Orton was visibly irritated by the chants, but I can’t blame the crowd one bit. People are clamoring for something new, and this feud felt like it was recycled entirely from 2007, complete with Orton attacking John Cena’s father. By the way, what’s with Cena doing his normal happy go lucky ring entrance after his opponent viciously attacked his family less than a week ago? The little things seem like big omissions sometimes, and that was one of them. The match itself was better than the crowd would have indicated, but it was still an Orton/Cena match, and a man can only watch so many of those.
6. Bray Wyatt attacking John Cena at the close of the World Championship match was a positive development. Cena really needs a new opponent to revitalize him, and Wyatt needs a big time match at WrestleMania. My only reservation about this is that I fear Vince and company are going to have some awkward feud transition between Daniel Bryan and John Cena, where Bryan plays Cena’s little buddy while John vanquishes the big bad Wyatt Family. If that happens, the speed at which my eyes roll into the back of my head may cause me to require hospitalization.
7. I really liked the way WWE handled Roman Reigns in the Royal Rumble match. He really looked like a star, and he looks to be on the cusp of a major babyface run after he eliminated his fellow Shield members. In fact, if Reigns had won the Rumble instead of Batista, I think the reaction from the crowd may have turned overwhelmingly positive. They wanted Daniel Bryan in a bad way, but in a sense, they just as badly want something new, and Reigns will be a big part of that in the future.
8. The Rumble match was surprising in that it lacked a lot of the surprises that people have come to expect from these shows. I was happy to see Dolph Ziggler get a nice reaction, Kofi Kingston did another one of his improbable rescues back into the ring, and it was also nice to see Sheamus back healthy. Also, I enjoyed the NXT exposure for Alexander Rusev, and Kevin Nash pulled up to the pay window one more time, but really the match was kind of banal. That was not at all what this crowd wanted, and as soon as it became clear there would be no Daniel Bryan, the crowd turned on nearly everybody that was left in the match.
9. Was it just me, or did Batista look a lot like Goldberg last night? The bald head, black trunks and knee pads, and physique were pretty similar. I know people like to shout about Goldberg to Ryback, but I think Batista looked the part better at the Rumble. Another issue that Batista clearly had was with his wind. He wasn’t in the match particularly long, and it was clear he was pretty blown up. I’m not one to run my mouth on the subject, but it does make the perceived WrestleMania main event between Batista and Orton that much direr sounding. Orton is not known for wall to wall excitement in the ring as it is, and if Batista is going to have trouble catching wind, the crowd will eat them alive at WrestleMania.
10. Any way you cut it, the wrong guy won the rumble, and the crowd was having none of it. The desperate crowd chants as it became clear that Bryan wasn’t entering the rumble had to send a signal to WWE and its creative minds. Bryan venting his frustration along with others connected to the WWE via social media may indicate this was all part of a plan, but it doesn’t mean that what was done at the Rumble wasn’t a bad business decision. It’s plain as day that WWE fans are tired of the same old acts, and WWE’s reticence to pull the trigger on new ones is now reaching a point where fans may consider leaving the product behind. There are very few talents that have come through WWE that could be classified as having started a phenomenon, and Daniel Bryan is one of those. A failure to capitalize on that now would be a colossal disservice to Bryan, his fans, and the long term interests of WWE.
There have been several other times in WWE’s history where it has transitioned into new eras. I’m not saying that stars like Batista, John Cena, Randy Orton and others don’t have considerable value to the company, because they do, but it has been a number of years since the last major evolution of those characters. WWE has to be forward looking enough to recognize that they have an opportunity to make changes that will please fans in the present, and simultaneously align with the long term interests of the company itself.
Do you have questions, comments or concerns? Contact me via e-mail at Barnett.firstname.lastname@example.org, or on twitter @barnettjake. Dot Net Members may also reach me via the Dot Net Members Forum.
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