Powell's WWE Royal Rumble Hit List: The fans reject Batista, John Cena, and Randy Orton, and the tail end of the Royal Rumble match, Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt shine, new WWE Tag Team Champions
By Jason Powell
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WWE Royal Rumble Hits
Daniel Bryan factor: The best part about the message that was sent is that it did not come from the hardcore fans who spend big money to attend WrestleMania and the following night's Raw. I'm sure there are some fans who travel for the Royal Rumble, but I believe is that this was by and large a Pittsburgh crowd, which doesn't have a reputation for being a particularly jaded bunch. While some people within the industry are labeling the fan reaction as being disrespectful, I love the way the fans spoke their minds and told WWE exactly what they want. It sure beats the alternative of fans getting frustrated and simply walking away from the product, which can still happen if WWE doesn't respond accordingly. I really want to believe that Vince McMahon and Triple H are a step ahead of us. I want to believe that Batista wore the Justin Bieber shirt and the skinny jeans last week because they were planning to turn him heel and not because he's just a 45 year-old guy trying way too hard to be cool. I want to believe they are setting up Batista as a heel in an eventual showdown match with Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 30. The problem is that I do not believe they saw this reaction coming, and they are stubbornly going with their old comfortable stars when the fans are screaming for Daniel Bryan and a generation of new stars. Even if I thought they did foresee this, I would still question why they overcomplicated this. Why not give the fans the feel-good moment that they wanted at the Royal Rumble to set themselves up with the huge payoff moment at WrestleMania 30 (not to mention a better match between Bryan and John Cena). I am fascinated by tonight's Raw. I am really looking forward to seeing whether Vince McMahon and Triple H change course or if they stubbornly dig their heels in. Will Cleveland send the same message as Pittsburgh? Will the internet break?
Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan: A hell of a match and a real eye opening performance for Wyatt. I'm used to Bryan being so good and I don't want to underplay that, but this was the first time the fans got to see Wyatt truly unleashed in a match and he exceeded expectations. Fans knew he played the character well on the mic, but I got the sense that fans were sitting back and waiting to see if he could back it up in the ring. Some wrestlers have great characters and then just work a normal style in the ring and the character really suffers as a result. Wyatt's in-ring style meshes with his crazed cult leader character. The unorthodox move set and the overall aggressiveness was tremendous. Major props to both men for pulling off the suicide dive into Sister Abigail onto the barricade. Excellent work and the first truly memorable match (at least that I have seen) in 2014.
Overall show: I've received emails from too many fans who said they feel like the wasted $45 to $55 on the pay-per-view. I am with the masses who feel that Daniel Bryan should have entered and won the Royal Rumble match as I wrote in my blog on Tuesday, but I still came away feeling like I got plenty of bang for my pay-per-view buck. I would not have missed this show for the world. The live crowd turning on Randy Orton and John Cena, and then completely highjacking the end of the Royal Rumble match were priceless moments. It may have been for the wrong reasons at times, but I thoroughly enjoyed the Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
WWE Royal Rumble Misses
Royal Rumble match: I was entertained by this match and there were things to like about it, but I just can't give the match a Hit considering the way the live crowd crapped all over the guy who won and damn near everyone down the stretch because they are not named Daniel Bryan. Putting that aside for a moment, I like the various stories that WWE told during the course of the match. This wasn't just a glorified battle royal as some of the forgettable Rumble matches have been, this was laid out to tell various smaller stories. Roman Reigns gained something, C.M. Punk and Kane had their moment, Goldust and Cody Rhodes had their moment (albeit way too rushed), and The Shield members had some issues. Granted, there were no major surprises in the match, but I still appreciate the way it was laid out to focus on more than just the winner.
Randy Orton vs. John Cena: Never mind the crowd turning on both men, this was flawed from the start. The story was that Cena was out for revenge after Orton attacked his father, but you'd never know that based on the way he did his typical entrance routine and then locked up with Orton to start the match. Really, a lockup? Where was the intensity we saw on Raw when Cena attacked Orton and chased him out of the building? I also didn't care for the ref bump followed by Orton tapping out before Cena even had a chance to lock in the STF. It left me wondering if the broadcast team dropped the ball by not telling viewers that it was a strategic move by Orton since he knew the referee was down. Orton isn't working as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and it's been that way all along. Much of it can be attributed to the way that Triple H and Stephanie McMahon have overshadowed him. I did come away impressed by the way both men kept it together despite the crowd turning on them. Orton has melted down when this has happened in the past, but they hung in there and did manage to get some of the same fans who jeered them throughout the match to buy into some of the near falls.
Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show: I blame my negative reaction on the way this was approached on commentary. Lesnar brings mayhem. When he beats someone repeatedly with a chair, each shot should be sold as if it's the most vicious thing the broadcast team has ever seen. Maybe I'm just old school, but the timekeeper should be ringing the bell repeatedly while Michael Cole condemns Lesnar and openly calls for help for Big Show. Instead of creating a sense of urgency, the broadcast team used their somber voices as Lesnar repeatedly struck Show with chairshot after chairshot. Granted, the number of chairshots did reach the point of absurdity (made even worse by Show popping up and walking to the back with only minor assistance), but this should have come off much better to the television audience than it did.
Goldust and Cody Rhodes vs. The New Age Outlaws: We've watched Goldust and Cody Rhodes have some real wars with The Shield and other teams, so it just didn't click with me when they lost clean to the Outlaws so quickly. I'm not a fan of the title change because I think The Brotherhood still have plenty of juice left as a tag team. I was all for Goldust vs. Cody at WrestleMania 30 at one time, but they are simply too good together and I really hope they hold off on that match for at least another year. Of course, this could be one of those quick title changes where Goldust and Cody get their titles back quickly, but even if that's the case I'm not really sure what the point of this was. The good news is that the fans seemed to like the Outlaws. The bad news is that I have no idea what we're supposed to feel for the Outlaws since they just turned on C.M. Punk, yet have literally changed nothing about their act.
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