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For the second year in a row, WWE has somehow managed to anger the majority of its fans by bad booking. The Royal Rumble, one of my favourite events historically is supposed to be setting up the next big thing, the title match for the biggest event of the year, WrestleMania. Whilst historically we’ve had Show-Stoppers and Stone Cold’s, Rocks and Cena’s all go on to set up great matches, last year’s event and this one have done nothing but alienate fans and turn them against the winners.
Last year, the writing was laid out early for us, Batista was coming back and going to win the Rumble. After his disappointing debut where it was clear he was out of shape and out of touch, fans held the hope that perennial underdog and leader of the “Yes” movement, Daniel Bryan would perform a miracle and surprise us all by winning the Rumble. That didn’t happen and the fans rioted. Batista became Bootista and fans took to social media to boycott the WrestleMania main event of Bootista vs. Orton. It took the exit of CM Punk for WWE to buck up their ideas and change the plans, adding Bryan into the main event and shockingly, letting him win.
After Mania is a different story with Bryan being an afterthought to the reunion of Evolution who went on to feud with The SHIELD, Bryan’s injury probably being the best thing that could have happened to him to save him from mediocrity with Kane. But let’s move forward to this year.
For months, yet again, the writing has been on the wall. WWE wanted Roman Reigns to win the Royal Rumble and go on to headline WrestleMania, seeing him as the next top babyface. But fans were already apathetic towards Reigns and once Bryan announced his return to action, the “Yes” movement was back in force, Reigns an afterthought. Once again, fan expectation for their hero was sky high and surely the WWE knew better than to disappoint them again.
When Bryan entered the Rumble at number 10 we knew something was up and then to only last 10 minutes and be eliminated so abruptly, that was when the crowd died and began to turn. As more and more entrants made their way to the ring, the only hope left for the crowd was if WWE could have pulled something huge out of the bag but they didn’t. The way I see it, they could’ve gone three other ways if Bryan wasn’t to win.
How The Rumble Should Have Ended
1) The Rock was in attendance and used to try and save Reigns. If WWE could have got him in on a temporary contract, like Bootista last year, then can you imagine The Rock coming in at number 30, destroying everyone and winning. Rock vs. Brock at Mania. I’d buy that.
2) Dolph Ziggler was ruined in this Rumble. Despite his heroic performance at Survivor Series and strong fan reaction, he was dumped over the top rope. He could have won the Rumble, surprised everyone and whilst I don’t think he would have been the right choice to headline WrestleMania, as a thank you for getting him his job back, Ziggler could offer Cena the chance.
3) Randy Orton. He’s back and ready and despite not capitalising on the internet “RKO out of nowhere” meme, he has some beef with The Authority and still hasn’t had his WrestleMania XXX re-match. Surprise entrant Orton comes in, saves the day and takes home the win.
Unfortunately, we’re stuck with Reigns. WWE have some major work to do if they’re going to win back the fans who already had the hashtag #CancelWWENetwork trending on Twitter. Will Reigns turn heel to capitalise on the boo’s like they did with Bootista? Doubtful. Reigns has the looks (albeit outdated – The SHIELD’s over, move on) and the power to be a top player, but he needs to work on his in-ring repertoire – Superman punch, jumping kick and spear don’t make a match – and he really needs to learn to speak. Ideally he needs a strong mid-card run, put him up against Rusev and Barrett, don’t just throw him in the main event of your biggest event when he’s not ready and you’ve other guys who are more deserving.
To further push my point home, let’s look at The SHIELD. Dean Ambrose, clearly gone on to become another fan favourite, great on the mic, great in-ring ability and had some fantastic matches recently. Seth Rollins, equally great in the ring, needs some more development on the mic but he easily was in one of the greatest triple-threat title matches ever against Brock and Cena, he helped make that match.
In both Ambrose and Rollins you have two guys who are already more over and just plain better than Roman Reigns, each who have excelled since the split of The SHIELD. Admittedly, Reigns had some time off through injury, but he’s not re-invented himself in the same way the lunatic fringe or Mr. Money In The Bank have. I can’t actually think of one single good match Reigns has had on his own.
Which leads us to the WrestleMania main event. Reigns has a LOT of work to do. I’ve been surprised by Brock Lesnar. His match against CM Punk at SummerSlam 2013 was one of the best I’ve ever seen and since then he’s taken apart John Cena and even beaten The Undertaker’s undefeated streak. Whoever beats Lesnar needs to have a hell of a lot of clout behind them to do so, something that Reigns just doesn’t have.
The only way I can accept the WrestleMania 31 main event will be for another Brock Lesnar annihilation. Reigns needs to be taken to the woodshed and destroyed, leaving Brock the champion. Then, once he thinks he’s safe and we’re all questioning if he’s signed an extension, out come Seth Rollins, cashing in his briefcase and takes home the title. We can then forget about Reigns as Rollins is the poster boy for the Authority, taking on Ambrose, Cena, Orton and Bryan.
But the story has already been written, Reigns is WWE’s new poster boy. Thank you John Cena, your time is over. But if WWE wants to retain any of its credibility, it needs to react and repair the damage its done for the second year in a row.