The date was January 26, 2014. The setting was the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The show was the WWE Royal Rumble. If it wasn’t clear before Sunday night (which it was, by the way) it’s crystal-clear now. The “WWE Universe” is telling Vince McMahon and company that Daniel Bryan is their guy. Period. End of sentence. Roll the credits.
An announced attendance of 15,715 rabid fans sat in utter disgust as Dave Batista won the 2014 Royal Rumble. That’s right, D.B. won. The problem is, it was the wrong D.B.
So what happens now? Well, according to the rules of the Royal Rumble, “Big Dave” is headed to the main event of WrestleMania to challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. That simply can’t happen. If it does it seems pretty clear that the fans in New Orleans on April 6th are going to completely hijack the biggest show of the year.
Does WWE really want to risk that happening? Do they really want to kick off their WWE Network and present their biggest annual show, the milestone 30th edition no-less, with a jam-packed arena crapping all over the top matches?
Sunday night wasn’t the first time the crowd took over a WWE show. This is happened countless times over the past several months. At this point the message has been sent. The ball is in WWE’s court. They need to pull the trigger. There’s no other alternatives. I don’t care how many ratings Batista pops, Daniel Bryan is the guy who should be leading the pack.
Speaking of that Batista rating, by the way, let’s not forget it was the Royal Rumble “go-home” show, which generally does a larger number anyways. It was unopposed to Monday Night Football. Both Batista and Brock Lesnar were advertised in advance. So yeah, Batista gets the credit and rightfully so, but let’s not assume that just because a big return popped one rating that the “WWE Universe” is begging for a Batista run on top. If WWE needed proof of that fact, they got it in droves on Sunday night.
When the buzzer sounded and the 30th entrant — Rey Mysterio — made his way to the ring, he was accompanied by an incredibly loud negative reaction. Did the WWE fans turn on Mysterio in one night? Of course not. Obviously they were displeased that D-Bry wasn’t going to be in the Rumble. From that point on, things got ugly. They saw who was left and realized that Batista was going to win. They wanted no part of it. When there was a glimmer of hope that Roman Reigns might actually pull off an upset, they started to rally behind him. They figured, “what the hell” and decided to cheer him on. It didn’t last long, however, as moments later Batista eliminated the big boy of The Shield and was nearly boo’d out of the building. His first actual match back in the company and already the fans turned on him.
Suddenly that RAW rating isn’t that impressive, eh?
If ever there was time to call an audible, that time is now. It’s not too late. Just because you decided to go one way, that doesn’t mean you can’t switch things up and still give the people what they clearly want. There are a number of ways you can reverse plans and end up delivering what fans want to see on the “grandest stage of them all.” WrestleMania XXX needs to end with Daniel Bryan holding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship as 80,000 strong chant “YES! YES! YES!” Anything short of that and you’re risking a reaction similar — or worse — to that in which we saw on Sunday night.
Over the last several months the motto in WWE has been all about what is “best for business.” WWE is about to completely change their business model with the WWE Network. As long as we’re talking about business, Batista has no business headlining the biggest show of the year while Daniel Bryan competes against Sheamus somewhere in the middle of the card. That’s bad for business. Is it time to call an audible? YES! YES! YES!
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