On Sunday night, January 26th, the WWE decided to ignore the wishes of their fans in almost every regard by having Dave Batista win the 2014 Royal Rumble. I’ve seen them shove wrestlers and story angles down our throats before, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it this bad and I don’t think I’ve ever been rendered this upset by it. As I’m writing this, it’s 11:30 at night and I had a piece finished and ready to be posted tomorrow morning, but I decided to crank this out instead. That’s how mad I am.
Before the Rumble started I had said to my friends that Batista was probably going to win so that he and Randy Orton could main event Wrestlemania, because that sadly sounds like a Wrestlemania main event, a terrible Wrestlemania main event, but a main event nonetheless. I didn’t want to believe that it would actually happen, but of course, here we are. What I wanted to happen was what every person in that arena in Pittsburgh wanted to happen. We wanted to be surprised by Daniel Bryan being announced as entrant number 30 and we wanted him to win. If you’ve been watching WWE programming for the past couple of months, you know that this is what should have happened.
The problem that we have right now is that WWE thinks that we want to see Batista in the main event of Wrestlemania and they can’t comprehend a world where that isn’t the case. Tonight they got a good look at that world when an entire arena of fans booed the outcome of the Rumble match and there was an overflow of negative tweets. As soon as the crowd realized that Daniel Bryan was not entering the match, they completely turned. Our last chance for a happy ending was that maybe WWE would call an audible and give the match to Roman Reigns.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a Batista fan, but tonight made me HATE him. I’ve never thought that he was the worst, but I can’t think of a single match of his that I have ever really enjoyed. The fact that he won and that he is going to main event Wrestlemania really drives home the old thought that only big guys can be a success in WWE because that’s all that management wants.
In the Rumble match, we got the message loud and clear: WWE DOES NOT CARE ABOUT WHAT WE WANT.
We want to see Bryan in the top spot and we were given that for the shortest amount of time possible. Instead of booking him where the crowd wants him, they’re going to throw in the big guy that’s going to be in the Marvel movie. There’s a part of me that can almost understand their logic because of the movie, but past precedent would lead me to believe that Batista would find himself in the top spot regardless of his Guardians of the Galaxy role or not. Batista is the type of guy that Vince McMahon likes and he’s also the type of guy that WWE has conditioned part of its audience to like.
Daniel Bryan doesn’t fit the mold of a Vince McMahon wrestler. He’s not huge and he wrestles a fast and exciting style that the crowd has really gotten behind. Daniel Bryan is the underdog and because of that the fans have been able to connect with him in a way that they haven’t been able to connect with a top star in quite some time. At every possible turn, WWE has been trying to derail the popularity of Bryan, but it hasn’t worked. Bryan has fans chanting for him all the time, even when he’s not in the ring. Nobody has been as over as Bryan is now since Stone Cold Steve Austin in his heyday.
The fact that Batista won and Bryan didn’t is the perfect evidence that WWE is out of touch with its audience. I’m not saying that you need to give the audience what it wants all the time, but what happened at the Rumble is WWE crapping all over their fans.
Tonight on Twitter, I said something that I never thought I would ever say and I never wanted to say, but the fans at the arena should have started throwing garbage into the ring. I find the throwing of items into the ring (outside of streamers) to be incredibly disrespectful, but it would have sent a message. You’re going to fill the ring with garbage, fine, we’ll do it too. As fans, we shouldn’t take stuff like this anymore.
It’s up to us to put WWE back in touch with their fans. The crowds need to keep up the constant Daniel Bryan chants. We need to get on Twitter and flood their feeds with what we think. WWE, when one of your respected legends is tweeting this:
YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.
You’re rolling out the Netflix of wrestling in a month, you can’t leave such a horrible taste in the mouths of your fans right before. This Royal Rumble might be enough to keep fans from buying upcoming Pay Per Views, who is to say that it won’t stop people from ever ordering the WWE Network in the first place? I have to wonder if anybody was happy with the money they spent on the Rumble.
I’m interested to see what happens on RAW, not because I’m excited to see the next chapter in the story, but I want to see what they do for damage control. The fans completely turned on them, how the hell do you rebound from that?
WWE is facing the problem that I’ve had with them for years; they don’t see talent until we force them to see it. That’s the only way that people not named John Cena and Randy Orton have found their way anywhere near the top of the card. For whatever reason, they’re choosing to ignore us when it comes to Daniel Bryan. By having him lose in the opening match, it’s beginning to feel as though he’s just losing to spite us for not liking the right wrestler. We don’t know what’s good for us and apparently Batista is good for us. But that’s not true at all. Batista is summed up by his belly button tattoo: AWFUL. Daniel Bryan is the best wrestler in the world right now and the fact that he isn’t being treated as such is a travesty. I always try to see the logic in WWE’s booking choices, but it is so completely and utterly flawed right now. Saying that they’re out of touch is the only explanation. This leads up to two questions:
We can hope that WWE listens to the Royal Rumble crowd or we can just get louder and make them listen. As long as we continue to support them, they’re just going to keep doing this. Make your voice heard and stop giving them money because they don’t deserve it right now.
I honestly can’t be more upset that I was correct with my pick to win the Rumble because it was the absolute last outcome that I wanted. Sadly, it was what I expected out of them. We shouldn’t have to put up with a product that disappoints us this much. Hopefully the 2014 Royal Rumble will be looked back on as a turning point in the wrestling industry. Hopefully this will be the catalyst that brings lasting change to the WWE.
Filed Under: Op/Ed