On January 26th, 2014 Batista won the Royal Rumble match in his first in-ring action since making his return to the WWE after leaving the company 4 years ago to pursue other interests. Also on January 26th at the Royal Rumble, the WWE screwed up.
There are a number of things the WWE is guilty of doing wrong, and this is another.
By: Adam Pyde – @Adam_Pyde
I have no issues with Batista as a wrestler. He’s powerful and can put on terrific matches. But I have issues with him winning the Royal Rumble. And fans did too as they booed him.
Besides the fact that his win meant that the two top babyfaces in the WWE, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, are left out of the title picture at the WWE’s biggest pay-per-view of the year, I have other issues with him winning.
- He’s a multiple time winner now. That makes it back-to-back years that the Rumble has been won by a previous person and the fifth time in history, now accounting for 11 of the 27 winners being repeat performances. Winning multiple times should not be so common.
- His Hollywood career probably does not lend itself to winning at Wrestlemania because he will have to take time away to promote his movie. If he does win, then the WWE will once again have an absentee champion which was not so great with The Rock.
- If Randy Orton retains at Elimination Chamber, which is likely, then it sets up Orton-Batista as the main event of Wrestlemania XXX. Forgive me if I’m not enthused. Orton’s matches have been duds for months.
- I don’t feel that Orton or Batista are big enough stars or over enough to be “the guy” left standing at the end of the WWE’s biggest pay-per-view of all time.
- Bryan is the most over wrestler the company. His crowd pops are as big or bigger than CM Punk’s following the pipebomb in 2011. Bigger pops than Jeff Hardy and more recently The Rock. They probably rival the cheers going back to Steve Austin. Imagine 70,000 people doing the YES! chant after a win to close Wrestlemania after finally giving Daniel Bryan and his fans their payoff.
Normally I could get past this. But I can’t this time.
Why does this bother me so much? Because I have no faith in the WWE creative team, and it has been like this for a while.
The last half year of pay-per-views have sucked and, frankly, the product has sucked since just after SummerSlam or maybe Night of Champions – when they killed Daniel Bryan and killed a lot of their momentum in the main event.
Prime example: When fans are chanting “Dan-iel Bry-an” in a main event of a major PPV that he isn’t in, that’s a sign you’re headed down the wrong path. And it hasn’t been a one-time thing. “Dan-iel Bry-an” and “YES!” chants have been hijacking main events and other matches for months.
The golden boy John Cena hasn’t been able to revive the main event picture. The last few months on Raw have generally opened with CM Punk and/or Daniel Bryan, and have closed the same way with interesting segments, interesting twists and turns and a whole bunch of fan investment.
I didn’t know anyone who wanted Orton-Cena part 234. It was such a bland feud. Two “top” guys involved for the WWE title and their program was so uninspiring that they took up a spot on the midcard of RAW and seemed like an afterthought on SmackDown.
Its awkward when the company’s premier title involves a guy getting a 50-50 reaction from the crowd (Cena) and the other guy getting absolutely nothing (Orton).
Apparently, the WWE doesn’t feel Bryan can be the face of the company because he doesn’t sell pay-per-views and he doesn’t move merchandise. I see Bryan t-shirts in the crowd, not as many as Cena or Punk, but I wouldn’t know what an Orton shirt looked like if he didn’t wear one while awkwardly carrying both belts to the ring every Monday.
Its a testament to just how ridiculously over Bryan is that he can be ran over so many times and still has this effect on 18,000 people. (Skip to 3:20)
Maybe it wasn’t Bryan that the WWE should have been blaming for the dips in pay-per-view buys.
Next up, The Authority is a terrific concept. But the more involved The Authority got without really any baby face payoffs – except the Rhodes Brothers winning – the worse it got.
The Authority is at the forefront but it seems as though there is no direction for the story. One second HHH and Stephanie McMahon are pushing everyone on the roster around. The next they’re trying to be “cool bad guys” as they punish their heel counterparts.
Example: They’ll go from putting Punk and Bryan in handicap matches to punishing other heels like Orton or Brad Maddox and Vickie Guerrero.
Also, for Orton being their “hand picked” guy, they sure haven’t been doing much to hinder Cena recently. Instead, they’re more likely to run down Orton, the heel.
Over the last few months there haven’t been many clean finishes where they would matter, plenty of strange feuds that vanish into thin air, and either forcing things fans don’t want or holding back things they do.
When WWE was soaring after Wrestlemania and throughout the summer, what was happening? Bryan was organically red hot, Dolph Ziggler was finally being pushed, The Shield were winning titles, Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow were feuding and getting pushed, RVD and Y2J were putting on great matches every night and putting guys over, Punk had a meaningful storyline, the Diva’s division was hot, and Ryback was even doing okay. Things that the fans wanted, and things that made sense.
Now what? Everything listed is gone or guys doing something that seems below where they should be. It has gotten better recently, but only recently. The tag division is at its best point in a long time, but then a title change was relegated to a pre-show. Punk versus Axel? Twice? Then Ryback? Ziggler and Sandow have been buried. Fandango regularly loses 3 minute matches. Don’t even get me started on the mess of a Diva’s division.
Furthering my frustration with Batista, apparently his win was a factor in CM Punk leaving. Well WWE, there goes your #2 baby face and probably the only guy you could put in the main event picture that wouldn’t elicit “Dan-iel Bry-an” chants from the crowd hijacking a main event, which is another serious issue they can look forward to at ‘Mania.
Punk leaving has garnered more interest on national media than “movie star” Batista returning.
I’m not saying the WWE needs to start hot-shot booking, but they have to stop burning themselves.