The Royal Rumble, no matter how bad it ends up being, is still one of the more exciting events in wrestling. This year's Rumble was another in what is becoming an extended streak of disappointing Royal Rumbles, but that does not mean that it was necessarily boring.
The Royal Rumble Match-** (2 stars)
I was fairly certain in my preview column Thursday that Daniel Bryan was going to win the Royal Rumble. Unfortunately it turns out that I was wrong, and Daniel Bryan didn't even get a spot in the Royal Rumble, for some unexplained reason. We will get to Bryan later, but for now let's talk about the man who actually won the Rumble: Batista.
Batista was a very interesting choice to win the Royal Rumble. For starters, he had made exactly one appearance for WWE in the last 4 years. It seems strange to me that WWE would give such an enormous push to someone that they don't really know what they have in. Sure, Batista has main evented a couple Wrestlemanias before, but that was a long time ago. Now, WWE has put a lot of faith in Batista to be a top player for their biggest event of the year when his value is still very much a question mark.
Batista's return last Monday on Raw was met with a very underwhelming response from the fans, and his performance tonight was A LOT worse. Sure, some of that venom probably came from the fans being upset that Daniel Bryan was not in the Rumble, but if that was the case, the fans wouldn't have cheered for anybody. The crowd was very much in favor of Roman Reigns (the heel) at the end then they were of Batista (the face), and that is a big problem right there. Pittsburgh is a city with a pretty good reputation for crowds, but they do not have the same level of hardcore fans as Chicago or New York. In those cities (and Toronto too), WWE can bank on some atypical crowd reactions, but the reactions they get in Pittsburgh are pretty much what they can expect from their typical city for Raw. If the reactions to Batista in other cities are even close to what they were in Pittsburgh, then WWE is going to be in some serious trouble heading into Wrestlemania.
Moving on to Daniel Bryan, it is very clear to me that WWE dropped the ball on Bryan. This was maybe their last chance to fix the damage that they did to Bryan during the fall, but once again they passed that opportunity up in favor of an older, less talented and less popular star. The fans were 100% right to boo WWE for tonight's performance, because WWE's number one goal should be to satisfy their fans, and they have not even come close to doing so.
What amazes me the most is that booking Daniel Bryan is really not that difficult. Anyone that does not believe that Daniel Bryan is the most over performer in WWE is kidding themselves. Randy Orton and Triple H have jerked him around, but Daniel Bryan can win the Royal Rumble and finally get his revenge on the biggest stage. That is clearly what the fans want, yet WWE routinely shoots itself in the foot. I don't believe that Triple H, Vince McMahon, or whoever is in charge of this stuff is stupid, or that they are ignorant towards what their fans are interested in. The only explanation that really exists as too why Bryan did not win the Royal Rumble, or was not even entered in the Rumble, was because politics played a role in the decision process, an excuse so unfathomably inexcusable that whoever made the call should be discharged immediately.
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