The Delco Elbow Drop

Friday, January 30, 2015

Royal Rumble 2015 – What went wrong, part 2

After posting my thoughts on the 2015 WWE Royal Rumble yesterday, I wanted to write another article (this one will be shorter – I promise) about why the crowd in Philadelphia reacted the way they did to Roman Reigns winning the Rumble.

I wanted to write a more concise piece about the outcome of the Rumble because I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot of backlash about the reaction that Reigns got – with a lot of it aimed at Philadelphia fans and the perceived “IWC” wrestling fans specifically.

I’ll say this right away – like I did in my last piece – Roman Reigns didn’t deserve the negative reaction he got after he won the 2015 Royal Rumble. The booing and chants opposing his victory weren’t necessarily a reaction to the fact that Reigns won the annual event, rather they were a reaction to booking decision by WWE overall and it’s unfortunate that the reactions to those decisions came down squarely on what should have been a crowning achievement in the career of Reigns.

The biggest problem many fans have with WWE right now is the treatment (or rather, perceived treatment) of Daniel Bryan. Here, we have a man who has worked for many, many years to hone his skill in the sport of professional wrestling. He started training when he was in high school, made his professional debut in 1999 and has been working nonstop since then to be, one of, if not the best in the world.

And despite Bryan’s technical mastery in the ring, his heartfelt work on the mic and the support he has from the fans, the powers that be in WWE deigned that he is not now, nor will he ever truly be “the guy.”

The crowds love Daniel Bryan. They love his attitude, his skill, his quiet-yet-confident personality. They chant his name. They lead “Yes!” chants whenever he is mentioned. They buy his merchandise. Yet, despite all this vocal fan support (which also amount to money in WWE’s pocket), the WWE was dragged begrudgingly into putting him in the title picture leading into Wrestlemania 30 and has, allegedly, decided that he will never return to that position.

And the fans notice this. They see him feuding with Kane, losing to Bray Wyatt and entering the Royal Rumble in the first third of the competition, only to be eliminated minutes later. The fans want Daniel Bryan and they want him in a better position in the WWE – and the WWE is resisting every step of the way.

But what does this have to do with Roman Reigns winning the Royal Rumble, you might be asking?

You see, the overwhelming support for Daniel Bryan is due to the WWE’s fans wanting someone new at the top, they want someone fresh. For the past decade or more, the biggest storylines in WWE have been ruled by a few familiar faces – John Cena, Randy Orton, Triple H and a handful of others (like Kane, Sheamus, Big Show, etc.). CM Punk was another man who did not fit the WWE mold but received overwhelming crowd support, sold merchandise by the ton and the WWE was basically forced to recognize his popularity with a spot at or near the top of the card.

During Punk’s rise, Daniel Bryan’s stock was rising but it was only when Punk walked out that the fans turned to Daniel Bryan as their choice. Both Punk and Bryan, though having different in-ring styles, took similar paths to the WWE and the fans, more savvy to the business now than ever before, respected the work these men put into their craft and supported them.

But all while the fans were voicing their support for guys like Punk and Bryan, the decision-makers in WWE continued to put the same faces at the top of the card. It’s why Cena has been getting such mixed reactions for several years and why the crowd booed Batista’s win at the 2014 Royal Rumble. The fans acknowledge the time that men like Punk and Bryan have dedicated to professional wrestling, yet the WWE seems to be actively ignoring their cheers and push other stars.

But considering this, one would think that Roman Reigns’ win at the Rumble would have been received in a different light. Doesn’t Reigns represent a change at the top of the card? Well, yes and no.

It’s true that Reigns is new blood in the main event picture, which is something that the fans have been clamoring for. But at the same time there are other stars who have been in the WWE longer than Reigns who fans want to see given a chance at the top – stars like Daniel Bryan and to a lesser extent, Dolph Ziggler.

As mentioned earlier, fans today are more savvy to the professional wrestling business than ever before. We’re aware of the pedigree wrestlers bring into the WWE and wrestling fans today appreciate the hard work these men have done to reach the biggest stage in professional wrestling. Where Bryan and Ziggler represent men who have worked for years inside and outside of the WWE system to earn the respect of the fans and slaved to reach their spot on the card, Reigns represents the opposite, a wrestler chosen for that spot by WWE management and not by the fans.

Where Bryan debuted in 1999 and worked through the indies to get to WWE and Ziggler debuted in 2004 and worked through WWE developmental system and persevered through several horrible gimmicks to get to reach his current role, Reigns only debuted in 2010, was in WWE developmental for two years and in The Shield for two years before turning into a singles competitor in June of 2014. The fans have responded well to Reigns since going solo but, savvier fans we are today, either do not think Reigns is ready for a main event spot yet or feel that there are others more deserving of that spot but have been overlooked for whatever reason.

The reaction to Reigns’ Royal Rumble win wasn’t out of negative feelings toward Reigns himself. Nor was it due to a feeling that he doesn’t have potential to someday be “the guy.” The reaction at the Royal Rumble was due to the fans understanding the product well-enough to recognize the effort men like Bryan and Ziggler and want them in the limelight and not someone who has been pushed too hard, too fast.

It’s times like these that make me think the powers that be in WWE still think of pro wrestling fans as the witless suckers of days past, content to take whatever is given, before the business was exposed to the degree it is today. But those times are gone. You can’t tell modern fans that someone with two years’ experience on the main roster and mere months as a singles wrestler is more qualified for a main event spot than men who have been working twice as long for that same opportunity and expect them to take WWE at their word.

Fans today won’t accept “Because we say so” as the reason for someone’s main event push and that is why Roman Reigns was booed after winning the 2015 Royal Rumble.

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

My Photo

An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]