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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: The WWE Royal Rumble Report - Well, What's There to Say?
By The Doc
Jan 26, 2014 - 11:54:46 PM

I tweeted earlier today (@TheDocLOP) that I was wondering if the WWE would offer up a plan that went the opposite direction of what I wanted to see. Premonition confirmed, as of the direction that the WWE appears to be heading in after tonight's Royal Rumble.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What are you feeling right now about The Road to WrestleMania?

Match 1: Bray Wyatt defeated Daniel Bryan in 21:30 (****1/4) (Here was the highlight of the night. The show peaked in the first thirty minutes with an absolutely outstanding match between Bryan and Wyatt. I told the crowd that I was watching with that, lost amongst all the talk of Bryan and his quest to overcome both the on-screen and behind the scenes "Authority" was how big a night that this was for Bray. He was, as of just a couple of months ago, a directionless project at best. After tonight, no one should question that he is a star in the making...and that star, currently shining very brightly, may be made as soon as WrestleMania XXX. As we saw later on with Bray, he appears headed for the rumored feud with John Cena. It remains to be seen if that feud will carry to Mania, but it looks like a strong possibility. Bray is a unique talent with incredible charisma. He needed to prove against one of the best wrestlers on earth that he could back up his promos with his actions in a featured match. An early Match of the Year candidate proves that he is. Everyone at my house was talking about Bray. Bryan was Bryan, eliciting a reaction second to none in the WWE right now and proving why he should be in the main-event or headlining at Mania. The rest of the events of the evening further drove home how much the WWE needs to listen to its fan base and start putting Bryan at the very top of the company's priority list. I don't think that his loss or his failure to win the Rumble necessarily states that he's completely out of the picture for a big match in two months, by the way. It's not a good night for the WWE when the crowd in Pittsburgh - not Chicago, New York, or Toronto where the audiences are expected to go against the grain, but PITTSBURGH - chants "Daniel Bryan" all night, during a match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and during the Royal Rumble match, and the PPV ends on an extremely anticlimactic note that has approximately 8 people - purposefully hyperbolized - excited for WrestleMania. If the WWE isn't careful, they're going to end up with a huge dud on their hands in New Orleans. Expect more of the same if Bryan doesn't get a huge match with Taker or Triple H or find himself in the title picture. Yet, we can celebrate that Bryan and Bray had a phenomenal match to open the show - one that showed why both of them belong at the top of the card as soon as possible to capitalize on Bryan's popularity and Bray's unusual talent)

Match 2: Brock Lesnar defeated Big Show in 2-minutes (1/2 *) (The presentation was not exactly fit to make Brock look like someone who stands a chance against Undertaker; I'll state that straight away. Using a chair to gain the advantage over a guy that nobody cares about, despite his size, does not for a "Streak" challenger make. Even in clobbering Big Show with 20 steel chair shots and defeating him easily with a wicked F5, Lesnar is just another guy in the WWE doing typical WWE heel stuff. He just did something that Randy Orton would do rather than something that Brock Lesnar would do. That doesn't really work for me; and that's with me thinking about how the casual fan would react to it. I'm not sure who this segment, of sorts, was geared toward, but I don't personally believe that it did much to aid Brock's case of being an unstoppable monster to be fed to Taker or Batista. Outside of that F5, this was a real DUD)

Match 3: Randy Orton retained the title against John Cena in 21 minutes (***1/2) (I said to my group during the climax of this match, "Cena and Orton cannot have a bad match against each other and this one is actually quite good if you can ignore the crowd. But I, like the crowd, simply don't care anymore when these two wrestle." A month ago, I got excited to see them unify the titles because it was a scenario that elevated a B-PPV. The Royal Rumble is a different story. We're at a time of the year when I expect the best that the WWE can muster and Orton vs. Cena 18 is not the best that they can offer. The Bray vs. Cena tease at the end did not appeal to me. I'm all for Bray getting pushed, but the problem that immediately jumped out to me is that Cena is no longer a babyface that people want to see in the role that he's likely play against Cena. Unless Bray turns Cena into a monster that can fight someone of higher esteem, then this feud is destined to make Bray a super over babyface. That might be OK, I suppose. You need guys to be able to get over as a babyfaces, but not if the angle that leads to it is supposed to be a story of Cena, the babyface, overcoming the dastardly heel Wyatts. That's not going to work with an audience that shells out a ton of coin to see WHAT THEY WANT and not what WWE WANTS THEM TO WANT. Wyatt vs. Cena looks good on paper, but it's going to be very difficult to execute with where Cena currently rates with his beyond stale character. For those that didn't see it, Cena and Orton may as well not have been wrestling until the went into a Rock-Austin-esque series of finishers for the final three minutes. Randy Savage, Y2J, and even the FRIEKIN' DIVAS got chants - seriously, a "WE WANT DIVAS" chant broke out during the title match involving two of the top stars of the last decade. And, of course, there were a ton of chants for Bryan. The WWE better have a creative miracle up their sleeve or WrestleMania XXX is going to absolutely suck)

Batista won the 2014 Royal Rumble match (***) (Sorry I didn't give you the official time. When Mysterio came out at #30, pretty much the entire wrestling world sighed and started talking about something else - with the exception of the DIRECTV girl that I spoke to when ordering the show who apparently loves Batista. Before I get into the absolute travesty of missed opportunity that was the 2014 Rumble, let's point out the superstar that is poised to break out at any time that the WWE wants to unleash him on the main-event: Roman Reigns. Roman broke the 13 year old record for most eliminations in a Rumble with 12 and was the last man eliminated by the conquering zero, Batista. As my buddy, Mattberg, mentioned during the match, the WWE has a nice formula going for introducing stables of young talent who each bring something to the table collectively, but still have weaknesses as individuals that need to be hidden. Reigns hid in The Shield and honed his craft on the house show circuit while gaining invaluable experience on live TV and PPV in key situations. Tonight, he showed that he's nearly ready for the monster push sure to come soon. The sting of disappointment will wear off, but the impression that Reigns left on this year's Rumble could well be the thing that we all point back to when discussing his stardom in 10 years. I don't really think that many people benefited from this year's Rumble outside of him. There were a lot of relevant players involved and a few had solid performances, but no one else had the kind of Rumble that will stand out historically besides Reigns.

One of the benefits that Reigns had was that the crowd was so invested in someone other than Batista winning that they cheered anyone not named Dave Batista. Reigns got a massive reaction when it came down to him and Bats, as much because he wasn't someone who became popular 5-10 years ago as because of his talent. He deserved the props. No doubt. But that crowd made it clear that they wanted Daniel Bryan to be in it and win it...when he didn't, it was a game of "who can we cheer for that's fresh and interesting." Someone at WWE HQ needs their head examined. How could they not have seen this coming? Bryan has only been getting massively cheered at every turn with every crowd in every country for the last 6 months since, um, you know, the WWE pushed him to the point where that was acceptable. Dave Batista got shat on when he's supposed to be a headlining draw for Mania. Unless they plan to turn him heel, then putting him in this position where ANYONE but Bryan that won the Rumble - outside of a very few select people, only one of which was actually in the match [Punk] - was going to get booed. That was just a bad move. What does that say to the unique viewer that tuned in tonight when the guy that they see in position to win the title at Mania gets such a horridly negative reaction from the people while the announcers try to save it in a situation that could not be salvaged? There was a very smart play for Dave Batista's return and it wasn't to put him in a spot that the audience doesn't want him in. Other positions could have been filled by The Animal. Why choose the one that the people would reject? This was a decent Rumble with a very uninspiring finish that could not have left the hardcore, diehard fanbase with less to be excited about for New Orleans)

All in all...the WWE has some serious decisions to make about this year's WrestleMania. The sins of Mania 29 were excusable given the presence of two rematches that were proven box office hits, but those sins cannot be repeated. Daniel Bryan cannot wrestle Sheamus, as rumored, and it be OK. Not with the kinds of reactions that he gets. A match with Taker - if not Triple H or for the title - must take place for that man. He must headline WrestleMania or the WWE can expect more of the same crap. In fact, it'd be wise to put him in the main-event, somehow, as otherwise whatever does main-event is going to struggle to get a positive reaction. You cannot ignore the people. Tonight may just wind up being part of the journey, as it is always about the follow-up, but a bad taste has been left inside the mouths of a very vocal fanbase. The WWE better develop a great tasting mouthwash in a hurry.

The WrestleMania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment.

  • Doctor's Orders: The Top 50 Cruiserweight Matches in WCW and WWE History (#11-#20)

  • Doctor’s Orders: No! The Yes! Movement is NOT Over! (Plus, The Ultimate Deletion)

  • Doctor's Orders: The Top 50 Cruiserweight Matches in WCW and WWE History (#21-#30)

  • Doctor's Orders: The Top 50 Cruiserweight Matches in WCW and WWE History (#31-#40) - The Neville Section

  • Doctor’s Orders: The Match That Defines YOUR WrestleMania Experience (w/ Raw Thoughts)

  • Doctor's Orders: The Top 50 Cruiserweight Matches in WCW and WWE History (#41-#50)

  • Doctor’s Orders: RAW…IS…Promo Class - How Monday Night Changed the Tone of WrestleMania Season

  • Doctor’s Orders: If Only Vince McMahon Liked Ice Cream

  • Doctor’s Orders: Monday Night Rollins – The Architect Offers Raw’s Most Memorable Performance In Ages

  • Doctor’s Orders: The Great Irony of My Wrestling Fandom