The dust has settled on the latest instalment of the WWE’s Royal Rumble, one that opened with an upset for the ages and one of the best matched I’ve ever witnessed, but that closed amid controversy.
I won’t pretend I have any insider information because I don’t. Nor will I pretend to like the fact that Daniel Bryan was left out of the signature event, all but killing his chance to headline WrestleMania in less than 70 days. I didn’t.
While I’m about as positive and optimistic a wrestling fan as you’ll find, even I’m getting worn down by watching Bryan’s popularity seeminly ignored by Vince McMahon and those calling the shots.
Mick Foley’s heartfelt and passionate plea to WWE following the Rumble sums up the feelings of many (https://www.facebook.com/RealMickFoley).
That aside, here are my random musings following the Rumble:
• The 19-year-old me popped huge for the New Age Outlaws win over the Rhodes Brothers. For me personally, the Outlaws remain one of my all-time favourite tag teams, right in the discussion with the Hart Foundation, Demolition and the Rockers. While I love Goldust and Cody (seems like they’re headed to face each other at WrestleMania), this trip down memory lane will be enjoyable while it lasts. Also, Road Dogg is as good on a microphone as any in history.
• Bryan and Bray Wyatt opened the Rumble with easily one of the best wrestling matches I’ve seen in a long, long time. An instant classic, in my opinion. We all know what Bryan can do and has done, but it’s fun to watch Wyatt emerge and develop into not only a top-level heel, but an all-around talent and future megastar. His finisher, Sister Abigail, is the best closer I’ve seen in a long time. It’s violent and very befitting his bizarre persona. I think Wyatt is my favourite superstar in the business right now.
• Brock Lesnar was/is/always will be one of the nastiest and meanest figures to ever grace a WWE ring. His dismantling of The Big Show was evidence of that. That F5 was ridiculous and is burned into my memory forever. Kudos to Show for taking such a violent beating and walking out on his own two feet.
• I felt sick to my stomach watching that crowd carry on like fools during the Orton/Cena match. I like an active and lively crowd as much as the next guy, but the disrespect shown to Orton and Cena was terrible and, quite frankly, embarrassing. While I write about this as part of my living (passion), I’m also a fan at heart. The worst part of all the jeers was that they were misdirected. Cena and Orton were having a pretty darned good match, and the crowd was taking away from that. I’ve witnessed some dud matches in my life, that one was far from it. Good on Orton for finding ways to work the crowd. Really interested to see where the Orton-Wyatts thing goes.
• The Rumble match itself had highs and lows, like probably every other one in history. Here are my obversations;
— CM Punk and Seth Rollins deserve big props for entering to open and hanging around late. I was hoping for a wire-to-wire finish for Punk, but it wasn’t meant to be. How cool would it be to see both the No. 1 and No. 2 guys as the final two remaining?
— Roman Reigns’ transformation from Shield member to top guy was cemented. He set the record for eliminations in a Royal Rumble and he single-handed dissolved the Shield. Truth be told, he probably should have won the Rumble, but, as I wrote in an earlier column, next year will be his year.
— Return of Sheamus = awesome.
— Kevin Nash looked great. Not sure he was supposed to be eliminated when he was, but it’s a moot point. Sometimes I forget how huge and menacing he is/was.
— Kofi Kingston and his acrobatic ways of avoiding elimination is worth the price of admission. Wow. Just wow.
— Batista. Batista is the victim of a lot of things at play right now. Granted, he looks like he has a ton of ring rust and his cardio is nowhere near where it needs to be. All that aside, he comes in a time when fans are clamouring for WWE to recognize and reward Bryan. He comes at a time when CM Punk is in a contract year. He comes at a time when Lesnar, Cena and others are in the main-event picture. And he comes at a time when there is only one “main event” at WrestleMania thanks to the unification of the titles. So handing the ‘Mania main event opportunity to a guy just returning before any of the aforementioned is not without controversy. Handing it to a guy who hasn’t wrestled in years over guys who help keep the company in business all year round doesn’t seem fair in a lot of ways. I get that. All that said, we’re not handing this opportunity to someone without a track record here. The man is a four-time World Heavyweight champion and a two-time WWE champion, among other things. In his prime, he was as main-event as they come. So while I personally would have preferred to have seen CM Punk, Reigns or Bryan win the Rumble, I’ll reserve full judgment for now and give Batista and WWE the benefit of doubt.