Our email, Twitter, and Facebook feeds were flooded with a lot of negative feedback after Daniel Bryan was left out of the Rumble. But was it that bad?
Here’s an overview look of just about everything that was written yesterday about it.
It is often argued that pro wrestling is most successful when it taps in to the cultural zeitgeist of the day. In the 80s, when bigger was better and Hollywood was full of action superheroes like Arnie and Stallone, Vince McMahon struck gold with Hulk Hogan. When Jerry Springer, Southpark and other controversial entertainment took the limelight, the WWF Attitude Era was a winning formula, that could only work in that period of history. At this year’s Royal Rumble fan favorite Daniel Bryan not only lost to Bray Wyatt, but he was not featured in the Rumble match, causing a chorus of boos towards the end of the event. Fans wanted Bryan … but the machine wouldn’t give it to them.
Many people rolled their eyes when WWE brought back the evil corporate boss storyline, but it makes more sense culturally now, than it ever did in the 90s. Half the planet are uprising against their corrupt governments, and in the US Occupy, Anonymous and other protest/activist groups are now part of the fabric of society. It’s the perfect time to tap in to that spirit of rebellion, with a guy who may not be the “face of the company”, but certainly wouldn’t look out of place at a protest camp. We even got a glimpse of it a few months back when The Shield (reminiscent of riot police) did the bidding of WWE’s corporate masters.
WWE is well aware that DB is the hottest ticket in wrestling right now. They’re also aware that when he finally wins the belt, there’s a shit load of money to be made on him.
They did the same stuff with Steve Austin during his initial rise to fame.
Remember, they’re building this to blow off at Wrestlemania and possibly the Monday following.
The 2014 Royal Rumble is in the books and judging by the chorus of boos in the arena, my Twitter timeline, and early stuff on the web, there are a slew of pissed off wrestling fans this morning. I have to say that I’m definitely not one of those pissed off fans. The show gave us just what most people expected and set up some great things moving forward.
Everyone and their grandmother has been saying Bryan should win the rumble and headline Wrestlemania for the title and to be honest, it would have been great. However, because it’s so obvious the WWE felt it had no choice than to nix that for the sake of keeping the audience invested.
Work with me here, let’s say DB wins the rumble, what happens between now and Wrestlemania? The fans know DB is going to challenge for the title, I believe we all know and the WWE knows that DB is over past the moon and having him end Wrestlemania is the only logical conclusion but the fans would have less interest between now and then. So what can the WWE do? They have someone else win the Rumble and plan chance for Bryan to challenge for the #1 contender position at Wrestlemania at EC. It keeps the fans interested and it will sell more PPV buys (WWE hopes).
The crowd at the Rumble was amazing. They supported good matches, their favorite wrestlers and applauded show making performance like that of Roman Reigns. But best of all, they booed things they hated and they hated nothing more then the same old things being pushed to the forefront. We had Cena, Orton and Batista in prime positions of the pay-per-view. What is this 2002? The crowd certainly let them know what they thought of seeing Cena-Orton for the hundredth time and a 45-year-old man who had been gone for four years winning the coveted Royal Rumble match. Could you not hear the boos WWE? It leads to the obvious question: why can’t we get what we want?
The reaction all over today and, indeed, throughout the IWC is one of revulsion. Revulsion that our hero ate a clean loss to Bray Wyatt and revulsion that Rey Mysterio was no.30 in the rumble instead of the Goat. Triple H, who idolizes the old NWA, might see this as a victory for his Authority, of the validation of the fans’ investment, and proof that the new kayfabe has made marks of everybody. Vince McMahon, like PT Barnum before him, believes there is no such thing as bad publicity.
I don’t know where and when WWE will reach a tipping point where fans tune out instead of cheering harder. However, it’s instructive to look back at the NWA, where the crowd’s hero would chase for years. Could this be a return to long form? Or is just a burial of a too small “good little hand” with mediocre mic skills in favor of the conquering (pseudo-) movie star come home?
So, what say you? Are we being worked? Is WWE really this inept? Are you enjoying the work that Daniel Bryan has been doing despite not getting the top spot on the card?