Following the backlash that WWE recieved for the outcome of the Royal Rumble match last night, I decided to wait almost a full 24 hours before offering my thoughts on things. I've been known to jump the gun in the past and write an article in the heat of the moment so I figured it'd be best to let things sink in before conjuring my opinion on the booking decisions that WWE made last night. In that time, I garnered alot of thoughts that I will share with you in this piece so thanks for taking the time to check this out.
First things first, I'm getting tired of doing this. Doing what you ask? Writing my thoughts on one of the greatest PPV's in WWE history and it's all negative for the most part. This same thing happened last year when WWE pulled another one of their classic booking decisions by having Batista return to win the Rumble over the most popular guy in the company, Daniel Bryan.
Considering what caused an uproar last year, some casual fans may think "Why are fans so pissed about Roman Reigns winning?" And apparently that's what people in WWE thought last night which completely baffles me, but that's something that will be discussed later. None the less, the answer to the aforementioned question is simple yet it's a bit complex. Let me explain.
Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Dolph Ziggler are clearly the top four most popular talents in the company right now. However, three of those men (Bryan, Ambrose, & Ziggler) are different than one of those men (Reigns) in one crucial aspect. That aspect being a personal connection with the WWE Universe.
Fans gravitate towards talents like Bryan, Ambrose, Ziggler, and even the now retired CM Punk because they aren't your larger than your life character. They're an average, likeable person that they can relate to and they admire because they worked hard to get where they are. Now, before I continue, that's not to say that fans should boo Reigns because he didn't have to go through years of wrestling on the Indies or bad gimmicks/storylines/being held down, etc to get where he is. It's just to point out how Bryan, Ambrose, & Ziggler developed that connection with the audience.
That personal connection & ability to feel the audience is key to any superstar's success. There are many ways to develop that connection & ability to feel the audience and Roman Reigns hasn't found that yet. Hell, he hasn't even truly found himself yet and not only is WWE expecting him to be the next John Cena they are also trying to make him into what they want him to be. Think about how much pressure that puts on someone who's been in the business far less than a decade. I honestly feel bad for Roman Reigns more than anything else. So before I continue, I just want to clarify that I don't hate or dislike Reigns and that this isn't to bash him. As I said before, more than anything, I feel sorry for him and the fact that he has so much pressure on him at the moment.
None the less, back to the topic. I've had mixed thoughts on Reigns since he separated from The Shield simply because I knew this would happen. I always thought he had the presence, look, and potential to be the next Rock/Cena, but the key word there is POTENTIAL. I always looked at Roman as someone who would develop into that superstar with time, practice from working with more experienced talent, and just messing around on the mic until he finds his voice & character. So, when I saw him being thrust into the top spot this soon, I immediately began disliking him because after all, who likes something mediocre being shoved down their throat?
However after last night, I've realized that I don't dislike him. I just dislike how he's being booked because I fear that it could ultimately be the downfall of his career. Last night, that fear came to fruition and as a result, Reigns career has reached a crossroads. From here, there are three paths that it could go down.
The first path his career could go down is one similar to John Cena's. He will continue to get pushed and forced to be THAT guy before he's ready which will in turn prolong him becoming the star that he can be. So much so that when he finally develops into one of the greatest performers around, hardly ANYONE will appreciate it. Does this ring a bell? It happened to John Cena and I'd argue to say that although WWE & Cena himself have grown used to the reaction he gets, I'm sure they would prefer it not be that way. Over the course of the past few years, John Cena has developed into one of the best performers in the world whether people want to admit it or not. He's had awesome matches with everyone from Shawn Michaels to Umaga to CM Punk to Daniel Bryan. He plays the perfect babyface and while his character is subject to cheesy actions & booking alot of the time, he's one of my favorite talents to watch wrestle in WWE. I feel like if Reigns would have been given a year or two to truly find himself and become the high class performer that he is destined to be, the crowd would have absolutely embraced him winning a big match like the Royal Rumble. Instead, what happened last night took place.
The second path that Reign's career could go down is one that I think would be best for him. I call this one "The Ryback Road". The Ryback Road would see Reigns push come to an end to due to the backlash from fans. Reigns would go to the undercard and he would no longer be WWE's science project. Reigns wouldn't be viewed as someone that Vince can create into his prototypical face of the company, he will instead be looked at as a failed experiment. During this slump for Reigns, WWE will move on and find someone else they want to manipulate into who they want the fans to buy into, meanwhile Reigns will be lower on the card with less expectations and as a result, less people trying to turn him into something he's not. Reigns will be able to be himself more so than he is now and will also just get the chance to go out there and wrestle without the stress of delivering a main event caliber match like he is now. It's in this time that Reigns would find himself and become a fan favorite once again. It happened to Ryback after his big push in 2012-2013 and it seemed to have been a blessing in the skies as Ryback is one of the most "over" superstars once again. I honestly think this may be the best path for Reigns to go down. It certainly would be best for his future as he could develop into his own person, gain more fan support than ever (even the smart fans would join in), and he would become what the top babyface of a wrestling company should be - the most beloved talent on the roster.
OR Roman could down the Bobby Lashley road. Bobby Lashley is someone that I always viewed as a potential star during his first WWE run. I enjoyed his matches with John Cena in 2007, but unfortunately, that was the peak for him. He got pushed, it didn't work, and he faded away. I was bummed by it therefore it would be devastating to see the same thing happen to Roman Reigns, but it's certainly a possibility.
Now that we've discussed where Reigns goes from here, I think that leads me to the other thing that annoyed me most about the way the Rumble was booked. It leaves the aforementioned top three babyfaces with nothing more than an undercard slot on the biggest show of the year.
Dean Ambrose has been out to dry since his feud with Rollins ended. Dolph Ziggler experienced a career high recently however WWE chose not to capitalize on his talent YET AGAIN. Daniel Bryan just returned from action and appears better than ever in every aspect from in the ring to his popularity yet he has nothing set in stone for WrestleMania yet.
As it appears now, we'll be getting Reigns/Lesnar, Sting/HHH, and Cena/Rusev as the top three main matches at WrestleMania 31 and I really don't think it's the right decision. If WWE wants the best show possible, why aren't they booking their best talents in top spots? Hell, the best heel in the company, Seth Rollins, doesn't even appear to have a set slot on the card. I'm guessing he'll continue his feud with a returning Randy Orton, but that's something that should & could have been high on the card, even for the WWE Title as I predicted in my Royal Rumble article last week. Instead of putting Cena in a match that I'm not sure anyone is excited for against Rusev, why not place the most hated guy in the company (Rollins) against a veteran like Orton in one of the top matches on the card? It's missed opportunites like this that make me question WWE's outlook on things. Sure, Rusev is a new talent that's going to get a big match/opportunity, but just like with Reigns, is he REALLY ready for that? He's a good heel however he's not the most over heel in the company and on top of that, he doesn't have near the experience of other heel candidates for a top slot on the card such as Seth Rollins or Bray Wyatt.
I may seem like I'm complaining considering that everyone dies for someone new to be pushed yet bitches when it happens, but it just baffles me that WWE chooses the two young talents that are the least over to push. When you have Bryan, Ambrose, & Ziggler stealing the show & getting the pops of the night, why push Roman Reigns who is just beginning to come into his own and get over with fans as himself and not just as The Shield's powerhouse? Why place Rusev as the top heel on the card when you have Seth Rollins killing it in every PPV main event he's been in and getting "You Sold Out" chants still to this day?
Now, don't take me wrong, I'm not complaing on Rollins' booking because he's been handled the best of any single talent in WWE in years thus far. I just think he should be in one of the top three matches at WrestleMania ahead of Rusev & Roman Reigns. And who knows, he could be. The Road to Mania is just beggining. I'm just going based off the way it seems things are going coming out of the Rumble PPV. In fact, I originally was going to wait until after Raw to write this so I wouldn't be filing a complaint about something before giving things time to develop, but since Raw was cancelled I decided to go ahead and share my thoughts.
I hope this didn't come off as a negative rant from someone who just complains for the sake of complaining because that's not what this was intended to be. I just want the WWE product to be the best it can be not only because I love the business, but also because I'm the one spending my money on it. I also just want the best for all the talent mentioned in this article and while I could be completely wrong about all of this, it's simply my opinion and since everyone has been voicing their displeasure & other feelings towards the recent happenings in WWE, I felt compelled to give my two cents.
So, thanks for the reading and feel free to comment or tweet me your thoughts!
Twitter - @ThePWTruth
Personal Twitter - @EthanPWT