The 2015 ‘Royal Rumble’ pay-per-view happened last night in Philadelphia. Wrestling fans always look forward to this event every year. It’s arguably the second-best wrestling night of the year, just behind ‘Wrestlemania’. Unfortunately, wrestling fans were left disappointed.
The Rumble is the unofficial start to the ‘Road to Wrestlemania’. Not only are fans excited to see which surprise entrants will enter the Rumble, but the other matches help set the table for feuds through Mania. The WWE did a pretty poor job in every facet.
The WWE has been playing it safe since the WWE Network launched. Their storytelling ability has been stuck in the 80’s since they reverted back to a PG rating. What can they do to fix last night’s blunder?
The WWE has been working on a slow-build with Roman Reigns since last year’s ‘Royal Rumble’. He eliminated 12 men and broke the previous record of 11 held by Kane. We have basically known Reigns would be facing Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania since before ‘Summerslam’. Wrestling fans hoped the return of Daniel Bryan would throw a wrench into their plans. Bryan only lasted about ten minutes in the Rumble match. This caused fans to boo the rest of the main event. The Rock couldn’t even save the event when he came out to help Reigns win.
Vince McMahon didn’t learn his lesson from last year’s ‘Royal Rumble’. Batista won after they omitted Bryan from the match entirely. The crowd booed from the moment Rey Mysterio appeared as the 30th entrant. The entire happening pushed a lot of ill-will towards Batista. The fans began to nickname him Bootista.
How can the WWE fix their mistake?
Have Seth Rollins cash in his ‘Money In The Bank’ briefcase on Brock Lesnar and win. It sets up a Rollins vs. Reigns match. If they want to stack the deck, get Ambrose in the mix and make it a triple threat. Lesnar could face Daniel Bryan in a single bout. The card is also expected to have Bray Wyatt vs. Undertaker and John Cena vs. Rusev. That’s a pretty damn good Wrestlemania.
Seth Rollins has pushed himself to the next level. His feud with Ambrose, Cena and Lesnar have made him a believable, to quote Jim Ross, ‘chicken shit heel’. Rollins took the spotlight when Reigns was out with an injury. He deserves the title more than Reigns at this point.
Wrestling fans want the WWE to add Daniel Bryan to the Reigns/Lesnar match, but that was done last year. I feel this would be too much of a repeat of Wrestlemania XXX.
Fixing the actual Rumble match is easy as well. They should go back to 40 entrants and add more surprise appearances. The crowd loves it and it could flip a hostile crowd back on your side. The entire pay-per-view was only 2 hours and 45 minutes. That’s about a half hour shorter than a weekly RAW program on USA. Adding an extra ten entrants only adds an extra fifteen minutes to the pay-per-view.
The day of the slow-build is officially over…unless it’s for a match wrestling fans want to see. Make us believe in Roman Reigns. We have no reason to want to see him win the WWE Heavyweight title. Is this because a part-timer has had the title and there has been no interaction between Reigns and Lesnar? Possibly, but even if Lesnar was a full-time guy, I doubt we would care.
They have failed to make us care. That might be the biggest mistake they made last night.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.