As if there was any doubt, consider last night's Royal Rumble 2012 definitive proof that Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment have completely lost touch with reality.
There can be no other explanation. What else could account for the absolute train wreck that was the 25th anniversary of wrestling's most popular pay-per-view? After weeks of seeing drastic improvements in the quality of WWE programming, "Vince and The Gang" destroyed much of that momentum with illogical, ridiculous and flat-out insulting choices in how to manage last night's show.
What makes the missteps all the more painful to watch is just how easily they could be avoided. It is almost as if the writers are trying to confuse viewers by making as little sense as possible, zigging when they should have zagged. The end result of their sloppy booking, writing and execution being the supreme dissatisfaction of the wrestling world as yet another golden opportunity to right the ship comes and goes with no sign of improvement.
What follows are five of the most confounding, unusual and inexplicable decisions made by the WWE at last night's Royal Rumble.
It has been made painfully clear that the WWE writers cannot stand prosperity. When something good falls into their lap, they inevitably find a way to mess it up. Making his debut a few weeks ago as "The Funkasaurus," Brodus Clay was considered a breath of fresh air by many.
After last night's awkward match with Drew McIntyre, I guess creative won't rest until Brodus is completely stale.
In yet another squash match, Brodus dispatched McIntyre in about three minutes (maybe five or six counting the entrance and dance number). He did the same dance, he shouted the same taunts, he used the same two moves and that was it.
It was well-known that many big names would not be available to participate in the Royal Rumble match, leaving the main event to be noticeably lacking star power. Why, then, did the WWE decide to book Brodus Clay in a tack-on squash match instead of having him join the Rumble? He is already gaining a following and would have been a welcome entrant compared to Michael Cole.
Scrapping his squash match could have given the Punk-Ziggler title fight more time, which it could have used. Not to mention, the Rumble would have given Brodus a chance to do something different.
And am I crazy, or was Clay's finisher, "What the Funk?", called "Aw Funk It!" last week? No explanation? Okay, moving on.
Being the No. 1 entrant into the Royal Rumble match is a dubious honor. If you can pull it off, go coast to coast and outlast 29 other men to win, you will achieve wrestling immortality, joining the ranks of Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit. If not, it is usually a quick exit.
Very rarely can the first entrant find a happy medium...unless you're The Miz.
After losing to R-Truth the week before, The Miz was awarded the No. 1 entry spot. After fighting off Alex Riley at No. 2, The Miz eliminated his rival, R-Truth, within the first five minutes of the match. He then proceeded to hang around another 40 minutes, until finally being eliminated by The Big Show.
Why? Why have The Miz enter first, defeat R-Truth immediately, with whom he is currently feuding, and stick around for another 40 minutes? Or why not have R-Truth enter later, making their confrontation a bit more potent?
At the very least, they could have made The Miz's effort seem impressive, or have him draw heat by hiding outside or avoiding conflict. The No. 1 spot in the Rumble match is special because it can be used to reveal character information in a number of ways. Something that the WWE has no shortage of right now are young, talented guys who need character development. This could have done wonders to build legitimacy for an up-and-comer, but was ultimately wasted on The Miz.
He was just there—until he wasn't. End of story.
Anyone can tell you that what makes Royal Rumble so special is the element of surprise. Nobody knows for sure who will end up walking through that curtain once the clock hits zero. Superstars such as Mr. Perfect, Rob Van Dam, Kevin Nash, Jerry Lawler and Undertaker have all made unexpected appearances in Royal Rumbles past.
Adding to the excitement this year was the frenzy of speculation regarding rumors that Brock Lesnar would be returning to WWE wrestling following his unexpected retirement from UFC. What better way than to enter the Royal Rumble match as the final participant?
If not Brock, maybe any one of the many injured superstars currently sidelined would make their return to action. Christian? Rey Mysterio? Alberto del Rio? What about Undertaker?
Nope. We got The Big Show.
It's bad enough that the final entrant was not a game-changer like Brock Lesnar or Batista or even RVD, but that's what you get for setting high expectations. It's also bad enough that the final entrant wasn't even a surprise guest like Road Dogg was, just for a laugh and moment of fond nostalgia.
But The Big Show? Did we not already see him wrestle earlier in the program? Since when do guys who lost their title bouts like Show or Ziggler get a second chance later on, and at the premier spot in the match, no less?
Did the writers not see that The Big Show being the final entrant would be a huge letdown? Apparently not, but why would they have him come out at No. 30 over a returning face like Randy Orton? Especially if Show was only going to last for about two minutes.
How does that even make sense? Were they trying to finish off the night with the smallest crowd reaction possible?
It is no secret that WWE wrestling is in dire need of some main-event talent. With guys like Triple H and Undertaker limited to cameo appearances, only John Cena, Randy Orton and CM Punk are left to fill the void.
The good news? There happens to be tons of young, talented guys just waiting to break through to the next level if given the chance. Guys like Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and Wade Barrett have been given attention recently, while other guys like Sheamus and The Miz were there, and have since been left floundering a bit.
The decision to have Sheamus win the Royal Rumble can be seen as a good thing—a chance for a young guy to build some credibility at becoming a solid, main-event regular. He's got a unique look, he's been there before and he is somewhat over with the fans. He can take some pressure off of CM Punk, who is currently the only guy around that seems to be unanimously liked by the wrestling community.
So why not?
Out of all of the young guys that could benefit from a push, why Sheamus? The reason you hear is that they need new blood in the main events, but why his blood? After all, weren't fans excited for Chris Jericho to return so that finally a main-event heel would be in the mix?
So why not push Barrett? Or Miz? It would be one thing if Sheamus were currently doing something story-wise, but aside from meaningless battles with Jinder Mahal, Sheamus has been squashing heels to kill time. Yes, this gives him something to do, but when was the last time a superstar won the Rumble who wasn't just winning it to get a push?
Who can Sheamus possibly fight at WrestleMania that will be a match worth looking forward to?
I would feel comfortable saying that Chris Jericho did more to sell the 2012 Royal Rumble than any match on the card, including the Rumble itself, and he only said 18 words.
Last Monday on Raw, Jericho stole the show yet again as he hosted "The Highlight Reel." After more puzzling, creepy behavior, Jericho finally broke his silence and promised "the end of the world as we know it" would come at Royal Rumble. In what was one of the best character segments in some time, Jericho assured that plenty of folks would be tuning in Sunday night to see just what this cryptic message meant.
It meant nothing.
When Chris Jericho entered the Rumble at 29, a feeling not felt in years circulated the building and came pulsating out of the television set: the feeling of anticipation.
What was going to happen? What did it all mean? The jacket, the silence, the cryptic videos...we were finally getting an answer tonight! Chris Jericho was going to be a part of something huge.
When it came down to Y2J and Sheamus, the anticipation built. Jericho was not just going to win, but he was going to "end the world as we know it!" The time was at hand!
Until he lost. Roll credits. The end.
What were they thinking? How could they develop such an intriguing storyline, show the discipline to let it burn slowly while the Internet exploded, demanding answers, then give us a picture-perfect lead-up to the Royal Rumble, only to deliver absolutely no conclusion whatsoever?
Chris Jericho did not promise a victory. He promised to end the world. He did neither. He did nothing. He just lost.
How can anyone take him seriously from here on out? How can he be viewed as a threat? The only thing that ended at the Rumble was anyone's interest in what could have been the beginning of something monumental.