Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt kicked off the 2014 Royal Rumble in a show-stealing spectacular. The New Age Outlaws became six-time tag team champions, becoming the tag team with the longest time between title wins in WWE history.
The Royal Rumble match itself saw not one, but two amazing Kofi Kingston spots where the high-flyer creatively avoided elimination. Kevin Nash made a surprise appearance.
Corporate Kane made his Royal Rumble debut. So did Alexander Rusev. Sheamus returned. Roman Reigns broke the 13-year record for most eliminations. Batista won following a four-year absence.
None were the story of the 2014 Royal Rumble.
The story of the 2014 Royal Rumble should have been Batista's aforementioned victory ahead of WrestleMania season. It wasn't. The chorus of boos in the background was.
Does @WWE actually hate their own audience? I've never been so disgusted with a PPV.— Mick Foley (@realmickfoley) January 27, 2014
Bugaha (@JoeInBugaha) January 27, 2014
I love the Pittsburgh crowd for having the #RoyalRumble end with boos and Daniel Bryan chants, though.— Gino Carteciano (@baddie) January 27, 2014
If Wrestlemania doesnt end with Daniel Bryan in the center of the ring with the WWE title chanting "Yes"; we riot.— Robert Brown (@UptownBobby) January 27, 2014
With entries beginning to creep dangerously toward No. 30, fans chanted—almost desperately—for Bryan to make an entrance in the Royal Rumble. Alberto Del Rio entered at No. 27. Batista at No. 28. Big E Langston sprinted to the ring at 29.
With "yes" chants at a fever pitch, Rey Mysterio Jr. became the biggest heel in Pennsylvania by hitting the ring at No. 30, thus capping the Royal Rumble field. In fact, fans cheered heavily as the career WWE babyface was eliminated by young heel Seth Rollins.
As described by Jason Powell of ProWrestling.net, "Rey Mysterio was eliminated by Seth Rollins moments later. There were some cheers for that elimination and then the Daniel Bryan chants started up again."
The Royal Rumble field included El Torito, the Great Khali, Kevin Nash and John Bradshaw Layfield—barely. Bryan, currently WWE's hottest star, was snubbed in favor of these questionable entrants.
Fans would remain relentless until the final elimination, crucifying the final three of Sheamus, Batista and Reigns. Their only cheers took the form of defiant support for Reigns as it became crystal-clear that Batista was going to cash in as the Royal Rumble winner.
This is not the first time an arena filled with disgruntled Daniel Bryan fans took over a main event, and with a projected WrestleMania main event of Batista against Randy Orton, it won't be the last.
"Daniel Bryan" chants were the impromptu soundtrack to a listless Big Show-Orton main event at WWE Battleground. They brought WWE's Championship Ascension ceremony to a halt during a segment dedicated to Randy Orton and John Cena. According to James Caldwell of Pro Wrestling Torch, the revolution continued once Bryan's exclusion from the 2014 Royal Rumble match became official.
Professional wrestling fans are among the most entitled fanbases in all of spectator sports. Spoiled even before the onset of the Internet, the audience has ensured that every pro wrestler is one unplanned chant away from superstardom.
Did WWE make the right call having Batista win the Royal Rumble?
The power that lies within the voice of the fans is the reason they feel so entitled—as they should. More times than not, they are the ones who have the final say of who makes it in WWE.
Despite every attempt Stone Cold Steve Austin made to become a reviled heel, fans cheered his rebellious spirit. He went on to enjoy success no wrestler will ever replicate.
Bryan's success has also been aided by an organic, increasingly rabid following. It's a following that refuses to forget him being unfairly discarded from the WWE title picture. A following that only gets louder the further he gets away from another world championship.
Right or wrong, it is the Daniel Bryan fan who will compromise the WrestleMania XXX main event as long as Bryan is not included.