The WWE Universe has spoken and there's nothing you can do about it.
It was an ending that left WWE legend Mick Foley wondering if the WWE hates its fans. Stephanie McMahon and Triple H will want to think twice before shoving their tired creative agenda down our throats—at least if they're going to Pittsburgh. I wish I could bottle the boisterous disappointment and save it for a rainy day, or at least for the next John Cena vs. Randy Orton main event.
That's not to say that last evening's pay-per-view was poor; on the contrary, I considered last night to be one of the best, most entertaining WWE pay-per-views in months. Everything outside of the WWE title picture is on fire right now.
When Triple H and Stephanie decide to let go of the belt, the world title will join the conversation of notable wrestling topics. If last night proved anything, it’s that friends of The Authority are impervious to audience reception. It’s the closest to bulletproof one can be in this business, evidently.
Let's start with the match we didn't see on the actual pay-per-view. The Rhodes Brother had their impressive reign as tag team champions end in front of a live audience, and pre-show viewers. Personally, I thought that stunk. What an enormous slap in the lipstick to a guy like Goldust who has totally reinvented himself and made his character relevant again.
If you've ever seen the Rhodes Brothers live, or just going by what you've seen on television, these guys always put on a show. And their reward for being a championship team that delivers on a nightly basis? A pre-show match that awarded the belts to two senior citizens.
Don't get me wrong. I love me some New Age Outlaws. At least I did, back when their delivery didn't need to be censored and Billy Gunn wasn't heaving a lung between Irish whips.
I received a Bleacher Report notification telling me the tag titles had been lost. That’s how the run ends. If the Rhodes Brothers had been in D-Generation X 15 years ago they may still have the belts, or may have at least been awarded a chance to lose them on camera.
When the event officially started, Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt opened the event up in stellar fashion. We'll talk about Daniel Bryan later on in this piece, mainly because we don't have a choice. Bryan is a guy who makes up for his plain mic skills with high-profile performances. I love guys who aren't afraid to take risks, guys who don't shy from the big bumps.
The crossbody from the top turnbuckle onto Bray, on the outside of the ring, was fantastic. He did it again in the ring, and made sure to dive not once but twice from the ring into Bray, who was outside of it. Unfortunately, the second dive landed Bryan in a Sister Abigail that would ignite the audience. Bray delivered the finisher by putting Bryan's head into the padded wall outside the ring.
"This is awesome!" rang out in spurts before the match finally ended with a victorious Bray Wyatt. What an enormous night for both of these performers. Bray Wyatt gets an enormous push, and Daniel Bryan becomes the WWE's most popular martyr.
The Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar was creative's ode to the Attitude Era. If you're a fan of chairs, this match was for you. I lost count—anyone get the final number of chair shots landed by Brock Lesnar on The Big Show? Maybe 30? Between three different chairs?
In an effort to both push Brock and to lessen Show's "job," the 30-plus chair shots all came before and after the match. Brock Lesnar F-5'ed Show, which really never gets old. Brock wins easily while possibly sending The Big Show into a few weeks off.
After two great matches, we had to break for another Cena vs. Orton match that sent the Pittsburgh crowd into a Bryan-induced frenzy. We talk a lot about faces and heels in this business, but never have I seen a title match of this caliber where either wrestler's character mattered so little.
The fans booed Orton, which I'm sure delighted creative, as he is supposed to be their golden heel. But the boos didn't stop when Cena's music hit. They didn't stop in the ring. They didn't stop really ever. This was an all-out mutiny.
As Cena and Orton battled in the ring, the audience battled for Daniel Bryan. If you missed this event, this is worth scouring the Internet for live footage. This was an absolute rejection of the top of the pyramid, a dramatic "return to sender."
Randy Orton was chosen by Triple H to do what he's doing now. And while the WWE locker room can do nothing but observe, the WWE Universe has taken it upon itself to voice the same frustrations a lot of us have been writing about for months: ditch creative's inner circle of Evolution and give the fans what they actually want.
The match took a surprising turn when Bray and the Wyatts interrupted Cena, who looked to be in complete control of the situation. Randy Orton took advantage, secured the win, and the Wyatts disassembled Cena, much to the delight of the capacity crowd.
This was an enormous push for Bray Wyatt, who will probably be linked with Cena in an attempt to take Cena out of the title competition and perhaps move Wyatt closer to it. These two are meant for WrestleMania. And I believe it’s well beyond time for Cena to go heel.
The Cena/Orton rivalry has simply run its course. Orton could punch Cena's grandmother next time and it still wouldn't matter. This angle is flat, this angle is worn and this angle is hopefully dead.
The Royal Rumble itself was well above average. Rather than thoroughly discussing each entrant, I'll just sum up my thoughts of which you can agree or discard:
- Dolph Ziggler received one of the event's loudest pops. The boos were very notable when he was eliminated.
- Kevin Nash's surprise entrance was awesome. Yes, he realistically only received this because of his relationship with Triple H, but it was still a good surprise and the NWO music will disappoint no one.
- Royal Rumble slots that were absolutely wasted: El Torito, The Great Khali, Rey Mysterio. Three slots that could have gone to anyone.
- Rey Mysterio was unfortunately made to suffer creative's decision to omit Daniel Bryan from the Royal Rumble. Never have I seen this guy the target of fan disapproval of that caliber. Boos stuck to him.
- Kane's elimination of Punk was awesome. Can't wait for this to take off, personally really enjoy the potential of this angle.
- Excellent performance from The Shield. I thought it was time to break this stable until Batista ruined everything.
- Sheamus, Triple H's spotter in the gym, was awarded a nice, lengthy stay for his return.
- Fans were chanting Roman Reign's name in unison when it was down to just him and Batista.
- Batista, another of Triple H's favorites, gets the win and ends the night to a chorus of boos and Daniel Bryan chants.
Haven't we seen enough of this? It has become so painfully obvious that it's borderline insulting. The only guys doing anything are the ones within Triple H's holy circle of disciples. The New Age Outlaws. Randy Orton's prolonged, boring title reign. Batista's boring victory and the promise of another plain main event at WrestleMania that may or may not feature two former members of Triple H’s Evolution.
The Royal Rumble could have been an incredible night for Roman Reigns, who was valued enough to break Kane's elimination record, but not good enough to grant Pittsburgh its wish and toss Batista over the top ropes. I thought this was his night, the night he propels above The Shield, the night we witness the birth of another star.
Instead, we get Batista and the promise of more of the same. One thing is certain, though: A crowd like Pittsburgh cannot be ignored. It's vividly refreshing to witness the WWE Universe respond to the creative “nepotism” we have to witness on a nightly basis.
Should other cities follow Pittsburgh’s gleaming example, perhaps The Authority will have no choice but to headline future pay-per-views with the talent fans actually want to see. Until then, we’ll continue ending pay-per-views on a sour note and complaining about it the next day.