The post-Royal Rumble furor from fans positioned Batista and Daniel Bryan as the centers of the week's biggest WWE rumors.
Where does the company plan on taking these two Superstars? What is the latest backstage word on how Batista reacted to his detractors?
Other sources of buzz include reported chaos in the Raw writing room, rumored additions to the Elimination Chamber card and a member of the TNA Hall of Fame's chances of working for WWE. That last item is where we begin, complete with reasons to be cautiously optimistic about "The Icon" coming to roost on Raw.
Even if the possibility of Sting finally wrestling for WWE is more of a possibility than it ever has been, there has been no confirmation of him signing with the company yet.
Raj Giri of WrestlingInc.com writes, "Rumors are flying that Sting has reached a deal with WWE. However, the source for those reports is an entry on a fan blogging site."
The report goes on to cite Dave Meltzer who writes that no contract has been signed, but WWE is already working on names for the WCW and TNA vet including "A Man Called Sting." It looks as if WWE is confident that it will get Sting, but deals can certainly fall through.
As many times as fans have falsely believed "The Stinger" to be on his way to Vince McMahon's company, it's best to approach reports like the one Giri mentions with reservation.
The Jan. 27 edition of Raw reportedly underwent several makeovers before going live. While it's not unusual for Vince McMahon to oversee changes and shifts to the script the day of the show, the fan backlash at the Royal Rumble put more of a spotlight on this process.
Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com provided insight into the script being rewritten. He writes that officials were unsure of whether to use Alexander Rusev.
The most interesting element of the report, though, is the following:
One source noted that McMahon was not changing the script because of the negative crowd reaction to Batista and the John Cena vs. Randy Orton bout, but "in spite of it." We have also been told that the new script was a vast improvement from the original direction.
It's hard to believe that the ever-increasing support for Bryan didn't play a major role in how McMahon and company went about crafting the Raw script. The episode ended up featuring Bryan in the opening segment essentially voicing many fans' opinions about his absence from the Rumble.
He then earned a shot at the WWE title in an Elimination Chamber match against Orton.
An additional report from PWInsider.com notes that earlier drafts featured more qualifying matches for the Chamber.
The original plan featured CM Punk wrestling in one of the qualifiers as well as follow-up on the Kane attack of Punk. The decision was made to focus on that storyline next week, so Punk was held off the show to sell the angle.
The result of Punk being held out and holding only one qualifying match was Bryan being the show's major focus. That sounds awfully a lot like WWE trying to appease unhappy fans, showing that they do have confidence in, and will push, Bryan.
As for other matches that the February pay-per-view will feature, F4WOnline, via WrestleZone.com, reports that WWE is considering three bouts.
- CM Punk vs. Kane
- Batista vs. Alberto Del Rio
- The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family
None of these are surprises after watching the Royal Rumble and Monday's Raw. There has been ample foreshadowing for all of these clashes.
Kane eliminated Punk and chokeslammed him through an announce table. Del Rio has taken exception to the attention that Batista has been getting. The Wyatt Family angered The Shield by costing the trio a shot at the WWE title.
If these reported plans come to fruition, both Punk and Kane get warm-up matches for WrestleMania and fans would get a highly compelling showdown between WWE's two most dangerous groups. The biggest question remaining would be who gets the final two spots in the Chamber match.
Brock Lesnar's prominence and confrontation with Orton and Batista on Monday's Raw make him an obvious candidate. Should Punk be busy with Kane, who grabs the other berth?
Batista Behaving Badly
Fans at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh Pa., turned on Batista at the Royal Rumble and he handled it poorly. Bryan supporters held out hope that "The Flying Goat" would enter and win the Rumble match despite not being announced as an entrant.
When Batista won, he became the symbol for WWE's continued distrust of Bryan as a true headliner. The boos clearly got to him. Batista argued with fans and gave them the finger.
Per PWInsider, via WrestlingInc.com, "There were some people backstage that were not happy about this." Even as frustrating as it must have been for a man expecting to be welcomed back with adulation to become the villain in the Bryan saga, he acted unprofessionally.
WWE officials, not surprisingly, didn't like the sight of paying customers being shown an erect middle finger, from a babyface character no less.
The heat Batista has drawn in the process may prove to be an asset, though. F4WOnline, via WrestlingInc.com, reports that "WWE is planning on turning Batista heel some time after WrestleMania XXX."
WWE would be wise to go this route as he's already become the villain in a sense. As a returning star who got skyrocketed to the top above those who have been working tirelessly in his absence, there is a natural resentment to build upon.
Plans for Bryan
The Royal Rumble was not the coronation for Bryan that many fans wanted to see. In fact, per PWInsider, via PWMania.com, "At no point did WWE consider putting Daniel Bryan into the 30-man Royal Rumble match on Sunday."
Sorry guys, the machine wanted me nowhere near the Royal Rumble match. But I thank everyone for their support. YOU are the #YESMovement— Daniel Bryan (@WWEDanielBryan) January 27, 2014
A recent report suggests that Bryan fans should be patient. It seems that Bryan's big moments are set to come later in the year.
F4WOnline, via WrestlingInc.com, reports that "Despite everything that went down, or didn't go down, at the Royal Rumble last night, WWE is still planning on pushing Daniel Bryan in a big way."
Fans got a glimpse of WWE's plans for him when he earned a spot in the Elimination Chamber match. One has to wonder if the next step is for Bryan to win that bout and head into WrestleMania the champion.
That would set up an intriguing showdown between him and Batista—a battle of the underdog and the powerhouse, the established star and the man looking to crawl his way into the WWE's top tier.