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Feb. 11: New Generation Era Fantasy Draft
Batista Wins Royal Rumble Match
Leading up to the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, the returning Batista was considered to be the favorite by most to win the Rumble match. There weren't many obvious candidates heading into the contest, and the obvious result ultimately came to fruition with "The Animal" winning from the No. 28 position. What followed was a hugely negative response from the Pittsburgh crowd, as it felt cheated by Batista's victory.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Did WWE Make the Right Decision?
Batista's return to WWE after nearly four years was definitely a big deal, but the WWE powers that be may have overestimated his popularity.
Batista has an extremely impressive resume, and he is a future WWE Hall of Famer; however, most fans seem to be clamoring for something new. That is why Daniel Bryan's popularity has soared in recent months, and it is also why most of those in attendance at the Consol Energy Center appeared to be rooting for Roman Reigns when it came down to the final two.
Alas, Batista tossed Reigns over the top rope and to the floor. WWE officials probably envisioned a thunderous ovation for Batista when they first reached an agreement to bring him back into the fold, but that simply wasn't the case.
A large percentage of the fanbase didn't like when The Rock returned and won the WWE Championship last year, and those same people, plus even more, voiced their opinions when it came to Batista winning the Rumble as well.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
As much as WWE wants to believe that Batista is equivalent to The Rock, that simply isn't the case. Batista was never as popular as The Rock in the WWE realm, and there is no comparison from a mainstream perspective. The Rock is one of the biggest movie stars in the world, while Batista is going to be part of a Marvel movie during the summer that may or may not be a success. Batista is never going to be a household name, and there is a disconnect between perception and reality when it comes to Batista's wide-ranging appeal.
Any number of Superstars would have been better choices than Batista.
Regarding those who were actually in the Rumble match, CM Punk and Reigns would have received much better reactions. The fans were begging for Reigns to win, and Punk is always a crowd-pleaser.
Another obvious option was Bryan. He wasn't advertised for the Rumble match, but the live crowd expected him to enter at No. 30 and was immediately deflated when he didn't. Whatever the case, Batista wasn't the preferred choice, and he was the wrong choice in the end.
Backstage News on Batista's WWE Deal (Wrestling Observer Newsletter via WrestlingInc.com)
Daniel Bryan's 'Yes Movement' Continues
No matter how poorly Daniel Bryan is booked by the creative team, his popularity continues to rise. In spite of the fact that Bryan has been misused and abused, he is still the hottest thing in professional wrestling in recent memory. With that said, the fans were left disappointed once again at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view when he lost to Bray Wyatt and subsequently wasn't entered into the Rumble match.
Question on Everybody's Mind: What's Next for Bryan?
To WWE's credit, Bryan's absence from the Rumble match was addressed on Raw. It's difficult to say whether or not that was the plan all along, but it was handled well. Bryan claimed that he asked repeatedly to be placed in the Rumble match, but The Authority denied him. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon claimed that it wouldn't be fair to put Bryan in harm's way by having him pull double duty. It was a classic heel response, and it got The Authority heat while getting the fans behind Bryan even more.
It was a good segment, but it won't mean much unless the writers build off of it. Every time WWE has had the opportunity to capitalize on Bryan's popularity, it has failed to do so. In a strange way, it has helped Bryan get over, and it will all be forgotten if he ultimately wins the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. As of right now, though, it is very difficult to say what the game plan is for Bryan moving forward.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Before fans can move forward with Bryan, it's important to note that WWE blew it at Royal Rumble.
By not having Bryan enter at No. 30 and win the Rumble, the fans were alienated and an all-time great moment was squandered. With that said, Bryan can still be saved. Bryan will be part of the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, and he is quite obviously among the top contenders, along with incumbent champion Randy Orton and John Cena.
If Bryan wins that match, then he will enter WrestleMania XXX as champion and face Batista in the main event. Batista is currently face, but the fan reaction dictates that he should turn heel, and he happens to be a much better heel anyway.
If The Authority backs Batista as the face of WWE, then it will make for a fantastic feud. That wouldn't be quite as good as Bryan entering WrestleMania as champion, but it would be great for him nonetheless. The alternative option is a feud and WrestleMania match against Triple H, and going over the COO of WWE would be huge for Bryan's momentum going forward, so that wouldn't be the worst-case scenario by any stretch of the imagination.
Backstage News on Daniel Bryan at Royal Rumble (PWInsider Elite via WrestlingInc.com)
CM Punk Reportedly Walks Out on WWE
Although rumors didn't leak until after this week's edition of Ring Rust Radio had aired, the hottest story in professional wrestling is unquestionably CM Punk's status with WWE. According to PWInsider (via WrestlingInc.com), Punk was not on Raw because he decided to go home instead. He is reportedly frustrated with his role in the company, and there is now a great deal of uncertainty surrounding his future.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is Punk Really Gone?
There is no denying the fact that Punk hasn't been used to his fullest potential since losing the WWE Championship to The Rock one year ago. After facing The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXIX, Punk took a hiatus and has since been involved in programs with Paul Heyman, Ryback, Curtis Axel, The Shield and Kane. He did the best that he could with the hand he was dealt, but he didn't sniff the title scene, and it's only natural that someone of his stature would be annoyed by that.
The manner in which he was booked in the Rumble match was another example of misusing Punk. Although he lasted nearly 50 minutes after entering No. 1, he was eliminated by Kane, who had already been thrown out earlier in the match, and was then chokeslammed through the announce table.
A match between Punk and Kane at Elimination Chamber seemed to be in the works, and it can be assumed that a match against Triple H would have followed at WrestleMania XXX. That may not have been for the title or in the main event, but it would have been a top storyline nonetheless.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Punk walking out on WWE is definitely possible, but it is by no means signed, sealed and delivered. A number of different outlets have produced a ton of speculation, but neither Punk nor WWE have not commented on the situation, and no reputable media outlets have gotten any confirmation whatsoever.
With that in mind, it remains a distinct possibility that this is all a ruse on WWE's part. Fans are well aware of the fact that Punk is temperamental and willing to speak his mind when he feels as though mistakes are made, and WWE could be preying on that.
After all, Punk "taking his ball and going home" would be a great way to set up a WrestleMania match against Punk. WWE can play up Punk quitting the company only for him to triumphantly return by foiling Triple H's attempt to screw over a guy like Bryan.
Until something substantial comes to the forefront, it is ridiculous and naive to buy into this story hook, line and sinker. Whatever is happening here will surely become much clearer as the road to WrestleMania progresses.
Updates on CM Punk's WWE Status (PWInsider via WrestlingInc.com)
RRR Season 4 Fantasy WWE Standings
1. Mike Chiari: 97.5
2. Brandon Galvin: 70
3. Donald Wood: 60
4. Michael Cahill: -15
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