At Elimination Chamber on Sunday night, Randy Orton fought five other men and—thanks to a decent amount of outside interference and shenanigans—managed to emerge with his WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
For many, it was a disappointing result, but really, it wasn’t a surprising one.
Besides, John Cena and Daniel Bryan—the only real challengers for the belt—are both tied up with other things. (Judging by the events of the pay-per-view, Cena is gearing up for a bout with Bray Wyatt; Bryan looks set to clash with Kane and The Authority in the future.)
Of course, while Orton vs. Batista may have sounded like a perfectly fine—if unspectacular—WrestleMania match to management at the beginning of the year, things seem entirely different now.
You genuinely have to hope WWE will add in another person or do something else to drastically shake up the bout, because the thought of these two facing off in a singles match in front of a loud and contemptuous sell-out New Orleans crowd on April 6 is a daunting one.
Orton’s title reign hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. Some of that is his own fault—he really should work on his bland and yawn-inducing promo style—but the booking team is also to blame. Why does he argue with Triple H and Stephanie every single week? And just who thought doing yet another Orton-Cena feud was a good idea?
The embarrassing and now infamous crowd reaction at the Royal Rumble to their title match last month said it all. (It may have marked the first time I have personally ever heard a loud “I Want Pizza!” chant during a wrestling match.)
Of course, “The Viper” has practically had an easy time of it from the WWE Universe, compared to poor Batista.
Fresh off of his hugely negative response at the Royal Rumble, the former WWE champion received another scathing crowd reaction at Elimination Chamber, when he took on Alberto Del Rio. How bad were things? He even managed to turn the much-loathed Del Rio into a babyface.
As one viewer of the event noted:
"Si" "CM Punk" "Daniel Bryan" "Bootista" Y2J" "RVD" "We want Lesnar" Zero "Batista" chants, which is not good news for WWE. #WWEChamber— IllegalForeignObject (@IFOWrestling) February 24, 2014
Needless to say, this doesn’t bode too well for Orton-Batista at WrestleMania.
In fact, it’s entirely possible the reaction to the bout will make the Bill Goldberg-Brock Lesnar debacle at WrestleMania XX look like a picnic. Indeed, the only intriguing thing about the match right now looks to be just how badly the audience will react to it.
Fans on Twitter seem to feel the same, as some posts after the show illustrated:
Batista vs. Orton: The Ultimate Challenge (is staying awake)— Justin Henry (@JRHWriting) February 24, 2014
Dear Vince, If you close WMXXX with Orton-Batista and go off the air with Dave holding that belt, the crowd will embarrass you.— Mark Problems (@Wrencis) February 24, 2014
At this point, WWE has no choice in the matter.
Should Bryan be added to the title match?
It absolutely has to place Bryan in the bout (you could easily switch Bryan’s quest to get revenge on The Authority into a quest for the gold), or have Orton drop the belt in the new few weeks, scrap the match altogether and do something else.
It’s not ideal, but honestly, does Vince McMahon want WrestleMania XXX to turn into a humiliating mess which will be remembered in years to come for all the wrong reasons?