The Royal Rumble Match
Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, Rusev, Bad News Barrett, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Goldust, Stardust, Big Show, Kane, The Miz, Damien Mizdow, R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, Fandango and Luke Harper
Worst Case Scenario: The crowd refuses to accept Roman Reigns victory, and storms the ring/backstage area calling for Vince McMahon be brought in on charges against adult fans everywhere. After capturing McMahon, they hold him for ransom until he can get CM Punk to come back, holing up in the Wells Fargo Center for weeks until they starve to death as a result of Punk never arriving because he simply does not give a shit about fans, especially obnoxious neckbeards who think the world revolves around them. Unless you are planning on buying his comics/UFC fights, of course.
What Nick Wants to Happen: Rusev to be both a player, and to crush a lot. ESPECIALLY if one John O. Cena wins the title match.
There’s a lot to be said about this match, from the return of Bubba Ray Dudley to Philadelphia, to the great moment of tension boiling over between the Dust(y) Brothers after YEARS (or at least what feels like YEARS) of hinting at it or Dolph Ziggler’s epic mini-run as a house of fire ended by an anti-aircraft shoulder launched missile directly to his jaw, but the entire match was overshadowed by the asinine reaction of the Philadelphia crowd to what was admittedly a lackluster ending.
To begin with that, if their plan was to have Big Show and Kane acting as walking metpahors, throwing out fan favorites of all different stripes one by one without breaking a sweat, having a more explicit “Authority” approved guy in there when they were doing it would have been SIGNIFICANTLY better. If they had a more explicitly Authority approved involved” (in the Seth Rollins sense of the word) the apparent goal of clearing the ring for someone to win would have made a lot more sense.
And if that person was Rusev, they should have done a much better job making that clear in the build up to the show or on the show itself — something as simple as lampshading it in a backstage segment where the Authority comes up to Rusev and says “hey, good luck tonight, we’re counting on a big performance from you” — or him coming back in the ring after the match was supposedly over more of a surprise than “thing that anyone paying attention would have noticed” it would been much more effective. Which is to say, I think I get the fundamental idea of what they were doing — it made “sense” to me — but I think that the actual execution was very underwhelming, especially at the very end.
But that’s not why this match was so relatively disappointing, nearly bringing down the whole third hour of the show as there are, of course, definitely worse Rumble matches — last year’s included, to most.
It’s that it’s simply hard to imagine a group of adults acting more childish or more embarrassing. While it may seem unfair to say, imagine, if you will, what would have happened if Roman Reigns or, better yet, John Cena (had he appeared) would have been eliminated in this match: it’s hard to fathom that the children rooting for either one of them would have BOOED FOR LITERALLY AN HOUR BECAUSE THEIR FAVORITE WRESTLER DIDN’T WIN THE FAKE SPORTS MATCH.
A lot of the issues with this match had to do with the execution of the ending, where they seemed to be in a hurry to get nowhere. But what made the match borderline unwatchable (with the sound on, at least) was the insane reaction of the crowd. When people ask whether or not wrestling fans know wrestling is fake, it’s people like the fans in Philadelphia that they are thinking of. At what point do you either decide A) to stop watching and move on with your life or B) start to understand that not only if your very subjective opinion should not be the basis for a billion dollar company’s business strategy?
If the WWE doesn’t figure out a way to deal with this, and fast, it’s hard to imagine them pulling out of this tailspin they’ve been in recently any time soon.
The Bottom Line
A good PPV, with no bad matches — and just one genuinely problematic ending — and an instant classic makes this one of the most immediately underratable shows in a while. There will people who look back at this show considerably more fondly a year or so from now, once they are removed form the burdens of being neckbearded on the internet and able to understand the larger plan the WWE likely had in place, even if they still don’t love it in the short term.
HAVING SAID THAT, problematic execution in a few matches — including the (second?) biggest one of the night stopped this from being a show people should really concern themselves too much with being able to watch all the way through even if one of the matches is an absolutely must-see on the grandest scale.
Overall PPV 3.5 | Match Avg. .5833