The returning Batista won WWE’s Royal Rumble event, his first match in almost four years. This shouldn’t shock anybody familiar with Vince McMahon’s love of mainstream media attention. Batista has a big role as Drax the Destroyer in August’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.” It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to have Walt Disney help promote Wrestlemania. McMahon would be crazy not to take it.
But it’s the soon-to-be-former member of The Shield that left them talking. Roman Reigns arrived as a true WWE powerhouse, setting a new record with 12 eliminations. Keep calm and believe The Shield is breaking up tonight on Raw.
If you want to understand McMahon’s love affair with giants, look no further than the Rumble. Watching the likes of Reigns, Batista and surprise return Sheamus trade blows was compelling television. The Rumble is one of the best gimmick matches in the business, which is why this is one of WWE’s biggest pay-per-views.
Other surprise entrants were Kevin Nash, JBL, El Torito (no, not kidding,) Kane and most notably NXT prospect Alexander Rusev. The former Bulgarian powerlifter has a great look and surprising speed. As I mentioned, the Rumble is a playground for giants so it made perfect sense to debut Rusev here. It took a combined effort from superstars to eliminate him.
JBL’s entrance was simply for comedic value. He was in the ring only long enough to remove his coat before Reigns eliminated him. El Torito actually got to eliminate Fandango. Does anyone remember when Fandango had a push? Now the poor guy is going to feud with a little person.
Kane came out in his dress slacks and shoes just to torment CM Punk. Even after his elimination, Kane showed up later to pull CM Punk out and slam him through a table. I know he’s part of The Authority, but that’s a little much. Can we get a rule change?
Kofi Kingston continued filling the role vacated by Shelton Benjamin. We all know he will do something awesome, but we know he won’t win. This time he jumped the ringside barricade to the ring. Now can the WWE do something with Kofi?
Antonio Cesaro was also impressive, giant swinging Seth Rollins for the full 90 seconds in between ring entrances.
Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt put on an instant classic in their match. With Bryan working the first contest, fans were hoping he’d return for the Rumble. Rey Mysterio earned boos through no fault of his own when he entered at no. 30. Is there any doubt Bryan is more over than anyone on the roster?
In contrast, the crowd in Pittsburgh (and the group I was watching with in Dallas) couldn’t have cared less about John Cena vs. Randy Orton. People at our watching party pulled out their cellphones, took bathroom breaks and caught up on what grade the kids were in now. A friend summed it up.
“I haven’t watched regularly in 10 years, but the last pay-per-view I watched Cena and Orton were fighting for the belt.”
There really wasn’t anything new here. Fans chanted “You both suck,” “This is awful,” and finally “We want divas,” during this match. This just wasn’t a contest anybody wanted to see. It needed a stipulation, special referee or something. Orton retained the belt, but there were no real winners in this match. That includes the viewers.
Likewise, WWE is hoping the “Seven Year Rule” has made us all forget Big Show and Brock Lesnar have feuded before. They opted for a pretty short but violent match. Lesnar beat Show down with a chair before the bell rang. Show nailed Lesnar with a sick looking WMD to make a brief comeback.
Lesnar gets a win, Show gets to say Lesnar cheated and we’ll see these two fight again at the next pay-per-view. That will be Elimination Chamber 2014 now known as “The Pay-Per-View WWE Wants Us to Buy But We Won’t Because We’re Waiting for WWE Network.”