WWE chose a confusing, but promising path last night, the first live show in front of a live crowd since the debacle that was the Royal Rumble on Sunday in Philadelphia. By now, you all know the story. Roman Reigns won and the crowd booed him out of the building. Not exactly the launching pad for a top babyface.
WWE was teetering all night when it came to addressing the situation. At one point, Jerry Lawler said “many people thought Daniel Bryan should have won the Royal Rumble.”
Well, not by what we saw on television, because he was eliminated nearly 30 minutes before the match ended. They’re entering a weird, twister work-shoot dynamic that is going to make it very confusing for the viewer. Even though the execution wasn’t great, it proved that WWE recognizes the problem, and that’s good. It’s all a matter of how they will fix it.
Triple H opened the show with a promo where he said he’s going to make an announcement on Monday during Raw that will “shake the WWE to its core.” Might WWE he heading down a road where they embrace the reaction Reigns received at the Royal Rumble? In fact, are we not giving them enough credit? Did they see this coming from the very beginning?
Here’s my theory …
For two weeks leading up to the Royal Rumble, Brock Lesnar was treated like a babyface. He was worried more with Seth Rollins than John Cena. He was not clearly aligned with the Authority, and there seemed to be definite tension with Paul Heyman.
At the pay-per-view on Sunday, Lesnar was booked to look like a hero. He broke a rib at ringside, yet he fought through the odds and still claimed a clean victory. He didn’t cheat. He was the babyface.
Now Reigns was booed out of the building after winning the Rumble match. Has WWE planted seeds for a double turn? It sure looks like it. Even Rollins, when he cut his promo during the show, bragged about breaking Lesnar’s ribs.
We all thought last Sunday that Reigns would go to Wrestlemania as a babyface challenger to Lesnar’s title, but what if it’s the other way around? What if Lesnar turns on Heyman, or what if Heyman turns on Lesnar? What if Lesnar becomes the babyface and Reigns is the heel?
Reigns needs some work in a number of areas before he’ll be considered a top star by the older generation of WWE fans. But one of the biggest areas he needs help with is promos. As a heel, Heyman could be his talker. All the while, Heyman could be teaching him how to cut a better promo. It also gives Heyman a reason to stick around if Lesnar goes back to mixed martial arts when his contract is up with WWE in April.
On Monday, when Reigns was interviewed on the live set, he didn’t seem very apologetic. He didn’t seem like he cared about the audience reaction. There was a natural smugness there. He’d make a good heel.
We’ll have to wait and see what Triple H’s announcement is on Monday. As Smackdown went off the air, a graphic showing Triple H, Reigns, and Wrestlemania sign were show to preview the announcement. The camera then cut right to Daniel Bryan, who was celebrating a Casket Match win over Kane in the main event.
That could be a sign? Or it could be WWE being passively aggressive with its audience.
1) Something might be brewing with John Cena as well. It was widely speculated that Cena would be wrestling Rusev at Wrestlemania, but that match was accelerated to Fastlane for some reason. It could just be that the Fastlane match is a Rusev win, setting up a Cena return bout, but there could be something brewing with Cena, either for Wrestlemania or beyond.
2) It’s good to see the Daniel Bryan-Kane feud finally come to a close, and it did so with a bang. It’s easy to forget this, but Kane is 47 years old. He hung with Bryan this entire feud and for a man that size to still be able to go the way he can at that age is a testament to whatever he’s doing in the gym.
1) Roman Reigns def. Big Show
2) Tyson Kidd def. Jey Uso
3) The Ascension def. Dust Brothers
4) Daniel Bryan def. Kane in a Casket Match
This was a very good show. The reaction to the Royal Rumble was well done and the teasers for Monday’s Raw were even better. Most of all, it was just two hours. You could get through it and follow it, and didn’t at all felt like it dragged on too long.