WWE Royal Rumble 2015: Results and observations from the show
A man in my position cannot afford to be at a loss for words, but I sort of felt that way after leaving the Wells Fargo Center after the Royal Rumble.
For me personally, it's not so much that Daniel Bryan didn't win the Royal Rumble (SPOILER: He didn't win again), although I'm certainly a fan of his work and have been for years.
It's not so much that Roman Reigns turned out to be the guy that won, although I do believe he's talented enough to be a top guy one day, but that day hasn't quite arrive yet.
What leaves me so perplexed is how the WWE could have the Royal Rumble, arguably the company's No. 2 pay-per-view behind only WrestleMania, turn into another rebellion by the fans. Not once but twice. In the same state no less. I literally got a headache trying to make sense of it.
Now it's time for me to pass my headache onto you, my adoring readers, as I analyze the happenings from the 2015 Royal Rumble. In case you couldn't tell by the behavior of the crowd, the show took place here in the great city of Philadelphia, but first, let's go through the match results:
- Kickoff Match – Cesaro & Tyson Kidd def. The New Day
- The Ascension def. New Age Outlaws
- WWE Tag Team Championship – The Usos def. The Miz & Damien Mizdow
- The Bella Twins def. Paige & Natalya
- WWE Championship – Brock Lesnar def. Seth Rollins & John Cena
- Roman Reigns won the 30-man Royal Rumble match
With that out of the way, let's get to my observations:
Oops!...WWE did it again
The Royal Rumble is supposed to be part wrestling event, but also part celebration, as it is the beginning of WrestleMania season, where the biggest stories and matches of the year are playing out.
But the last two years, fans have left the Royal Rumble angry, and for some, even outraged.
I'm not one of those fans. I was merely left wondering how could this happen again? At least last year the WWE could say that it was blind-sided by the reaction the Royal Rumble received.
I'm not so sure there's a valid excuse this time around. The company had to have seen this coming from a mile away, but decided to go through with this plan anyway.
And like last year, the fans voiced their displeasures with the final results of the show in the arena and on social media. But the fans raised the stakes a bit this year.
That's because fans attempted to hit the WWE in the pocket by canceling their WWE Network subscriptions. Apparently, so many people were heading to the page that it crashed, not allowing people to go through with their cancellation.
The hashtag "CancelWWENetwork" was the No. 1 trend on Twitter at some point. Even if only a few of those fans actually canceled their subscriptions that may be enough to get the WWE's attention, as they cannot afford to lose any subscribers.
In the arena, the fans demanded refunds as they dejectedly filed out of the Wells Fargo Center. Obviously, the WWE didn't refund any fans and nor should it, but it's never a good to have fans asking for their money back.
It's also not good to have 90 percent of the fans shaking their heads in disbelief on their way home.
Everybody hates Roman Reigns
I knew that some people were lukewarm on Roman Reigns, but you would have thought he had stolen money from each and every person sitting in the Wells Fargo Center Sunday. He was by far the biggest heel on the roster without doing anything that would warrant that type of reaction.
Not even The Rock could save Reigns from getting booed out of the building. I guess the WWE expected the fans to just believe Reigns is cool simply because of his association and relation to The Rock?
Well, the Philadelphia fans shot that idea down rather quickly. The fans are smart enough to distinguish between the two.
The crazy thing is that it's not even Reigns' fault. He's simply doing the best he can with what he's given by the people that signs his checks so that he can put food on the table.
If you're going to blame anyone for how Reigns was received by the fans of Philadelphia, blame the decision-makers, for they are the ones who have pushed Reigns into this position.
Moving forward, the WWE has essentially two months to really try to get Reigns on the good side of all of the fans, not just 60 percent of them. That may not be enough time, even for the WWE.
Unless there's a heel turn in Reigns' future or the company simply doesn't care, the WWE may be in store for an uphill battle when it comes to changing the reactions that Reigns garners.
I don't see how having your new champion get booed by 80,000 fans during your biggest show of the year is what's best for business.
What's next for Daniel Bryan?
As soon as Daniel Bryan's feet hit the floor, the air just came out of the Wells Fargo Center. It was as if the arena took one big, collective sigh at the thought of Bryan not winning the Royal Rumble again.
From then on, almost everyone (with the exceptions being Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler) that came from behind the curtain caught Philadelphia's wrath. People were booing essentially throughout the rest of the show, including when The Rock came out.
I'm not really sure what more the WWE needs to see from Bryan in order to give him the ball again. He's still generating the best reactions of anyone on the roster. From the looks of what I saw in Philadelphia this week, he's still doing well from a merchandise standpoint, and he has a built-in story of him never losing the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
In all my years of watching this great thing called wrestling, I don't think I've ever seen someone as beloved as Bryan that wasn't fully trusted with carrying the ball at least for a little while.
Sure, Bryan won the title at WrestleMania last year, but that's after the WWE was left with no other choice due to a number of things not going their way, including their Royal Rumble (Batista) get booed out of another arena in Pennsylvania.
The Royal Rumble is in the past, however. There's nothing anyone can do about it at this point. We have to simply look forward.
But what are we looking forward to when it comes to Bryan? What's on he horizon for the former champion?
You have to think that he's not going to somehow find his way into the title match at WrestleMania again. That worked beautifully last year and I'm sure fans wouldn't mind seeing it again, but it only cheapens the Royal Rumble (again) to have that happen two years in a row, especially with the same guy.
So where does this leave him? Do we get that long-rumored Sheamus match we were supposed to get last year? Does he work a hardcore fan's dream match against Seth Rollins?
Other than that, I have no idea where Bryan fits into the current scheme of things when it comes to WrestleMania.
It's like the WWE enjoys the extra work or something because even when they're able to take the nice scenic route to its destination, which in this case would be Bryan going against Lesnar for the title, the company decides to take an alternate route with much rougher terrain to get there.
Despite the WWE seemingly choosing to take the road less traveled Sunday night, the fans won't take this quietly. Bryan is still their guy.
Everybody loves Brock Lesnar
I expected Brock Lesnar to receive a hero's welcome at the Wells Fargo Center Sunday night and the Philadelphia fans did not disappoint.
But if you just watched that match in a vacuum, you would have thought Lesnar has been the top babyface in the WWE for a while.
I'm not judging that based solely off his reception from the fans. I'm also basing it off how the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match was structured.
The entire angle with Lesnar being nearly stretchered out of the match, only to make a miraculous comeback is something that's done to put over a babyface, not a beastly heel.
WWE just did the same thing at WrestleMania last year with everyone's favorite underdog Daniel Bryan. There's nothing heel about overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. Lesnar did that Sunday night.
Lesnar's babyface reactions are in direct contrast to his opponent at WrestleMania, Roman Reigns. In one night, the WWE managed to make its monstrous heel look like a good guy and the guy it wants to be its top good guy moving forward into a bad guy. How's that for sound booking logic?
If the WWE keeps on this trajectory, it will make for a very interesting and probably confusing evening in Levi's Stadium in a couple of months.
Seth Rollins stole the show
Kind of overshadowed by all of the fans' vitriol coming out of the Royal Rumble was the show-stealing performance from Seth Rollins.
In all honesty, all three participants put on an excellent effort to help make WWE World Heavyweight Championship contest an early match of the year candidate, but Rollins stepped up to the plate and hit a home run with his performance.
It is very possible for someone to look good coming out of a loss and Rollins proved that to be the case Sunday night. In the biggest match of his career to date, Rollins exceeded my expectations and received a much-deserved standing ovation from the Philadelphia fans.
If there were any detractors of Rollins heading into Sunday night, I don't see how he didn't get on their good side after that performance.
Some cool Royal Rumble returns
The Royal Rumble is always good for a few returns and this year's match was no different, with the most notable return (outside of The Rock at the end of the show) being Bubba Ray Dudley, who spent nearly the last decade with TNA Wrestling. The time has gone by so fast that I almost forgot that he was there for that long.
Bubba Ray Dudley came out in the old school Dudley Boys gear, including his patented glasses, and received a huge pop from the fans. Apparently, this was the first time he's ever participated in the Royal Rumble match. The only thing missing was his tag team partner D-Von Dudley.
The WWE made the perfect set up for him to return as well, as Bubba Ray Dudley was in the ring with Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper. This would have made for a great time for D-Von Dudley. Instead, we got Erick Rowan? I'd rather had seen Curtis Axel. That was a bit of a letdown.
What was also a letdown was the absence of The Blue Meanie, who had an entire social media campaign to get him into the Royal Rumble, but to no avail.
I would have loved to have seen Meanie in the ring with Goldust again after all of these years, and then interact with Stardust, who was actually wearing blue.
It was nice to see Diamond Dallas Page, who put in a little extra DDP Yoga so that he could deliver a slew of diamond cutters. His back looked like it was killing him, but it looked like he managed to get through it relatively unscathed.
Oh yeah, and The Boogeyman came back and ate some worms, too.
Where was everybody?
After digesting the show, I had begun to realize that there were a lot of people missing from this show that I thought could have added to it.
Where was Randy Orton? He's been gone since the fall and has only made a few house show appearances since. Where was Sheamus? Maybe he's still not fully healed from his injuries just yet.
Where was Sting? The Authority talked about him in the beginning of the show, which made me think that he was certainly going to be there and play some sort of role in one of the matches. I was wrong again, I guess.
Undercard was underwhelming
I didn't have any expectations for the undercard because I figured the top two matches would over-deliver. The WWE World Heavyweight Championship match did over-deliver, but the Royal Rumble itself did not.
Not only did Daniel Bryan not win, the match wasn't anything to write home about as a whole, especially with the quick exits of Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose. Their eliminations took the air out of the building as well.
The lackluster finish made the undercard look even worse, in my opinion. Not only did fans not get what they wanted at the end, the rest of the show wasn't anything to remember either outside of one match.