THE SPECIALISTS TUCKER'S INSTANT REACTION - Royal Rumble: In-person perspective and reaction to The Crowd's Takeover
Jan 27, 2014 - 1:04:28 AM
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In-Person Instant Reaction - WWE Royal Rumble PPV 1/26
By Ben Tucker, PWTorch TV specialist
Overall Score - 6.0
The last person I thought I would open this article talking about is Lance Storm. But, Lance Storm it is. The man was a wonderful talent (and is when he wrestles today), and his Twitter account (@LanceStorm) is normally a great place to receive insightful commentary on the proceedings in wrestling today.
But, man, I thought he was off-base tonight.
Storm's opinion on the Daniel Bryan situation is simple: if you don't like the product, then don't watch. Only watch Daniel Bryan's segments, and cheer no one else. Any reaction is a good reaction, right? Don't do this and you're doing nothing to create support for Daniel Bryan; in fact, as Storm points out, this outburst of support may even hurt him, attributing Zack Ryder's fall from stardom to when crowd chants for him overshadowed a Rock promo (one month before he won his only WWE singles championship).
As much as I respect Storm's opinion, I believe his viewpoint is very flawed. Let's count the ways:
(1) If you quit watching the product, WWE won't get the picture. They never have. Instead, they'll do what they're doing now - rely on the same stars who generated better ratings years before, while squandering any chance to develop a fresh new talent.
(2) Any reaction isn't necessarily a good reaction. If fans are booing the good guys and cheering the bad guys, WWE isn't doing their job at telling a good story. Taking his point of view should be an indictment of the WWE business model, not the fans. And jeering the storytelling will eventually lead to number 1 if the fans aren't pacified for too long.
(3) The Zack Ryder comment... that just makes no sense. He was a popular mid-carder who had an Internet show, but lacked a positive attitude and a good gimmick. He in no way models the Bryan dilemma.
I'm not going to completely stop watching WWE because of one talent. But I will stand up to WWE's product if it's insulting. There's more than one way to rage against the machine, and high-jacking show after show is one of those ways. The live fans in attendance are the ultimate voice. Apathy towards the Big Show brought down Survivor Series buys. Chanting for Daniel Bryan at the Title Unification ceremony gave Bryan a TV main event the next week. If fans revolt every single week, WWE will literally have no choice but to listen. Unless WWE wants every top face on the roster not named Daniel Bryan or C.M. Punk booed, of course. The fans tonight stood together and chanted their hearts out, and I was in the crowd to witness it. We took over the Royal Rumble and made our voices heard. If WWE doesn't listen to that, they're too far gone to be responsive to any stimulus.
So, Mr. Storm, I respectfully disagree with your statements. Let's look at the rest of the Royal Rumble, shall we?
- I disagree with the decision to take the Tag Titles off the Brotherhood, but the match was fun to watch and the New Age Outlaws will be able to put over a new up and coming team. The action was a lot better than their previous Smackdown encounter, at that.
- Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan was the match of the night. The deliberate pace didn't hurt the match in the slightest. Instead, it allowed Bray to keep using his character while in a competitive, big match situation. Both men looked extremely strong, and it set the stage well for Wyatt's attack on Cena later in the show.
- I never thought that Brock Lesnar would plow through Big Show cleanly (WWE loves to protect their big man), but I was fine with this segment. Lesnar looked like a relentless beast, and Show still put up a tad of offense and had an out for losing.
- Cena vs. Orton... wow. Yes, the crowd reaction took over the match. But if the match was actually good to begin with, the crowd would have become invested. As they have in the past. Instead, Orton and Cena put on their most lifeless performance ever together. There was very little story to the match, and the only nearfalls came from hitting finishers. There was no creativity at all in this match. And this followed Orton attacking Cena's dad. Again. The Wyatt attack was the one aspect of the contest that made it marginally watchable. At least it was still better than Scott Steiner vs. Triple H from Royal Rumble 2003.
- Despite my qualms over the treatment of Daniel Bryan and how much I loved the crowd participation in the match, I enjoyed a large part of this year's Royal Rumble match. The first two-thirds especially were exciting, with several wrestlers being spotlighted well. Kofi Kingston got in two memorable spots this year, the Brotherhood rivalry began solidly, and the pace was very quick and zippy... until lower-level players kept coming out in the final half of the match. Why an Uso was booked to come out in the 20s is beyond me. Roman Reigns was the star of the match, even outclassing Batista. Where Batista stumbled around the ring like... well, an old, retired wrestler, Roman Reigns looked like an absolute monster. The Animal's known for his badass look, and he's being outshone even there. Sad.
Overall, not the worst Rumble ever. Somewhere in between, realistically. Several spots were sloppy, but it wasn't nearly as bad as, say, the 2009 Rumble. The show began great but slowly lost steam before ending in a roar of jeers. And that's what the Rumble will be remembered for this year.
Questions? Comments? Reactions? Find me on Twitter @BTuckerTorch, where I talk about wrestling and... stuff!
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