Ask PWTorch SUNDAY’S ASK PWTORCH STAFF for 3/22: Does Reigns give off a negative vibe that hurts his popularity? Why didn’t WWE hold off Bryan’s return until after Rumble? Should Lesnar have dominated more than Cena since winning title?
Mar 22, 2015 - 8:59:23 PM
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Pro Wrestling Torch was established in 1987 by Wade Keller. One of the primary traits PWTorch has been credited with over the years is assembling the best and most diverse staff of columnists with broad knowledge, but also areas of specialty where they have a particularly strong grasp of history. Every day PWTorch.com presents that team of writers answering your questions, some of which are fact-based and others of which are opinion-based. Either way, we've got you covered with Bruce Mitchell, Pat McNeill, Sean Radican, Greg Parks, James Caldwell, and Wade Keller. Collectively they have over 80 years working for the Torch, writing about wrestling and studying industry history and trends.
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PWTorch reader Shawn R. asks: A couple questions would love to know the answers to, if you feel inclined:
(1) If memory serves me right, Randy Orton was cleared to return a few weeks before WWE actually did have him come back on TV. Daniel Bryan was cleared to return from his lengthy injury in late December/early January and was thrown into the mix quickly. Hindsight is 20/20, but with Bryan on the "DL" and becoming at least more of an afterthought, why not purposely wait until after the Rumble to bring him back, like Orton? He doesn't get cheered at Rumble and maybe Reigns doesn't get backlash. Most importantly, WWE doesn't alienate Bryan's fans who had their Rumble hopes up and wanted him in the WM title match?
(2) While I think Reigns can be better than he is for the position he is in - champ heir apparent- I am not against him like most. My biggest beef with him is out of his control poor scripting from Creative. But second, he is so over the top with his constant negative body tone and facial expressions. Am I the only one who sees that and think it's unusual? Constant frowns, inquisitive looks - it seems like he is straight out of a horrible acting school.
PWTorch columnist Sean Radican answers: (1) You make a good point. It didn't make much sense to bring Bryan back when they did given the negative impact it had on Reigns. I think they could have done some damage control by bringing him back after the Rumble PPV. It might not have made any difference at all in terms of how the fans are looking at Reigns right now, and his recent media appearances certainly aren't helping that, but in the end Reigns is going to have to show he deserves this spot and battle through it regardless of when Bryan returned.
(2) Reigns just isn't ready for this spot. I'm not against him either, but when I watch him in the ring I'm seeing exactly what you're seeing in terms of how he's scripted and his body language. It just isn't an appealing combination for a babyface.
PWTorch editor Wade Keller answers: (1) It was a gamble either way. If they hadn’t brought Bryan back, fans would have been counting down the clock for the 30th entrant hoping and perhaps assuming it’d be the triumphant return of Bryan, and like last year, whoever came out 30th would have been booed and it would have deflated the Reigns win. By having Bryan enter and lose, at least they were able to have Bryan explain that he gave it his all but this just wasn’t his year. Or they could have anted up and given Bryan his rematch against Lesnar at the Rumble or Fast Lane, and announced it in late December or early January. Then if Lesnar beat Bryan, it wouldn’t have seemed like Reigns’s winning the Rumble was at the expense of Bryan winning the Rumble. What has hurt, that was totally in WWE’s control, was the way Reigns won. Despite his saying he went through 29 other stars to win the Rumble, the real stats are:
Reigns came out 19th, nearly two-thirds of the way into the Rumble. Kingston had been eliminated right before Reigns came out, and he was the 17th elimination. That meant that Reigns, coming into the match, only shared the ring with 12 other combatants, not 30. Then Reigns eliminated Goldust, Stardust, and (with help from Ambrose) Titus O’Neal. Then he took what might have been a bit of a nap on the mat leaning on the bottom rope for several minutes, as his next elimination came 14 minutes later. That elimination was knocking two heels who were arguing with each other over the top rope in a bit of a fluke. Then he ducked a charging Rusev to win. That is not anything close to beating 29 other guys. It’s beating three mid-card acts (with help on the third), taking a break during a chunk of the next 14 minutes, and then shoving two distracted arguing bickering heels over the top rope, and then ducking a charging wrestler. That is not a star-making performance. Had Reigns actually looked spectacular in Rumble, maybe fans would have accepted his win more. The way he was booked made him out to be red shirted and on scholarship rather than having to earn his WrestleMania main event by breaking more of a sweat.
(2) Yes, I see Reigns’s body language and facial expressions as a turnoff to many fans. Top babyface over the years have been energetic and positive and outgoing and optimistic, not as petulant and annoyed as Reigns seems to be so much of the time. But we’ll see if the Little Engine that Could beats The Beast on Sunday, and the crowd reaction for that match and for that finish will be one of the most pivotal happenings in WWE in quite a while, as WWE has a lot resting on Reigns getting over. He’s made process the last few weeks, but the booking of him up until the last few weeks has been awful, and he hasn’t helped his cause in many instances.
PWTorch reader R. Jack asks: Has WWE hurt Brock Lesnar's reign of dominance? He’s had two convincing wins and one visible loss by putting him in another match against Cena. Instead, they could have booked him to destroy someone else. I feel they're more focused on making money in the short term with Lesnar-Cena instead of Lesnar against Dean Ambrose, Randy Orton, Sheamus, etc. Note the lack of depth on the face side.
PWTorch columnist Greg Parks answers: On one hand, sure, WWE has hurt Lesnar's reign of dominance, but I think it has more to do with him being off TV so much and barely referenced by announcers during that time than facing John Cena a second time. Yes, WWE is more focused on making money short-term with Lesnar, but that I understand, because it's no guarantee Lesnar re-ups with WWE after WrestleMania.
PWTorch editor Wade Keller answers: I think if the new TV deal and the WWE Network subs had been anywhere near the level they anticipated, ideally they would have paid Lesnar for more dates and built up a wider variety of opponents for him. That way, going into Sunday, Roman Reigns would ideally be set up to beat a fighting champion who dominated up to a half dozen other challengers. Instead, as Paul Heyman heroically framed it, Lesnar is a “special attraction” and because he rarely defends the title, it makes his matches more special. WWE better hope that’s how fans see it when it comes to signing up for the WWE Network to see WrestleMania. The reason there were two matches with Cena was Vince seemed to panic a bit after Summerslam that he let Lesnar destroy Cena the way he did, so he rushed the rematch so Cena could have a better showing in a rematch. I think it was a massive mistake the way they followed up a brilliant match at Summerslam at Night of Champions, and it’s too bad because this fall and winter could have been one of the most memorable and financially successful stretches of time for WWE had they had Lesnar got on a reign of utter destruction, only to have Reigns seem like the last hope headed into WM. Reigns’s win, if he wins, would have meant more had Lesnar dominated several top names over the last six months.
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