The following column is from new WrestleChat contributor, Grant Fletcher. You can follow Grant on Twitter at @G_Fletch1.
A Royal Perspective: Why the WWE Prices Payment Over Passion
I just want to preface this by stating that these are only my views and musings on the Rumble’s outcome. I’m not stating that this IS what happened, but I do feel this is a very strong likelihood. That likelihood being that the WWE knows exactly what they’re doing and Vince McMahon is using your newfound passion to make a ton of money.
I can’t accurately describe my feelings of both excitement and apprehension leading up to Sunday’s Royal Rumble, and rightfully so. Not only is it one of the biggest events on the WWE’s calendar, but they did such a good job of leaving so many questions unanswered. Will I get to be 12 years-old again with a New Age Outlaws title win? Will good triumph over evil once more as Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt throw down? How bored will I be with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match? Most importantly… Who will main event Wrestlemania?
I have to agree with the Internet Wrestling Community on one thing – for the most part I was pleased with the overall PPV. The pre-show WWE Tag Team Championship match was excellent. I haven’t been disappointed with the Outlaws since their return and I feel their sixth tag team title reign makes for an interesting plot point. The Big Show Vs Brock Lesnar ‘match’ was… well I believe it served its intended purpose. That purpose being the sending of a message: Brock Lesnar is every bit as vicious if not more so than he has ever been. Daniel Bryan Vs Bray Wyatt was just superb. No doubt this’ll be in the conversation when it comes time to vote on match of the year. The frustration of Bryan’s inability to get his devastating offense off the ground combined with Bray Wyatt’s smash mouth victory took me on quite a rollercoaster ride. Even the WWE WHC match was more entertaining than expected (though still it was no magnum opus for either participant).
Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for: The Royal Rumble! By and large the Rumble was pretty damn entertaining. You’ll get no argument from me on that. Still we’re left with some questions. The first being, “What happened with CM Punk?” However, that’s a different subject for another time. The big question is, “Batista? Really?!”
Everyone knew Batista would be a major player during and after the Royal Rumble, but why give him the win? This guy has been out of the business for four years. During that time he didn’t shy away from expressing his disapproval over the direction the WWE was headed. Why would they pin one of the most prestigious honors the WWE can bestow upon this guy? More importantly, why wasn’t it Daniel Bryan? As Rey Mysterio ran down to the ring at the number thirty spot, the thunderous echoes of the crowd booing must have shaken the walls of that arena. How could they have not seen this reaction coming?
I’m here to tell you that most likely they did. Not only did they see it coming, but they engineered it. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the phrase, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” and for the most part that’s true. Think about it this way, why would the WWE want to create controversy while standing at the threshold of their WWE Network launch? r/SquaredCircle on reddit is ablaze with the ire of its subscribers. Twitter has exploded with the passionate anger of the IWC (passion that’s being fueled by some of the WWE’s own superstars I might add). Even your Facebook News Feed is specked with the disappointment of your wrestling fan friends.
Taking this into account how many of you have been a part of this social media maelstrom? How many have said something, anything about the Royal Rumble on Twitter, Facebook etc? I’m not asking to try and make anyone feel stupid for participating or silly for complaining online. That passion is one of the things that makes pro wrestling great. I’m just attempting to illustrate a point. Now think how many of you are friends with or are followed by former wrestling fans or just those that may be casually interested in wrestling. At this point they’re probably thinking, “Who’s this Daniel Bryan guy and why is everyone so darned mad at Batista?” Now how many of them do you think are likely to tune in to Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown in order to figure it out?
The WWE has created a, “You tell two friends and then they’ll tell two friends,” scenario. The day of using shocking story lines to get viewers’ attention is long gone. In its wake we have the wildfire that is social media, and the WWE is using it to its full advantage.
At this point you may be asking, “How does making terrible decisions benefit the company in any way?” For that I like to look to history. Is anyone familiar with New Coke? Coca-Cola purposefully released a poor product in order to create buzz. They then made a killing when they released Coca-Cola Classic. A little controversy goes a long way. Now more eyes are on the WWE than have been in quite some time.
How should you react? Well that really depends upon how you feel about the whole thing. Do you agree with anything that’s been said here? Are you still angered by the fact that Daniel Bryan won’t be headlining ‘Mania for a title shot? Are you just glad that there’s more wrestling on TV week after week no matter what? Regardless of what you do the WWE will take note. They’d be fools not to actually analyze and react to what’s being said online. If you like Daniel Bryan or CM Punk keep tweeting at them, buying their t-shirts and watching their segments on YouTube. If you don’t care about John Cena, Randy Orton or Batista, then stop mentioning them on Facebook. Don’t even Google them.
I’d like to close on an optimistic note. No matter how small of a chance it may be, Batista’s win at the Royal Rumble does not guarantee an Orton Vs Batista Wrestlemania main event. I’d like to take you back in time all the way to the year 1999. Vince McMahon had won the Royal Rumble yet ended up putting his number one contender spot on the line in a steel cage match against Stone Cold Steve Austin at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Austin would go on to win the match and defeat The Rock at Wrestlemania XV for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.
There’s still hope for this to turn out differently, but in the meantime I’m going to sit back and enjoy the ride.