They got me! They definitely got me. After my six-month commitment expired as a subscriber to the WWE Network, I really pondered whether it was worth renewing. Don't get me wrong, the service is indeed very much worth the price, and that's not schilling for the WWE, but lately, my interest in the product and the company as a whole as been non-existent.
Honestly, I don't watch Raw. Even worse, I forgot Smackdown exists. Other than NXT's shows, I haven't been invested in the product. With so many other options such as New Japan, TNA, Lucha Underground, and ROH, there are many other viable and more entertaining options to fill my wrestling-needs.
But, it's the Royal Rumble. And it's Wrestlemania season. And the little boy in me still loves these events and I decided to hand over to Vince McMahon $9.99, and hoped tonight is the night the WWE pulls me back in. What I ended up experiencing was a show that went from OK, to not caring, to absolutely amazing, to a heap of "what is going on?". An array of extremes, ironically, for a show held in Philadelphia.
With that said, here are my quick thoughts on the 2015 Royal Rumble:
- No one does production like the WWE. I know I say that all the time, but when you've been removed from the product for several months as I have, and have been in-tune with Lucha Underground, ROH, and TNA on a weekly basis, turning one's eyes back on the WWE is like a whole new world.
|WWE flexing production muscles|
Speaking of, their panel and pre-show really make these events feel big time. Kudos to Renee Young who does a superb job. I just don't see her staying in the WWE very long. Other opportunities are sure to be knocking.
Also, the slow motion replays tonight were fantastic. Just great. No one in entertainment or sports does production like the WWE.
|"I have no idea why we're kicking off the show either!"|
- I'm a fan of the Ascension, as their work in NXT was great. The look may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I like the old school Demolition-Road Warriors-hybrid knockoff look they have going. It's always refreshing to see true tag teams and not the mish-mash ones we see so often today.
Nonetheless, I get the point of having the Ascension defeat the New Age Outlaws, but there was just something odd abut kicking off the show with these guys. Especially, the Outlaws.
- After watching Gail Kim, Awesome Kong Taryn Terrell, Ivelisse, and one of my new favorite wrestlers, Sexy Starr, mix it up as women in their respective companies, it's hard to take these Divas seriously. This was an odd match with the Bellas getting the dominant win. Honestly, I didn't care. I just keep wondering why isn't Paige featured more? And will there ever be more for Natalya in the WWE?
The Usos throw superkicks like they are the Young Bucks or something. #RoyalRumble #superkickparty
— Dome Pondering (@DomePondering) January 26, 2015
- More Tag Team matches! This time for the Tag Team Championships. Much credit to Damien Sandow who has really taken an interesting gimmick and made the most of it. And as always, the Usos had another solid match. They are silently one of the few must-see acts in the WWE right now. This contest was fun, and even played to the unique dynamic that is Team Mizdow - one face and one heel. A very fun match.
- Where does one even begin with the World Heavyweight Championship match? Awesome! Epic! Fantastic! All parties included. My favorite part of the entire ordeal, besides the false finishes and the overwhelming unpredictability at points, was the monster image Brock Lesnar walked with. He already has that aura, but this match added to it. From the three AA's, being put through a table, the multiple briefcase spots, and the couple of curb stomps he took, Brock survived and look like the legit beast he presents himself as.
Really, Brock Lesnar looks, feels, and seems like a legit badass, and one of the most believable world champions in a long, long, time. I like the fact that both Brock, as well as Lashley over in TNA, are on the top of their respective mountains. Both breathe "believability" and that's something still amiss in wrestling characters today.
Wrestling fans can jeer John Cena all they want, but the dude is a workhorse. I still think he is a product of being force down our throats (more on that in a bit), but tonight showed that Cena is still the top guy in the business.
And as for Seth Rollins, he proved he belonged in the main event. And this is good news for the WWE and wrestling fans as the company is in dire need of turning the page to the next generation. I know, I know, there is "Brass Ring-gate" and all of it's Vince McMahon-like requirements that come with it. The WWE NEEDS new blood as of yesterday. Rollins effectively broke through tonight.
Oh yeah, a part of me went crazy when he flashed back to "Tyler Black" there with the Phoenix Splash. I know ROH fans were smirking a bit when that happened.
- And then of course, there was the Royal Rumble. Ahhh, yes, this match. Ugh. Double Ugh!
After what was probably the best match we've seen from the WWE in quite sometime, this show swung to the other end of the entertainment spectrum by giving us this year's edition of the Rumble.
The match was a dud. It was boring. Non-exciting. And really, just there. It wasn't bad, but it was...well, there. Just out there. Just a whole lot of...well, BLAH!
The surprise entrants stunk. Though, it was nice seeing Bully Ray (or Bubba, whatever) get a nice return to the WWE, the likes of DDP, Boogeyman, and others were so lame - to me atleast. I'm sure there are some who enjoyed it. None of them really moved the meter for this fan. Just my opinion. And really, as have been my biggest complaint with the WWE when I walked away from the product in October (World Wrestling Not Entertained), the company has three hours of programming on their flagship show (and many many more throughout the week), and yet still has less than ten wrestlers who are truly connected with the audience. That was evident tonight. Very evident.
Wrestler after wrestler came out and it felt flat because there are no stories behind any of them. The New Day? Why should we care? Why is it a New Day? What's Jack Swagger been doing? Luke Rowan? What's up with him since leaving the Wyatt Family? It just baffles me beyond comprehension. Sometimes there are fueds that continue throughout the Rumble match, or interesting stare downs. Or, at times, a double cross or two to spur along other storylines. With the WWE, it's one major storyline, and everyone else just exists. Just floating in that universe of theirs.
Let's not even get into the extremely (that word again) lame-ass elimination that was Titus O'Neil. Was that supposed to be funny? Historical? Progressive? What?!
And then of course, there was the winner - Roman Reigns. Let's look beyond the utterly ridiculous decision to have him, Kane, and Big Show in the final three. Or four, because of Rusev? Or Five? Is Curtis Axel still eligible? I hope they follow up on that to give Axel something to work with. But don't hold your breath.
No hyperbole, this Royal Rumble gave me flashbacks of the 1997 Rumble. If you've seen that, you know exactly what I mean.
As for the ending, I don't blame Roman Reigns at all. I actually feel for the guy in what should have been a big moment in his career. He has all the tools you want in a wrestler and will be a star someday. Also, just like we saw earlier with Rollins, I am fan of the fact we are getting new blood in the main event. I just don't think he is ready. It just doesn't feel like his time.
|Well shooot, if The Rock likes him, we should too!|
The best characters are those that evolve organically with fans. The easiest to be repulsed at are the ones who are obviously shoved down our throats as the "next guy", especially when it is obvious. That is clearly what we got tonight with Reigns, and then later on with The Rock endorsing him. It just felt desperate and forced. It just seems too much, too soon, just because. Especially when there are a long line of guys who fans have been behind for so long, yet have not gotten their payoff - e.g Ziggler and Cesaro.
And don't even get me started on the beginning to the John Cena/Rusev feud. That took things from disappointed back to another bag of, "Huh?!".
In this fan's opinion, the WWE continues to be insulting. I just find the product to be very, very insulting. Tonight's Royal Rumble is proof of that with awesome stuff, head scratching stuff, things I continue to not care about, and things I did, but ended up being unbelievably disappointing. The WWE definitely went extreme in Philly, but just not the way most wrestling fans expect.
|This Worldwide Trend is NOT Best For Business|
Regardless, they got me. Take my $10 Vince and keep the change. It's Wrestlemania season, so as the sucker that I am - that we all are - I'll give them another shot tomorrow night.