The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2014

Aka A Harsh Lesson in Crowd Psychology 

Live from Pittsburgh, PA

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & JBL

I’m trying this on the WWE app, even without Michael Cole instructing me how to do it!  In the pre-game match, the New Age Outlaws actually get a sixth tag title in a decent match, thus ending the reign of Cody & Goldust in the most underwhelming way possible.

But first, to the mailbag!

So far, everyone seems to think it’s a surefire bet that Batista is winning the Rumble, and then going on to headline Mania against either Cena or Orton.

But Batista, in his skinny jeans, Justin Bieber sweater, and nose stud looked like King Douche of Douche Mountain last week. If he wins the Rumble, that will be going against everything the fans actually want to see.  That seems like a recipe for the fans to almost immediately turn on the guy.  And Batista vs. either Orton/Cena as the main event of Mania seems like the most boring thing to ever be consideZzzzzzzzzzzz.

So my question is this: if that’s the main event we’re getting for Mania, what are the odds the crowd shits all over it and spends the entire match chanting for Daniel Bryan?  Seems like that would be an awful big embarrassment for the main event of the 30th anniversary of Wrestlemania, but I feel like that may be the path we’re heading down.

Come on, you think an entire crowd would hijack the second-biggest PPV of the year?  That wouldn’t happen!  That’s crazy talk!

Daniel Bryan v. Bray Wyatt

Slugfest to start and Bryan puts him down with a knee, but gets nailed from behind.  Bryan stops to nail Harper with a dive, so the ref sends the Wyatts back to the dressing room, which Bray actually is fine with.  Bryan hits him with a dive as well and back in with a high cross for two.  Bray tosses him, but charges and hits the stairs.  Back in, Bryan works on the leg and wraps him up with a bow-and-arrow, then opts just to kick him in the face instead.  That gets two.  Bryan is still throwing kicks and destroying the knee, and they fight over a suplex on the apron.  Wyatt takes him down to the floor, and back in where Bray throws him around and goes to a chinlock.  Wyatt pounds the head and sends him into the post, so Bryan bails, and Bray follows him out there with a senton on the floor.  Back in, that gets two.  Bray clotheslines him under the ropes for two and continues pounding the head.  Crabwalk, and he keeps going back to a neck vice, but Bryan makes the comeback and sends him into the corner for some kicks.  To the top for a rana that gets two.  Not really expecting Bray Wyatt to be taking highspots, but I’ll go with it.  Bray puts him down with an elbow for two, however.  Bryan dumps him and follows with a tornado DDT off the apron.  Back in for the missile dropkick and the Yes Kicks, which get two.  Corner dropkicks, but Bray catches him with a huge lariat for two.  Sister Abigail is reversed into a rollup for two, however.  Bryan with the Yes-Lock, but Bray bites his hand to break!  To the top and they exchange headbutts to the alternating delight and annoyance of the crowd, but Wyatt goes down first and Bryan follows with the flying headbutt.  Bray bails again and Bryan follows with the dive, but Bray catches him and Abigails him into the railing in an AWESOME spot, and back in for another one to finish at 21:35 and deflate the crowd.  And thus the show was stolen.  ****

Meanwhile, the WWE is about to be conquered and subjugated by Viking Space Lord Brock Lesnar, or so Paul Heyman would have you believe.

Big Show v. Brock Lesnar

This needs to be a total slaughter of epic proportions, especially given how much Show had the upper hand in the buildup.  And indeed, Brock immediately takes him down and pounds the shit out of him with a chair, and man that looks like it hurts.  The sympathetic crowd asks for one more time, and Brock obliges. The ref finally gets the chair away from him, so Heyman gives Brock ANOTHER one, forcing Show to throw the punch.  Brock bails and Show tosses him around on the floor, and back in, where Brock puts him out of his misery with the F5 at 1:15.  Really 5:15 if you count all the stuff before the official bell.  ½*  Really he shouldn’t have even had to sell the punch given the beating he delivered with the chair.  And then he just totally destroys Show with the chair on the floor afterwards, in the name of GOOD SPORTMANSHIP.  Perhaps Show will cry about it on RAW tomorrow.  Of course then Show just sells it like a mild case of indigestion on the way out, instead of getting carted out on a stretcher or in an ambulance, like you’d want for someone getting set up against Undertaker.

Meanwhile, on a show that I paid $45 to watch, a COMMERCIAL for tax services.  I’m in Canada, I can’t even use that!  And isn’t Jackson Hewitt one of the guys in developmental right now?

Meanwhile, the Shield squabbles about who drew what number for the Rumble.  Roman Reigns is pretty confident either way.

Meanwhile, Randy Orton is confident that he’s the only face of the WWE, and not a “Duck Dynasty reject” like Bray Wyatt.  Harsh words.

WWE World title:  Randy Orton v. John Cena

The awesome crowd chants for Daniel Bryan after the ring intros, which the announcers are forced to totally ignore.   Orton stomps Cena down to start and grabs a headlock while the crowd chants for Bryan again, and now the announcers have to acknowledge it, which allows JBL to bury him.  And now the hijacking continues with the chant switching to Randy Savage as Orton gets a suplex and seems to be letting it get to him.  Back to the headlock as the crowd now wants to see Jericho and this is approaching glorious trainwreck territory.  Well, now Pittsburgh is never getting a TV show again, way to go.  Orton back to the chinlock as the crowd continues turning on the match before it even gets started.  They fight on the floor and the crowd is having none of it, going back to Daniel Bryan as Orton is losing his mind.  DDT gets two and apparently they both suck in the eyes of the crowd.  JBL is all “Ha ha, those WWE fans, they be all expressing themselves and shit!” but you know Vince is screaming bloody murder into the earpieces right now.  Cena tries a comeback, but Orton powerslams him for two.  Cena with a neckbreaker for two.  They fight on top and Cena comes down with the guillotine for two, but Orton gets the backbreaker for two.  The crowd aggressively does not care about any of this and it’s awesome.  So Orton gives him a DDT off the apron, to his credit not flipping out over getting caught in this, and back in Cena reverses the RKO into the STF.  Five Knuckle Shuffle, but the ref is bumped, because that’s exactly the thing this fucking match needed.  So Orton taps with no ref, then comes back and puts Cena down with the belt as the doctor manages to revive the ref by slapping him around or something.  So now we’ve had a ref bump and a beltshot as the crowd switches to “This is awful”.  If I could award star ratings to a crowd, I’d be tempted to go the full monty here.  Cena with the FU for two, but Orton hits the RKO for two.  Orton misses the punt and Cena tries the FU, but Orton reverses that to an STF.  Cena reverses to a crossface, so Orton gives him an FU for two.  And then Cena hits a RKO for two.  To the top, but Orton fights out, so Cena hits a tornado DDT and the STF in the middle.  And here’s the Wyatts, as expected.  Cena is DISTRACTED, and the RKO finishes at 20:54.   So in the match promised as the “traditional wrestling match” we ended up with a ref bump, a foreign object, and a run-in distraction finish.  The crowd chants “THANK YOU WYATT” to top it off.  The really funny thing is that the match wasn’t BAD or anything, and it was probably one of the better ones where everyone hated it.   I mean, they were trying hard to overcome the crowd, but it was the wrong match for the wrong crowd tonight. ***  Bray gives Cena the Sister Abigail, so as expected Daniel Bryan proved to be the setup guy for Cena’s Wrestlemania program.  “No one expected this!” Michael Cole notes.  I’m pretty sure the betting line would disagree with that.

Meanwhile, we recap the Outlaws winning the tag titles and they un-invite Renee Young from their victory party.

Meanwhile, we get the Elimination Chamber commercial, the show that is basically going to end the PPV era for wrestling.  And it features Stephanie McMahon, because of course it does.

Royal Rumble:   CM Punk is of course #1, and that leads to another awkward moment where they’re like “Two people have won the match at #1 before, Shawn Michaels and…HEY WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?”  Seth Rollins is #2 and they exchange kicks to start before Punk puts him down with a running knee and high kick.  Damien Sandow is #3 and the heels team up on Punk, but he gives them both a neckbreaker at the same time.  Cody Rhodes is #4 and he slugs it out with Sandow and hits the Crossroads, allowing Punk to backdrop him out at 3:54.  So now Punk and Rhodes work Rollins over, but Kane is #5.  Wearing a suit!  Kane lays a beating on Punk, but a high kick puts him out at 5:47.  ALEXANDER RUSEV is #6 as NXT represents!  Rusev destroys everyone but can’t quite toss Cody or Rollins, and everyone hangs on until Jack Swagger is #7.  And the crowd actually gives Swagger a babyface reaction for slugging it out with Rusev!  Kofi Kingston is #8, although I’m sure the crowd doesn’t know his NXT history with Rusev. Former tag champs Kofi and Punk battle in the corner, and nothing else going on with Jimmy Uso at #9.  More nothing and Goldust is #10.

Goldust cleans house and everyone gangs up on Rusev and dumps him at 13:11.  Punk chucks Kofi out as well, but Rusev catches him and puts him on the railing for a beating, which gives us our Kofi Spot for the year, as he jumps from there to the ring!  Dean Ambrose is #11 and it’s more nothing.  Dolph Ziggler is #12 to wake up the crowd.  Their optimism is likely misguided.  More kicking and punching.  R-Truth is #13 as the jobber parade continues.  Ambrose dropkicks him out right away at 18:18.  Uso goes up and Ambrose shoves him out at 18:38 as well.  Don’t ever go to the top rope in the Rumble!  That’s the first rule!  Kofi manages to hang on by his boots, and Kevin Nash is #14.  I was promised a retirement!  Swagger is gone at 20:00.   And Roman Reigns rounds out the Shield at #15.  And the destruction begins.  Kofi is gone at 21:50.  Dolph at 22:15.  Nash at 22:22.  Hopefully he didn’t blow a quad on the way down.  Great Khali is #16 and the Shield gangs up on him and gets him out at 23:45. And then Goldust accidentally puts Cody out at 24:10, allowing Reigns to dump Goldust at 24:20.  Awww.  Sheamus returns at #17 and goes after the Shield, nearly breaking my stream.  I will say, the WWE app version has been perfect up until now.  The Miz is #18 as business is really picking up now.  JBL notes that Shawn won in 1996 at 18, which is insulting to both Shawn Michaels and Rumble winners in general.  Fandango is #19, and I’m not giving him much of a chance here.  Just a hunch.  More aimless wandering and the crowd is anxious for Daniel Bryan.  Yeah, not happening.  El Torito is #20 and obviously they’re not even trying this year.

Fandango lays Torito out, but gets dropkicked out by the midget at 30:42.  OH COME ON. Roman thankfully gets rid of him at 31:08.  Antonio Cesaro is #21, and he HAS to giant swing someone out of the match.  And it’s the Miz!  Sadly, Punk interrupts, and then Rollins takes the swing instead. And it’s 30 revolutions as Luke Harper is #22.  Nothing going on there and Jey Uso is #23.  Ring’s filling up so Batista has to be coming soon.  JBL is #24 for the big babyface pop as Cole notes that “The JBL character” has never entered the Rumble before.  And Reigns dumps him at 36:54 to end that epic run.  They’re really reaching now.  Erick Rowan is #25 as this desperately needs some real star power and/or contenders.  The Wyatts rob us of a Miz Wrestlemania main event repeat at 38:32.  Jey Uso is gone at 39:08.  Ryback is #26.  Sheamus slugs it out with Cesaro, and Alberto Del Rio is #27.  No one cares.  More punching and kicking as the crowd is bored as well.  And then we’re onto #28 with Batista to hopefully clear the ring a bit.  And the crowd TURNS ON HIM!  Rowan is out at 42:48.  Ryback charges him and goes over the top like the Network at 43:15. Del Rio goes for the armbar and Batista dumps him at 43:48.  Big E Langston is #29 and unless Daniel Bryan is behind the curtain, this is going to Batista.  Nope, it’s Rey at #30 and the crowd boos the FUCK out of that.  Rey and Punk battle on the apron while the crowd turns on the whole match and wants Daniel Bryan.  This is gonna be ugly.  Sheamus boots Big E out at 46:54.  Rey with the 619 on Rollins, but he gets kicked out at 47:54.  This crowd is PISSED.  Reigns puts Harper out with the Superman punch at 48:30, and the Shield argues, leading to Reigns eliminating Rollins, Ambrose and Cesaro at 48:55.

Final Four:   We’ve got Punk, Reigns, Batista and Sheamus.  Kane returns to screw Punk at 49:27 to continue that feud no one wanted.   The crowd is still chanting for Daniel Bryan and booing Batista out of the building.  Batista powerslams Reigns, and Sheamus puts him down and POINTS TO SIGN, which the crowd also shits on.  Reigns spears him off the apron at 53:07 to set the new elimination record, and the crowd would now like him to win.   Reigns with a clothesline out of the corner, but Batista comes back with his own spear and the crowd boos the shit out of him.  Reigns with his spear, but Batista tosses him to win at 55:24.  So this was…something.  Not the worst Rumble ever, but certainly one of them.  **1/2  Although the perverse entertainment of the crowd shitting all over everything almost made up for the completely uninspired match.

Although the show kind of sucked, I certainly got my $50 worth of entertainment out of it in a very Bash ’91 “total rejection of everything being presented” type of way.  Although apparently WWE hates their audience in a very real way, so the war that will be ongoing over the next two months will probably be far more fascinating than anything in the ring.