By Cameron Heffernan
After a solid 24 hours of crying and complaining and the trending of #CancelWWENetwork, we all seemed to forget. We saw one of the best matches. Ever. At the Royal Rumble. So please Marks, take a second and recognize. The beast incarnate.
The temptation to join in the fervor this morning was hard. I wanted to lament in unwarranted hatred toward Roman Reigns and his Royal Rumble win as well as assimilate to the “We want refunds,” chant we heard in Philadelphia from the comfort of my couch. On Sunday we witnessed a bummer of an ending to an otherwise stellar Rumble match that saw the surprise appearance of Diamond Dallas Page and Bubba Ray Dudley, sheer dominance on account of Bray Wyatt, and the untimely ousting of Daniel Bryan. I don’t need to rehash for you, but I will.
The entire night the crowd had the aura of “if Daniel Bryan doesn’t win the Royal Rumble, we riot.” Suffice to say, Bryan didn’t win the Rumble, Reigns did, and everyone in Philadelphia booed for a very loud and very long time. Then the Rock came out and the crowd popped, as you’d expect. They immediately returned to booing once they realized Rock was out there as a shill for the Reigns victory – almost as if WWE had realized what they had done and wanted you to stay and continue to throw that ball at the fixed targets to “win a prize”.
Here’s a re-imaging of the events:
Sorry, it was a bit hard to find footage of the hatred raining down upon Reigns.
Reigns punched his ticket to the main event at Wrestlemania in March, the crowd was pissed, the WWE Universe was pissed, and as a Universe we weren’t going to take it anymore. The hashtag #CancelWWENetwork started trending; the idea of a cancelled Network threatened my ability to watch old PPVs, Raws/Nitros and all the other cool crap they have on there (I write this while watching Wrestlemania 18); and the internet, once again, seemed to be ruining it, just as much as Vince McMahon ruined the Rumble.
Lost in all this hoopla was one of the finest matches I’ve seen in my near lifetime of watching the WWE (WWF back when I started) – as if it somehow didn’t matter even though it was the true main event. The match the WWE Universe consigned to oblivion was the brutal triple-threat between WWE Champion Brock Lesnar, John Cena and Seth Rollins. What started out as a lesson in one’s ability to completely destroy two other human beings with nothing but brute force and repeated German suplexing. Unfolded into a match on the level of Andre vs. Hogan, Randy Savage vs. Steamboat, Jericho vs. Punk, Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, and Rock vs. John Cena.
Contrary to popular opinion, Cena can work. As a matter of fact, he’s probably one of the best workers in the business right now. He took 16 German Suplexes at Summer Slam; got up; did his finisher; got beat, and took it like a champ. It’s why he’s the number one guy in the sports entertainment world. Rollins is also on his way to the top, and quick. His ascension has been meteoric, at the least, and his heel promos are on the level of Rick Rude, Hollywood Hulk Hogan and Kurt Angle. He will more than likely be the WWE champion when all is said and done after Mania in March. So take solace in that my poor brokenhearted humanoids.
Towards the peak of the match, Rollins and Cena finally decided to put their efforts together and take down Lesnar, culminating in the sweetest fucking elbow drop you’ve ever seen. And I mean, EVER:
Rollins destroys Lesnar in that spot. Like a planet crashing into another planet. That is a microcosm of the grandeur in the match. Lesnar took three of Cena’s signature moves, a signature from Rollins, was put through a barricade and the stairs, the aforementioned table, and still got up, dropped his signature F5 on Rollins and once again is the reigning, defending, WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Somehow though, because someone who HAS gotten a big push before, and was out almost a year due to injury, didn’t win the Rumble like everyone wanted, we ignore one of the most phenomenal matches any wrasslin’ fan has ever seen just so we can piss and moan like we always do, even when the product is good, whether it’s an indie show, ROH, NJPW, or the WWE.
But no, the only thing we’re talking about, is how it’s bullshit that Reigns won (It seems at this point in the WWE Universe, all we know how to do is complain. And I’m talking about adults. The people the product isn’t geared towards. Something us 20-somethings have forgotten. It’s a show for children and children love dudes like Reigns).
It isn’t. I know it’s rigged and it’s all about suspension of disbelief. But Bryan isn’t beating Lesnar, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Lesnar is the one who isn’t willing to work with Bryan (Much like how Kevin Nash wouldn’t work with dudes under 6’5). That’s why he didn’t win. It schematically doesn’t make sense. Again, I know, suspension of disbelief. But this isn’t David vs. Goliath. This is David vs. God.
I understand that Eddie Guerrero beat Brock and Rey Mysterio won a Rumble in the past. I understand wrestling is all about the underdogs. That was a different era. This is the “reality era”. And in the “reality era” someone who is put through three AAs, a curb stomp, put through a barricade, stairs, and a table. Only to get up, dismiss the stretcher that was brought out for him, destroy the competition like it was just another Sunday, and defend his title against two of the top guys in the business. Isn’t going to be beaten by Daniel Bryan. Brock vs. Bryan could be a good match. But it’s never going to happen cause Brock is probably gone in April. Unless he gets pushed into the match like last year. Which will probably happen. And if not him maybe it’ll be Ziggler. I don’t think we’re on a path to just a one-on-one with Reigns and Lesnar. I don’t think Reigns can do it alone either. Lesnar, after the match at the Rumble has been pushed to an unbeatable status. The unbeatable boss at the end of the game.
Just be happy when Bryan eventually beats Rollins for the title at Summer Slam.
Another thing: It’s rumored that Bryan, had he not been injured, would have been the one who took the ass-whooping at Summer Slam, not John Cena. That’s what would happen at Wrestlemania. And that can’t happen at Mania due to Brock more than likely defecting to UFC after the big dance.
Writer’s note: Wrestlemania 18 is a giant metaphor for how the attitude era only needed two guys to destroy the entirety of the NWO and WCW.