No matter how you try and spin it, what happened at the 2014 edition of the Royal Rumble was a debacle and it was all because of WWE Management’s stubborn refusal to accept that in the fans’ eyes Daniel Bryan is the number one star in the company.
This was never more apparent than towards the end of the Rumble Match itself when the fans in Pittsburgh realized that Bryan wasn’t even going to be allowed to compete and instead Rey Mysterio was given the number 30 spot. The fans chanted for Bryan and booed lustily, particularly when Batista ultimately won the match. It was so bad that reports from those who attended the event said that the WWE cranked up Batista’s music to try and drown out the booing. The WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between Randy Orton and John Cena wasn’t much better with fans letting everyone know how they felt.
Now, though, WWE management is facing an even bigger problem with Wrestlemania XXX, especially if they are still in denial and believe that what happened at the Royal Rumble was an aberration. If they go forward with any main event that doesn’t include Bryan in the match and winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, they run the risk of this happening again only this time no amount of turning up the volume will drown it out.
Should WWE Management make such a choice they would truly deserve to have that happen because continually denying what the fans want is just a stupid business decision.
Daniel Bryan is not just popular with the dedicated wrestling fan, but also children. At a recent WWE Live Event in Vancouver, BC back in December 2013, when the ‘Yes’ chant started all of the fans young and old were blisteringly loud in their support for Bryan. Bryan was so popular that by the intermission his T-shirt was sold out at the concession stand.
There is little doubt that WWE management never expected the fan support to remain as white hot as it has for Daniel Bryan. The expectation was likely that after having Bryan losing to Orton, and being the whipping boy for Bray Wyatt, that support would shift to Batista as the great hope to dethrone Randy Orton as WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Instead the support for Bryan has grown and not withered away, at least not yet.
It seems obvious to me that those within WWE management advising Vince McMahon, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon have been telling them that Bryan is too small, that these chants will go away and that the fans will get with the program of supporting their prototypical choice of Batista or another large behemoth.
The sad truth is that they’re partially right; the fans at some point will stop chanting for Bryan, but not because they’ve transferred their support to someone else. No, what will happen is many people, especially the young ones, will turn away from WWE programming after they’ve become disillusioned from seeing their hero Daniel Bryan continually crushed over and over again. There is a limit as to how much people will put up with before they get fed up and find something else and Wrestlemania XXX may be when that happens.
All the rumours for Wrestlemania XXX have pointed to Bryan facing Sheamus in a meaningless singles match or being the next victim of the Undertaker – about the only alternative to a WWE World Heavyweight Championship victory that fans might accept is Bryan versus Triple H, but that would only be if Bryan was the winner of the match. However, based on past WWE management decisions Bryan will simply be used to enhance his opponent in a losing effort and that may be the breaking point for many fans. In a lot of ways this kind of boneheaded and stubborn management decision couldn’t come at a worse time for the company with the launch of the WWE Network scheduled to take place shortly before Wrestlemania XXX.
WWE management has no one to blame but themselves. They made this mess and still have time to change course and give the fans what they want, which is accepting that Bryan is the next flag bearer for the company. If they choose otherwise they’ll have to reap the consequences of those actions, one of which may be a whole generation of fans turning away from their product and focusing their attention and money elsewhere.