So the Royal Rumble is in the books, and if things stay as they are now we get Randy Orton vs. Batista for the WWE World Title at Wrestlemania. That sound you heard was millions of people groaning in displeasure. Batista came back to a big pop on RAW last week, and I called him winning the Rumble because it didn't make sense to bring him back now, put him in the Rumble, and not have him win. But the fans in the audience didn't care for that result. When number 30 brought out Rey Myseterio, the crowd got pissed because that meant Daniel Bryan would not be in the big match of the night. Bryan, despite some weird booking in the last few weeks with the Wyatt family, is still as over with the fans as he was this past summer. They still want him to get his chance with a long run as champion. I don't know if he'll get it but they can still hope. But for this night, the realization that he wouldn't get his chance at another shot was not taken very well by the live audience. The match had been pretty well received before that point, and was very well done throughout. We got the customary old timer appearance (Kevin Nash), the creative escape from elimination by Kofi Kingston leaping from the barricade to the ring apron, all three members of the Shield in the ring and an elimination that further teased their breakup (Dean Ambrose trying to throw out Roman Reigns and then Reigns throwing out Ambrose and Seth Rollins), and the ironman run was performed by CM Punk who stayed in for 50 minutes before getting eliminated. Batista actually got a good reaction when he came in at number 27. It wasn't until Myseterio came in at 30 that the crowd turned. And boy did they turn. Mysterio got thrown out pretty quickly to the cheers of the pissed off crowd. When it came down the final three (Batista, Reigns, and the returning Sheamus) the crowd got behind Reigns in hopes of an upset. Reigns is clearly being set up for a big run and the fans seem to be on board with it. When Reigns looked to be on the way to victory the fans were good with it, but when Batista threw him out to win the boos returned.
As far as the rest of the show, I can't fault any of the booking. Bray Wyatt going over Daniel Bryan was the right move; Wyatt needs wins over important people before he takes his first major loss so he can maintain his heat. Brock Lesnar beating Big Show was obvious going in. Lesnar beats anyone not at the top tier and is 50-50 against those who are up there. Orton beating Cena was the right call.as well; obviously you want the heel champion Orton going into Wrestlemania to take a loss in the main event. I'm ambivalent about Batista; the few times I watched his old matches I wasn't impressed. He's a standard issue big man who's not a first rate talker; Ryback could have done what he did before 2009 in my opinion. I don't see how he and Orton are going to have a top flight match without someone like Bryan, Cena or CM Punk being inserted into the match. Feelings for Daniel Bryan notwithstanding, the fans are right to feel suspect about a title match between Batista and Randy Orton. Of course the only thing that might be worse for Bryan fans than an Orton-Batista main event is a three way with Orton, Bryan, and Batista where Batista wins anyway. Holding your nose through what looks like the main event now and getting a Bryan title win later in the year would be preferable. Bryan is never going to be a favorite of Vince McMahon, who prefers guys who look like Hulk Hogan, the Rock, or John Cena to guys who look like Bryan. Like Bret Hart, Bryan will likely never get a clean, uninterrupted run as champion no matter how popular he is. Vince is never going to trust him as a gate attraction. Which bring us to......
CM Punk. Punk reportedly told Vince he was going home, and the WWE has gone as far as to remove him from all advertising for upcoming events. There are those who think this is a work, but it appears to be legit for the time being. If it is, then Punk is being a punk plain and simple. There was a time when I would have sided with him; I sided with Bret Hart once over the Montreal Screwjob. But he's under contract until July, and the biggest day of the year for company is coming up in two months. If he's burned out then he can go to Vince, ask for some time to recharge, and reach a deal for a lighter schedule for a few months. But if he's pissed off over the booking then he needs to get over it. WWE is his job, and he's under contract. Job promotions don't always go the way you want them to. If he's upset that part-timers like the Rock get put at the top of the card while guys who worked all year get passed over, well....the Rock brings in instant money that, say, Dolph Ziggler, does not. If all of us went home every time somebody got promoted or rewarded that we felt wasn't deserving the unemployment rate would be 50%. Punk is reportedly one of those guys who's smarter than most of his co-workers and sometimes smarter than the boss, and is self-righteous as all get out. He also has his own version of his own career history in which he has been constantly undermined by Vince; he's not totally wrong on that count but he still got to hold the main title in the company for over a year. He needs to get a grip before he becomes Bret Hart 2.0. The company will be hurt by his absence but they'll eventually get past it.
If it's a work? Hey, good job by everyone involved.