It’s January 31. I don’t understand why so many WWE fans act as if they MUST know the WrestleMania 33 card today. The show is on April 2. There are still two PPVs before that one – Smackdown’s Elimination Chamber on February 12 and Raw’s Fastlane on March 5. You know what else? There’s a chance both of those shows will be better than WrestleMania because WrestleMania is often times not the best show of the year. It’s the longest, but that’s not a good thing in today’s world where people tend to have a short attention span and an eagerness to argue things.
This idea that people must know who is against who for a show in two months is pretty ridiculous. Keep this in mind too. No single match is the draw. WWE knows that. The name is the draw. That’s why they put the tickets on sale in early November. That’s why they have probably sold 60,000+ tickets or whatever the number is going to end up being in Orlando. Yes, a lot of those tickets are on Stubhub, Seatgeek or wherever, but in WWE’s eyes they are sold so that’s what counts.
Writing wrestling news or rumors post during this time of year is always dangerous because of the way fans like to spread gossip around. When I write I try to say what I think WWE might do and what is rumored, I always like to point out that plans can change.
Do you know that at this point 20 years ago, one of the best matches ever wasn’t planned? Hart vs. Austin at WM13. The plan was Hart vs. Michaels after Hart won the Rumble. Vince McMahon changed the booking after Vince Russo, who was not yet on WWE’s creative team, went on the WWF Livewire and said Bret was winning. Vince didn’t like it, so he went the controversial route with Austin winning. (I recommend Bruce Prichard’s podcast about Royal Rumble 1997 if you want more info.) Michaels had the knee injury, which wasn’t as bad as he thought and he was kind of a jerk at that point, so plans changed. Did fans suffer from that? Hell no. We got one of the best matches ever out of it.
My point is this. In the next two months, plans can still change on whatever “Uncle” Vince has planned. Even though he’s my favorite wrestler and I hated that he was off the show at the time, thank you to Shawn Michaels for not working that night at WrestleMania 13 in 1997 because the match that helped shape the WWE Attitude Era took place that night (I don’t mean Rock vs. Sultan) and it was a masterpiece.
That brings me to what happened at the Royal Rumble. For some reason, I had five different people post the same video of Royal Rumble fan reactions on my Facebook wall. Several others tweeted it to me. I’ll insert it below.
Those are angry fans about the 30th entrant in a Royal Rumble, which was Roman Reigns. These kinds of videos emerge on the internet every year. I guarantee you WWE is laughing at these people more than they are feeling sorry for them because WWE knows these are the hardcore fans that are watching every pay-per-view anyway.
Sometimes I laugh at the dumb fans that overreact and get all mad about Roman Reigns being #30 in the Rumble, but maybe they react the right way because it comes off as if they think there isn’t a 71 year old man telling people what to do. These fans that claim they hate Reigns would probably suck up to him if they saw him. Want to blame somebody? Blame Vince McMahon. He’s the one that makes the decision. Guess what? He just made a lot of money at the Royal Rumble because it was the most profitable non-WrestleMania show WWE has ever done if you look at the box office numbers. Over 50,000 for a non-WrestleMania is very impressive.
It’s two days later and I still don’t understand why people got so mad about Reigns being in the match. Take a step back to understand where WWE could be going with it. I can guarantee you that a couple of hours earlier those same fans were cheering his match against Owens because it was really good. They probably celebrated that he lost the match, which again is silly, but if you take wrestling too seriously then the wins and losses probably matter a lot. I’m not saying it to insult anybody. I’m just saying wins and losses should never matter that match. As people in wrestling say, the only things that are real are the money, the miles and the injuries.
— WWE (@WWE) January 30, 2017
Crazy WWE fans reaction for the above moment: “Booo! What a bunch of stupid idiots! F them!”
Vince McMahon’s reaction: “Money money yeah yeah!” (Okay so maybe he wouldn’t recite the Cryme Tyme catchphrase, but you get the point.)
The Reigns character is clearly building to a Fastlane match vs. Strowman and WrestleMania match vs. Undertaker. When Reigns eliminated Undertaker it pissed off the crowd so much. I thought it was an awesome moment. I hope Vince McMahon saw dollar signs when he heard the crowd spewing venom at that move. If Vince is smart, this will be the start of Reigns’ heel turn. If he keeps Reigns as a face then it will be more of the same all year long where “gotta keep Reigns strong” is the focus of WWE programming. I actually believe, for the first time in a few years, that they might pull the trigger on heel Reigns.
If Roman turns heel then what happened was pretty great. If he stays face, it makes business sense because he’s #2 in WWE in merchandise sales (to Cena) and has been for a few years. That’s a big factor in determining who gets a push, my friends. Box office and merchandise are always going to be more important than what “Vocal 30 Year Old” fan thinks because they already know that fan is still going to watch. (Check out this excellent column by Brandon Howard on Fightful.com for some info on WWE merchandise.)
Let’s go back to the booking of the Rumble. Seeing Reigns dump Undertaker like that is smart because of what it sets up. Every year since 1988 WWE has used the Royal Rumble to set up key WrestleMania matches. Look at Hulk/Randy in 1989, look at Hulk/Warrior in 1990, look at Hulk/Sid in 1992, look at Goldberg/Lesnar in 2004, look at Angle/Michaels in 2005 and so many others. That’s all they did this year.
Want an example of bad booking in the Rumble? Go to 2014 when Daniel Bryan wasn’t in the match. He should have won, but they were too stupid to figure it out. If CM Punk didn’t quit WWE the next day then Bryan would have been wrestling Sheamus in the undercard instead of holding the two World Titles at the end of the night. That’s life of the WWE fan, my friends. They don’t always get things right, but sometimes they luck into it.
By the way, you know who got the biggest cheers in that 2014 Rumble? Roman Reigns, the runner up. Keep that in mind. Fans loved him and they pushed him…because of the fans. That’s what the fans wanted.
To the Roman haters, here’s a newsflash – he isn’t going away. He is going to be a featured top guy for the next decade as long as he’s healthy. WWE loves him and I don’t think he’s a bad performer either. He’ll probably be a lot better in five years too because most wrestlers are better by their mid-30s once they have more experience.
By the way, I think WWE is making a mistake by not doing Cena vs. Undertaker. That’s the biggest money match they could do. However, if Vince is set on doing Undertaker vs. Reigns then that’s the plan. There’s nothing you or I can do about it.
I enjoyed NXT Takeover and the Royal Rumble a lot. I thought Raw was promo heavy, but at least it had a good ending with Samoa Joe finally on the main roster.
I’m not lecturing you or telling you what to think about anything in professional wrestling. I’m merely saying that stressing out about who is facing who at the biggest show of the year or what Roman Reigns might be doing Just try to look big picture sometimes in order to gain some perspective. I don’t mind if people ask me questions. Sometimes it can get a bit overwhelming, but I do my best to reply as much as I can.
Sometimes people ask me how I can still be a huge wrestling fan when I write about it for so many years? Easy. Here’s the advice I mentioned in the title of the column:
Never take pro wrestling too seriously and never take yourself too seriously as a pro wrestling fan.
I even bolded it for you. You’re welcome!
You know those people in your life that think you’re stupid for even watching this stuff? Yeah, I know you have them in your life. We all do. Well, you don’t care that they think you’re a “stupid idiot” (we love you, Jericho!) for watching this stuff, so if anything that should teach you to laugh about how silly some of this is.
Getting mad about things in WWE once in a while is healthy. I relate it to being a fan of a sports team. I love my Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Raptors, but I will definitely voice my opinion if they lose a bad game or do some stupid move in the offseason. It’s because we care.
Nothing really upsets me anymore when I watch wrestling because there’s always going to be another match or promo that I could love just as much as the segment I just hated. The WWE never stops and we’re spoiled by that, yet we don’t want to admit it. The best part of being a WWE fan? Even though I think I’m smart and know a lot things about the business, I always want to learn more. I can still mark the f**k out for an amazing match like Cena vs. Styles from the Rumble. The 50,000 people at the Rumble loved it too even though some of them booed Cena when he got out there. Moments like that are why we are still fans and probably will be for the rest of our lives.
What is pro wrestling anyway? It’s just a couple of dudes pretending to fight in their underpants. Look at all the craziness in the “real” world, my friends. This is supposed to be entertainment. Whether you love it all or hate it all, try to let it entertain you or else you’ll forget what made you a fan in the first place. It’s a fun escape from reality because sometimes reality sucks.
As far as WrestleMania goes, until the matches are official, just remember “card subject to change” so don’t get too worked about it. We here at TJRWrestling will try to provide you with reliable info, but we know as well as anybody that our “Uncle” Vince likes to change his mind a lot.
This is supposed to be the most fun time of year to be a WWE fan. Try to enjoy it. Better yet, drink it in, man.