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WWE Royal Rumble or Royal Fumble? By Hank McAllen

This past Sunday WWE celebrated their 29th Royal Rumble. To be honest the Rumble was always my favorite pay per view of the year as I always waited in anticipation as to see who would show up, as well as who would last the longest, and of course who would ultimately win. Now I have to say I was pleasantly surprised that I was enjoying the undercard of the event, despite another US title change for some odd reason. The matches were sharp and entertaining. The only things I found a bit irritating was the promos for the new horrible looking programming they are adding to the WWE network and Lillian Garcia’s propensity for over annunciating every Latin name on the roster. I was getting ready for a Rumble that I hoped would provide a great story line heading into Mania. Instead, I walked away irritated and very disappointed.

My disappointment in the main event started right away as for some reason the WWE Universe is deciding to boo Roman Reigns again. Why? What happened in a week? In my over 40 years of watching professional wrestling the reaction to this guy might be one of the biggest head scratchers of all time. What has he done? He’s busted his back trying to get acceptance by the fan base, and it looked like he finally turned the corner in recent months. Then his music hits Sunday and here come the boo birds. I get the whole Cena booing thing, as his detractors have many valid reasons for not liking the character. Reigns however showed up as the muscle to the Shield, has paid his dues, went on to have a great performance at last year’s mania, built up his resume and was finally being appreciated by the fans with more cheers. Please don’t give me the pushed down the throat thing either, because if that was the case then he, not Seth Rollins, would’ve won the title last year. So he doesn’t cut a great promo. Big deal! That’s WWE’s fault for leaving him vulnerable and not having managers to be mouthpieces anymore. I am really hoping that this is just a temporary bump in his popularity and that it gets back on track to being a positive reponse.

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Now back to the match. I counted 14 wrestlers who had ZERO business being in the Rumble. That’s just an eye lash short of half the group. The list included; Goldust, Tyler Breeze, Kane, Curtis Axel, Ryback, Titus O’Neil, R-Truth, Stardust, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger, The Miz and the three members of the Wyatt Family not named Bray Wyatt. These guys had no chance whatsoever of winning the event. When the Rumble first started years ago, the stipulation of being in the main event at Wrestlemania was not in place. When that became the prize, the stakes were raised and it should only include legitimate talent who have a chance at winning the title. Now I understand that the roster is a bit thin due to injuries, but I’d even be open to including talent from other promotions (New Japan or Lucha Underground as examples) to bring their better guys in. Imagine the angles you could do with that. You could’ve also dipped a bit more down to the NXT roster. You had Sami Zayn in the match, why not Samoa Joe or Finn Balor as well? Using talent that has a no chance to win in order to get a cheap laugh (R-Truth) or talent from the past to get a minor pop (Goldust) from the crowd only waters down the event.

Now on to the entrant who caught most of my ire, Triple H. Is it all HHH’s fault that I was upset with him? No. His winning the title really irked me, but sadly I had already expected that he would walk away with the gold. Actually what got me upset with his entrance into the match goes back to the fan base, or should I say WWE Universe. When his music hit, the place went nuts cheering him. Again, I ask why for multiple reasons. Do you really want to see Triple H as the WWE champion? Why does he deserve to be the WWE champion, other than daddy-in-law owning the company? The guy wrestles once, maybe twice a year! The played out Authority angle, along with the overexpose of him and Stephanie take away from building new stars to the level that they should be the ones fighting in the Rumble for the title shot at Mania. This guy you cheer? I don’t get it. Maybe if HHH was behind the scenes more and we hadn’t seen him in the ring for a few years, it would’ve been cool to see him. But what really turns me on him is the yearly need to get himself booked in a match at Wrestlemania at all costs. He takes the spotlight off of wrestlers who’ve given their all for 364 days, only to be put on the sidelines or given a 6 minute match to feed the ego of him and the McMahon family. It pretty much contradicts everything we see HHH do with the NXT show. As I stated, I expected HHH to win the Rumble, but what concerns me more than that is the fan base, um Universe, giving WWE the impression they are happy that he was in the match to begin with. It is reactions like the one he received that Vince runs with. He’ll not hear people backing Cesaro for months, or chanting YES, YES, YES for Daniel Bryan for what seemed like years, but he will hear one big pop for HHH and we’ll get him shoved down our throats for the next three months.

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I have one final thought on the Rumble. How awesome was it to see AJ Styles? The man voted as the best wrestler for 2015 by the Wrestling Observer did not disappoint in his first WWE appearance, nor did he in his first match against Jericho on RAW. Him coming in at number 3, was cool as I was hoping to see him in there for about 40 minutes. We got over 25 minutes, so not bad. I was just hoping we’d get to see a few more high spots from him, but the Rumble match doesn’t always allow that to happen due to the amount of people in the ring. Now I would like to compliment the crowd that was there for the reaction Styles got, which was great! To hear the crowd pop over him, chant his name and give him the respect he deserves was fantastic. It also showed Vince that his fan base does know who these new additions are. I just hope the fans just keep supporting the future of the company to be pushed more, rather than the guys who were the company’s past.

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