Last night WWE sent their own ‘beloved’ WWE Universe a message.
We don’t care what you want or think.
From the start of the show the fans in Pittsburgh wanted what fans all over the country – nay, the world – wanted; And when it came time for Vince McMahon and his company to “give the fans what they want” he decided to give a big “F you” to each and every single one of them.
I previously wrote a piece that was intended to show how true stars aren’t made in a creative meeting or on a drawing board, they are made organically, they rise naturally. They are made by the fans. And in any kind of business – whether it is a multi-million dollar company or your local corner shop selling newspapers, snacks and cigarettes – the first rule of business is to always give the consumers – the FANS – what they want. Last night Vince McMahon monumentally failed at the first rule of business.
Make no mistake about, no matter who is getting pushed or whoever features in the TV show and PPV adverts, Daniel Bryan is the most over superstar in the company. Last night Bryan opened the show with a truly great match with Bray Wyatt and remained the most popular man on the show. When he wasn’t in the ring the fans chanted for him and mostly no-one else. From near on the start of the 30-Man Royal Rumble match he was the man the fans wanted to see. Sure, they cheered for CM Punk, they popped – initially – for Batista, and Kevin Nash, and Sheamus et al. But overall, they wanted Daniel Bryan. And they did not get him. The response to Rey Mysterio’s number 30 position was staggering. The deafening chorus of boos that rained down from the crowd was not specifically directed at Mysterio, it was that they had reached the end of the entrants and Bryan wasn’t one of them. And then when it came down to Sheamus, Batista and Roman Reigns, the boos increased. Again, this reaction was not specifically directed towards the three men remaining in the ring, it was because none of those three men were Daniel Bryan.
In Vince’s mind, he would have pictured Batista standing on the corner ropes, pointing at the WrestleMania 30 sign with the fireworks going off, celebrating a triumphant return. In reality, he saw Batista standing on the corner ropes, pointing at the WrestleMania sign with the fireworks going off, having to deal with a deafening calvacade of boos. It was incredible to see a top-line babyface, six days after returning to the company after four years away, getting booed out of the building in a moment when he should have been lapping up then love. Immediately following the show, a host of wrestling personalities took to Twitter to express their feelings. And Mick Foley summed it up best:
Does @WWE actually hate their own audience? I’ve never been so disgusted with a PPV.
— Mick Foley (@realmickfoley) January 27, 2014
And if that wasn’t scathing enough, a subsequent Facebook post made his feelings even clearer;
“You know who else I’m sad for? Me. In my two years as an official WWE Ambassador, I never once had to lie about my enthusiasm for the company or the product. Now, although I am no longer officially an Ambassador for WWE (believe it or not, my only official role in WWE is as GM for Saturday Morning Slam, a contract that ends in one month) I was till looking forward to being part of the biggest event of the year. I’ll probably end up going anyway. But I’m about 1/6th as excited about it as I was just a few hours ago. I wanted so badly to hear 75,000 WWE fans chanting “YES” – and seeing fans walk away absolutely ecstatic about the outcome of a PPV for the first time in a while…a long while. But when given the chance to make it happen (unless they’ve got something MAJOR up their sleeve) WWE’s answer tonight was a resounding ‘NO, NO, NO’.”
As staggering as it is to see a WWE name take the company to task so honestly, he could not have been more correct. Sitting backstage last night Vince would have heard the reaction throughout the Rumble match and could have called an audible, he could have sent Bryan out there and relayed amended match instructions to the wrestlers via the referees. That he chose not to and stubbornly stuck to the original script, that he stuck to the plan possibly promised to Batista for his return, shows McMahon will never listen to the fans if if means proving him wrong. He doesn’t understand the love for Daniel Bryan, he maintains that he know what we – the FANS – want. Royal Rumble proved that Vince McMahon no longer knows what we want.
And proved that he no longer cares what we want either.