It was supposed to be a great moment for the WWE. After a four year absence Batista, one of the most popular and most dominant wrestlers of the past decade, returned to the company. It was supposed to be something the current Chief Operating Officer, Triple H, could be proud of. After all, he was responsible for convincing The Animal to come back. The fans seemed to agree, loudly cheering Batista when he announced his entry into the annual Royal Rumble.
Then, the Royal Rumble actually happened. Batista was the last man standing out of the 30 entrants into the match, earning himself a headlining spot for the WWE Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 30. It should have been a glorious moment for the WWE, Batista, and the fans.
Only, it wasn’t. The crowd in Pittsburgh was rowdy all night long, but they outdid themselves after Batista’s victory. They booed him. They loudly booed him, in a moment they should have been cheering. It wasn’t just a few disgruntled fans here and there, but the majority of the fans present. Somewhere, the decision makers and the WWE creative team had to have been upset.
The big question looming for the WWE is whether the fans in Pittsburgh represent the rest of their audience, or if it was a one time event. Suppose for a moment the WWE Universe is, in fact, upset by Batista’s win. There is only one man they wanted to see win the Rumble, go to WrestleMania, and win the championship: Daniel Bryan. To say Bryan is over, or popular, right now is a understatement of the grandest proportions. To be sure, the crowd in Pittsburgh was chanting his name during matches he wasn’t even in, a nearly unheard of event.
One can only imagine the reasoning behind the fan’s booing of Batista. He may be the returning hero, but the keyword there is returning. He left for four years. Whether it was due to travel burnout, a desire to be an actor, or to try his hand at MMA, the reason ultimately doesn’t matter. He still left. Now he’s back, and he immediately wins a title shot. Why wouldn’t the fans be upset?
Are the fans upset because Daniel Bryan didn’t win? Of course they are. He’s the most popular wrestler in years, and they wanted him to win. Perfectly understandable. But, are there other reasons they’re upset? In the words of Bryan himself: YES! YES! YES! The fans don’t want older wrestlers coming back, stealing the spotlight from the young, up and coming superstars, only to leave again. It sets the feuds back when, on Monday nights, Batista takes precious time away from wrestlers looking for their chance to shine.
For this reason, the fans booed Batista. They’re hungry for the future of the company. That’s the reason they cheered Reigns so heavily during the final few minutes of the Rumble. Reigns, Bryan, and the younger wrestlers like them will carry the WWE into the future. Batista won’t.
Beyond that, the fans aren’t stupid. They know if Batista wins the belt, he’ll be around for a little while before dropping the belt. In other words, his matches will be predictable. It doesn’t make for compelling television or wrestling, which is what the fans crave. It provides no reason to watch.
To sum it all up, the WWE Universe, given their reaction at the end of the Rumble, are displeased with the result. It’s up to the WWE to make the fans happy again, or risk losing them.
A. Orien Avery is a lifelong professional wrestling fan as well as a passionate supporter of the New York Mets. In addition to being a freelance writer, he is also a Contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
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