ROH Ringside: The Voice of the Fans
By Jose Perez
I guess it’s time to put my two cents in on the whole Royal Rumble, Roman Reigns incident. Although it’s not ROH related, it’s the biggest topic in wrestling today, and I wanted to talk about it before WrestleMania (although unfortunately Fast Lane already happened). Don’t expect an article with a clear point of view. It’s just an article kind describing both points of views, and a bunch of random thoughts, with no clear direction except of trying to make people have an open mind.
First things first, I think I should explain how I watch and perceive wrestling (I know I spoke how I relate to wrestling in my first column, but I don’t remember how in depth I got into it). As a kid, I remember clearly, how I would cheer more for the heel characters. It was just second nature. There were exceptions, like the Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage, but mostly I was in favor of all the heels. I really hated Hulk Hogan. I always wanted him to lose and I was so glad when the Ultimate Warrior beat him at WrestleMania V. However, before WrestleMania happened, when a heel lost to Hulk Hogan, I was always worried about how the heels would do in the WWE After a guy lost to Hogan, I would have a type of pity from them and would “follow” them to make sure they didn’t go to obscurity, because most of them did. Apart from that, I took wrestling for how it is. I didn’t overanalyze it. I didn’t complain, I accepted what there was. I knew the matches were predetermined, thus increasing my “hatred” for Hogan.
During the 90s, I was a Bret Hart fan because I was Calgarian, and I always wanted him to win. Apart from that, again I accepted wrestling as it was. I don’t remember thinking what people say about the 90s, that it was a horrible time for the WWE . I was into everything. I was entertained. Sure, there were many horrible gimmicks, but it was all in fun. Ironic thing is, when Steve Austin started getting big, I was more into Steve Austin beating Bret than vice versa, despite being Calgarian. In any case, the feud was awesome.
When I came to Spain, I didn’t have wrestling access for a while until I finally got a satellite dish to watch W.C.W. on TNT. The first few years I watched Nitro, it was awesome. The rivalry with WWE was making it for good TV, and you know I never thought about how Hogan was stealing the spotlight, that the N.W.O. was getting stale etc. As long as I was entertained, I wasn’t complaining. Once W.C.W. was getting beat by Raw, the shows were notably bad and lackluster. I couldn’t deny it.
I finally got WWE around 2005, and there were some good parts, but there were also some horrible ones. The Eddy – Rey dispute over Dominic was horrible. I turned off the TV because I couldn’t stand it. However, the way Brock was built was very well done.
Regards to the current era, it seems to me that people are more fed up or frustrated with pushes, than with the actual entertainment itself. That’s from my perspective. They complain about Cesaro having the look and skills to be a top player but isn’t. They complain about Roman Reigns being pushed too quickly. They complain about Cena`s in the main event all the time. I agree with most of these statements, however at the same time (don’t want to play the devil’s advocate) everything in life is about taste. There will be fans that hate Wrestler A and others that love him. Therefore, as everything else in life, tastes are subjective. However, that doesn’t eliminate the blame on WWE for not doing things right. I’m not going to generalize; I will just focus on the Royal Rumble.
First of all, the big problem, in my opinion, wasn’t necessarily that Daniel Bryan didn’t win the match; it was that the match was absolutely horrible. It was slow, boring, there were only a couple of good surprise returns, and it was just plain lackluster. It was not fun at all.
Second of all, the way that Reigns won was horrible. His eliminations were not exciting, it was evident that WWE told him exactly what to do, and that the last two guys were Big Show and Kane was just meh. I imagine that the WWE was going for a big Royal Rumble moment like a new guy beating a huge veteran, like with Chris Benoit and Big Show but I don’t think it portrayed well at all.
Third, that Reigns won. Here’s the thing. First of all, I am sick and tired of seeing the WWE ruining guys that get popular with the fans. That is something that I will never understand, no matter how much you try to explain it to me. When guys are the highest merchandise sellers, why does the WWE have to destroy them (Example Dean Ambrose)? Isn’t it shooting themselves in the foot? To me it leads to a loss of money for the WWE.
Why does the WWE have to destroy momentum that wrestlers gain with the crowd (examples Dean Ambrose and Cesaro)? If the crowd loves them (and the crowd pays your income), why do you later crap on them if they like a certain wrestler who doesn’t “fit your bill”? Again, shooting yourself in the foot.
Why does WWE have to push a certain guy down the fans throat, whether he is liked or not by the fans, just because “he fits the bill” or because “he has the look”?
Having this in mind let me give the opinion on the post Royal Rumble controversy, from both sides of the coin.
Roman Reigns is getting a reaction since the Royal Rumble; however, up until the Royal Rumble he was not getting the reactions wrestlers like Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose or Seth Rollins were getting (ironically his SHIELD partners). The thing is, the reactions he is getting now, is a mix of cheers from women and children and boos from the rest. The sad thing is, the boos are genuine we hate you boos, not the typical you’re a good heel boos, like for example Seth Rollins. That is a bad sign, because fans are getting frustrated with your decisions.
I think if another semi popular guy had won the Royal Rumble, the fan outburst would not have been as big as it was, even if it was not Daniel Bryan. Guys like Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, and Dolph Ziggler wouldn’t make the fans semi satisfied, because they had momentum.
The fans were still solidly behind Daniel Bryan, and the most over guy in the company, and the fans think that Daniel Bryan didn’t lose his title, so why not have him get it back via the Royal Rumble? So why are you going against the fans, which are the base of your income? What was the point of hyping Daniel Bryan’s return? What was the point of many things?
If Roman Reigns wasn’t getting the crowd reaction that other wrestlers are getting, then why did WWE have to push him down our throats? Why give it to Roman Reigns, in a town like Philadelphia which you know is going to crap all over the decision? The sad thing is about this, is that for some reason the WWE “knew” that Roman Reigns is not over, otherwise, they wouldn’t have used The Rock to put him over and wouldn’t need Daniel Bryan to shake his hand after Fast Lane or put him over the next night on Raw. That shows not having faith in your product. John Cena didn’t need it, Hulk Hogan didn’t need it, Bret Hart, The Rock etc. They got over “on their own”.
So what is the final verdict? Well, I don’t really have an exact answer. I’m usually the grey area guy, not black and white. First, I don’t think that a Top Guy/Main eventer has to have a stereotype. What I mean is, a guy doesn’t have to have “That Look” or a “Big Guy”, nor does it have to be a guy who has the best in ring skills along with the best mic skills. It has to be a guy who connects with the fans, for whatever reason it is and can stick with the fans. Second, the WWE shouldn’t stick a guy down our throats because they THINK that a guy is special or has the look. There’s a difference between trying an angle in where a wrestler gets a big push to try to see if he can capture the crowd’s attention, but something quite difference is to stick a guy down our throat because Vince says so. I don’t mind that WWE wants to try with Reigns as the champion; I’m just frustrated with how they’re going about doing it, using cheap tactics to do so. However at the same time even though wrestling is “over the top”, “scripted” or an “escape from reality” at times it has to make sense or be realistic. In real life, it’s most likely a guy like Roman Reigns can kick Daniel Bryan’s ass. That doesn’t mean that at times Daniel Bryan can’t get a win, because he out wrestles him or out smart him.
In any case, in my personal opinion I saw the Fast Lane match and Roman Reigns was absolutely horrible. He has nothing that makes him stand out, he’s slow, he’s sloppy, he can’t talk on the mic and he simply isn’t exciting, when there are more over guys like Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler or Daniel Bryan who deserve it, or more talented guys like Damien Sandow, Cesaro or Seth Rollins. However at the same time I would say, let’s see how it works, maybe it will be the best thing since Sliced Bread. During the years that I have watched ROH, you would never see me judge decisions of this type. I’ve seen entertaining matches, entertaining storylines and never had a complaint. I don’t really hate anyone like people are hating on Roman Reigns, nor am I in love with anybody like people with Daniel Bryan. True, I hated Xavier as ROH Champion, but the thing is, he did not fill the ROH bill as a worthy champion, but that was the only exception. Low Ki, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, C.M. Punk, James Gibson and Bryan Danielson (current ROH where I am currently watching) made great champions and I don’t have one complaint about them. I think ROH listens to their fans, and usually the champions tend to be the most over guys, but guys that are regulars in ROH. For example, A.J. Styles was very popular in 2004/2005 era, however he would be on one show every two or three months. Some matches may have a weak ending that takes away from the quality of the match, however they are specific and minimum moments that don`t bring down the overall all excitement of ROH and I think this type of mentality is what Vince needs to accept, and I think that’s why people praise NXT more, because Triple H has that type of mentality.
I know this article is very ambiguous, it jumps back and forth and is not giving a clear opinion on the issue at hand, but that is because this issue is very grey and hard to give a direct answer to. What I want to say in this article is wrestling is a very complicated thing to judge. So many factors have to be taken into account. Not all the fans can be pleased at once, nor there is one. So much has been read into this Reigns – Bryan incident that only one thing can be clear and that is, there is no real answer to the question. Read my article, take everything into account, and just decide for yourself and just try to be entertained.
— Jose Perez, OWW columnist (@primus103)