On a night when the "Macho Man" was finally announced for the Hall of Fame, we may have seen one wrestler's Royal Rumble hopes go up in smoke.
For the past six months, Roman Reigns has been the presumed winner of this year's Royal Rumble. In fact, you can probably trace his path back to last year's Rumble, where he set the record for most eliminations in a match. Everything seemed to be going to plan until his injury in September.
Even with that though, most assumed he'd come back and everything would be fine. He won Superstar of the Year, received some big pops, but then something started to go wrong.
Specifically, his promos went wrong.
Arguments can be made as to whether Reigns is delivering his promos well. Whichever side you fall on, both sides can agree that the content of his promos has been bad for the past couple weeks. And even the past few weeks didn't compare to Monday night's Raw.
The Big Show came out and ran down Roman Reigns and all of his fans, talking about how they couldn't be as good as him. It was a pretty standard heel promo. Reigns came down, chased Big Show away and then started to talk. He started out fine, but it quickly went south when Reigns asked Big Show if he wanted to hear a story. He then told a version of "Jack and the Beanstalk," a version in which Roman Reigns slays the giant Big Show. There was no punchline, he simply re-purposed Jack and the Beanstalk, a fairy tale, to tell a story.
I've been a defender of Roman Reigns. I think he's better than some people give him credit for, and I think he's actually delivered his promos well. However, the content of his promos has been horrendous. Many wrestling fans on twitter actually used the word insulting. Grantland's David Shoemaker went a step further, comparing the promo to one of the most horrific videos sports fans can think of.
The crowd in New Orleans quickly turned on Reigns, as boos could be heard during part of his story. And during what admittedly was a good match with Luke Harper, fans could be heard cheering for Harper over Reigns. For someone who was considered to be the heavy favorite to win the Rumble, it was a disaster situation.
The rumors say that Vince McMahon himself has been scripting Reigns' promos. If true, he literally could not be doing a worse job at it. Reigns isn't a guy who people expect long promos from. If he kept it simple, he would get over. However, last week he literally recited the "Faster than a speeding bullet" speech from Superman, on Smackdown he used the line "suffering succotash" and then Monday night he used a fairy tale to make some sort of point.
It doesn't matter if he was perfect at delivering the lines if the lines make him look like a fool.
What Reigns has going for him is that there is one more week to right the ship. A good week and he's right there. But if nothing changes, I have no idea how you can even consider having Roman Reigns win the Royal Rumble. They may have to change their plans, slow down his push, and make him wait a little while longer.
Or at least wait until he stops using cartoons and fairy tales as the basis of his promos.
The Rest of Raw:
** As mentioned at the top, and as been rumored for months, "Macho Man" Randy Savage will officially be a headliner of the 2015 Hall of Fame class. It was announced during Raw after heavy promotion during the day. I'll write more on this later this week, but needless to say this is way overdue.
** After writing last week about how Cena shouldn't overcome the odds instantly, the show opening didn't look good. It seemed like Cena was going to overcome the odds once again, after delivering a completely baffling promo about how the Authority were so cowardly that they had to hold a wrestler hostage in order to return, and then threatening to hold the title hostage by winning it and then taking it home until Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan were given their jobs back. Literally, he said those two things within about 90 seconds of each other. The Authority then came out and gave Cena a chance to win their jobs back, if he could beat Seth Rollins in a lumberjack match, with the lumberjacks being all heels. Cena got in most of the offense during the match and fought off a lot of the interference. However, he succumbed to all the inference at the end, and the wrestlers did not get their jobs back.
** While I wasn't pleased with how inept Rollins looked during the match, he certainly turned things around during the last half of Raw. Brock Lesnar was in the house, and Paul Heyman cut a promo about him being dominant for the past year, starting in New Orleans at WrestleMania. After their promo, they went backstage, where they ran into Seth Rollins. Rollins got in Lesnar's face, saying that he was the future of the company, and Lesnar responded by saying that the future only came when he said so. The two then had a staredown before Lesnar and Heyman walked away.
In the final segment of the night, a contract signing, the three got to say their peace. Heyman started with a standard promo, and then Rollins did the unthinkable -- he actually, in my mind, out-talked Paul Heyman. Eventually the segment degraded into what every contract signing turns into: Cena hit Lesnar with an AA through the table, Rollins hit Cena from behind, then curb stomped both Cena and Lesnar and stood tall. With that we saw something we hadn't seen in quite a while: a truly credible Seth Rollins. Those two segments did more to give Seth Rollins credibility than anything he's done in the past few months. He looked like a main-eventer, and gave people thoughts as to if he could actually walk out with the title at Royal Rumble.
** Daniel Bryan came out and talked about how the last time he was in New Orleans he won the title. He then said that he was going to win the Rumble. Stephanie McMahon came out and ran him down, which he responded to by saying he was going to scratch and claw his way back to the top again. She saud that on the first Thursday SmackDown, Daniel Bryan would face the person who put him out of action, Kane. Kane came out and started attacking Bryan, but Bryan fought him off and then hit all of his signature moves.
It's worth noting that at this point, Bryan is the only superstar that really has a storyline that revolves around winning the Rumble. Others, like Reigns, have announced they're entering, but nobody else has really made a big deal about winning the Rumble, and winning the title. They are certainly putting the spotlight on him for the Rumble, and doing it intentionally this time.
** The Authority was throwing theirweight around, putting faces into bad situations, and one thing they did was question Dean Ambrose's mental health. So they had him get evaluated by a doctor, and if the doctor didn't pass his mental well-being, he couldn't compete in the Rumble. This led to a series of comedy sketches, with Ambrose passing at the end. Later in the night, Ambrose interrupted a Rusev promo, and the two had a match, which ended with a questionable ref stoppage after Rusev beat up Ambrose while he was caught in the ropes. Ambrose complained about the stoppage, and then ate a superkick from Rusev. It's hard to see exactly where they're going with Ambrose right now, but having him overcome an obstacle to get to the Rumble is a good sign that they aren't just burying him after losing the feud to Bray Wyatt.
** Brie Bella beat Paige. Natalya and Tyson Kidd were in Paige's corner for the match. At the end, Tyson Kidd jumped up on the apron, distracting Paige, to allow Brie to get the rollup win. Paige came out and slapped Tyson after the match, as Natalya looked on confused.
** The Miz beat Jey Uso, so it appears that the storyline between those two teams isn't completely over yet.
** Alicia Fox beat Naomi. The Authority put the match together after the Usos said negative things about them on SmackDown. To punish them, they made Naomi wrestle with one arm tied behind her back.
** The Ascension beat another jobber tag team. Before the match, they added the Power of Pain to the list of tag teams that they are better than. The only interesting thing about the match is that one of the jobbers was actually a WWE-contracted wrestler, the former Bu Ku Dao when he was on the indy circuit.
** The New Day beat Cesaro and Tyson Kidd.
Thoughts? Questions? Leave them in the comment section, email me or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster