One of the best things WWE did with the Royal Rumble was making Roman Reigns the focal point. His performance was obviously meant to be reminiscent of Stone Cold Steve Austin in the 1999 Rumble. Austin entered at #1 and Vince McMahon came in at #2.
Vince got the last laugh. Without ever eliminating one another, Vince and Austin engulfed in a chase around the arena. It was all a trap. Vince and his cronies closed in on Austin and beat him silly. We thought this was going to be the last we saw of Austin…that is, until he miraculously returned to the match and cleared house.
Using a crucial distraction from then WWE WHC, The Rock, Vince McMahon sent Austin over the top rope. Vince won the Rumble in the process.
Reigns’ excursion this past Sunday was fairly similar. He entered at #1. The League of Nations devastated him senselessly, highlighted by Rusev’s big splash through the announce table.
The medical staff assisted Roman out of the building, presumably ending his chances of winning. No need to fear, WWE Universe! Like clockwork, Super Roman came back out like nothing happened. He looked as strong as ever.
Roman was only eliminated because Triple H, ever the Cerebral Assassin, eliminated him while he was busy disposing of Sheamus.
Some viewers may have been frustrated with Roman’s predictable story arc through the Rumble. I thought it was brilliant. Especially in the Reality Era.
If you love Roman, perfect! You got to see your hero NEARLY overcome the odds in true Super Roman fashion.
If you hate Roman you’re probably annoyed with how he was portrayed and how unsurprising his comeback was. However, that’s where the brilliance lies.
I think WWE was ultimately trolling Roman detractors. We knew how the match would go for Roman. And they followed it to a T every step of the way. Whether it was cheap or not, they created real emotion and outrage.
Frustration was setting in the air. The polarization was real. Smart Marks everywhere had to be thinking, “WWE can’t send the fans home angry AGAIN. The Rumble can’t be this predictable 2 years in a row!”
When Roman was in the Final 4 there was a real threat he could have taken the win. The pieces were in place for it to happen.
However, all the collective tension was perfectly released when Roman was eliminated by Triple H. The crowd went crazy and got to breathe a little easier. The whole event was really a tour-de-force thrill ride.
At first glance the Royal Rumble looks to be the final detour in Roman’s gonzo chase for the WWE WHC.
However, as we’ve seen the last 2 years, don’t be surprised to see a last minute swerve in the Mania main event.
by Kevin D’Hooge