It was just last year ago when Batista made his return and won the Royal Rumble. But instead of fans rejoicing and celebrating along with the newly returned star, the crowd was more upset that Daniel Bryan wasn’t a part of the Rumble at all. WWE fans turned against Batista because they were well aware that he was being carried straight to the heavyweight championship. And while WWE could be accused of doing the same thing with The Rock before, nostalgia from fans and The Rock’s ability to perform on the mic and in the ring helped to keep the fans on the part timer’s side when he went after the gold. However, the same could not be said for Batista.
What hurt him the most is WWE’s inability to use subtlety with how they build their stars. Their creative team is like an artist that paints in broad strokes without worrying about the type of detailing that makes it artwork. Batista could have won the championship later in the year and everything would have seemed less forced. But we ended up with him returning, immediately winning the Royal Rumble, and heading in to Wrestlemania. Many fans took it as a slap in the face due to the fact that fan favorite, Daniel Bryan, was being overlooked and not seen as a top star. Eventually realizing that fans weren’t as interested in their planned main event at Wrestlemania, WWE finally decided to insert Daniel Bryan in to the main match with great success. Finally listening to the fans instead of telling them what they want paid off for WWE.
But as we approach this year’s Royal Rumble, WWE has made a similar mistake. It had been determined that a star chosen by the WWE would win it and headline Wrestlemania. The star was not chosen due to fan popularity, but by favoritism of WWE creative. With Daniel Bryan absent due to injuries, WWE pushed forward with Roman Reigns regardless of the reaction other stars were receiving from fans. And unlike Bryan, the WWE made sure that Reigns still received some sort of frequent air time while injured and out of action. With Reigns still not where they want him to be in time for the Royal Rumble, and not receiving the reaction from fans that they have hoped for, have the WWE finally learned their lesson on ignoring fans?
Daniel Bryan made his return to Raw to announce his participation in the Royal Rumble. One could only assume that this was a move on the WWE’s behalf considering the only other person to announce their participation was Roman Reigns earlier in the month. Despite how the WWE feels about Bryan as a top star, he’s their safest option at the moment. But will WWE finally learn from having to shuffle things around so close to Wrestlemania two years in a row? Will it finally dawn on them that their fans will not sit quietly as they are told who and what to like? I haven’t heard any word officially stating that Bryan is in the running to win the Rumble, but it would be a ridiculous movie on WWE’s behalf the still give the win to Reigns considering the reaction Bryan still pulls from the crowd. But the lesson that should be learned out of this is that the WWE does not make stars. Their fans make stars. And if they are looking to build top talent within the company, then all they have to do is listen. Because WWE can’t find themselves in this position again for a third time next year.