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How WWE Booked Roman Reigns In The Royal Rumble Was Genius

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WWE Roman Reigns Return

You know the drill. It’s the Royal Rumble, the buzzer sounds off, Roman Reigns comes out and the crowd boos in absolute disgust. Since 2015, Roman Reigns has been able to elicit such a strong reaction from the live WWE crowd and the fans at home. That’s because whenever Reigns enters a rumble, everyone’s mind jumps back to the horrid finish of Royal Rumble 2015 wherein Reigns continued to stumble through his mega push straight to the main event of WrestleMania 31.

However, in recent years WWE wised up to fan criticism in a few ways and Reigns has not won another rumble since then. Granted, WWE still found a way to insert him into the WrestleMania main event year in and year out, but let’s focus on the dynamics of the Royal Rumble for now.

Fan Response

Often the favorite annual event of many hardcore fans, the Royal Rumble presents immense opportunity, unpredictability (sometimes) and plenty of nostalgic surprise returns. Because it’s a fan favorite though, the crowd often makes their opinions very well known. For a mark such as myself though, this outspoken crowd is a beautiful thing.

This crowd makes it so that every year Roman Reigns enters the rumble, he’s essentially booed out of the building. It’s difficult to get the taste of WWE pushing him down our throats out of the way, so we naturally let management know how we feel about that. Previously, this came as a detriment to WWE, but they’ve perfected a strategy for it as of late to make the Royal Rumble much more enjoyable.

Turning Negatives to Positives

In Royal Rumble 2018 and 2017, WWE made a point to utilize Reigns to his fullest potential based on the inevitable disapproval of the crowd. Each year Reigns came out at the tail end of the rumble and each year he’s been a runner up. Why? Because it makes the end of the match all that much sweeter.

In 2017 Randy Orton won the Royal Rumble in order to progress a story between himself and Bray Wyatt, the man he would go on to face at WrestleMania. Thinking that Orton winning would ruffle a lot of feathers among the WWE fans, i.e. “Ugh Orton, again?” and “Why don’t you push younger guys?,” WWE placed Roman in the #30 spot to get fans into an “Anyone but Reigns” mentality. After sending out Reigns, the crowd got extremely concerned that they would see a repeat of 2015, but the universe went home happy after seeing Orton eliminate Reigns.

Fast forward to the 2018 Royal Rumble in Philadelphia, the same city that Reigns won the 2015 rumble in. Reigns was yet again the runner up, this time to the fan favorite Shinsuke Nakamura. Seeing Reigns and Nakamura as the final two really brought concern upon the audience as Reigns may not only win the rumble again, but he may stop Shinsuke Nakamura vs. AJ Styles from happening in New Orleans. Again, when Shinsuke eliminated Reigns, the WWE universe exploded in happiness, showing that Reigns losing made for an even sweeter payoff for the fans.

The Invaluable Tool

WWE successfully used Reigns as a tool to amp up the Royal Rumble finish for the past few years and also prevent rapid crowd disapproval.  It seems like WWE knows the power that Reigns has to completely alter the reception of any match these days, especially one as significant as the Royal Rumble.

When Roman Reigns is the runner up, it makes the winner look all that much better in the eyes of the WWE universe. By defeating Reigns, the rumble winner not only gives us a good match finish, but they give us genuine happiness that Reigns is not in that spot yet again.

Of course, Reigns is primed to headline WrestleMania again in 2018, but at least the road to WrestleMania was able to kick off with a bang rather than a sigh because of WWE’s smart booking at the Royal Rumble. This also makes me wonder how WWE will continue to leverage Roman Reigns in future rumbles, but we’ll just have to wait until 2019 to see if he’s involved in the rumble or if he’s the reigning universal champion at the time.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Opinion

Rob: Let’s Talk About Shane McMahon

He’s the Best In The World!

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Shane McMahon

Shane McMahon is a hot topic among WWE fans, and Rob is here to chime in on the rumors that Shane could become WWE Champion in 2019.

Yeah, it’s time to talk about the Best in the World Shane McMahon.  Shane has become a real thorn in the side of many on wrestling twitter and not in the way that Vince intended.  A lot of you guys don’t like the amount of TV time he gets (even I’ll admit that this week was a bit much), don’t like that he got a win over Roman Reigns at Super Showdown (I don’t either but so long as things play out the right way in the end I’m willing to see it as a needed piece of a bigger story), and really got nuts when the NEWZ sites starting ‘reporting’ rumors that he may become WWE World Champion down the line.   Some of you guys are even threatening that you’re done if it happens, and I believe you this time.  And this all makes me wonder if certain aspects of wrestling storytelling are just not viable in 2019 anymore.  Because this is the kind of thing that would have been a layup for mega heat back in the day but now seems to only result in scorn towards the bookers, or in this case Vince, from a lot of you guys for even considering it.

Now I can’t tell you guys what to like or not like, but there are a lot of times when I see the takes being thrown around on Twitter and wonder if I’m watching the same TV show that you guys are.  I also wonder, often out loud and in this space, just what it is some of you guys want.  Because I see people complain about emotional investment but from my earliest days as a fan one of the quickest ways to get emotional investment was to do something that would make people angry.  But it seems like in 2019 way too many people on Wrestling Twitter don’t ever want to get angry, and take that as a crime committed by Vince McMahon and not a storytelling piece.  And I don’t know how you rectify that.

Who knew this would lead us to “The Best In The World,” Shane McMahon???

By my estimation, someone like Shane McMahon getting the title is perfect for the ‘You Deserve It’ era, because he obviously doesn’t deserve it.  And to win it dirty off of someone like Kofi Kingston who toiled for 11 years  to just get a chance to win it should be a heat magnet.  But instead all I see is that it’s bad booking, that it’s a sign that Vince hates the fans and needs to go, etc.  So again I have to ask just what is it that some of you guys are looking for?  Heels are part of wrestling, and heels have to prevail sometimes.  A lot of you guys won’t boo Kevin Owens no matter low he stoops in turning on or assaulting people.  And one of the few guys who gets booed from the crowd because the people there don’t like him, Baron Corbin, gets ripped every day by ‘smart’ fans for being a bad choice to even put on television.

Maybe I’m out of date here but for me part of having heels is that at least every now and then something has to happen that you don’t want.  The people you root for have to lose, the people who should be champion have to be denied, somebody has to do something that you find to be beyond the pale, etc.  And it can’t just happen when you expect it or are ready for it, it has to happen at a time when you aren’t ready for it to get the maximum effect so that you’ll get angry enough at the perpetrators to want to see them get their comeuppance.  But it seems that getting mad at the characters is a bridge too far on Wrestling Twitter, that the point of a heel is to get shout outs on Twitter for ‘good heel work’, and that anything or anyone that you find truly loathsome is now grounds to change the channel.  Thus the constant ‘Corbin has go away heat’ takes on Twitter.  Where I’m from Go Away Heat meant ‘can somebody please come out and get this guy outta here? and not ‘why is he on my TV, what else is on?’


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I mentioned before that we’re in the ‘You Deserve It’ era, and what I mean by that is that a lot of  ‘smart’ fans are judging what they watch based who’s in it and whether or not they ‘deserve’ to be there.  And deserving it is almost entirely based on their personal career journey or perceived skill level.  Workrate guys and gals deserve it, as do those who went down some long, grueling road to get there.  Even if they’re playing a heel some of us cheer them based on how good they are in the ring or what they had to go through to get there, while on the flip side anyone who doesn’t meet our technical standards or didn’t suffer enough should be relegated to supporting roles or just removed from our television altogether.  The fastest way to get someone booed now it seems is for ‘smart’ fans to find out that they didn’t have to struggle hard enough (by their measures) to get a big spot.  Hell, we just had a WrestleMania main event where the winner’s whole elevation came despite acting like a heel because the personal career story of the woman behind the character was deemed more important than the actions of her character on screen.

So now back to Shane.  If you can’t get some people to boo heels over sneak attacks, cheating to win (don’t get me started on the whole ‘heels are fine but they shouldn’t cheat too much’ takes I’ve seen…..smh), etc. and the thing some fans get most consistently upset about is whether or not the ‘most deserving’ people are in the right places, then putting someone in the highest position who absolutely does not deserve it seems like an inevitable choice.  I’m not telling you that you’re not a real fan if you don’t like it, but I am telling you that there is some very sound logic behind it if they go that route.  And all the arguments against it – that Shane is not a full time wrestler, that he’s the boss’s son, etc – seem to me like just more reason to go ahead and do it.

Anyhow……until next week, everyone.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Opinion

Steve Cook’s Top 5: Wrestling Dads

Who is wrestling’s greatest dad?

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Father's Day Cody Rhodes Goldust Dustin Rhodes Dusty Rhodes

In the spirit of Father’s Day, Steve Cook takes a look at Wrestling’s Top 5 Dads! Which dad tops the list?

Last year, right around Mother’s Day, we took a look at the best mothers in the history of pro wrestling.  I thought for sure we did the same thing for the best wrestling dads, but apparently it didn’t happen. Certainly a mistake on my part, as pro wrestling is full of fathers whose sons & daughters ended up following them into the ring. Father’s Day is the one day of the year we make sure to give our dads the respect they deserve. These men certainly deserve our respect for how they helped their children create memories for us.

5. Chavo Guerrero Sr.

I didn’t get to see Chavo’s father, Gory, who formed a tag team with El Santo that never lost a match. He also had four wrestling sons: Chavo, Hector, Mondo & Eddy. After a legendary career of his own, Chavo resurfaced in the 2000s alongside his son Chavo Jr. in WWE. When given the choice between siding with his son or his younger brother, Chavo chose his son.

Chavo Classic stuck around long enough to have a Cruiserweight Championship reign, and would later appear in Lucha Underground for Jr’s Loser Leaves Lucha match with Rey Mysterio. Chavo’s attempt to help his son lie, cheat & steal his way to victory would be his last televised appearance prior to his death in 2017. Right until the end, Chavo was willing to do anything to help his son. Can’t celebrate Father’s Day without looking at Chavo Classic.

4. Ric Flair

The Nature Boy certainly had his ups & downs with all of his kids over the years. When David started his wrestling career, Ric used his position as President of WCW to give him favorable treatment. David eventually turned against his father because it was WCW and it was the late 1990s. Everybody turned against everybody at one point or another. Reid also appeared around this time and was expected to be a natural in the ring, but life had other plans there.

Where Ric’s sons unfortunately came up short, his daughter was able to excel. Charlotte inherited all of her father’s best traits, and as far as we can tell so far, none of his worst. Ric did his best to help Charlotte as well, up until the point where she decided that she didn’t need his help. Ric was heartbroken, but part of him had to understand where his daughter was coming from.

3. Stu Hart

No father in recorded history produced more professional wrestlers than Stu Hart. We all know about Bret & Owen, but Bruce, Smith, Keith, Wayne, Dean & Ross all had matches at one point or another. Not to mention all the kids they had, and Stu’s daughters marrying wrestlers and producing more wrestlers.

Stu was something of an icon in his homestead of Alberta, where he promoted Stampede Wrestling & performed in rings for years & years. He’s most known to American wrestling fans for his occasional appearances in the crowd at WWF events & in his sons’ storylines. Everybody in the business the same time as Stu has an impression of him that they do on a fairly regular basis. True story.

2. “Bullet” Bob Armstrong

Every single one of Bullet Bob’s sons followed in his footsteps and became professional wrestlers. In something of a rarity among wrestling siblings, they were all talented. Brian became the biggest star as the Road Dogg and was by far the best talker, but Brad, Scott & Steve were all great hands that always got the job done in the ring.

Smoky Mountain Wrestling was largely built on the back of Bob Armstrong. The Bullet had multiple stints as Commissioner during the company’s existence & spent most of the era leading his sons & other fine young men into battle against Jim Cornette & his cast of miscreants. The Armstrong/Cornette feud was one of the finest pieces of work in the 1990s, which is saying something because the decade had plenty of classic feuds. Both men were just tremendous on the microphone.

Honorable Mention: Angelo Poffo

It’s Father’s Day, and the father of Randy & Lanny, Angelo was instrumental in the early portion of both their careers. Angelo’s ICW promotion was where both men got on the map & showed the potential for great things in the future.

Angelo never achieved the fame of his sons, but they wouldn’t have gotten as big as they did without him. That’s why Angelo gets the nod here over Fritz Von Erich & other men that pushed their kids into the business. Angelo pushed them, but he made sure they had good heads on their shoulders. Randy & Lanny weren’t going to self-destruct because Angelo wouldn’t have allowed it.

1. Dusty Rhodes

There has not been a better father/son moment in the history of wrestling than when Dusty addressed his son in Macon, Georgia. It was 1994, and Dustin had ongoing issues with Col. Robert Parker’s Stud Stable, including some longtime enemies of Dusty’s in Terry Funk & Arn Anderson. Dusty resolved to help him out and make up for the fact he had previously neglected his son while being a world champion & front office worker. If you don’t feel a little lump in your throat or think somebody might be cutting onions or something while watching the American Dream pontificate in the below video, you have no soul.

Some say this was Dusty’s finest promo, even surpassing his famous “Hard Times” monologue. Cody, a man heavily influenced by his father & brother, cut a promo after his match with Dustin at AEW Double or Nothing that brought back memories & emotions from 1994.

Dusty was a master of telling a great story. The bull of the woods passed that trait on down the line.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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