At least one WWE legend took exception to the latest edition of the “Royal Rumble” pay-per-view event.
Widely considered to be one of wrestling’s most popular events, the annual “Royal Rumble” features a 30-man battle royale, in which competitors are eliminated by being thrown over the ring’s top rope. The last wrestler standing is declared the winner of the event.
The event generally consists of the WWE’s most popular wrestlers, but Sunday’s version had one notable omission -- Daniel Bryan, the bearded fan favorite and former WWE champion, didn't make an appearance in the battle royale. For legendary wrestler Mick Foley, Bryan’s absence was an inexcusable blunder by WWE officials.
Before the battle royale, Foley took to Twitter to predict that Bryan would win the event. “Serious heat in the Foley house over Dad’s decision to throw a brick through the TV if [Daniel Bryan] doesn’t win [Royal Rumble],” Foley wrote. But the event came and went without an appearance from Bryan, prompting a furious Foley to bash the WWE in a Twitter rant.
“Wait … [Daniel Bryan] isn’t even IN the [Royal Rumble]? That just kind of sucks,” Foley wrote. “Does [WWE] actually hate their own audience? I’ve never been so disgusted with a PPV.” WWE fans seemed to share Foley’s anger -- at press time, the latter post had accumulated more than 20,000 retweets. Upon learning that Bryan wouldn't appear in the battle royale, Royal Rumble attendees booed throughout the match's conclusion.
But Foley didn’t stop there. When the pay-per-view event concluded, the 48-year-old posted a blog to his Facebook page, trashing WWE officials for keeping Bryan out of the Royal Rumble.
“As I mentioned on Twitter, I've never felt so disgusted at the conclusion of a WWE (or any) PPV. Like many of you out there, I just don't get it,” Foley wrote. “This Daniel Bryan thing is a phenomenon. You get it. I get it. The fans in Pittsburgh (yes, I was thinking of writing "RIGHT TH...but I'm just not in a cheap pop mood) got it. But tonight, for the first time, I had to admit to myself that the powers that be are just not going to get it. And that makes me sad.”
Foley went on to say that the WWE refused to allow wrestlers such as Bryan, CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler to perform in a major role at Wrestlemania, despite the fact that each wrestler is "over," or popular, with fans.
Bryan also took to Twitter to express his displeasure over the snub. “Sorry guys, the machine wanted me nowhere near the Royal Rumble match. But I thank everyone for their support. You are the #YESMovement,” he wrote. “They try to keep US down and away from the top spots, but they can’t ignore the reactions forever. Keep voicing your opinions. #YESMovement.”
It’s worth noting that Bryan’s “gimmick” is that of a talented wrestler who is constantly held down by management, so it’s possible that he played up his disappointment to get a reaction out of his fan base. It seems unlikely that the WWE would keep one of its top superstars from competing in a flagship event without a reason.