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The Road to WrestleMania got off to a bumpy start for WWE this year.
Thought to be among the future kings of the pro wrestling empire, Roman Reigns won the Royal Rumble only to be booed out of the arena and create a huge backlash from an angry mob of fans online. The unfavorable response was so intense, #CancelWWENetwork began trending worldwide and was widely covered by mainstream media outlets.
So what did Reigns do wrong?
Thirty men entered the annual over-the-top-rope battle royal for a chance to headline WrestleMania. But only one was named Daniel Bryan.
I had the opportunity to speak with Bryan ahead of the upcoming WWE Fastlane pay-per-view event on Sunday where he will challenge Reigns for the number one contender spot for the WWE Championship.
Bryan told me that he and Reigns haven’t spoken about the fan’s reaction, but he did offer some insight on what went down.
“I think a lot of people (blamed) it on the Royal Rumble being in Philadelphia this year but that’s not entirely true,” Bryan said. “What happens is a lot of people fly in to see the Royal Rumble. It’s one of the top pay-per-views of the year. It’s the start of WrestleMania season.”
He said the WWE Universe warmed up to Reigns on subsequent shows where he received a much warmer reception.
“In different places people are going to react differently. In certain places I might get booed more than Roman,” he said.
During the interview he also revealed that WWE wasted little time in putting him back on TV after he was finally able to recover from a longstanding neck injury that forced him to vacate the WWE Championship last year.READ MORE: CAIR Alleges Ferndale Police Officers Forced Woman To Remove Hijab Following Arrest
He said he hadn’t been officially cleared before he announced he would be an entrant in the Royal Rumble. At the time of the announcement, he was about 90 percent sure certain everything would work out.
“I actually legitimately got cleared the day before my first match back,” he said.
We covered a ton of ground in the interview.
Here’s everything you’ll hear:
– Health update: neck and arm strength after being back for a month
– When WWE realized he’d be coming back
– What he did to knock off rust before getting back in the ring
– How quickly he returned after being cleared by doctors
– Negative reaction to Roman Reigns
– Difference between last year’s organic title push and this year’s story lines
– What winning a title would mean after all the adversity last year
Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.MORE NEWS: UM Study Shows Healthcare, Service Workers Were Disproportionally Impacted By The COVID-19 Pandemic
Follow him on Twitter @TheChuckCarroll.