It was perhaps the hardest story to tell in the history of professional wrestling, even for WWE elite performers John Cena and Randy Orton.
The bell rung for their WWE Title match at the Royal Rumble Sunday night, and their match was hijacked by a Pittsburgh crowd that chanted for Daniel Bryan, who had lost earlier in the night to Bray Wyatt.
All of a sudden it was a WWE World Heavyweight Title match that nobody wanted to see, as the crowd offered a “boring” chant to Cena and Orton. WWE’s tale of Bryan being denied a route to the crown had worked too well, as the marquee match was heading toward a legendary flameout.
But Orton wouldn’t give up, as he continually chided the crowd, fighting the ticket buyers as much as he fought Cena.
It was familiar territory for Cena, a perennial good guy who has always endured boos from beer-drinking frat boys just as passionate as the elementary school kids who proudly wore his colors. But with Orton controlling the action it was hard to Cena to egg on the crowd.
His eventual rally ended with an STF submission hold that Orton tapped out of. But in the fight preceeding the hold referee Charles Robinson was knocked down, and didn’t see the tap.
While Robinson was being attended to, Orton nailed Cena with a title belt, but could only get a two-count.
The pair continued to fight while the Pittsburgh crowd continued to haggle, offering a “This is awful!” chant as opposed to the usual “This is awesome!” offering.
Then came the ultimate disrespect, as the arena united in a “We want Divas!” chant, a play to WWE women’s matches that often fall flat due to lack of time and focus offered from the front office.
A few false finishes, with Orton and Cena almost scoring wins using their opponents’ favorite moves, temporarily halted the momentum of the disgruntled crowd.
Eventually the Wyatt family came to the ring, distracting Cena and allowing Orton to land the RKO for the win.