It's been a while since we football fans have been able to dial into some totally mindless television viewing on a Sunday night. Since before the start of football season, to be exact (although there are plenty of people out there who categorize Sunday Night Football as "mindless").
We've spent the last twenty or so Sundays obsessing over an entire day of football and a Sunday night game on NBC. Next Sunday, we will be dissecting the most important game of the entire year in any sport (and the pressure of the balls used in said game!).
So last night was a night of escapism, where we could just unwind watching events where the consequences weren't all that sports-important. And amazingly, the two marquee events Sunday night, WWE's Royal Rumble and the NFL's Pro Bowl, delivered in tandem in shockingly parallel ways.
For those of you uninitiated into the ebb and flow of the WWE calendar, the Royal Rumble is the opening act on the road to Wrestlemania, where the winner of the 30 man over-the-top-rope modified battle royal (instead of 30 man in all at once, two start in the ring and one is added every two minutes for an hour) gets a title shot at Wrestlemania in April.
The Rumble has been the launch point for many a future perennial main eventer, and might be the single most popular match each year on the WWE calendar. Now, before the Rumble match itself on Sunday night, there was an actual title match, a Triple Threat 3-way match between John Cena, Seth Rollins, and the champ Brock Lesnar.
The short version of the long story of this match are that a) it was a tremendous spectacle, with several near falls, and a completely sensible storyline and b) in the end, Lesnar overcame a "broken rib" and a trip to ringside from paramedics to pin Rollins. Just the next in a long line of superior tour de forces from Lesnar, the fearsome superhero beast of the WWE.
About that same time, like literally seconds later, over at the Pro Bowl, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt was intercepting a Matthew Stafford pass in the red zone to close out the first half for his team, Team Carter. Watt would go on to deflect three other passes and recover a fumble to secure defensive MVP honors.
The whole confluence of circumstance was enough for me to tweet this...
JJ Watt intercepting a pass and Brock Lesnar winning the WWE title match at Royal Rumble within seconds of each other means SOMETHING.
— Sean Pendergast (@SeanCablinasian) January 26, 2015
Fast forward about 90 minutes later....
The Royal Rumble match was in full swing chronologically, but falling apart aesthetically. Crowd favorite Daniel Bryan, back from several months missed due to injury had been unceremoniously eliminated from the match, and with every superstar getting thrown over the top rope, it became more and more apparent that Roman Reigns, a young guy the WWE has clearly anointed as a future champion, was going to get his push accelerated into high gear.
This did not sit well with the Philadelphia crowd, who proceeded to do what they do best -- they booed the ever loving shit out of Reigns, whose "Wrestlemania moment" (where the winner of the Rumble points to the Mania sign over the ring) couldn't even be saved by an appearance from The Rock. (If the crowd is still booing you with the Rock raising your hand in victory, you're truly hated. And not the good, money making kind of "hated").
Meanwhile, about ten minutes later, over on ESPN, Team Carter was trying to cobble together a game winning drive. Down 32-28, the team was in the two minute drill. Unfortunately, they were trying to cobble this drive together with Andy Dalton as their quarterback, which is essentially like trying to construct a piece of furniture with no hands.
Predictably, Dalton drove his team into enemy territory before sailing a screen pass on 3rd and 10 and then throwing an incomplete floater on fourth down that landed harmlessly in between a couple receivers. As it did earlier in the night, this confluence of events led me to tweet the following...
Andy Dalton botching s 2 minute drill in the Pro Bowl & Roman Reigns winning the Royal Rumble within minutes of each other means SOMETHING.
— Sean Pendergast (@SeanCablinasian) January 26, 2015
So there you go. Even on a night of mindless television, my brain was still working in overdrive. Not even the Pro Bowl and professional wrestling could suck the IQ out of me.
I'm ready for Super Bowl Sunday. I'm just not ready for Wrestlemania.
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