If you just finished watching the Royal Rumble, chances are you’re a bit unsettled. Whether you’re pissed because Daniel Bryan lost to Bray Wyatt or you’re aggravated that it was Rey Mysterio out at number thirty instead of the “YES Man” – I’m here to add fuel to your fire.
I read a lot of opinion columns and message boards on various pro wrestling sites around the internet and it seems that the common theme among all of them is, “The WWE doesn’t listen to its fans.” People are irate that Bryan isn’t the World champion. They’ve been irate for months on end and their frustrations are continuously building.
The truth is – you should be thanking Triple H, Stephanie and Vince McMahon. They’re handling the Daniel Bryan situation perfectly.
Hear me out.
The WWE Has Heard You … and They’ve Responded!
Prior to his victory at WrestleMania 29 against The Rock, John Cena had not been the WWE Champion since late 2011. After a solid reign, Cena dropped the title to Daniel Bryan and has not been champion since.
One of the biggest criticisms that the WWE had was that Cena was unbeatable – he was always on top. The WWE universe clamored for change. They didn’t want to see Cena as the champion any longer.
The WWE gave you that.
Prior to that same night Daniel Bryan defeated John Cena for the WWE Title, the WWE universe and, more specifically, the internet wrestling community, was buzzing for Randy Orton to turn heel. There was a half dozen opinion columns every week about how his character had went stale and how he does his best work as a heel. The WWE universe clamored for change.
The WWE gave you that.
But what the internet wrestling community didn’t expect was that their wishes would be granted at the expense of their new unsung hero, Daniel Bryan. In one night, the WWE listened to their fans and gave them their top two biggest requests of 2013. In one night, Cena was no longer at the top of the card and Orton was a bad guy.
A Viper is Reborn through the Sacrifice of the Goat
The Orton/Bryan feud was superb. But many people felt they were screwed over because Daniel Bryan didn’t walk away as champion in any of their encounters (not including the Night of Champions decision reversal).
But what you’re forgetting is that, all along, the WWE was giving you what you had wanted. Orton had just turned heel in an era where fans cheer the bad guys and boo the good guys. But for ONCE, they were cheering and jeering who they should be. Had Randy Orton dropped the title to Daniel Bryan at the end of their feud, Randy’s next feud would garner fan support. Next thing you know – heel turn over.
Instead, Orton is despised. Every time Randy Orton walks out to the ring with that belt over his shoulder, fans are reminded of how it should have been Daniel Bryan. And that pisses fans off. Orton’s status as the WWE’s ultimate villain grows exponentially.
You Can’t Rush a Good Thing
For those who have read my guest columns in the past, you know I’m a huge fan of pointing out commonalities between different superstars. So here it goes.
What do the following superstars all have in common: Dolph Ziggler, Zack Ryder, Sheamus, Ryback, Alberto Del Rio, and Wade Barrett?
Can’t figure it out?
Each one of those superstars was, in one way or another, a failed example of what happens when you push a superstar a certain way because of his unexpected popularity.
- Dolph Ziggler cashes in the MITB briefcase, wins the title, gets a concussion and has to drop the title because he simply can’t be wrestling with the risk of a serious injury. His fan support plummets and he disappears to the mid-card.
- Zack Ryder has fans going nuts for him and chanting his name during random matches. He’s given a push, wins the US title, gets put in a program with Cena, loses the title, and his fan support dies.
- Sheamus debuts on the WWE roster as an incredible heel. He does so well in his role that fans start cheering for him (surprised?) and talk about how he could be the next Cena. So the WWE listens, babyface turns him, and his character becomes incredibly cheesy. He goes on to partake in forgettable feuds over the next two years.
- Ryback debuts on the roster and again is viewed as the next potential Cena. Fans clamor for Ryback to catapult up the card because he’s got “the look of a champion.” He can’t talk, is still a little green, inevitably loses a handful of championship bouts, and flounders to the midcard.
- Alberto Del Rio makes a major statement in 2010 and is catapulted to the main event after a 2011 Royal Rumble win AND THEN a 2011 Money in the Bank win. After his heel character gets stale and fans start cheering along with the loveable Ricardo Rodriguez … Del Rio turns face, craps out, and ultimately begins his spiral into forgettable feuds and midcard squashes.
- Wade Barrett was a star in the making when he lead the Nexus to pick apart the WWE. After a long, heated rivalry with John Cena, which eventually saw Cena come out on top … Wade Barrett got shelved with an injury and the fans forgot about him entirely ever since.
Are we seeing a trend here? Every single time the WWE has rushed a superstar with some potential into the spotlight, they’ve crashed and burned. You can blame whoever or whatever you want – bad booking, bad timing with injuries, or just a string of bad luck.
At the end of the day, it was the FANS that stopped caring about these characters. And what was the WWE left with? An even bigger midcard.
And so HERE’S WHY You Should Thank ‘The Authority’
If you need any more examples of what happens when a wrestling company only pushes who the fans cheer for rather than breeding new stars slowly, just look at TNA and the success of their company.
Otherwise, grab your favorite pen because you owe The Authority an apology letter!
Since the constant screw jobs with Daniel Bryan began, what has happened to his character? Has Daniel Bryan fell out of your mind? Are his cheers getting quieter? Are fans forgetting about who he is?
Let that sink in.
If anyone for one second thinks that Vince McMahon is going to purposely try to bury a guy who is selling just as much (if not more) merchandise than John Cena, then you truly do not know who Vince McMahon is.
The WWE is building Daniel Bryan up as the ultimate underdog. We’re CONSTANTLY complaining about how wrestling lacks believability and unpredictability. In the real world, could Daniel Bryan honestly stand toe to toe in a fight with Orton, Cena, or the Wyatt Family and come out on top?
The WWE is playing off that. They’re building Bryan up and tearing him down. They’re taking you through an emotional journey with Daniel Bryan that dates back to his anger management storyline with Kane. They’re showing you a man who – when all the cards are stacked against him and it seems like the whole world has turned its back – he still perseveres.
Daniel Bryan has become the ultimate underdog story. With each passing week, chants are getting louder and shirt sales are tipping the charts. If all of this is happening while he’s LOSING … can you imagine what’s going to happen when he finally wins?!
Royal Rumble … WTF?!
The Daniel Bryan / Bray Wyatt match at the Royal Rumble is easily a match of the year candidate and it’s only January. But it was a match that Bray Wyatt HAD to win. I know people are pissed at Bryan’s loss, but did it really do anything to affect his character?
Bryan is continuously being beaten, both mentally and physically. It’s the fact that he keeps getting back up that makes the fans fall in love with him. Had Bray Wyatt lost the match, his stock would PLUMMET down the card as people would look at him as worthless without his henchmen.
Now, as Wyatt goes on to challenge Cena, Bryan looks even stronger for being able to hang with a guy who will inevitability be beating down the WWE’s poster boy.
As far as the Rumble match itself goes. Not only was Bryan never advertised to be in the Rumble, he just had the crap kicked out of him! It goes back to the believability point I was trying to make earlier. Bryan was just defeated in a grueling match. His body shouldn’t have been able to compete in a match of the Rumble’s caliber. And, if he did, there would be literally no chance in hell he’d be able to overcome the odds and win against much fresher guys.
We want wrestling to be based in reality – well there it is, folks. Reality!
So… when’s the payoff?
Honestly, I don’t have a clue. I don’t know where Bryan goes from here nor do I know when he’ll actually get the belt. If I had to bet, however, I would say that Bryan wins the belt at Wrestlemania.
Yes, I said it.
Daniel Bryan becomes WWE World Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania 30.
I don’t know how he’s going to get into the match or what will happen from now until then, but I just have a sneaky suspicion, and here’s my thinking:
- The card is already stacked, with rumored matches looking to be Punk/HHH, Lesnar/Undertaker, Cena/Wyatt, Cody/Goldust, and probably some tag turmoil match. Three of those matches would already overshadow the showdown of Orton/Batista and only one of them has the potential to take place AFTER the championship match. If you thought fans booed at the Orton/Cena match … could you imagine what they’ll do when Orton/Batista closes the show?
- Batista is a heel. I know he’s back on a new contract and is playing up the crowd. But when in Batista’s career have you known him to be a face? He did his best work as a cocky heel and he fits the mold of “Best for Business.” He’s going to transition back into that role, especially after the reaction at the Rumble. And there’s no way Orton is swapping back at this point.
- Neither Batista nor Orton have a lot of draw. Batista isn’t the pop-culture icon like The Rock or Lesnar. He’s a wrestling fan’s icon. And Orton won’t get the casual fan’s attention like a CM Punk or a John Cena. Especially because he’s supposed to be hated. But who would? Perhaps a young bearded fellow whose chants are being used at sporting events across the country!
If I had to guess, Daniel Bryan would be injected into the main event in either a triple threat match or a four way dance (although I can’t really think of a fourth person who would fit). There are far too many singles matches that are being built up and there’s just no way they’d sit Bryan or waste him away in a cluster match.
And that’ll be the moment, my friends, when Daniel Bryan gets a moment similar to that of his mentor at Wrestlemania. When his boyhood dream will come true, without any chance of a reversed call or a sudden MITB cash-in!
I’m sure there are plenty of you who disagree with me. But I hope I was able to at least open some of your eyes. It isn’t often the WWE does something really great and I think it’s only fair to point it out whe they do. Lord knows, we criticize them enough.
When all is said and done, I think we’ll look back at this year and revel in how well the entire storyline was built up and executed. And my good God, I can’t imagine how loud it’d be in the Superdome if Daniel Bryan captured the title at WM30!
I’d love to hear your feedback. Find me on Twitter at @suggafnshane and let’s talk rasslin’!
About the author: Shane Skwarek is a Technology Consultant in the Tri-State area and a long time, avid wrestling fan. He’s a mark for cocky heels and subtle wrestling references, and holds a special place in his heart for the Shawn Michaels/Bret Hart Iron Man Match at WrestleMania 12. You can follow Shane on Twitter at @suggafnshane.