*** WARNING YOU ARE ABOUT TO ENTER A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE *** PLEASE KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE AT ALL TIMES*** Explaining to my wonderful, caring and understanding girlfriend — who I make watch more professional wrestling than even I’m comfortable with — why Randy Orton is now sucking up to The Authority is an interesting journey into discussing professional wrestling in the modern “Reality” era. To explain why he was sucking up, after weeks of being a total dickhead, I had to explain the internal and external pressures the company’s facing to turn Daniel Bryan into the new face of the WWE in the “real world”, while also trying to explain the effect it had in “kayfabe” while keeping both parts distinct.
While the distinction may seem obvious to some, it’s unlike explaining any other show or sporting event to someone, especially someone who is interested in the proceedings but not entirely aware of all of the extra moving parts that go into making a wrestling superstar. There’s no comparison to be made to even something like Sam Seaborn’s departure from The West Wing and his replacement by Will Bailey, where Rob Lowe was leaving the show and Josh Malina was friends with Aaron Sorkin (and a wonderful mercenary foil for Richard Schiff’s bordering-on-self-righteous Toby.) Things like that are closer to the CM Punk situation, and explain why Daniel Bryan might be on his way to a showdown with Triple H at WrestleMania, not why he’s being put in place as the Face of the WWE. (And seriously, listen to the commentators [or John Cena] talk about Daniel Bryan, they have him positioned for ENORMOUS things).
That’s because, for all the talk about CM Punk as the first star of this era, he really just started it. The first significant star to come out of the era — in the same way that the Stone Cold and The Rock came out of the Attitude Era, as opposed to starting it like Shawn Michaels did — is definitely Daniel Bryan.
The distinction between the two is, of course, that he’s the first to reap the benefits of the increasingly thin, increasingly permeable membrane between “kayfabe” and the “real world”. Daniel Bryan is over because he’s over, but he’s making the way to the position he is the way he is because of an increasingly complicated give and take between the audience and the product.
The WWE has reached a place where things like Twitter and Facebook followers — along with mentions in the loosely defined “mainstream media” — are nearly as important as merchandise sales and segment ratings, as well as increasingly autonomous crowds. The WWE has to balance what’s “Best for Business” with what’s actually best for business. This involves a lot of complicated questions like: Do we change plans because a sizable group of loud fans have decided to hijack our shows? Do we change plans to accommodate the mainstream cache things like Total Divas has? And how can we do all of that while maximizing profits and growth opportunities for our shareholders?
But, thankfully, I don’t have to worry about that, I just have to worry about watching the show and explaining how it made me feel to you guys. It’s something that’s been said every week, but the sheer magnitude of Daniel Bryan’s overness is hard to articulate. This was, by any definition, a FANTASTIC crowd — which makes sense as they were in Los Angeles, which usually dispels just about every commonsense notion of their level of fandom for professional wrestling shows — in one of the most famous arenas in the country (if not the world). And they were all losing their shit not just for Daniel Bryan, but everything about him. They love him, as a performer. Not a gimmick or a t-shirt, but as an entity, and while there is MUCH bellyaching every time a new WrestleMania rumor comes out regarding his place on the card, I’m just going to enjoy that ride.*** WARNING YOU ARE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE *** PLEASE ENJOY YOUR COMPLIMENTARY SONIC CHILI CHEESE PRETZEL DOG ON THE WAY OUT***
The waiting game for the dissolution of the Rhodes brothers tag team is starting to get the feeling that it’s leading to the type of “this came out of nowhere” break up that makes programs like this fizzle or at the very least not live up to their considerable potential. The reason that Bret and Owen worked is because while we knew Owen, we didn’t really know Owen, and not nearly at the level we “knew” Bret. Though, with Cody presumably (and somewhat hopefully, though, as always, EXPECTATIONS ARE THE ENEMY OF FUN) being the babyface, my ability to recall Goldust’s “personality” is far different from most people’s watching (as he was an attraction FIFTEEN YEARS AGO). When you know the end game, seeing how they get there is the interesting part — See: the role of Greek choruses in Shakespearean plays — so hopefully the “getting there” is as good as it has the potential to be.
Much like the man himself, these Miz interruptions tread the fine line between “Must see” and “Must change the channel”.
HOLY F&$%ING SHIT this Real Americans vs. Sheamus/Christian was such a good match, I can’t even explain it without turning into ten pounds of fanboy in a five pound bag. Even without Sheamus, one of my personal favorite workers this would have been AMAZING, as The Real Americans continue their “if the Road Warriors could wrestle, and also jobbed EVER” run that almost almost makes me wish that Antonio Cesaro wasn’t about to get a rocket strapped to his back. Those two seem to have genuine fun with each other, in a way that clearly extends beyond “man, let’s make the best of this nowhere gimmick”. They are not just unwilling to be accept their fate, but have actively embraced every part of this team in a way that not only makes them exciting to watch but impressive in the very same way the Usos and the Shield are: as a cohesive unit that actually seem to you know, plan things out and work in a way that feels both choreographed and completely unscripted.
I just want them to turn Batista heel, so that every single person complaining on the internet about how much they hate Batista — who has moved from Botchtista to Bootista with the creative geniuses that infest comment sections and message boards — will go back to loving him because they’ll finally get their way on yet another thing that no one seems to care about except them.
Lita blowing out her knee and then finishing a match entirely on one leg is still the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen a performer do. So, congratulations on the Hall of Fame.
Might want to check my math, but I’m not entirely sure how (Rybaxel + The Usos) X (New Age Outlaws/Laxative-based jokes) = Tag Team Title match, but I’ll take an Usos title run however I can get it.
There are few things on earth I love more than the shot of Mark Henry taking up the entire frame at the beginning of his entrance. Now that he’s essentially a guaranteed Hall of Famer, I’m pretty much okay with his entire raison d’etre being “answer open challenges and either splitting wigs, or have his wig split”.
OHHH MYYYY would have been a nice interjection for this beautiful staredown between the Shield and the Wyatt family, but instead of spending 800 words talking about the magnificence of this segment, I’ll let this picture do the talking:
Ugh. Hopefully AJ Lee manages to hold onto the belt just long enough that she doesn’t have to lose it to any of these “Total Nonstop Action” Divas.
From a “paying customer” perspective, it’s nice to see that the WWE understands that generating actual heel heat by giving Daniel Bryan the night off is only okay if he also gets to try to punch Kane’s teeth in at some point during the night. Not unlike CM Punk taking the night off at the beginning of his heel turn as WWE Champion, only to come back and give the Go to Sleep to Cena on his car AND THEN DRIVE OFF WITH PAUL HEYMAN when he was in Chicago, depriving the fans of the biggest attraction is something that the WWE should never do, no matter how much heat it’ll get on the angle. Austin was on television indiscriminately stunning authority figures when he had a “jacked up neck”, and this is just the natural evolution of that storyline.
If this was the last match between John Cena and Randy Orton, let’s just put it this way, without further comment: I’m totally okay with that.