I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it: WWE has been clicking on almost all cylinders lately. It’s like the writers and the roster got into “Wrestlemania Mode” much earlier than usual. And while it’s not all perfect, everyone seems to have a role they can play to near-perfection. I’d go so far as to say it’s the best utilization of the main roster since the Attitude Era.
If you can ignored the ever-half-assed booking of the divas, and a few things that haven’t been given time to flesh out (like the Tons of Funk v Truth/Woods story kicking off tonight on Smackdown), it’s pretty clear that everything is happening for a reason. Every match, every promo, everything is building toward an endgame. WWE is doing its best to build its shows now, while building its next big stars. WWE needs to find its next Cena, Sheamus, Punk, and Batista.
That’s why it’s so frustrating to hear fans complain about the treatment of Daniel Bryan.
The soon-to-be Mr. Brie Bella has a lot going his way. He main evented a couple of pay-per-views. And even though they were disappointingly-short, he has two WWE title reigns under his belt. He’ll always be a former WWE Champion. And, perhaps more importantly, he’ll always be a man who beat John Cena, clean, in the middle of the ring, to win the WWE title.
Lots of fans seem to have forgotten that Daniel Bryan was at the top of the card. All they see now is that Bryan is teaming up with Punk to take on “the new guys.” Those guys – The Wyatt Family – just so happen to be the hottest new thing in wrestling, but that gets ignored. “WWE is treating Daniel Bryan like a jobber!”
Except no, they absolutely are not. WWE knows Daniel Bryan is a star. That’s why they’re teaming him up with the guy with the 434-day title reign, who calls himself “The best in the world.” That’s why they went over in their pay-per-view title match. That’s why he’s trusted to take two talented-but-unknown wrestlers, and make them stars.
WWE fans see Daniel Bryan as legitimate. Some saw it when he made his NXT debut, and his return against the Nexus. Others knew it when he won the World Heavyweight title, and more caught on as his reign went on. Those who didn’t know learned real quick when The American Dragon pinned Cena at Summerslam.
Like it or not, though, WWE fans see Orton as legitimate, too. Listen to the fans react to him over the last few weeks on Raw. He’s over as a crazy heel, and he deserves to be WWE Champion. Along with Cena, he’s one of the two biggest stars in the last decade. It’s why they’re the two guys in the title unification angle. He’s a legitimate superstar, who deserves his spot.
So is Bryan, and WWE is acknowledging that. He’s treated like a world-class wrestler. The announcers acknowledge the crowd’s adoration. The fans flock to the merch table. WWE responded with what some see as a burial, but what may actually be the most important role on the roster.
Legitimizing future stars.
Erick Rowan is okay, but Luke Harper is an absolute beast in the ring. He’s a physical monster who can actually wrestle a solid match. His matches with Punk and Bryan have proven it. And you may not have noticed it, but Bryan has gone over in most of those matches, making Harper look like a beast in the process. Everyone gets over. Everyone looks good.
Back in the territory days, the traveling NWA champion would come into each territory, and defend the strap against the local promotion’s top guy. He rarely lost. But the local name would take the champ to the limit, and either slip on the proverbial banana peel, or fall to heel tactics. The champ keeps his spot, and the local name keeps his heat.
Bryan may not have the belt, but in this scenario, he’s the NWA Champion. Luke Harper is the local territory’s guy, getting the rub from a big star. Bryan won’t suffer from it, and can go wrestle Sting or Harley or whoever next week, and still be a top draw. He’s not being buried. He’s building the next top draw.
Nobody seems to mind CM Punk doing the same thing for The Shield, but I digress.
For a decade, people have bitched and moaned at the “LOL Cena wins” trope. Yeah, we get it, he overcomes the odds and never sells anything. Yeah, we get it, he’s the top guy and nobody ever poses a challenge. You’re getting the exact opposite here.
Bryan, a top guy, is taking some lumps to get an awesome mid-card stable to the next level. It’s the way wrestling is supposed to work. And like it or not, it’s the best way to get talent over.
Keep one thing in mind. WWE is finally giving us (the internet wrestling fans) what we’ve been begging for. Fresh new acts helping establish other fresh acts, developing the next batch of legitimate superstars. Unless you want another 20 years of “LOL Cena wins,” you might want to learn to enjoy getting exactly what you asked for.