I don’t have much to do with NZPWI any more.
I started the website 15 years ago during the height of my passion for the professional wrestling business and to this day I’m proud of what it accomplished and of the opportunities it gave me.
But as the years pass, there is less time for guilty pleasures. That’s just how life works.
I still watch WWE programming on a weekly basis, though the “fast forward” button tends to get used more and more as the months roll by. I don’t read the dirt sheets. I don’t know “what’s going on backstage”. I don’t know why RVD’s WWE return was so brief or why fans are chanting for CM Punk who, by my estimation, turned his back on the business for loftier goals.
And I don’t know why WrestleMania XXX is on the verge of hosting the most unwanted main event in the history of the show.
Or is it?
The Daniel Bryan phenomenon is just that, phenomenal.
His rise has been quite epic and you can’t deny the fact that he is one of those guys that just shouldn’t have made it, but did. And we just can’t get enough of him.
More often than not, a star is built by the promoter. At least, it used to work that way. Storylines and booking made fans get behind a character. But when a Daniel Bryan is “made” off his own hard work and becomes the number one star in the business because of the respect he earns amongst the fan base, that’s an incredible accomplishment.
Of course the E has gotten behind him and continues to push him to the main event tier. It’s not like the guy is being buried. But the decision to keep him away from the WrestleMania main event is quite staggering. It shouldn’t be such a big deal, but I cannot remember fans being so passionate over the “misuse” of a star or the “idiocy” of a promotion, ever.
But is his immense popularity reason enough to have him headline WrestleMania and win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship?
History says yes.
They did it for Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania V.
They did it for the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VI.
They did it for Bret Hart at WrestleMania X.
They did it for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV.
WrestleMania has evolved greatly over the last 10 years, though. While there is still “a” main event, the card has four or five matches that could headline any event, anywhere on the planet. But now that there is a unified championship, that title match once again stands alone as “the match” on the card – with all due respect to The Undertaker’s streak.
For Joe Bloggs, the year runs from January 1 to December 31. For business people, it’s April 1 to March 31. For wrestling fans, it’s WrestleMania to WrestleMania.
The “grand-daddy of them all” (or the “showcase of the immortals”, depending on which tag line you prefer) is the pinnacle of the previous year’s happenings. It’s when everything is put right and the crowd goes home happy. Of course, there have been exceptions to that rule, but they are very rare.
Wrestling works on proven formulas, and WrestleMania is one of them.
It often writes itself. And if you were a betting fan, you would have picked D-Bry to pick up a Royal Rumble victory and go on to capture the title at WrestleMania XXX.
But WWE Creative are leading you on a different journey. And whether it’s misdirected or not, the majority will be looking directly at Triple H, here.
While we (and by we, I include the legend-turned-smark, Mick Foley) think WWE have gotten it wrong, we need to consider a few scenarios.
Scenario one: You’ll like what we give you
Yes, you should listen to the fans on the big things. But this business is built on “give them what they don’t think they want” and “give them what they want, but not yet”.
From the outside, it seems that WWE Creative (*ahem* Triple H *ahem*) is arrogantly heading in the opposite direction of what fans want or expect. He is the king maker and you will watch what he wants you to watch.
He knows better, and you will like what he gives you. You’ll see.
And if you don’t like it, there are millions in the WWE Universe who will keep pumping money into the coffers, so you won’t be missed when you leave.
But, you won’t leave, will you?
In fairness, WWE probably expected Batista’s return to be a rousing success. And it would have been, if he was eliminated in the final four at the Royal Rumble and was going on to battle a big name player at WrestleMania – possibly even Triple H himself.
The negative fan reaction to Batista lays squarely with WWE’s booking of Daniel Bryan. Which kind of sucks for Big Dave.
Will WWE continue to walk this path and stand firm in their apparent plans for Orton vs. Batista?
Scenario two: I’ll have what he’s having
I’ve never known a Superstar to have so much hate thrown towards him because of “backstage politics” than Triple H. The stories and theories are stuff of legend.
Let’s face it though, this is a kill or be killed business, and although there is the unselfish need to make your fellow workmates look good, you need to do what you can to be the cream that rises to the top. And for some people, regardless of what it takes.
So picture this: Daniel Bryan has the most overwhelmingly positive fan response to any Superstar since “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in the Attitude Era. And who wants to get a piece of that pie?
You guessed it, the man who makes the puppets dance.
Ahh… getting the rub off another Superstar’s popularity and taking credit for it. Classic Triple H.
Scenario three: Worked much?
The fact that the “Royal Rumble incident” is being referenced by commentators and the fact that Triple H quite candidly mocked fans by saying “did somebody not get what they want?” on the Raw after the event has me thinking that, as usual, we’re all getting worked. Again.
There is still a lot of water to go under the bridge between now and WrestleMania. Hell, D-Bry may battle Batista on the Raw before WrestleMania for the number one contendership for all we know. And all of a sudden, everything is right with the world.
Remember, there’s a man who still holds a lot of sway in WWE. He’s a guy named Vincent Kennedy McMahon. And although we may think Triple H is throwing a welcome home party for his buddies at WrestleMania, McMahon still holds the purse strings and still has a digital content service that needs to be a success for his company and its shareholders. And moving the maximum amount of WWE Network subscriptions and WrestleMania pay-per-view buys is critical.
I don’t believe for a second that McMahon would allow his flagship event to be ruined because his son-in-law dropped the ball (and I’m not suggesting that he, or WWE Creative, have – yet).
That being said, I think we’re on a path for scenario two. Triple H gets a rub from Daniel Bryan’s popularity (“OMG Vince, did you hear the reaction I got out there?”) and Orton vs. Batista goes down in history as the most under whelming main event in WrestleMania history. Regardless of how good the match may be.
Part of me wants to see Randy Orton vs. Batista go ahead, just to see the reaction of the live crowd. Will there be a walk out? (Probably – but the five people that do won’t be missed.) Will there be an audible backlash? Absolutely. Will we, as wrestling fans, sit there and think “told them so”. Yep.
Will it change anything and should it? Nope.
Fans will keep watching, Daniel Bryan will one day have his day, and you’ll be ordering Extreme Rules before you know it.
But let’s hope that come April, Triple H tells us “I told you so”. Let’s hope that D-Bry takes home the gold at WrestleMania. And let’s hope that it becomes another “WrestleMania moment” that will live on in the annals of time.
Save WrestleMania, Triple H!