In 1998, right after I started watching WWF/E again for the first time since Superstars on Saturday mornings, The Rock had just helped Vince McMahon screw Mankind out of the WWE Championship (this after McMahon spent considerable time positioning Foley to win the Deadly Game tournament). Previously, after a few gimmicks and struggles with the fans, The Rock had finally gotten over and was the WWF’s freshest face next to Stone Cold Steve Austin. As the People’s Champion, he was next in line to be Champ (after Austin) in the fans’ eyes. So for him to suddenly turn heel with the same method that made Bret Hart drop the Title the year before was a huge deal. From this, The Corporation stable was formed, and the faces, now Mankind and Stone Cold, had a legit heel Champion in The Rock that they could chase.
Face chases heel, that’s one of the oldest rules in wrestling. As awesome as it would’ve been for CM Punk to have stayed face for his entire 434 day run as WWE Champ, there’s no way you can do it. He would’ve become boring and predictable. It’s the reason why Austin turned heel at WrestleMania X-Seven, it’s the reason John Cena gets booed so vehemently. While Austin had been a heel leading up to his late 90’s popularity, he was willing to make the change from face in 2001, because it was best for business. Despite the fans’ outcries that Cena needs a new gimmick (despite his run as heel in the mid-00’s); his character is what’s best for business.
These past three weeks of WWE have not been what’s best for business.
At SummerSlam, Daniel Bryan defeated a legit injured John Cena to win his first WWE Championship. As the confetti fell from above and Bryan celebrated, Money In The Bank briefcase holder Randy Orton walked down to the ring. But then he turned around…and Triple H Pedigreed Bryan, Randy cashed in, Triple H counted the pin. Orton won his 7th WWE Title.
Yeah, heel Randy is back! This is going to be great! Can’t wait to see Bryan (face) chase Orton (heel) for the WWE Title…
But just like how Triple H put the brakes on the Summer of Punk in 2011, he and Stephanie McMahon are doing everything in their power to not just slow Daniel Bryan from regaining the Belt, but to also convince him that he’s a B+ Superstar.
They’ve also succeeded in boring me to death.
First reactions to SummerSlam: Does this mean Evolution’s back (Flair was at SummerSlam but he pissed management off with his antics at the WWE 2K14 panel. All they needed was 1 current wrestler.)? Is this going to set up a Hunter/Steph feud? Is Triple H really going to feud with Orton and Bryan for the WWE Title (the man has wrestled twice already this year)? Or is The Corporation back? Maybe even Legacy?
For three straight Raws, Randy Orton and/or Triple H and/or Steph have been in the ring and they keep saying how Orton being Champ is best for business. Correction, Trips and Steph keep saying it, all while calling Daniel Bryan unworthy.
Now, I know Randy’s never been the best on the microphone but I do recall it was his previous run as a heel that made him as popular as he is now. And even though he was a man of few words then, his presence carried enough weight for him to be an intimidating heel character. Add the fact that he’s been begging to be a heel again for 3 years, you would think this feud would be spurred on by his evading Bryan, the face.
Instead, he’s let Triple H say everything for him. He took the gift of a brand new Escalade from Hunter with shades of The Rock getting a gift from Vince in 1999 but then Bryan came out talking about how he would regain the Title and John Cena chose me to wrestle blah, blah, blah. Bryan would later spray paint the Escalade in an effort to draw Stone Cold comparisons but to no avail.
This past Monday, Bryan had a match with Dean Ambrose, which he won, but then he was assaulted by The Shield and Orton. Big Show was instructed to hit Bryan with the WMD for the second straight week (he’s apparently broke and his good friend Stephanie is holding this over his head. Didn’t JBL and Shawn do this a few years ago…better?). Show took his time and Bryan escaped and took down Orton, the first time he hasn’t been flat on his face by a show’s end since before SummerSlam.
Night Of Champions (NoC) is this weekend. I’m thinking the Creative will try to save face and put the Belt on Bryan, maybe even with a double switch. To have Bryan just win the Title back in less than a month as a face would be a mistake.
But before I get into this weekend, let’s take a look at why things have become so meh so quickly.
Triple H/Stephanie/Vince/Creative – SummerSlam has been the best PPV of the 2013-2014 WWE season, hands down. They had the WWE Universe right where they wanted them. While acknowledging his role in the way Randy regained the Title, Trips should have GOTTEN OUT OF THE WAY OF THE STORYLINE and let it tell itself. Brad Maddox has been doing a good job as Raw’s heel GM, how hard is it to say “Triple H/Steph/Vince informed me of this” and go from there? Triple H does not need to be Randy’s mouthpiece anymore.
Daniel Bryan – So the Summer of Bryan has come to this. Bryan pacing on stage and saying how grateful he is to John Cena (who won’t be wrestling until the Rumble at least) and how HE WILL BECOME THE WWE CHAMPION AND THE FACE OF THE COMPANY. Why didn’t they try this: we know Bryan has “anger issues”, why not have the Los Angeles Screwjob affect him so deeply, that he just goes into Sting mode and stops talking? He doesn’t have to hang out in the rafter s and dress like The Crow but a silent, deadly, highly pissed off Daniel Bryan stalking the McMahons/Trips/Randy for revenge? You’re on to something. And he would still be a face.
Randy Orton – I already touched on this a bit but he’s THE VIPER. He knows how to be a heel. He needs to be punting Bryan in the head, RKO-ing him in the locker room, humiliating him at every turn. This isn’t, “Andre’s old, let’s but him with Bobby Heenan to make his job easier!” You want to stable Randy up? The Shield is perfect but Randy has to be the standout. Every time. If Randy retains this Sunday (and he should), he should turn on HHH and the McMahons. But then Triple H would be in a triple threat match for the WWE Title at Battleground. Dammit.
The Gag Order – This whole thing with everyone being punished for speaking out is ridiculous. Creative ruined a perfectly good feud with Cody and Sandow so Cody could get fired (granted, Cody’s getting married and going on his honeymoon). Ziggler is getting pushed farther into the Kofi Box with his US Title match at NoC against Ambrose. And this thing with Big Show? Come on son.
Mark Henry got hurt so it put the kibosh on the Show/Henry/Reigns/Rollins Tag Team Titles feud. But to put Show into the unwilling enforcer role…it sucks. If this is his last run with the WWE before retiring, this is not how to kick things off. Why can’t he be facing Ambrose for the US Title? Doesn’t he still have a beef with The Shield anyway? And is this supposed to turn him heel again? HE WAS ALREADY A HEEL before he left the last time!
The Shield – These three are the only wrestlers benefiting from all the foolery in this storyline. Since they all secured Belts, The Shield has been dormant other than helping each other to keep their Titles, win or lose. Now, like with Punk later in his Title run, they’re back to rabid dogs of justice for the Small Business faction (Trips, Steph, Vince, Orton, The Shield. Small Business. You’re all welcome!). And just like that, The Shield matter again!
For the first big storyline after Cena goes out, WWE couldn’t have done a more lackluster job. What should have been one of the easiest progressions of the story for them in years is now a big convoluted mess. Hopefully Creative will use NoC to fix some of these things going forward.
But I can’t take this stupid storyline anymore!
Night Of Champions Predictions:
- The Prime Time Players v. Tons Of Funk v. The Usos v. 3MB v. The Real Americans (#1 Contenders Match)
I thought the Usos won #1 contender status a few weeks back? Anyway, expect this to be short and sweet with the Players, Americans, and Usos controlling the action. Don’t think WWE is going to use Darren Young’s coming out as a reason to push the Players, so I have the Usos.
- Winner of #1 contender match v. The Shield (Tag Team Championships)
The Shield wins handily but expect Ambrose to play a part.
- AJ Lee v. Natalya v. Brie Bella v. Naomi (Divas Championship)
Creative should let AJ win so the Total Divas faces can chase the heel but I’m going with a Natalya victory here. Expect some more solid wrestling from Brie though, she’s impressed me lately.
- CM Punk v. Curtis Axel & Paul Heyman
Sounds like a gimme putt for Punk on Sunday. Expect him to control most of the match and beat Axel in convincing fashion; don’t be surprised to see Brock show up before he can really lay into Heyman.
- Alberto Del Rio v. Rob Van Dam (World Heavyweight Championship)
I should have known Creative had no plans to put the WHC on Christian again last month but expect ADR the placeholder Champ to drop the Strap to Van Dam, who’s been a lot more impressive in this run than I expected. I suspect Rodriguez will factor into the final result.
- Randy Orton v. Daniel Bryan (WWE Championship)
Should be the night’s best match but expect some kind of stipulation that will help Randy retain the Title. Double turn highly doubtful; chances Bryan actually wins: 35%
Seems the Dolph/Ambrose US Championship match got scratched. No respect I tell ya.