what's best for business". HHH and Stephanie McMahon played a 2013 dual version of the evil WWE chairman Vince McMahon. While not as menacing, they still had enough to be a believable force bent on oppressing the good guys- those good guys being mainly Daniel Bryan, the Big Show, the Rhodes and Dolph Ziggler. WWE was using a perceived notion from fans over the years in which they thought HHH and Stephanie held down certain stars- and made it into an angle. While it seemed very promising and could be used to build multiple stars, last week all but cemented the WWE's lack of big picture booking and/or faith in their young crop of talent.
While the booking of the angle had its moments of doubt, it felt important. The roster was brought on to the stage to watch Bryan wage his war against the new regime. Stars looked to be made: the Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler- heck, even the Miz for one fleeting moment looked positioned to get back at HHH and Steph. It had all the ingredients to create new storylines and new rivalries: underhanded agendas (HHH's), a handpicked corporate golden boy (Orton), henchmen (The Shield) and the classic story of the rebel looking to overthrow the dictator.
Opposing him would be Bryan, as many believed the bearded one could be this era's Austin. Some scoff at that notion such as when people mention a player's name alongside Michael Jordan, and those people currently seem to be right. While the regime's reign of terror began suddenly and swiftly at the conclusion of SummerSlam in August, Bryan never turned the tide for more than a week or so at a time. Some around me clamored that HHH and company had too much momentum each week, to which I would tell them to wait patiently. Rome wasn't built over night, after all.
So weeks went by, and we all waited. And waited. And kept waiting. The RAW after Night of Champions, HHH would hold the belt in abeyance, due to referee Scott Armstrong's admittance of a fast count the night before. Neither Orton or Bryan would have the title for a month- which helped no one. (If HHH paid off Armstrong to ruin Bryan's win in favor of Orton as champion, why not just give RKO the belt instead of delaying the inevitable?)
Hell in a Cell finally saw the Viper defeat Bryan (via an HBK superkick) to regain the WWE's big belt. The funnier part? A fully healthy Dolph Ziggler on the sidelines as an "expert analyst" for the pay-per-view's panel used before, during and after the show like regular sporting events. So much for including everyone and creating stars, Vince.
The next night on RAW, Bryan got revenge on HBK with a crossface. Soon after he was with backstage interviewer Renee Young who saw the Wyatt attack coming from a mile away, while Bryan stood there clueless and oblivious before getting his head slammed into by Bray Wyatt- courtesy of a storage creight on wheels. The news after this attack being that Bryan (and CM Punk) are now set to be embroiled in a feud with the Wyatts for the time being. Also coming out of this is the fact that Bryan is now out of the title scene. Management is reportedly happy with the fact that Bryan can be seen to hang with their top tier players, and now shift their focus to an Orton/Big Show title feud. But that same reason is why they have it so wrong and have had it so wrong for some time now.
running down Cena, balancing his act for the show with real-life grievances. It was a breath of fresh air, something that wasn't normal. It came straight from the heart and was not rehearsed. Punk eventually had his mic cut, and would later admit that was not planned. That promo kicked off Punk's rebellious summer which had intentions of winning the WWE title and changing the culture of the then-current landscape. Punk's promos would come to be known as "pipe-bombs", designed to shock the viewers and have them wondering what he'd say next- and it worked. The fact that this coincided with Punk's real life WWE contract negotiations only made it better. Would he return to the WWE if he beat Cena at Money in the Bank 2011? Was it part of the storyline? Was there a line anymore?
Punk would end up capturing the belt at MITB 2011 in his hometown of Chicago. The crowd was hot all night, and was one of the loudest I remember witnessing in my fifteen years of watching professional wrestling. He beat Cena in a 45 minute classic, and left the arena- but not before blowing a kiss to who else? Vinnie Mac. That was the exact moment everyone wondered "what's next?" That is the reaction and mindset any wrestling promoter wants his fan to have- but those opportunities come few and far between.Two RAWS later, Cena was crowned interim WWE Champion. Punk came out onstage to challenge Cena for sole possession of the title. It was not weeks, or even months WWE strung it out. In a matter of ten days, Punk was back in WWE. He would defeat Cena again at Summerslam, but would not make it out of the arena as champion. WWE legend Kevin Nash would mysteriously return to powerbomb Punk, allowing newcomer Alberto Del Rio to seize the belt. That one powerbomb would end up as the nail in the coffin for the "Summer of Punk".
Last week not only saw the straw that broke the Ryback, but also the impossible loss of Damien Sandow's MITB opportunity as well. After decimating an already injured Cena, Sandow lost in typical fashion to the same man, albeit an essentially one-armed version. While he may not have been ready for the title picture, one has to wonder why it was necessary for him to challenge and lose the night after Cena had won it? (Sources say Vince thought it would help ratings against Monday Night Football.) Another prime example of a wasted opportunity.
So where are we now? WWE is going with Orton and Big Show at 2013's Survivor Series. Somehow fans are supposed to care about a notoriously bland wrestler matched-up against a big, slow and aging veteran whose character (after fifteen years) cannot save his hundreds of thousands of dollars he makes annually. Bryan looked to be matched up with CM Punk against the Wyatts. Dolph Ziggler is in the midst of a nap most likely, and Cena is intending to add some shine to the World Heavyweight Championship.
If WWE is complacent in that they proved to themselves and a small number of people outside the company that they could help Bryan be a star, then why not let him go all the way? Why hold up the title just for the sake of going back to the old guard in Orton? That sense of dependance on the old generation is what will end up costing WWE in the big picture.While good things come to those who wait, WWE cannot keep holding off on creating new stars. Before they know it, the old guard ready to retire and the younger stars won't be taken seriously as draws.
And that's NOT what's best for business.
Like it? Love it? Hate it? Contact me on Twitter @SeanNeutron.