For the third PPV in a row Daniel Bryan was screwed out of the WWE Championship. At last night’s Battleground it was the Big Show’s interference that would end the night in disarray.
The physical back and forth action between Bryan and Randy Orton would continue right up until the closing moments, when Bryan hit a Top Rope Crossbody to the outside before dragging Orton back in to the ring and hitting his patented Headbutt. It wasn’t enough for the Viper, who kicked out, only to endure more of Bryan’s vicious Dropkicks. He eventually managed to catch the technician in a T-Bone Suplex and quickly followed up with the DDT off the ropes, but when he went for the RKO, Bryan escaped and turned a scrambling pin attempt in to a YES Lock.
With less enthusiasm than the months prior the fans willed Orton to tap so Bryan could be crowed the rightful champion, but before hand could touch canvas the Big Show’s music hit and the conflicted giant bear pawed the referee out of the ring. As a frustrated Bryan leaned to the outside to confront Show, the KO punch sent him careering to the mat and once again Bryan’s career defining moment was cruelly taken away.
RAW General Manager Brad Maddox emerged on the stage with corrupt referee Scott Armstrong and sent him down to the ring to continue the match. It seems more likely than ever that Armstrong was really in cahoots with Triple H when he made the fast count at Night of Champions. What other reason would he be called back at such a pivotal moment?
Perhaps it was this that sent Big Show over the edge, but it in a swift change of hearts he launched the new referee out of the ring before Orton could capitalize on the situation. Understandably angered, Orton began hurling insults at Show, calling him “stupid” and reminding him that his job is likely now terminated. If that’s the case he had nothing to lose, and wound up for another devastating KO punch.
The PPV ended with no champion and the Big Show free at last.
Too Little Too Late for Daniel Bryan
The Authority storyline has been criticized since day one and this is not without merit. While I personally find WWE to be at its most compelling in years, there’s still room for improvement and the available numbers suggest a lot of fans have become disillusioned with the way Daniel Bryan has been booked.
The key to making money in wrestling is to obviously get wrestlers over with the fans so they can be put in conflicts that draw interest. Daniel Bryan was red hot going in to Summerslam and he defeated John Cena clean to become WWE Champion. Instead of attempting to ride the wave of his popularity and establish him as strong Champion so his matches would mean more down the line, he was immediately screwed out of the title by Triple H.
This wasn’t necessarily a bad decision. There was a logical story to be told and viewers were interested to see Bryan persevere and overcome the odds stacked against him. Ideally he would come out even stronger by not only having a win over Cena under his belt, but the wherewithal to counter Triple H and Stephanie’s plans and still remain on top.
While this could still theoretically happen, the fact that some fans demanded a refund for Night of Champions and RAW ratings have slipped to the lowest of the year, demonstrates that it’s too little too late. The authority have been too domineering for too long, that fans have lost faith that Bryan is the man for the job. His popularity peaked and is now slipping.
To put it bluntly Bryan is a pussy. That’s not to say he hasn’t shown amazing in-ring talent, nor that he’s in any way scared of the Authority or Randy Orton. But for the most part he’s been too accepting of his misfortune. Instead of pointing out all of Triple H’s underhanded tactics, and challenging him on them, he’s brushed them aside and soldiered on. People aren’t like that in real life. If the fan favorite has been screwed over, fans want to see them snap, not shrug it off. If Bryan doesn’t care, why should the fans?
Likewise he beat Orton before Summerslam and has continued to show himself as the better wrestler ever since. However instead of taking this high ground, Bryan has reached for other talking points such as the idea that Orton needed Triple H to motivate him. Don’t make it more confusing than it needs to be. You’re the fucking man! You deserve to be where you are!
Furthermore the cynical inclusion of Brie Bella has done nothing for his man points. She barely defended him in the various backstage segments and then she had to come out and cradle him after he was beaten up. NO! She wants to be with Bryan because he’s the best talent on the roster and doesn’t feel the need to pluck his eyebrows to be the “face” of WWE. Why does she care what Orton thinks? Bryan has kicked his ass and will continue to kick his ass.
Though the storyline has been compared to Austin vs McMahon, the dynamic is completely different. Austin was always getting one over on McMahon and infuriating him for doing so. There would be a few weeks where Austin would get screwed, but he would soon fire back and reclaim his top spot with his middle finger standing proud. Bryan has been played since Summerslam. And even when he does get a victory, it’s within the context granted to him by his masters – see the handicap match against The Shield.
While there’s certainly a case for longer and more nuanced storylines in wrestling … this isn’t it.
In the storyline Big Show’s anger is with Triple H and Stephanie. Up until now he’s wanted to knock out Triple H. That’s who the fans want to see him get revenge on. His inclusion at Battleground not only worsened Daniel Bryan’s position, by once again pulling the rug from beneath him, but also lacked true viewer satisfaction because it was Orton who he knocked out not Triple H. The kettle boiled on the wrong people.
This can be salvaged, but like Bryan, Big Show’s peak is now much lower.
It sets up a number of possibilities, such as Orton vs Big Show, or Bryan vs Show, but it’s unlikely that Show will be able to continue his momentum on RAW without repercussions from the Authority.
It looks to me like this whole saga is simply a way to bide time until John Cena returns to make the big save.