It is often argued that pro wrestling is most successful when it taps in to the cultural zeitgeist of the day. In the 80s, when bigger was better and Hollywood was full of action superheroes like Arnie and Stallone, Vince McMahon struck gold with Hulk Hogan. When Jerry Springer, Southpark and other controversial entertainment took the limelight, the WWF Attitude Era was a winning formula, that could only work in that period of history.
At this year’s Royal Rumble fan favorite Daniel Bryan not only lost to Bray Wyatt, but he was not featured in the Rumble match, causing a chorus of boos towards the end of the event. Fans wanted Bryan … but the machine wouldn’t give it to them.
There’s been a lot of speculation about the mentality behind WWE’s booking of Bryan. One camp believe they legitimately don’t want him to succeed – which would make no sense from a business standpoint – the other feels WWE have a long term plan where he will eventually overcome all the odds to be the face of the company. A third camp simply think creative have no idea what they’re doing, as demonstrated by his storyline with the Wyatts. It’s probably a mixture of them all.
However I have a different theory, or at least an armchair booker’s plan to turn the Rumble in to a positive.
It assumes that WWE want you to hate their booking. They want you to get angry at Triple H for burying Bryan. They want a popular uprising!
Following the PPV Daniel began pushing a new hashtag: #YESMOVEMENT
He wrote on Twitter:
“Sorry guys, the machine wanted me nowhere near the Royal Rumble match. But I thank everyone for their support. YOU are the #YESMovement”
“They try to keep US down and away from the top spots, but they can’t ignore the reactions forever. Keep voicing your opinions. #YESMovement”
Many people rolled their eyes when WWE brought back the evil corporate boss storyline, but it makes more sense culturally now, than it ever did in the 90s. Half the planet are uprising against their corrupt governments, and in the US Occupy, Anonymous and other protest/activist groups are now part of the fabric of society. It’s the perfect time to tap in to that spirit of rebellion, with a guy who may not be the “face of the company”, but certainly wouldn’t look out of place at a protest camp. We even got a glimpse of it a few months back when The Shield (reminiscent of riot police) did the bidding of WWE’s corporate masters.
In fact the spirit of rebellion was really born out of CM Punk’s pipe-bomb, but unlike his “cult of personality”, Bryan is a peaceful protester. Even the Wyatts are tapping in to this (at least in NXT). Bray’s the hippy that went off the deep end and did too much acid. He has some profound anti-establishment things to say, but it’s usually clouded in word salad.
Of course if this is where creative are going with Bryan, it’s certainly a risky plan. If they go too far fans are simply going to turn off the TV and stop spending their money. Last night former WWE star Lance Storm urged fans who are truly ticked off on Twitter to vote with their remote.
However despite the odd PPV refund and a lot of keyboard rage, ratings aren’t really that down and people are still engaged. The booing at the Rumble was a reaction, a better reaction than silence. It means fans are emotionally invested. I believe WWE want fans to take that emotion and pour it in to a stage-managed uprising.
If executed correctly I envisage a “Yes Movement”, where fans protest through social media and with chants and boos at the arena, where Daniel Bryan leads rallies outside the building, and YES activists “hack” WWE.com. In the end the uprising becomes too powerful and Bryan ends up in a title match, winning the belt and changing the course of history …
Viva la revolución!!!