Welcome to Talking Theatrics. In this column, I discuss theatrical aspects of professional wrestling, such as character or plot. I’ll usually focus upon a particular topic over several articles – I feel this enables me to fully explore an area before moving on. However, because wrestling is a constantly progressing medium, I feel it is appropriate to step away from the connected articles and discuss recent developments or events from time to time. In these instances, I may talk about elements I have yet to discuss and/or have discussed in the past. Furthermore, I may delve into different areas within the one column
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Daniel Bryan has always received a large amount of praise – his work in Ring of Honour is frequently regarded as some of the company’s finest and when NXT followed its seasonal format, he was the reason to tune in and is arguably, the only highlight of an otherwise weak show. Skip forward several years and Bryan was the most entertaining champion on the roster prior to his 18 Second defeat at the hands of Sheamus. His work with CM Punk, AJ Lee and most importantly Kane that followed would really help establish Bryan as one of the most popular stars in professional wrestling today. Breaking away from Kane and Team Hell No was inevitable – Bryan was quite frankly too hot to remain in an upper mid card tag team.
Months of hard and exciting work in the ring finally paid off and by the grace of John Cena, Bryan was offered an opportunity to fight for the WWE Title at the company’s second biggest PPV, Summerslam. After a hard fought battle, Daniel Bryan cleanly won the WWE Title from John Cena. Wrestling fans around the world rejoiced as they watched their favourite star finally awarded. Then. It was all taken away.
In the weeks that followed Summerslam, Daniel Bryan took the fight to the men directly responsible. Triple H, the special guest referee that cost him his moment of glory and Randy Orton, the man who took advantage and cashed in his guaranteed title opportunity. Triple H declared that having Orton as champion was better for business, hence the decision. This decision was met with approval from his father in law, Vince McMahon and his wife, Stephanie McMahon. However, the choice that Triple H made was not received as warmly by members of the WWE roster. Therefore, a divide started to develop.
Triple H, Vince, Stephanie, Randy Orton and their enforcers, The Shield were met with disapproval from Daniel Bryan himself, Big Show, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz, amongst others. However, instead of having a platform to voice their opinions, the opposition were silenced through fear – fear of losing their jobs, their financial stability or their safety. Triple H and company has become a dictating corporate machine that nobody could contend with.
Quite frankly, it is amazing multilayered story telling. We’re glued to Daniel Bryan and his struggle back to the top of company, we’re invested in Cody Rhodes and his family’s attempts to regain the formers lifeline and we feel for Big Show, a friendly giant who happens to have hit rock bottom – regardless of whether the singular stories are effective or not, they’re all adding more depth to the overall plot that is Triple H’s new regime.
Leading up to the Night of Champions PPV, many expected Bryan to lose somehow and continue in his quest of a lengthy title reign. This was not to be the case as Bryan emerged victorious and came into Raw the next evening as champion. Bryan proved once again that he can beat the best that the business has to offer, cleanly. Furthermore, he proved that he deserves to be champion. He was stripped of the title the following night by none other than Triple H, due to a fast count by the referee. For the Bryan character, this further enhances his desire to regain said belt and more importantly, the viewer’s desire to see him hold said belt. On the other hand however, the win completely discredits Triple H’s endorsement of Randy Orton.
Orton is the best option to headline the new regime. Triple H and Stephanie are frequently acknowledging that Daniel Bryan isn’t championship material, particularly due to his image. Orton by comparison has that perfect look and physique. Also, Triple H has endorsed Orton for many years, dating back to their Evolution days. Therefore, by having The Viper installed as champion, you wonder if this is indeed a business decision or whether it is in fact, the powers that be using their position to better suit themselves and close acquaintances. It’s worthwhile noting that the following was likely done so that Bryan once again has a rematch clause he can invoke. However, I fear that what transpired at Night of Champions and the following night’s Raw may harm one of the key performers, in terms of their placement within the current regime plot.
Allow me to elaborate. A performer of Randy Orton’s calibre (or position rather) is able of beating anybody on the roster, or is considered capable at the very least. This past week on Raw, Orton absolutely destroyed The Miz. Does this hurt the MizTV host? No, because Randy Orton is (for lack of a better analogy) the cream of the crop and a far superior performer. He is therefore, expected to beat wrestlers beneath him. You could argue that Daniel Bryan is currently amongst this elite crop. However, his story currently dictates otherwise. The character of Daniel Bryan is still being portrayed as the man trying to break through that glass ceiling. Therefore, from a storyline perspective, a clean loss has the potential to kill any momentum Bryan has.
Randy Orton has been chosen as the face of the company – the man that Triple H wants in the top position. Regardless of whether heelish tactics were used, he should have won – this would have further cemented the idea that Triple H was correct in having faith in The Viper. Whilst Orton would be perceived as a cheat, he still presents a challenge – can Daniel Bryan actually beat Randy Orton?
So herein lies the problem. Triple H and Stephanie have made it abundantly clear that Randy Orton needs to prove himself and prove that they made the right decision in choosing him. Now you would imagine that if he loses, Orton would be discarded by the husband and wife team and therefore, no longer considered appropriate as the face of the company. Orton quite frankly needs to win the next match and cleanly. If he were to incorporate heelish tactics to win, then Triple H is forced to decide if he wants such a man in the top spot. If he chooses that he doesn’t, it would strengthen the Triple H character but at the price of the top heel’s credibility. Should he deem Orton acceptable to be the face and champion, Triple H’s character becomes contradictive, which isn’t a desirable trait in the early stages of character development. Furthermore, it enforces that all his decisions are made from a personal standpoint, rather than business and in turn, reveals a truth that otherwise lacked evidence. it essentially would reveal the end of the story.
Finally, if Orton were to win, it would suggest that Bryan is not capable of beating Orton when he ups his game. Hence, destroying his credibility as a worthy contender. If he were to win, he further cements his place amongst the elite, but with Orton’s character weakened, who would be a credible contender?
You may say that I’m overthinking and I should allow the plot to develop before judgement. However, I think these points are worth mentioning because after this week, I feel the WWE may ruin the hottest angle of the summer once again. I hope to be proven incorrect, but i am struggling to see where these key characters can progress if they’re presented so inconsistently. The following plot will work best all these players are protected. All three are the best options for this particular arch but I fear one will fall very soon, the plot not too far behind.
Until NXT Time…..