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A Very Special "The Postgame." (Alternate working title: Did They Break Us For Good?)

Writing about Raw on a weekly basis became tiresome within a couple of months because after a few weeks of awesomeness of Daniel Bryan fighting the machine, it stopped being interesting enough to give me an angle from which to approach it. (That, and I prefer to drink with my friends while watching wrestling. It's not only more fun, but ensures I'll fall asleep at a decent time when I have to work the next day. But that's another story.) 

Having the sportswriting background that I do, one of the first things you're taught is that there's no cheering in the press box. I try to apply that ethos to whatever I write, unless you count my silly-ass Facebook rantings. It isn't that I think it's wrong to show favoritism in writing about professional wrestling; I don't even think it's inherently wrong in some forms of sports journalism, with pundits like Bill Simmons proving impartiality to be unnecessary. I just think it makes for more interesting writing. 

The plights of the character of Daniel Bryan, and moreso of Bryan Danielson the performer, have made even intimating any form of impartiality a difficult task in recent months.

This isn't the first time a crowd has responded in a manner far different from how they're "asked" to respond. While it has become the norm in the last 15 years and has possibly reached critical mass with the story arc of Daniel Bryan over the last eight months, it's nothing new for a crowd to be very vocal about hating who they're supposed to love, loving who they're supposed to hate, treating a supposed midcarder like the biggest thing in the world and outright rejecting what they present to us as the supposed biggest thing in the world.

You can push whoever you want, however you want, to whatever extent you want. But you can't think for an audience that's always been much smarter than promoters and condescending non-wrestling fans alike have supposed. No matter who you push or who you say is the good guy, we like who we like.

Last night's Royal Rumble certainly seems like it's going to prove to be a tipping point, I just don't know of what. Maybe it will prove to be the latest example of the WWE relenting to an overwhelming demand for something, and they give in and give us Daniel Bryan, Top Guy. (They have listened before, every now and then.) Maybe this was the plan all along, and this will prove to show just how hard they can troll us in what's necessary to get us to emotionally invest in someone this fervently in this era. 

Or maybe it will be the moment for many of us that our cognitive dissonance breaks for good, and we fully accept that they truly do not care what we want. I call it cognitive dissonance because deep down, I think most of us know that who we want pushed isn't the WWE's priority, yet we still bring ourselves to care so much.

For whatever it's worth, I don't think they're blind to what we're asking for. It isn't like Daniel Bryan is being buried. Zack Ryder was buried. This is not a burial. Daniel Bryan was in four straight pay-per-view main events and even in the worst-case scenario of the WWE proceeding as if Pittsburgh's crowd didn't do what they did, will still be in a high-profile Wrestlemania match.

I don't even know if Vince McMahon, Triple H or anyone else with a say-so necessarily disagrees with us regarding Bryan. All we hear is that Vince loves the guy, after all, and I don't see why he wouldn't.

Even accounting for the possibility of a reversal of course tonight, it's clear that building up a new star to Rock or Austin-like levels is not in their interest. And maybe it shouldn't be. As much as Bryan has galvanized an existing fanbase, has he expanded it? (Counterpoint: much like Punk in 2011, was he really given that chance?)

To the WWE, the story arc of Daniel Bryan has been a rousing success simply because they elevated him to that rarified air of made men who can be plugged into anything from a program with a part-time star like HHH, Brock or Undertaker to a midcard feud with Bray Wyatt. Making him THE guy was never a consideration, nor is changing course to do so even if the fans ask for it.

Because while wrestlers leave, the brand doesn't. Ironically, it seems as if the early-mid 2000's, when Foley, Austin and Rock all left basically for good within a two-year window, and Brock Lesnar came and went within two years himself, was their own tipping point. This is ironic because it gave us a stale product lorded over by Triple H, who now is part of the shot-calling process.

Or maybe it's not ironic, and in fact directly informs why they've been so seemingly loathe to push someone to the point where they eventually don't need the WWE, which has happened with just about every huge star they ever created/employed.

John Cena came along and became the top guy, and stayed there for two reasons. The first is that he's remarkably, shockingly reliable. I've said before that if Hogan, Rock and Austin are the Ruth, Aaron, Griffey, etc. of pro wrestling, then Cena is Cal Ripken: shockingly durable and reliable, in the lineup every day to do what's asked of him. (Not a perfect analogy because Cena has had a few serious injuries, but I think it still works.)

The second reason is that, as such a company man, he's the perfect top guy for a business that has long since decided the brand is the star. Really, it's surprising it took them this long to figure it out: wrestlers come and go, but your brand needs to keep growing.

That's why the WWE Network's launch is bittersweet for so many diehards, and comes at such an ironic time for the WWE itself. The Network gives old-school fans like us everything we've ever wanted: basically the entire history of wrestling at our fingertips, as well as every live pay-per-view, for a shockingly low cost. It's the best mainstream publicity they've garnered for themselves in...honestly, maybe ever?

But at the same time, Daniel Bryan has become a cultural flashpoint to the extent that, as pointed out on this blog earlier in the day, some so-called mainstream media has even commented today on how little the WWE is listening to their audience. 

I think that perfectly sums up where we find ourselves as wrestling fans, and where the WWE finds itself as a product: they expand their brand even further by pushing not any wrestler, but themselves. And at the same time, they almost intentionally seem to be not pushing the one performer we want more than anything. 

At the same time they've given us everything we want, they refuse to give us the one thing we REALLY want. 

Maybe that cognitive dissonance isn't going anywhere, after all.

Comments

  1. Not to the best of my recollection

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  2. Brocks a heel people like watching and Batista is a face the crowd aren't happy with. Either WWE changes things or Heyman is going to have to donkey punch an orphan and wipe himself clean with three Stars anfield Stripes at a troops show to redress the balance.

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  3. Your_Favourite_LoserJanuary 27, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    this has to be illegal on some level:


    -
    WWE is taking steps against independent groups running WrestleMania 31
    weekend in Santa Clara, CA. According to the deal that that the WWE made
    to run the event there, WWE has locked in a no-compete with all city
    owned facilities in the market as well as several larger hotel chains.
    Due to this, promoters who usually run conventions and wrestling shows
    over WrestleMania week have been told that non-competes won't allow any
    wrestling events to be held in those venues
    Read more at http://www.411mania.com/wrestling/news/311241/WWE-News:-WWE-Locking-Out-Independent-Promotions-at-WM-31,-TMZ-Covers-Foleys-WWE-Rant,-More.htm#ZLZoovwEYYGoYoge.99

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  4. Your_Favourite_LoserJanuary 27, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    "dave's not here, man"

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  5. This article does a better job explaining Vince's possible reasoning than anything else I've heard so far. In many ways, it nails it, Bryan is MADE now, so huge and over with fans, the title almost secondary, he gets reactions like no one else and that's what WWE wants. And it also brings up how the Network is going to get attention and viewers no matter what and it's no longer stars Vince pushes but the brand itself.
    I will say this: It's damn easy for us to rail and complain on how things should be but I'm always fond of citing James Guttman who in 2005 wrote a book, "World Wrestling Insanity" that basically stated how he could run WWE better and listening to his ideas would be great. But after a few years of doing a radio show, Guttman wrote a follow-up book that revealed that almost everything we fans think we "know" about the business is totally wrong and booking is harder than it seems and Vince does care for workers even as he deals with massive egos. He screws up a lot, sure but as the old saying goes "if the fans online did the booking, WWE would be out of business in a year."
    Things is, I've heard so many times guys going "I'm done with WWE unless they do this" and yet they're still around. Which just goes to prove that one of the smartest things ever said about the business was Raven's line: "The smart fans who think they know everything are the easiest guys to con."

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  6. I agree with pretty much all of this, but the last line in particular (the quote from Raven) always irks me when wrestlers rail against us, the supposed smarty-pants know it alls:

    We're the group of fans that most WANT to be conned. We're wanting to be hoodwinked, to mark out.

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  7. Honestly, at this stage they may as well take a leaf out of WCW 2000's book (they're beginning to resemble it creatively), and just stop everything. Vacate the titles, terminate the storyline, and just reboot.

    Yeah, I know WCW screwed it up. It was still a good idea, just badly executed.

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  8. WWE getting crushed right now on Twitter. #rumblemoments is trending after the WWE Universe account started tweeting about it...now it's just an endless display of people making fun of the WWE.

    Enjoy: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23RumbleMoments&src=tren

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  9. All I know is that Scott Keith is laughing all the way to the bank from all the attention that this blog gets, and, though he would never admit it in print, he would be thrilled if Daniel Bryan jobs to X-Pac on RAW tonight.

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  10. WWE wants merchandise sales, not reactions. Unfortunately, the current Daniel Bryan merchandise is so butt-ugly that nobody in their right mind would buy it regardless of how over he is.

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  11. This seems appropriate, slightly modified from a Kevin Costner movie you may have seen, "The Postman", regarding if "we've been broken forever'

    'Ray, people will come, Ray.
    They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up
    your driveway, not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at
    your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. "Of course, we
    won't mind if you have a look around," you'll say. "It's only twenty
    dollars per person." They'll pass over the money without even thinking
    about it; for it is money they have and peace they lack.

    And they'll walk out
    to the bleachers, and sit in shirt-sleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll
    find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where
    they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll
    watch the game, and it'll be as if they'd dipped themselves in magic
    waters. The memories will be so thick, they'll have to brush them away from
    their faces.'

    'The one constant through
    all the years, Ray, has been wrestling. America has rolled by like an army
    of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased
    again. But wrestling has marked the time. The ring, this game, is a part
    of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be
    again. Ohhhhhhhh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come."

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  12. Just throwing that out thereJanuary 27, 2014 at 3:08 PM

    Has anyone here checked out WWE's various Facebook pages? The comments are near-unanimously negative. NO ONE is happy that Batista won. Most fans want Punk, Bryan and Reigns. Some are even reccomending to stop watching or to boycott the new network.

    The powers that be have got to wake up on this. The either risk crowd sabotage at every show, or losing fans outright.

    It's weird. A national wrestling promotion is stubbornly ignoring its fans asking for new blood and is instead sticking with the old guard and the boss's cronies on top, consequences be damned. If only there were some historical precedent WWE could learn from...

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  13. I'd really like to see someone take that to court. I don't see how the WWE can just shut down the entire city of Santa Clara for wrestling events during WrestleMania weekend.

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  14. JoeyStyles
    YES! YES! YES! Even @WWE fans in the UK are making their support of @WWEDanielBryan top news on @BBCOne http://t.co/fS6YZmveHv #RoyalRumble
    1/27/14, 4:00 PM

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  15. Movie nerd alert, it's "Field of Dreams," not "Postman."

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  16. And it seems like it's gotten worse and worse since the original Yes shirt.

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  17. That would have been awesome. Another good idea: Have Rey come out earlier and #30 is some random heel (it doesn't particularly matter who, not a top top guy though). The crowd will promptly shit all over it just as they did last night, but the heel doesn't come out. Cut to the back to the heel knocked out, and then Bryan's music hits. Biggest pop ever!

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  18. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that he's aware of that fact.

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  19. I just hope everyone is taking the time to click the ads occasionally. Scott 100% deserves it

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  20. That's the one where he has gils, right?

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  21. The problem is that if they bury him that might still produce a backlash since it will be transparent about what they are doing. That might work with Zack Ryder, but Bryan is more popular than that. Hell, they had the guy lose at WrestleMania is less than 20 seconds and he ended up more popular as a result!

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  22. Waterworld is best world.

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  23. My girlfriend got me the "Respect the Beard" shirt as part of my birthday present last August. I probably wear it once a week.

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  24. Very well written. Good stuff.

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  25. Why would he hide the fact? He has been fairly up front that the reason he has a for profit blog with advertising is so that he can make money for the kid.

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  26. See, the reason I was okay with Summerslam was because the story of Bryan getting screwed by the Authority WORKS...except it needs a payoff in the end. Having him get screwed forever under the belief of "He'll be EVEN MORE over after!" ignores the fact that sooner or later, people will give up on the idea that he'll ever triumph and stop caring. It's getting dangerously close to that, because I think most people who were frustrated about the Orton feud ending with Bryan getting beat again, followed by the whole Wyatt thing, were holding out hope this was all to lead to a big Rumble win and a huge WM match. While he could still be in a huge WM match, now the Rumble has come and gone. What I think bothers me the most is not that Bryan didn't win the Rumble. I wanted him to, but I think what bothers me more is that it seems like WWE, despite his reactions, sees him as such an afterthought they couldn't even be bothered to HINT that he could win the Rumble by putting him in it. THAT is why I'm so frustrated today. Not because Bryan didn't win the Rumble, but because he wasn't entered into the Rumble, there were no hints he could win it, no hints of a match with HHH, no hints of Bryan entering the Rumble but getting screwed by HHH/Orton/Batista/Brock/someone big that would lead to a big WM match and moment, and nothing to make me think he'd be challenging the Undertaker (the only other guy that would be a BIG WM match). He was a total afterthought two weeks after people forced WWE to end his "heel turn" (which I believe was always intended to be short term, but not that short term) early while getting one of the biggest reactions we've seen in a very long time. WWE seems to care so little about Bryan they couldn't even be bothered to TEASE US with a POSSIBLE Rumble win, and that's what makes me very pessimistic that we're getting anything good with him at WM. I hope something changes now.

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  27. My favorite: " Highlight: A midget in a Halloween costume getting a bigger pop than #Batista at any point."

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  28. Dude needs his own brandmark. Austin had the flaming skull, Rock had the Bull, HHH had the Iron Cross, Foley had the Mask over the smiling face. Hell, the APA had a good one, DX had a great one. the NWO, ECW. Iconic and awesome all.


    He needs something cool, recognizable. Only then, will people come buy your shirts.

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  29. The exception that proves the rule!

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  30. I've been thinking the same thing lately with the countless DB emails popping up. Scott seems to get better responses the more Bryan gets buried.

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  31. The one where he plays golf against Don Johnson?

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  32. Mears, do you write for a living?

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  33. So is everyone (with a 5,000 word opinion on Bryan) going to get published on this site? Just curious.

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  34. Anyone with posting privileges who writes 5000 words!

    Mears started a column (a post-RAW analysis) a while back. He hasn't posted in a while though.

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  35. Because the reason people come to this blog is that they see in Scott a kindred spirit, not a Vince Junior Junior.

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  36. The dragon motif is right there

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  37. My girl got me that same shirt for my birthday in August as well. It's a great shirt, the goat ones are ugly though

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  38. I guess the ultimate question is -- do we expect any different from WWE?


    Think about it. WWE has been pretty much defined by not giving a crap what fans care about until they have no choice.


    Their two most productive eras (both creatively and financially) came after they almost went bankrupt. And, at least before the attitude era (I can't speak for booking before the Rock and Wrestling era, since I didn't really start watching wrestling until about 1985), they spent large periods of time telling the fans what they wanted, and pushing people because of stubbornness and politics (why else was Hogan in the main events years after the fans turned on him?) than actually giving a crap what people wanted to see. And by the time they started to give fans what they wanted, the damage had been done.


    Is this mess with DB another "Hogan winning WM9"? Maybe, depending on how they handle it (especially since the news of it and disdain for it is MUCH more global than WM9 was). Hopefully, however, the massive backlash will have them rethink their position. Better to be thought short-term tools (who have to rebook their plans) than to continually show your fans that you couldn't care less about what they say. Hell, that's what killed WCW, and is currently killing TNA.


    It also makes me wonder about the reason that they pulled Bryan out of the Wyatts so quickly. We were made to believe it's because they wanted to do the right thing by fans, but what if it was because they felt that the longer Bryan was in the group, the more popular he'd be when he finally got out? They'd rather deal with what they believe is short-term popularity than any lasting interest which could have come from a more established angle.


    It's a sad state for indie wrestlers, too. Basically, the two people who have been to the top are pretty much being given the finger every time they reach a certain level of popularity. Pretty much every single one of Punk's and DB's pushes have been stalled for no damn good reason, but they keep shoving Cena and Orton and the flavor of the week down our throats despite everyone saying they're tired of it. If I were an indie wrestler today, I'd be praying for TNA to get their shit together simply because I'd want an alternate place to go. (Of course, it isn't likely to happen, but we can hope). The only other hope is whatever Jarrett is putting together.

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  39. Because of your avatar, I usually insert a 'wow' between every sentence you write when I read it in my head.

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  40. HHH finally got over as a main eventer after the whole Steph heel turn, but I think that feud with Foley got HHH over as a legit draw for the company.

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  41. Daniel Bryan still doesn't pass the My Mother Test.

    My mother knows Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Steve Austin, The Rock, and John Cena. She does not know CM Punk or Daniel Bryan.

    Until he passes the MMT, Daniel Bryan will never be seen as a main eventer.

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  42. You know, there is an address bar up top. You can type in any address you want to.


    I personally lurk/occasionally post here because it's better than the other wrestling sites out there. Either it's the "WWE is always right, everyone else is always wrong" crap that permeates about 95% of the IWC or other sites with so many popups that I accidentally buy 3 containers of viagra and help 2 Nigerian princes every time I click a link.

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  43. Is that guest vote Tommy Dreamer himself? TUNE INTO NITRO TO FIND OUT.

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  44. THAT'S NOT LA PARKA.

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  45. Angry Wrestling GuyJanuary 27, 2014 at 4:05 PM

    This is idiotic. Steve Austin wouldn't have been able to pass the My Mother Test at the beginning of his run either. You're putting the cart before the horse.

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  46. That's what struck me as I browsed along this series of tubes (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8XSo0etBC4). Is that normally you'll find the internet regulars hating a show, and the more markish folks loving it. This is pure hate everywhere. I was searching "WWE" on twitter randomly today for the various negativity that was coming from all over. Its pretty ugly for WWE

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  47. Rey's masks have an open mouth area...it would be pretty obvious.

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  48. Yeah, I posted a thing about this....gosh, two years ago, about my Dad and the 'casual fan' thing:

    http://www.rspwfaq.net/2012/08/what-makes-popular-pro-wrestler.html

    ‘Hey Dad,’ I asked, “Have you ever heard of Daniel Bryan?” He shook his head and continued singing the Neil Diamond song I brought up on Spotify.
    “What about CM Punk?” “Who? What is this, a survey? I don’t give a
    damn,”. In defense of my dad’s Pro Wrestling knowledge, his frame of
    reference is essentially teasing me about “how fake it all is” during my
    middle school days. The joke was on him, of course, as the fakeness he
    was teasing me about cost him somewhere in the neighborhood forty
    dollars U.S. depending on which PPV that was hogging the TV on Sunday
    nights. “What about Hulk Hogan?” “Yess of course,” he paused. “Don’t
    go putting me into whatever it is you’re doing,”. Oops

    “Stone Cold?” Dad nods. “The Rock?” “Yeah,”. “John Cena?” He grunted a
    negatory. “Triple H?” He had a vague recollection. “Vince McMahon?”
    “Thats the manager guy, right?”. He’s probably heard these names
    peripherally. But in terms of “The Business” getting a fifty year old
    man who drives a truck to know who these people are is probably as close
    to a brass ring you’re going to get from non-fans. If you get a pro
    wrestler’s name and likeness to occupy space in a non-fan’s brain,
    you’ve probably done something right.

    He’s never heard of Shawn Michaels, nor does he particularly care about
    *any* of these people, but it’s interesting none-the-less. As he took
    over the music that was playing, demanding I play Tina Turner because
    “It’s his house too” I had something of an epiphany.

    Larger than life is where it’s at. If you want to break through in
    pro-wrestling, It’s a combination of look, charisma, and a memorable
    name. I’ve heard of Tina Turner, but don’t particularly care about her,
    but I know what she looks like, a couple of her songs, and remember Ike
    Turner used to beat the crap out of her. If she was on TV, maybe I’d
    pause to see what she was doing. Much like Dad would if he saw “The
    Rock” on Leno.

    Which is why pro-wrestling is kind of sucky for us hardcore fans at the
    moment. WWE probably knows it needs something to cling on too, and ride
    into the ground, and is probably the main reason for the generally
    inconsistent nature of the product these days. They need *something* to
    hitch their wagon too. People who sing the praises of Mr. Daniel Bryan or bemoan Santino isn’t being used properly, are, more or less, going to watch wrestling because they’re already fans.

    So,unfortunately, until WWE finds “The Next Big Thing” , we’ll have to take what we can get, which is some great workers that put on great matches, but are never *really* given the ball to run with, simply because no one outside of the WWE universe has heard of them.

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  49. Not currently. I have a journalism degree, though.

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  50. Yeah, as I alluded to I found myself staying up way later on Monday nights than I cared to. Life got in the way.

    Plus, even though my format is quite a bit different from the norm, three Raw recaps seemed like overkill.

    I wrote this at work today because I just have nothing to do. I'm gonna try to get back to writing 2-3 long form pieces like this a month as long as it's fine with Scott.

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  51. If I were an indie wrestler, I'd kill to have the career Ambrose or Cesaro are having in WWE, much less be a top-five guy, main event PPVs and easily make seven figures like Punk and Bryan are doing.

    I'd say the WWE has been more friendly to indie stars in recent years than they have been in a long time.

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  52. She doesn't identify when somebody is already a huge deal. She only validates that they are.

    Austin's run wasn't a huge deal until after my mother knew about him. Probably some time after Wrestlemania XIV.

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  53. Isn't all of this validation of WWE's strategy of pissing off the fans to gain attention?

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  54. has Dreamer ever gotten the chance to book a *PROMOTION*? Like, I mean, not just spot shows for a group that may not exist in 2 months?

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  55. In WCW nobody cared. In WWE, everybody cares.

    Apathy, not hate, is the opposite of love.

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  56. I have no problem with World Champion Randy Orton (at this point).


    And I have no problem with #1 contender and Royal Rumble (although he is the least of all the two-time Royal Rumble winners by A MILE).


    But these two put together? NO BUYS.


    And John Cena v. Bray Wyatt is NOT a WrestleMania program. Not. Even. CLOSE.

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  57. Obviously, from a financial perspective, WWE is the better. Then again, compared to a lot of indie wrestling, a car dealership job is probably better.


    But they've been much friendlier (much TOO friendly, in many cases) to people who come through their own systems. I'd say that Ryback is pretty indicative of this trend. There's an obvious glass ceiling for people who get "indie cred" before coming to WWE, despite them being some of their most popular wrestlers.



    It feels like the popular indie wrestlers: Punk, Bryan, Cesaro, etc, often succeed DESPITE WWE's booking of them (maybe Cesaro just needs to yodel some more to be taken seriously). And you can hardly say that Ambrose or Rollins or even Luke Harper (Brodie Lee in the indies) is successful or has broken through any glass ceiling until they're solo wrestlers, and not part of a stable (since it's the stable that's being pushed, not the individuals).

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  58. Never seen it, but apparently he's the main booker for Family Wrestling Entertainment.

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  59. Here's my only beef with what is otherwise a fairly well-written and reasoned column: All of it is written with two suppositions that don't make a lot of sense: 1. WWE can dictate how over a wrestler can get. 2. WWE doesn't WANT another Austin/Rock-level star, because that somehow preserves the brand.

    "It's clear that building up a new star to Rock or Austin-like levels is not in their interest." Austin and Rock achieved those levels based on possessing enough charisma and skill to become that over. It didn't take a lot of intervention from the then-WWF to send those guys through the roof. Similarly, DB hasn't needed a lot of intervention to get as over as he currently is. In fact, you could easily make the argument that he's gotten this over IN SPITE of their intervention. If Bryan had the capability to be the star that Austin and Rock were (and I don't think he does), he'd get there whether Vince likes it or not...and really, why wouldn't Vince want a mega-star?

    With ratings languishing and the 'E having to rely on part-timers to carry WrestleMania for the past few years, we're supposed to believe that Vince doesn't want any new mega-stars? It makes no sense. He'd sell his mother into prostitution if it got him a mainstream, cross-over star again. Mainstream stars = ratings = money. This argument about the brand needing to be the focus would've made more sense when there was competition. I don't doubt that Vince felt burned when he was getting killed by WCW with stars that he'd "created." Yet, he still got behind Austin and Rock and rode them back to #1. Why would Vince be wary of creating a mega-star out of Bryan in 2014? Where's he gonna go??

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  60. I liked your articles - it's good to have 'analysis' and not just recaps. But I think that the storylines really don't change fast enough, you'll wind up repeating yourself. I would definitely enjoy reading monthly analysis from you, maybe after PPVs.

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  61. My girlfriend, who is far from a wrestling fan likes Punk - she loves his smile.

    She would find it harder to identify Bryan, but she was baffled by his loss to Sheamus when we watched We 28 a couple of years back.

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  62. "1. WWE can dictate how over a wrestler can get"

    Yeah, they can. And they've shown that time and time again. They may not be able to truly affect how "popular" someone can get (meaning that they can't make someone who is unpopular super-popular, despite pushing them constantly -- as Batista's return has shown).

    They can continue to shove a wrestler down the fans' throats, though. (*cough*Cena*cough*)

    They can also make someone who is getting over unpopular. Pretty easily, sadly enough.

    Let Daniel Bryan languish in the low card, appearing maybe every 2-3 shows, never getting a PPV match, winning about 1/2 his matches against other low-card wrestlers. Threaten him to ignore any "Yes" chants. And suddenly, you've got someone who isn't over, because people have given up on him getting over.

    Hell, they did it with Zack Ryder. Dare to get yourself over, and you're screwed.

    "2. WWE doesn't WANT another Austin/Rock-level star, because that somehow preserves the brand."



    Can't really argue with you here. But Mears does make some good points about WWE maybe not wanting to make people who are "bigger than the brand". But this part feels more like speculation than anything else.

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  63. Yeah, that would be great. I'd take perverse pleasure in the crowd pissing all over Orton and Batista.

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  64. 1. They can't make a guy be wildly over like Bryan is, no. Nor was that my point. But yes, of course any promoter has a lot of say in who gets over, for so many obvious reasons.

    2. If someone was doubling their ratings like Austin did 15 years ago, that's one thing. This isn't the case. Maybe Punk or Bryan could create a noticeable spike if given the chance, but maybe not. They've created a self-sustaining brand and have been consistently profitable for a long time now.

    I'm not saying I agree with it but yes, I do believe they'd rather not go through with creating another Rock or Austin unless it just falls in their lap. Especially as long as Cena is around to be reliably bankable, if not game-changing.

    As great as those boom periods were with Hogan, Rock and Austin, losing those guys and trying to replace them made for relatively tough times. So, yes, I think it's clear their MO is growing the brand in ways that isn't reliant on individual wrestlers being the draw.

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  65. This is a strong possibility after WWE Network launches.

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  66. That theory doesn't work, because while my dad knows those guys, for some reason he was always able to identify CHRISTIAN of all people.


    Add Chris Jericho to that list for my uncle.

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  67. I said MY MOTHER. Not YOUR DAD.

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  68. Gotcha. You've got a talent for it

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  69. Here's the thing, though...how much worse can it get from here anyway? Ratings blow, they only pop a big PPV buyrate for WM (when all their part-timers are around), and their mainstream presence is virtually nil. And as stated before, where can their stars even threaten to go? Again, I don't know that Bryan could crossover (and I suspect he can't), but their lack of a transcendent star is not by choice. That's turning down free money. If they thought Bryan could be that guy, he'd be wearing the belt the second they decided so.

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  70. Amsterdam_Adam_CurryJanuary 27, 2014 at 10:00 PM

    My mom knows Hogan, Rock, Savage, and HBK. She only knows Shawn because her son is a huge HBK mark.


    The first 3 are the MMT guys to me.

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  71. Rey vs. ADR vs. Sin Cara vs. Torito vs. Diego vs. Fernando!

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