Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Raw Notebook: Realism and Proper Babyface Booking


In my transition into writing on wrestling I have tried to not fall into the typical stereotypes of what I see out there. Doing blogs or podcasts after Raw is the standard thing to do if you cover wrestling. I am not saying I will never fall into that standard type of things, but at this point I am focused on building myself an audience for this.

With that all said last night’s Raw in San Antonio had me compelled to talk about it a bit. From an in ring point of view the show wasn’t anything special at all.  Although I thought a couple of things on this show for me caught my attention that was different from the standard stuff we have come to expect from Raw.

The biggest thing I noticed was the treatment of Daniel Bryan. While on the surface it seemed the standard way Daniel Bryan has been treated on the program since Summerslam.

But look a little closer and it was different. Michael Cole who I have never praised for his commentary to any large degree at any time I can recall did a good job on this show. He drove home a theme of the night about Daniel Bryan causing problems between all the various heels on the show.

The show began with a promo by Triple H in which he would be interrupted by both Batista and Randy Orton. Batista and Orton were to say the least upset about HHH granting Bryan a match that could see him be a part of their main event match.

This caused HHH to be angry with them doubting his abilities to beat Bryan. In reality everyone does expect HHH to lose to set up the main event match that people want to see. HHH cut a great promo that actually was attacking both Orton and Batista using actual feelings of the fan base on both. 

Than he dropped the bomb on Batista and Orton but more in reality the fans watching when he declared there will be a triple threat match for the title at Wrestlemania 30 but it will not be Bryan in the match it is going to be him. In other words the winner of the Bryan vs. HHH match regardless of the outcome will put the winner in the Main Event for the title.

Brilliant because now fans that feel HHH is out to bury people now have a concern that maybe he just might now win his match with Bryan. This match lacked any drama to it and now it has some for people that question HHH’s desire be it in storyline or in reality to put over Daniel Bryan.

Cole did a good job selling the fact that Daniel Bryan was the cause behind all of this drama between the three. Fans are fully aware of the history of the three in evolution and in reality most are fully aware of the friendship between the three. Daniel Bryan even in storyline causing a riff between them makes him seem more important.

During the body of the show the riff also extended to between HHH and Stephanie. This again was sold by Cole as being caused by Bryan. In the end this tension was proven to be just a work that would get revealed in the final segment.

Still now it took people plotting to destroy or set-up Bryan which makes him important. In the end the show ended with HHH and Stephanie being on the same page. Steph would come out and call for the cops to arrest Daniel Bryan for his actions last week disrupting Raw. As it turned out the Cops were fake and had cuffed Bryan while Steph and Hunter were fighting outside of the ring. HHH enters the ring and at first looks like he is going to call off the cops but instead reveals the cops are phony and a beat down of Bryan commences. The fact Bryan is handcuffed makes him seem again important and a threat. HHH if he was so confident he could handle Daniel Bryan why go to the extent to have him handcuffed to beat him down.

The combination of Cole getting it over and the storyline made Daniel Bryan feel like he was being treated by the company as a top baby face.

While many will leave the show more concerned than ever about Daniel Bryan getting to the finish line at Wrestlemania the subtle seeds have been planted that he will.

What I also liked on this show was all the subtle jabs of the reality we had mixed in the program. From the opening segment we talked about to Bray Wyatt’s promo on John Cena to Christian on commentary. The WWE on this same show introduced a show for kids called Slam City that is basically the cartoons on the net that are a modern version of the old Hulk Hogan’s Rockin' Wrestling.

The Attitude Era is dead but for fans of that era if you can add more of those “Real Life” lines into promos it will be something that will appeal to that older Attitude Era crowd but sill stays in the WWE’s PG world. If you think about Jake” The Snake” Roberts  mainly existed in that kid friendly WWE era with Hulk Hogan and still did his thing. Bray Wyatt often draws comparison to him and can have that same amount of success. In the Attitude Era we likely see Bray Wyatt not just subtle reference to Nikki Bella but he likely kidnaps her and does God knows what. Back to Jake “The Snake” Roberts and his feud with Randy Savage. He would just intimidate Elizabeth and never cross that line too far. There is no reason to think Bray could not do something similar in his current situation.

There is a way for everyone to be somewhat happy at the end of the day. WWE just has to work extremely hard at doing that. Regardless of if people will believe it or not the exit of CM Punk might have served as a wake up call for folks in the WWE to work harder at reaching that goal. It seems like at least a legitimate theory as you can’t argue that Punk’s absence has not had an impact on the company having to alternate plans and re-evaluate.  This along with the continued strength of Bryan and the lack of strength of Batista has led to the most winding road to Wrestlemania we have seen in some time perhaps ever.

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