Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Daniel Bryan Can Only Be As Strong A Champion As He Is Allowed To Be

I did not live in fear that Daniel Bryan would not get his much deserved moment at Wrestlemania 30. The simple fact was the WWE didn’t really have much choice given all the things that led up to that event. C.M Punk decision to go home to Chicago was one of those things. Mentioning him is where my concerns for Daniel Bryan begin. Before I go further about that it was also a direct result of fans passionate reaction to Bryan’s exclusion from the Royal Rumble match.  In the end the planned Batista vs. Randy Orton match for the WWE World Championship was doomed. The WWE over estimated the popularity of a returning Batista against the popularity of the incumbent wrestler on the roster Daniel Bryan.

So it was a bumpy and winding road from when Daniel Bryan first entered the title picture going against John Cena at Summerslam. The fact is the WWE got to the destination their audience demanded. This for me is all that matters to some extent. That is only half of the problem solved though at the end of the day. In traditional pro sports they say winning a championship is one thing but to defend that title is a whole different ballgame. In wrestling the company booking you to become the champion is one thing but how you are booked once you are the champion is another. This is where my fear for Daniel Bryan begins.

I was concerned that the WWE would not be as invested in the Daniel Bryan title run as this was not their idea to begin with. I also had a lot of concern with the lack of true heels on the roster to challenge him as the champion. A champion is only as good as the contenders that challenge him for that title. It is safe to say that Kane as his first challenger to the title is under whelming would be more than a fair statement. Let's face it, on the first PPV/Special Event it seems highly likely this match-up will be the main event.

That leads us back to the man now currently enjoying being Blackhawks and Cubs fan in Chicago. C.M Punk even as part of historic title run was not booked as being the main event all the time. The idea of the champion and not going on last is just not the way traditional fans have become accustom to seeing a champion treated. The only way Punk found his way to the main event was when he faced John Cena. He was the guy that went on last and not Punk. While Punk fans look at his 434 title reign as a great achievement, and it really was, for a majority of that he was not treated as he should be.

Bryan at least for the start of his title reign is starting off on that path. He is by far the most popular and loved WWE Superstar much in the same way C.M Punk was. This goes back further in history though and the first person to be treated in this fashion was Randy Savage. His match with Ric Flair at Wrestlemania 8 was not booked as the main event. Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice was the main event on that show. It set a wrong precedent that has lived on to today. I have said this many times in writing in this blog but for myself the title of a promotion is the most valuable resource your company has. I understand you still need stars for a company to be successful that is no secret. Still you can have someone get injured and if you have made that person bigger than the title you suddenly have a problem. That belt shows up for every show and is never going on the injured reserve list.

When you treat your title as not the most important this your company has it makes not just your champion lesser but his challenger as well. I think in a landscape where you live in a world with the legit combat sport of the UFC where titles mean everything you must follow suit in pro wrestling. When you choose not too it makes that "believability factor" that is vital for wrestling to work suffer.

What also makes it suffer is that someone is some how bigger than the title. The goal of every wrestler should always be to want to be the champion. In pro sports would you ever respect an athlete that doesn’t still have that desire to win another championship? You don’t want guys like that in your locker room. John Cena should want to beat the record of Ric Flair and become the greatest champion of all time. Cena has even had points where with in the context of the storyline he has flat of said he doesn’t need the title and once gave away a title match to someone else. That destroys the value of the championship and its importance.

Daniel Bryan and his journey did restore a lot of value in a title that suffered with a weakly booked heel champion Randy Orton. If you don’t build him legitimate challengers and treat those matches as the most important thing on these shows that becomes a real problem and takes the steam out of Bryan’s run as champion.

Cena in his promo on Raw this week talked about being excited about the future for when he eventually leaves. If he truly means that he should be the one pushing for that champion and championship to be treated as the biggest thing on a show and company he has helped build.

While it is great for The Shield to be in a main event program with Evolution it should not be bigger than the title and the champion. In a way it spits in the face of the 31 titles reigns that the three members of Evolution has. Not to mention every other man that has held that belt.

So let’s hope that things go a different route for Daniel Bryan. The reason I worry is unlike CM Punk it is not in Daniel Bryan’s nature is not to rock the boat. Maybe Bri will fight for him behind the scenes now that she has a vested interest as his wife. In any case the Bryan Title run is not off to a huge start heading into Extreme Rules this Sunday.