18 Seconds Was Great for Daniel Bryan
by, 04-05-2012 at 09:29 AM (6593 Views)
A lot have been said about the opening bout of Wrestlemania 28 when Sheamus defeated Daniel Bryan for the WHC-title in 18 seconds. Most of it has been negative. But the way I see it it was a best case scenario for the American Dragon, and I will explain why.
But first, let me state that even though I understood the booking, I think whoever had the notion that this was the correct match to start the broadcast, probably needs to rethink his line of work.
I've seen several pundits describe it as a squash match. I disagree. To me a squash-match is a match where one competitor is vastly more dominant that the other. Clearly this was not the case here, as Sheamus bum rushed Bryan when his mind was elsewhere. It says nothing about the relative strengt between the two. This is important, and we'll get back to that.
First of all: The fate of Daniel Bryans reign as champion was sealed back in January when Sheamus won the Royal Rumble. There had been years since a Rumble-winner won his prize match at Wrestlemania. If this years winner had lost, winning the Royal Rumble would seriously start losing it's luster. After all, why strive to win the Rumble if you'ld just end up getting your ass handed to you at Mania? With Jericho brought back specifically to feud with CM Punk, that meant that the WHC would need to change hands on Wrestlemania.
Add to that the fact that Sheamus has been protected and booked like a superman for months. It has come to the point where, if he was to fight a triple threat against Conan the Barbarian and Our Lord and Savior Jesus H. Christ, the odds would at best be even money on the Irishman. There was no way they would halt that push now, especially against someone like Bryan.
Secondly, WWE would not want to risk to much cheering for their primary evil heel. A heel-face turn now would serve no storyline purpose for them.
Bryan has finally got over with the casual audience as a despicable character, and his kayfabe personality has few, if any, redeeming qualities. It would need a major rewrite to work as a face. The position as arrogant, freakishly good wrestler with obnoxious personality and unusual life choices has been filled. (How'ya doin' Punk?) After months of building Bryan as a grade-A douche-bag, WWE would not just wipe that of the blackboard in a retcon. Every heel/face turn needs an internal kayfabe-logic, after all.
Cody Rhodes might be a first class bully, but he picked on the big lumbering lummox Big Show, Daniel Bryan pour his vitriol on sweet, loveable AJ. And with Bryan dating Brie Bella, I would expect WWE to work that into the current storyline. I mean what draws more heat than an abusive boyfriend? An abusive, cheating boyfriend of course! It would be plenty of opportunities for backstage segments. E.g: AJ discovers Bryan coming out of Bries locker room, and he brushing her off, claiming he was just «scouting her opponents». His possesive personality would go into overdrive, and he would start fights out of jealousy every time she smiled to someone backstage. Let him dissect the NXT-jobbers, and show off his skills.
But back to Wrestlemania. WWE have a belt that has to change hands, a face they want to keep strong, and a heel they also want to protect to a certain degree, how to solve it?
One possibility could have been to book a DQ victory for Bryan, after he managed to push the berzerker button on Sheamus. That would leave him with the belt, but undoubtably weaken him somewhat. It would also necessitate a rewrite of the opening of the Punk/Jericho match.
Even worse from Bryans point of view would be the standard «feud-blow-off» booking of Sheamus going ballistic on him: Using him as his personal chew toy and punching bag for 6-7 minutes until the match was stopped. AJ could then wheel the bloody and toothless carcass of her boyfriend out of the arena. It would have been a proper closure to the feud, and been entertaining to watch, but Bryan would then be in a serious downwards spiral.
So they chose the smart solution. Sheamus surprising Bryan out of the starting gates and stealing the win before the champion knew what hit him. This way, Bryan can truthfully claim that the win proves nothing, that he's still the best wrestler of the two and that Sheamus was unsportsmanlike and lucky. And he would be right! In other words, his perceived strengths in the ring would not be in question, and he would not lose the same amount of momentum.
If Sheamus is to feud with Del Rio, have Bryan destroy Big Show and claim the Int'con championship. That would also underline his reign as World Heavyweight Champion, and give him the talking point that it's the second time in a year he takes a championship from Big Show.
So, I cannot see any way WWE could have delivered a longer match with Bryan and not hurt his reputation at the same time. Iin the long run, Bryan-fans should probably acknowledge that what WWE actually did was to protect Bryan to keep him in the main event picture.