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Posted in: Column of the Month
May 2014 COTM - WWE Is Doing A Damn Great Job
By JacobWrestledGod
Jun 15, 2014 - 1:43:37 AM

Hi all! I am JacobWrestledGod from the LOP Column forum, and I am glad to be a part of the most dedicated and diverse group of wrestling writers on the World Wide Web. If you have not yet signed up, please check out the amazing columns by clicking

here




In the month of May, I wrote a series of 5 daily columns + 1 other column which focused on a biblical theme, exploring how the wrestling industry relates to a Christian worldview. It was what earned me my ticket to post a single column on main page on LOP, so to read them, click

here




So without further ado, let me present my debut LOP main page column, with the following verse:

“I just whopped your ass.”

– Austin 3:16




Addressing The WWE Negativity


I don’t usually do on-the-fly columns due to my obsession with planning out what I want to write many days in advance. However, I was prompted to action as I read around the Internet as well as here on LOP that negativity towards the WWE product is returning. The IWC’s hive mentality of cynicism (that’s including myself) is slowly gaining traction again despite the great work done at Wrestlemania XXX which was a resounding success and a giant leap towards establishing the new generation.

A couple of questionable happenings since Wrestlemania XXX have created doubts in the WWE universal towards the Triple H-led Reality Era. The greatest fear of the IWC is a return to status quo, namely the following nightmarish scenarios:

1) Why is John Cena returning to his Superman ways and back up the card?

2) After the legendary Mania win, why is the Authority still denying Bryan his “A+” player status?

3) Why did The Shield break up so soon, and why was Rollins the chosen one?


All these are legit questions to be answered when reviewing the WWE’s report card since WMXXX.

Is WWE moving 2 steps forward but 3 steps back? If we investigate the current situations surrounding the various new breed wrestlers objectively, do we see a pattern of WWE management returning to their old ways, like leopards unable to shake off their spots? Let’s take a quick look:


1) Why is John Cena returning to his Superman ways and back up the card?



I was initially one of those who were irked by Cena’s “iconic” victory dance at Payback after he immobilised Bray Wyatt. Instead of selling any mental and physical exhaustion that Bray put him through, Cena took the high road again with the “Never Give Up” armband raised above his head, signalling to the IWC that even Bray Wyatt the corrupter has no hold on him. In one fell swoop, had WWE lost the chance to create a tweener role for Cena yet again? While some may be critical towards Cena’s return to top dog status, I like to point out that one obvious point - there’s no one left to fill the void of a top baby-face.



CM Punk is rolling in bed with AJ at home, Randy Orton has turn full heel with Evolution, Sheamus is slow-burning his momentum back in the mid-card title scene, and most importantly, Daniel Bryan the beloved underdog is resting with a damaged neck. The situation is probably what causes WWE to hold back from putting Cena’s character through any dark changes at this present moment.

John Cena’s position in the company reminds me of a funny parable, the tortoise and the hare, but not what you expect:

A Hare having ridiculed the slow movements of a Tortoise, was challenged by the latter to run a race, a Fox to go to the goal and be the judge. They got off well together, the hare at the top of her speed, the Tortoise, who had no other intention than making his antagonist exert herself, going very leisurely. After sauntering along for some time he discovered the Hare by the wayside, apparently asleep, and seeing a chance to win pushed on as fast as he could, arriving at the goal hours afterward, suffering from extreme fatigue and claiming the victory.

"Not so," said the Fox; "the Hare was here long ago, and went back to cheer you on your way."




I think this story tells of the hare's change of heart as the fastest animal in the kingdom. John Cena is the hare that had already crossed the finishing line. We as fans know that, the WWE knows that and Cena himself knows that he has already reached the summit of a legend, at least in this era where we are short of mega-stars. So why should we expect WWE to pretend Cena isn’t the top man anymore and book him to be in the mid-card for a longer period of time, especially in a crisis period as this?

The biggest complaint towards Cena is how “selfish” he is. I do admit that in previous years, Cena started out looking seemingly mean and selfish, with intentions of belittling the tortoises of the WWE universal without ever putting the new generation of stars over cleanly. However, just this past year alone, Cena had been pinned by Daniel Bryan and he had created star-making matches with Cesaro and Damien (who’s sadly demoted). John Cena had even stooped down from main event duties to battle Bray Wyatt as an equal at Wrestlemania 30.

Remember how everyone initially ridiculed the rumours of Cena facing Bray Wyatt at WMXXX? Why? It’s because we fans did not believe the hare at the finish line would run back to “cheer” on Bray the tortoise. Thanks to the Cena’s willingness to step back and battle Bray, not only did Bray finish a hard race, he also proved that a wicked hare has turned from his prideful ways to out over young stars. It’s a thoughtful twist to Cena’s current position in the company.

Now, in Cena, we have a legit top dog who not only can fill the void of the top baby face, but also put over younger stars when need arises. We can choose to lament the stale Superman Cena holding up his armband again, or we can choose to celebrate his transformation into a star-maker.


2) After the legendary Mania win, why is the Authority still denying Bryan his “A+” player status?


Daniel Bryan’s feud with Kane was judged by fans as diabolical to his status in the company. In fact, Triple H and the Authority continued to call Daniel Bryan a “B+” player even after the clean sweep by Bryan at WMXXX. In the eyes of the IWC, it is as though WWE will proceed to condemn Bryan to a disappointing post-WMXX Benoit title reign, or a long CM Punk-ish “second fiddle” title reign. The feud with Kane (who is perhaps the weakest monster ever) and Bryan’s fearful reactions had further ignited the rumour mills again - is the Authority is still burying Daniel Bryan? I say no, no, no.



Let’s establish Daniel Bryan’s character and his rise to popularity. Is he a Cena or Rock who trail-blazed their way through the microphone into people’s hearts? No. Is he a freak of nature like Brock or Taker who are larger than life? No. Is he an every day man who hates his boss, who’s overlooked by the management because he didn’t fit the mould of a superstar despite his wrestling chops – like Austin’s anti-hero persona and Mick Foley’s clunky and awkward physique? YES! YES! YES!

What Daniel Bryan has is the everyman, underdog appeal – and if you take that amazing quality away from Bryan, he has less power over the WWE universal. It’s his biggest asset. It wouldn’t make sense for Triple H to come out of WMXXX suddenly agreeing with the masses that Bryan had earned his approval and is now an “A+” player, because 1) Triple H is a HEEL, and that’s what heels are suppose to do – ridicule the top face champion of the company and 2) Daniel Bryan must continue to remain an underdog. Some say that because of the Authority’s constant chiding of Bryan as a “B+” player, the WWE universal will slowly accept the statement as fact, which is detrimental to Bryan’s career. Oh, really? It’s an illogical argument to me, because historical information over the past year tells me otherwise:



All the while before WMXXX, the Authority had been hammering into fans the “B+” Daniel Bryan story, and it worked wonders for the character of Bryan, rallying fans to support their underdog. Every misstep that WWE took with Bryan only resulted in an explosion of support from the WWE universal. So why do we, the IWC, want WWE to change the tactic now and declare Daniel Bryan as a “A+” player? I support WWE constantly reminding the universe that the battle between Bryan and the Authority is far from over. The moment Triple H concede the position of pushing Bryan down, he will no longer be a bully and he will no longer be an effective heel in Bryan’s story. To me, this is long term booking for an epic feud, case in point being that Austin Vs Vince was a raging machine which lasted for years without Vince deviating from his anti-Austin agenda. (Not counting Vince’s face turns.)

Why was Kane the choice to face Bryan? Because Batista, Randy Orton and Triple H - the Evolution - were needed elsewhere in a feud more important than the title picture. Kane has a rich history with Bryan, and moreover, WWE did not move them down the card – in fact, WWE recognises Bryan as a top superstar, and he main-evented Extreme Rules with an attitude-era throwback match.

If this was 2012 and Daniel Bryan the champion was injured, what would be the default WWE style of managing the crisis? WWE would have made Bryan drop the title before Payback and placed it on golden boy John Cena. Instead, WWE surprised us with an excellent Evolution Vs Shield main-event feud while retaining Bryan in the spotlight in a great verbal exchange with Stephanie McMahon. If WWE really wants to bury Bryan, his injury would have put him out of sight and sadly out of mind. The fact that WWE invested more time pushing the Bryan’s injury story means that WWE is more than willing to continue supporting Bryan. Trust me, Daniel Bryan’s comeback story from injury will be another great boon for the 2014/2015 WWE season and his career.

3) Why did The Shield break up so soon, and why was Rollins the chosen one?


Well, this will bring me to the next point: The need for Evolution to move away from Bryan and onwards to the Shield. Evolution has been the secret weapon that WWE unleashed this season. We all know that The Shield has what it takes to be at the top, but how can WWE elevate the Shield in the eyes of the casual fans? Their opponents at WMXXX were a disappointing step down from last year’s Justice league match up. The Shield, freshly made fan favourites, needed a strong nemesis to bring their popularity to the next level, and that’s when Evolution was unleashed in an incredibly effective manner to push the Shield as a dominating force.

I believe that Evolution was tasked so quickly to enter the feud with the Shield because Batista has movie commitments after Payback. This means that if Triple H and co. did not move away from the title picture and Daniel Bryan, the opportunity to elevate the Shield with a stable war would be lost. The clean victories and the precious hours building the matches clearly show that WWE is committed to keeping the Shield strong. Then suddenly, WWE pulled a swerve which proved to be quite unpopular- turning Seth Rollins heel.

Now 2 factors are involved in the heel: the timing and the person. The timing, some argued, was wrong as the Shield should remain as a face group for a longer period of time. The person, Seth Rollins, was also said to be the wrong candidate, as Ambrose was the natural heel and Reigns could have been a one-for-one carbon copy replacement for Batista.

Let’s talk about the person. If Ambrose moved over to Evolution, then the bulk of verbal battle in the remainder Shield will fall on Reigns and Rollins, which is a difficult situation – we cannot expect Seth or Reign to out-speak Triple H and Dean on the microphone. If it was Reigns who turned heel, then Rollins might be lost in the mix, with Ambrose and Reigns given more of the spotlight. Now with Rollins in Evolution, we see a fresh new dynamics seldom seen in WWE – the seemingly weakest member is now the bad-ass heel. While Reigns has the charisma and Ambrose has the natural mic-skills to be bigger players, Seth now has the backing of the Evolution. All three members are in good hands to be superstars.



Let’s talk about the timing. There is one big elephant in the room that we have not explore when it comes to the timing of the Shield’s split – Daniel Bryan’s Injury. With the WWE low on top-level faces, they had to create an immensely emotive conflict. I believe that Rollins’ heel turn sealed the deal for WWE to continually retain the attention span of the WWE universe. After all, the Shield had done everything as a stable– what’s left for them to fight? We can have a repeat of the Wyatt family clash, but that‘s still a stale rehash of recent happenings and it might also waste a potential money feud in the distant future.

IMO, the Shield would have stayed as a team if Daniel Bryan did not get injured, as Bryan still draw in the fans. The need to create a “hook” forced WWE to push forward the heel turn earlier:



Daniel Bryan’s injury threw a wrench into WWE’s plans, so it’s a blessing in disguise for the Shield’s individual members, who are now the brightest face superstars in a dark downtime. As fans, we can sit back and enjoy the rise of 3 extremely talented superstars of our generation.


Other Positives


WWE in general has been doing an excellent job ever since Triple H took charge. One of the biggest complaints over the recent years is how far the mid-card titles have de-valued into useless props. Mid-card championships, if built up as a big deal, draw pretty well and are the best accessories to put focus on any wrestlers on the rise. The IC and US titles have done wonders for the careers of all-time great like Triple H, Rock and Austin, as well as newer generation wrestlers like The Miz and Daniel Bryan.

What do we see today? Mid-card feuds are given ample time to build up, and characters such as Bad New Barrett are allowed to shine. After being tagged with Heyman, Cesaro is on the way to feud with Brock Lesnar, which is one of the highest honours for any superstar in WWE. Tag team feuds are made more interesting by keeping the Usos in the mix with the likes of Cena, and Codydust are creating some interesting character work in their slow-boiled break up. Even the newcomers are given distinct characters, such as Russian nationalists, party animal and self-help motivational guru. The Divas division has been given attention by pushing Paige as Divas champion and Alicia Fox as the crazy queen. Every division is getting a boost from previous years and I foresee WWE to slowly feature even more of mid-card brilliance as the year goes on.

For old school fans, the WWE released the lock to their hoard of historical footages and programmes in the WWE Network. It means tons of entertainment and nostalgia. For the newer fans, we can look forward to brand new programming on the Network as well. It’s an all win situation for the WWE Universe at only $10.99 a month.



All these changes are what we fans wanted to see, so why the hate and negativity?

Sometimes when I find myself going on a hate rampage towards the WWE, I ask myself – Am I really a fan of the art of pro-wrestling, or am I just a fan of what I want to see regardless of the circumstances surrounding the operations of a multimillion-dollar company?

That last question, I leave it for you to answer for yourself.

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