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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: The PPV Perspective (Money in the Bank 6/24/13 - Ratings Down, Quality Up)
By The Doc
Jun 25, 2013 - 8:35:36 PM

Daniel Bryan is flying high right now, I would imagine. He has had some substantial moments in his career and some big victories, but I wonder if he's walking that Smackdown aisle tonight thinking that last night was the biggest of his career. No, it was not a title match. No, it was not cashing in Money in the Bank or defending his World Championship or facing CM Punk for the WWE title. Yet, he is in the midst of the elusive sustained push to the top. Such is a rarity in today's WWE. In the past few years, a very small percentage of the men that have made it to the main-event scene have taken up permanent residence. Bryan, like many before and since, got his headlining series of matches, but he followed the road less traveled and managed to stay a visible, notable part of the flagship show. When was the last time that a newer star stopped challenging for World/WWE titles and his profile actually expanded? What we're seeing right now, culminating in last night's submission victory over Randy Orton, is merely the stamp of approval for the great work that Bryan's been doing since he joined the WWE main roster in 2010.

If you peruse the WWE Championship Money in the Bank Ladder match line-up, Bryan would have to be considered the favorite to win it. RVD is presumably coming back to help Chris Jericho put over newer stars since nobody on the active roster can apparently afford to take losses following years of inconsistent booking for everyone not named CM Punk and John Cena. He will not need MITB to do that. Kane and Orton do not appear to be main-event bound. Punk will be this summer's tornado chaser. Christian is no longer in a position to achieve consistent main-event status, in my opinion. He's fresh, but not young. Sheamus is an option, but he does not have the momentum right now that does his former Mania dance partner. I could see it. I really could. The Celtic Warrior's next step would be to, once again, reach the WWE title (this time as a babyface). It looks like Bryan would get the nod over him this time around, though.

My question is less about Bryan winning the ladder match and more about when he cashes in the contract as a presumed babyface. Mark Henry vs. John Cena might very well have some traction. I have a gut feeling that this will be Henry's last hurrah. He's just getting old, frankly. As much as I love the work that he has done in the last two years, we need to see older guys move on so that new guys can rise to the occasion. I've made it clear that I think Big Show, Kane, and the like should shift into off-air roles in the near future. I think the WWE needs to embrace their youth movement. My one reservation about the 42 year old Van Dam returning is that it is yet another older guy coming back into the fold. I watch what is happening right now with the Boston Celtics of the NBA and it seems as if they're about to go all-in with the rebuilding effort. You cannot hang onto stars, even if they're all-time great stars, if you want to rebuild and retool. Accept that you need to shift eras and just do it.

All of the above being stated, Henry vs. Cena could build to a retirement match or something of that variety at Summerslam. Cena stepped up his game last night, forced to match the intensity and passion that Henry put into his recent promos. I really enjoy Cena when he's got his mojo working on the microphone. I thought he was outstanding during Wrestlemania season and I thought he was very good last night. If they can build up an issue that evolves in the coming weeks, then I think that it could extend to Summerslam. However, I would hope that Bryan vs. Cena takes place at Summerslam. It is the second biggest PPV of the year, so for Bryan to potentially win the WWE Championship from John Cena at Summerslam would be yet another quality step forward in his career. "No," in response to those who think Henry vs. Bryan would achieve the same thing. Not even close. Henry is not "The Man." Cena is "The Man." To beat Cena at a show that draws over 300,000 buyers would put Bryan on a different plane. Beating Henry? Well, just winning the title over a big guy would be a step up, but not nearly the step up that it would be by defeating the WWE's Golden Boy.

As much as I am intrigued by Bryan's rise and the Cena-Henry feud, there's just something exquisite about CM Punk. That guy has enhanced my WWE fandom exponentially over the last two years since "the pipe bomb." There is nobody more entertaining in professional wrestling today, as far as I'm concerned.

It will be interesting to see how this Punk vs. Lesnar feud produces, both critically and financially. On the fiscal side, Lesnar matches have proven to be fairly substantial draws when compared to the usual PPV buyrates of recent years. In his three non-Wrestlemania shows, the buyers increased by 60K, 50K, and 20K compared to the previous event (of the same name) without him on it. We could make an argument that Wrestlemania was able to hit the million buy mark, in part, because of Lesnar's presence in helping to overcome what was largely considered a phoned in effort on the WWE's part during the build-up. Punk vs. Lesnar has a number that it will be compared to, unfairly or not, based on the success of last year's Summerslam: 358,000. From the looks of it, the WWE will be selling much of this year's Summerslam success on Brock's match, just as they did a year ago.

Summerslam '13 will be another test of Punk's economic metal. I thought it was telling that the Royal Rumble buy number eclipsed 500,000. I had suggested, prior to, that it would be a big step for Punk's career, at least in the eyes of his doubters, if his match with The Rock could hit that mark. When you take into account the price of the PPVs these days, getting 500K for a non-Mania PPV is an incredible financial accomplishment that reflects very well on how far Punk has come at the box office. I am curious to see if his match with Lesnar will be able to match what Triple H vs. Lesnar did a year ago. Conventional wisdom would suggest that the answer to that query to be "No." However, I think if a Summerslam with Punk-Lesnar on the marquee can hit the 340K-ish mark, then it will be another inch closer to the Wrestlemania main-event for CM Punk. Heyman was hinting that the elusive last match at the Show of Shows was where Punk should be and I agree that he's deserving, but a great business-side showing in addition to the expected critical hit come August would be another feather in the Chicago Made cap.

The promo last night was intriguing. I think that it did a nice job of being compelling, while also keeping the viewer guessing as to where they're going and how they're going to get there. I enjoy that style of interview. Punk needs to hash out what his new character is going to be. I got the sense that he's not even sure, yet. One thing that is for certain is that I'm engaged. I want to see Punk vs. Lesnar and Heyman's involvement, thus far, has been spot on. I reiterate my interest in seeing Lesnar contribute more in this feud creatively, however.

Verdict on ordering Money in the Bank - The Doc is all in right now.

Question of the Day: Do you think CM Punk will be a babyface at Wrestlemania XXX??

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