Hustle Is Posting Right Now - Daniel Bryan's Excellent Adventure (Part One - A Recap)
Jul 23, 2013 - 10:07:09 AM
"Gonna riiiiise to the top.."
That was quite the Raw main event, no?
We got 30-ish minutes of Daniel Bryan wrestling.
Daniel Bryan VS Jack Swagger.
Daniel Bryan VS Antonio Cesaro.
Daniel Bryan VS Ryback.
Going into the match, I can say that I was questioning the build towards the WWE Title match at SummerSlam. To start Raw off, we had a segment involving John Cena, Bryan and the brand new General Manager of Raw, Brad Maddox. Maddox spent the entire segment essentially painting a picture of how Bryan wasn't a legit contender for the WWE Title. That Bryan was inadequate as a performer. That Bryan didn't "belong". Cena, on the other hand, seemed almost condescending in his praise of Bryan, saying that Bryan perhaps wouldn't be fighting for the WWE Title had he not been chosen, and calling Bryan an "unlikely source" of great competition for him, as the WWE Champion. The entire segment, the official contract signing for the SummerSlam match, just fell flat. Bryan remained over, of course, but with Maddox talking about him as though Cena had chosen Yoshi Tatsu to defend the title against, and with Cena not being fully believable in his role of being the pseudo "big brother", the picture was being painted that Daniel Bryan.. no matter how skilled, and no matter how popular with the WWE Universe.. was nowhere near John Cena's "level".
We got the announcement that Bryan would have an opportunity to prove he was "worthy", and that he would have a Gauntlet Match later in the show. What we got was something amazing. What we got was something incredible. What we got was a star-making performance for two people.. one who didn't really need it, and one who did.
In a sign of just how far Swagger has fallen in recent months, he was mowed through in a little less than three minutes. The Bryan VS Cesaro match, however, was something special. It was a flashback to their independent days. At times, the match looked much more like Bryan Danielson VS Claudio Castagnoli, with both men able to let loose and wrestle for nearly 20 minutes. Cesaro lost the match, but he opened the eyes of many, many people. As I browsed up and down my Twitter timeline, I saw a lot of comments along the lines of "Cesaro should be one of the next main event players after this", and I can't really disagree with that at all. I've been calling for him to be pushed for a while now. However, that's a different story for a different day.
A victory over Jack Swagger, followed by a victory in an amazing match (Television Match Of The Year candidate, without a doubt) over Antonio Cesaro, but then came Ryback. With as much crap as I've given Ryback's character recently, I was glad to see him booked to be the mean, angry, nasty version of Ryback, instead of the whining, crying, soft version. That made the match more interesting. Coming off of back-to-back matches, wrestling for over 20 straight minutes, a tired Bryan now had to face off against an angry monster. One of the more telling signs was how the match began. Kicking things off, it was Bryan that wrestled angry. It was Bryan that was the aggressor. Even after a slobberknocker of a match with Cesaro, Bryan was still fighting. It was another back-and-forth match, but Bryan was so far under Ryback's skin that Ryback got himself disqualified by putting Bryan through a table at ringside.
Bryan had successfully made it through the Gauntlet, albeit as he was writhing in pain in the ruins of a broken table. Three matches. Three opponents. Three styles. There was such a buzz in the arena when it was all over. Bryan had surely proven himself, right?
Recently, TNA presented an "underdog" storyline with Chris Sabin, and for good reason. Sabin has been with the company for years, and has remained over, both as a singles wrestler and as a member of the Motor City Machine Guns with Alex Shelley. However, what was a good idea, in theory, was executed with all the grace of a man falling out of his wheelchair and tumbling off the side of a mountain to his untimely death. They had Sabin win the X-Division Title, then lose the X-Division Title, then win the X-Division Title back, then give up the X-Division Title to get his World Title shot, all within a three week span. They rushed him from a forgotten X-Division wrestler to the #1 Contender for the World Title almost overnight, and wouldn't even let him pick up a bunch of wins in a row to build momentum. Then came the match itself, where Sabin needed a ref bump and some heel-like cheating tactics to win the match and the title. That doesn't really make him look strong, and now, just about everyone fully expects Sabin to drop the title back to Bully Ray right away. The company wanted to deliver an "underdog" storyline, and they botched it from the jump.
This is WWE's "underdog" storyline, but there are already some differences. Bryan's rise to the #1 Contender spot has been a slow burn, with Bryan going from losing the World Title at WrestleMania 28 and making his way back up by taking a side road through the tag team ranks. He has been on a roll lately, winning some high-profile matches and building momentum as we creep closer to SummerSlam. Whether Bryan is victorious at SummerSlam or not isn't the point here. WWE is building a star, and things appear to be falling into place nicely.
The one fly in the ointment, so to speak, is Cena coming out to make the save after Ryback put Bryan through the table. Earlier in the night, during a backstage segment, Bryan told Cena not to come out and "help" him in any way, because if he did, it would prove that he didn't mean any of the nice things that he had to say during the contract signing. Moving forward, I want to see how Bryan responds to Cena "coming to his rescue". You would think the next move is to have Bryan get mad at Cena, in what would be something of a continuation of the "weak link" schtick. From there, it's anybody's guess. Will we start to see some hints of jealousy from Cena in the coming weeks? No, not a heel turn, but simple jealousy over Bryan's crowd reactions. How will the Bella Twins come into play, if at all?
With three episodes of Raw to go until SummerSlam arrives, I can say that I'm completely caught up in this story and the epic journey of Daniel Bryan. That's the entire point, isn't it? We could very well be in the midst of something special that could change the game completely. I'll be back to write about this entire thing again, at least once more, before SummerSlam, but for the time being.. my body is ready, WWE.
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