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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Randy Orton as WWE Champion and Where It Went Wrong with Daniel Bryan (+ Rumble Predictions)
By Mr. Tito
Dec 18, 2013 - 11:30:00 PM
During the course of the 2013 year, WWE Management heard the Daniel Bryan "YES!" chants often. The Creative Team, after Wrestlemania 29, was unable to deny Daniel Bryan his opportunity... Plans were beginning to be set in stone for a major Daniel Bryan title victory at SummerSlam 2013. As seen in the past, Vince McMahon likes to plan the end result of SummerSlam well in advance. Following Wrestlemania, storylines are put in place to eventually reach an end goal at SummerSlam. For example, Vince McMahon planned Alberto Del Rio walking out of SummerSlam 2011 as WWE Champion no matter what. Despite what the fans wanted with CM Punk's rise, Vince's plans went unchanged. 2012 was going to be headlined by a huge Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar match as another example.
Thus, the Daniel Bryan WWE title victory at SummerSlam was probably known to happen around late May 2013 or early June 2013 when Bryan was fully out of the Tag Team division and gaining steam from his singles matches. He was over and the fans chanted "YES!" loudly. Doesn't hurt that John Cena is dating Nikki Bella while Daniel Bryan has been dating Brie Bella. I wouldn't doubt that John Cena pulled for Bryan, possible brother-in-law in the future, and volunteered to lose 100% cleanly to Bryan at SummerSlam. And that's what exactly happened...
Then, Randy Orton cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase, Triple H turned heel, and Orton walked out of SummerSlam 2013 as WWE Champion.
Aside from the WWE Management's ongoing love affair with Randy Orton, I believe that you can pinpoint Bryan's eventual fall and Orton's sudden rise to one specific date: June 17th, 2013.
What is that date you ask? It was Monday Night RAW which featured a Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton in a no disqualification match. This was coming off the heels of the WWE Payback Pay Per View in which Orton and Bryan, as a tag team, were unsuccessful in defeating the WWE Tag Team Champions, the Shield. The expectations heading into this match was that Daniel Bryan would defeat Orton and begin his upward movement towards winning Money in the Bank 2013 and then challenging John Cena for a title shot at SummerSlam 2013. Seemed like the perfect build-up.
But something happened on June 17th, 2013... During the match, Daniel Bryan landed awkwardly on the outside. Bryan suffered a stinger or a brief jolt to his nervous system when he landed and it was enough to have WWE Trainers check him out. Reportedly, Triple H then made the executive decision to call the match out of concern for Bryan's health. The match ended and both Bryan and Orton made their way to the back.
Then, the fireworks started... Reportedly, as soon as Bryan arrived in the entrance way backstage and saw Triple H, Bryan reamed HHH for calling the match early. Most backstage were shocked because (a) Bryan is usually soft spoken and (b) nobody stands up to Triple H like that. Bryan was pissed that the match was called early, citing that he wrestled around the world for years and knew when he couldn't continue the match. I believe that Bryan might have blown his top because he knew that the match's outcome was favorable to him. The Bryan injury following 6/17/13 RAW and the Triple H blow up afterward made wrestling headlines back then but I believe many internet wrestling fans didn't see a trend about to unfold.
When I heard about Daniel Bryan yelling at Triple H, I thought "uh oh". Both Triple H and Stephanie have a reputation of not wanting to look bad backstage and also be the subject of gossip. Most WWE personnel, with few exceptions, are numb to Triple H and Stephanie because payback could hurt. Bryan yelled at Triple H backstage and in front of other personnel. I could imagine the multiple things said by Triple H to other WWE Creative Team members and Vince McMahon behind closed doors thereafter. But it wasn't until Money in the Bank 2013 that my fears were confirmed. WWE set up a "Money in the Bank All Stars" match for a shot at the WWE Title in which Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, Rob Van Dam, CM Punk, Sheamus, and Christian were participants at the Money in the Bank Pay Per View. The expectations were that Daniel Bryan would win the match...
But Randy Orton won that match and became the proud owner of the Money in the Bank briefcase...
Then, following the Money in the Bank PPV, John Cena was afforded the opportunity to select his SummerSlam 2013 opponent. Cena selected Daniel Bryan as his opponent, recognizing his epic rise during 2013 and Bryan being a new fan favorite. This would have been fine and dandy heading into SummerSlam 2013 but Randy Orton was not wrestling on that card. Worse yet, Triple H became the "special guest referee". The stench was quite strong of a screwjob heading into this show. In my opinion, it hurt some marketability of the Cena/Bryan main event because of the expectation that Orton would cash in. And cash in, he did! Orton walked out of SummerSlam 2013 as WWE Champion.
I believe that the June 17th, 2013 RAW match created the winds of change that replaced Daniel Bryan's push with Randy Orton's push. History shows that Vince McMahon favors wrestlers above 6'0" as his World Champions unless the wrestler is deemed extraordinary as a draw to make an exception. Daniel Bryan is billed as 5'10" by the WWE but several places online have him at around 5'8". Randy Orton, on the other hand, is above 6 foot at about 6'3", maybe 2". I would venture to guess that Vince McMahon watched that June 17th, 2013 RAW match and noticed the height difference rather quickly. Vince probably pondered "why am I pushing this smaller wrestler" but then heard the crowd chanting "YES!" and had to swallow his pride.
Then, Daniel Bryan yelled at Triple H for calling the match early. I believe that Vince McMahon's mind about Daniel Bryan began to change once he received word of Daniel Bryan going off on Triple H for calling the match early due to possible injury. Slowly but surely, Vince began to rethink his WWE Title plans and prepare for Randy Orton's return to the top. The first step was possibly rebooking Money in the Bank to give Orton the briefcase instead of Daniel Bryan. Reports at the time had Bryan as the heavy favorite to win the match. Then, Orton won... Fans and several top wrestling insiders were SHOCKED at the result. All but the infamous Reddit user Dolphins1925 who accurately predicted Orton's victory.
At a workplace, especially a corporate one, you have to be professional. Triple H, agree with him or not, made a call that he felt was in the best interest of the WWE and Daniel Bryan. What if Bryan was hurt worse than a stinger? WWE has a past of forcing wrestlers to work through injuries and it has left man wrestlers permanently impaired. WWE, like the NFL and MLB, is taking concussions very seriously right now. Triple H, as an executive, made a call with liability in mind. Daniel Bryan is a throwback to the tougher wrestlers who worked through injuries and had a badge of honor to complete all matches no matter what. The new corporate WWE mindset is clashing with the older wrestler mindset... Daniel Bryan made the Executive Vice President of Talent look bad in front of fellow employees... If Bryan had a problem, he should have arranged for a private meeting with Triple H and/or Vince.
But Bryan elected to be unprofessional at a corporate workplace and in my opinion, that caused Vince McMahon and Triple H to consider Randy Orton as a replacement for Daniel Bryan's WWE Title push.
Funny thing about Randy Orton, too... He has a history of issues with the WWE with a couple suspensions under his belt. However, his issues were either self-inflicted or affected non-executive personnel. To Vince and Triple H, he's still the son of "Cowboy" Bob Orton, a personal friend to Triple H, and a vaunted member of the Ohio Valley Wrestling "Class of 2002" like John Cena and Brock Lesnar. And Orton is above 6'0" tall and never told off a company executive in front of everyone.
In my opinion, the ship has sailed on Daniel Bryan. The blame for the recent ratings and weaker buyrates (particularly SummerSlam 2013) has fallen on Daniel Bryan's shoulders. In Vince's eyes, trying to push Bryan hard was a mistake and putting the title on Orton has been the only saving grace... Many are predicting that Daniel Bryan will win Royal Rumble 2014 and challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Title. Not I... I see Bryan as enhancement talent from here on out unless fans are overwhelming with response to the recent booking. Without much alternative in the wrestling world, you'll still watch WWE... WWE is destined to hold their 4 million per week number for RAW because you have no where else to go if you like pro wrestling.
Who knows what could have happened to Bryan if he didn't blow up on Triple H during the June 17th, 2013 edition of Monday Night RAW. WWE could have turned the injury from RAW into a positive and show that Bryan overcame an injury to seek revenge on Orton. Then, Bryan could possibly win Money in the Bank 2013 and win the WWE Title at SummerSlam 2013 without any threat of Randy Orton stealing his title. Maybe even a WWE Title reign... Still, Bryan is under 6'0"... Who would Bryan be allowed to beat after SummerSlam 2013?
Remember - Image is everything at your workplace, particularly in a corporate setting. It's not just how you reflect yourself but it's how make others look. If you embarrass someone higher up on the organizational chart, you'll pay dearly. Bryan may have squandered his WWE Title hopes by being unprofessional to a company executive on June 17th, 2013... The beginning of the end of the great Daniel Bryan.
*BONUS COLUMN* EARLY ROYAL RUMBLE PREDICTIONS
I've been asked repeatedly about the Royal Rumble 2014 and how it will be booked. Obviously, Randy Orton is the WWE Champion heading into this event. Who will he face? If I were a betting man, it's obviously going to be John Cena or Daniel Bryan. I wouldn't doubt that we'll see a 3 Way Match at Royal Rumble between Orton, Bryan, and Cena. The wildcard receiving a WWE Title shot is CM Punk. If the WWE wants to push the "Triple H vs. CM Punk" issue now, then the WWE could use Randy Orton as a pawn to keep Punk busy before Wrestlemania 30.
In my mind we'll see either Randy Orton vs. CM Punk OR a 3 Way Match with Daniel Bryan and John Cena. Hell, maybe a Fatal 4 way with Punk, Bryan, Cena, and Orton. But I believe that Randy Orton escapes Royal Rumble to remain WWE Champion to face the Rumble winner...
I believe that Brock Lesnar will win the Royal Rumble 2014. Why?
A short while ago, there was a report that WWE officials wanted Randy Orton vs. Brock Lesnar to occur sometime during 2013. I remember reading rumors about it possibly happening at Wrestlemania 29 and SummerSlam 2013, but the booking was changed to Triple H and CM Punk respectively. It has stuck in my mind that WWE Management, which I'm guessing Vince McMahon specifically, wants this match to happen because we've never really seen it with both Orton and Lesnar in their primes. Vince also appreciates the Ohio Valley Wrestling "Class of 2002" with Cena, Orton, and Lesnar lining his pockets as sort of a rebirth of the WWE after the Attitude Era.
Lesnar will be a surprise entrant (reportedly going to be booked at Rumble and Wrestlemania to wrestle for his last 2 wrestling dates on current contract) and win the 30 Man Rumble. Then, the WWE gets damn serious about Orton vs. Lesnar as a legitimate heavyweight singles match for Wrestlemania 30.
If my predicted scenario plays out, we're getting John Cena vs. Undertaker at Wrestlemania 30. Yikes!
Speaking of Wrestlemania, looks like we're definitely seeing either singles matches between CM Punk vs. Triple H and Daniel Bryan vs. Shawn Michaels, or a tag team match between CM Punk/Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H/Shawn Michaels. In my opinion, the tag team match seems more likely...
MR. TITO's REVISED Wrestlemania 30 PREDICTIONS
-Randy Orton (c) vs. Brock Lesnar for WWE World Heavyweight Title
-Undertaker vs. John Cena
-Triple H/Shawn Michaels vs. CM Punk/Daniel Bryan
-AJ Lee (c) vs. Tamina Snuka
My predictions are very much subject to change, as are WWE Creative's plans.
But one thing is for certain... WWE has placed all of their chips on Randy Orton to carry this company. All lower ratings and buyrates should create accountability, but it won't.
Comments and debates are welcome on Twitter. Bring it on. @titowrestling
SO JUST CHILL TILL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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