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B-Level Effort to Promote an A-Level Star

WWE
“May you live in interesting times.”

Remember when both babyfaces and heels were pushed as strong & talented? Apparently if you watch both WWE & TNA weekly television shows, it’s a lost art. Must be an outdated concept. The only thing scarier than discovering that Dixie Carter watches WWE TV every week and tries to recreate it on her TV show is the fact that WWE is apparently watching weekly TNA shows and recreating some of TNA’s booking on their programming now. Of all the lessons to learn from TNA, that is the very last lesson I would ever encourage WWE to learn.

Dixie Carter spent weeks burying AJ Styles as “The Marginal One” and ran him down as a B-level failure of a star who would be living in a trailer park if it wasn’t for daddy’s money. She even had a rather unique contract signing where Bully Ray ran down AJ Styles as someone about to face Hard Times like Dusty Rhodes and had a briefcase with $50,000 to anyone who could injure Styles so he wouldn’t make it to Bound for Glory.

Naturally, she decided to run a PPV on the same night as Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis. Naturally, she decided that with all of the money that she is losing that it was time to insert herself into TNA storylines as the company’s top heel. The end result was empty seating on camera for Bound for Glory. AJ Styles got his win but the fans sent a message to TNA management that burying a wrestler for no legitimate reason is not a way to build a groundswell of support.

Scarily, WWE finds itself in a race with TNA as to which promotion can bury their top babyface worse. Week after week, Daniel Bryan is trashed as a bearded midget who gets laid out and beaten up. And then when it comes time for revenge after getting screwed, it’s always someone else who gets the first shot in (see: Big Show). I’ll give WWE credit for being consistently stubborn in not letting Daniel Bryan stand on his own two feet. However, their kind of stubbornness is the kind that you see when someone is repeatedly banging their head into a wall and not understanding why they are suffering from concussion-like symptoms.

At least Daniel Bryan gets to wrestle against guys like Dean Ambrose instead of Garett Bischoff.

The only encouraging news for Daniel Bryan is that at least he isn’t in the position Dolph Ziggler is in now. I can’t figure out who is getting shafted more by the AJ Styles booking treatment. It sucks all the way around.

We had Big Show threatening to sue The Authority… and no one cared. We had a pedestrian CM Punk promo which led us to a recreation of a recent RAW angle where Punk gets teamed up with a midcarder to face Ryback & Curtis Axel. Filling in for the merchandise-hawking R-Truth this week was Big E Langston, who Vince has a Brakkus-like hard-on for. Naturally, Langston beat up Axel and so Axel will get his return win on the pre-show Hell in a Cell PPV match. Dixie Carter called AJ Styles “the Marginal One” and Langston got labeled as a marginal wrestler on this show.

Then came the contract signing, which Dave Meltzer hinted WWE was inspired by from TNA’s contract signing last week. Shawn Michaels was like a protective big brother to Daniel Bryan, mocking how Hunter doesn’t know how to have fun any more. Hunter spent his time saying that he only feuded with stars because stars only care about other stars, which somehow means Daniel Bryan isn’t a star despite the fact that he’s headlining all these PPVs lately. Then came the attack on Bryan by saying that he was in the same class as Edge, Chris Jericho, and RVD — second-tier babyfaces who just couldn’t break that glass ceiling.

“I wouldn’t waste my time fighting someone like you.”

Hunter went as far as saying that if Bryan, RVD, Edge, or Jericho were WWE main eventers that the company would have lost to Ted Turner’s WCW during the Monday Night Wars. Who the hell thought this was a bright idea to insert into a go-home PPV promo?

Then came Big Show driving a big rig to the arena to do the “Yes!” chant with Bryan to end the show. Not the same impact as Steve Austin driving the beer truck to spray Vince in the ring years ago, but a nice & touching moment… to put over Big Show and his buddy who he cost the title at Battleground a few weeks ago. For a guy who was supposedly fired, Big Show sure got plenty of air time at the beginning of RAW for his “satellite interruption” and for the show ending on Monday night. Shawn Michaels got as much time to promote his involvement in Hell in a Cell as Randy Orton did. The lack of confidence in letting Orton & Bryan stand on their own feet is staggering. Cena’s return is the culmination of WWE’s internal panic.

WWE fans are an extremely hearty bunch who will put up with endless BS in order to support truly talented wrestlers. However, it is so painful to watch management of both WWE & TNA in today’s era decide that the best way to build a guy up is to constantly burying him and give the cues to the fans that these guys who you are supposed to pay big money to watch on PPV really aren’t worth your time or trouble. It is the equivalent of hosting a beauty pageant with hot women and then bringing Kate Moss out and pointing out that the girls are ‘fat’ compared to her, so they must not measure up as super models.

Hell in a Cell, on paper, looks good. John Cena’s return vs. Alberto Del Rio. Punk vs. Ryback & Heyman in a cage. Bryan vs. Orton in a cage. The Rhodes clan vs. Shield vs. Usos for the tag belts. I have confidence in the wrestlers to deliver. What I don’t have confidence in right now is WWE management. I view them much the same way I view TNA management — they don’t know when the hell to get out of the way of the wrestlers and let them do their thing. Bound for Glory, on paper, looked great but turned out OK because of the booking & Dixie Carter’s need to constantly put herself over. We’re seeing similar problems, albeit to a slighter degree, with WWE. Hell in a Cell can be a great event if the wrestlers are given a chance to rise to the occasion. Unfortunately, the memories of how the Battleground PPV ended give me some cause for concern.

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  • Trey Doss

    it just goes to show wwe has no confidence in anyone other than cena

  • gta4801 .

    What is the problem with a heel insulting a face

  • puckdinah1

    i really felt that that promo didn’t just hurt bryan, it put orton in a bad light as well. so, in hunter’s eyes, bryan is beneath him, hes a B start…but its OK for orton to face him, but isn’t orton supposed to be a face of the company, in theory for the sake of this storyline?

    just didn’t like it. i know it goes with the overarching storyline of the authority and all, but it could have been fine to allow orton and bryan to shine without so much outside influence. though, i have to remind myself that orton’s promos are meh, and especially with HBK interjecting as well, it is all setting much larger things up.

    and based on hunter’s comments, could they be lining up a HHH/DB match? wouldn’t surprise me

  • Nick Turner

    I think what they are doing is trying to play to all the smarks. Using the rumor mill that is prevalent over Triple H’s personality. Which I for one think its true. But the problem is, is that all the smarks don’t view this as acting we view it as Triple H being his true self. Do I think his shots atJericho and Edge were over the line last night? Yes. But I don’t think their attacks on Bryan or the addition of Show and Michaels really hurts Bryan. We will have a champion at HIAC. It will probably be Orton. And they will continue this feud into Survivor Series where Hunter will face either Show or Bryan. He will probably face Bryan at the go home RAW and big show at the PPV. I can see how this comes off as burying Bryan and they are walking a thin line. But with Cena going for the WHC I don’t see how he will be injected into these story lines. The Authority will eventually fall at the hands of Vince and all the evil in the land will be vanquished. Bryan will have the title eventually. I don’t think they run the same risk as TNA. And if they do screw this up and bury Bryan it wouldn’t be the first time. But as much as I dislike Triple H as a person I think he is smart enough from a wrestling perspective to see this guy is talented and will be big money. I don’t think he would still be in the picture if he didn’t

  • TheHotDogKing1

    Best bet for WWE is for Cena to lose on Sunday…if Cena wins, that would be so Hogan 1990 era.

  • Joseph_Rocha

    Not that Daniel Bryan is being under-utilized but moments like these proveyou still cannot get the best out of him

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