It’s even easier to figure out when the fans are telling you who to push by voting in your own awards ceremony.
Why WWE chose Seattle of all places for a go-home Raw show to promote a unification title match between John Cena & Randy Orton while the company continues to dither around with Daniel Bryan, nobody is sure. However, the screaming (literally & figuratively) optics of crazy Seattle fans protesting “YES! YES! YES!” and “NO! NO! NO!” (to Bray Wyatt) on the Slammy 2013 awards show was the absolute perfect example of what’s wrong with WWE.
Bret Hart, Mick Foley, and Shawn Michaels made cameo appearances. John Cena and Randy Orton spent the final segment pushing their upcoming PPV title match and the Seattle fans largely sat on their hands, albeit with some polite pops on occasion for Cena quips. Orton drew little heat for claiming that he took years off the life of Mick Foley and humiliated Shawn Michaels. Cena pulled Foley cheap heat out of his ass by using some Daniel Bryan promo spots.
And CM Punk stood in the ring staring at the proceedings as both Cena & Orton shook hands before they started going after each other with the wrestlers, past and present, holding the two men from further attacking each other. Then Punk attacked Orton and Hunter threw Punk around before Punk decked him and Michaels laid out Punk with a kick. Bryan got his revenge (?!?!?) from Michaels screwing him over in the Orton title match by laying out HBK with the knee. Orton tried an RKO on Bryan and Stephanie ended up taking a bump. Hunter got pissed and gave Orton the pedigree.
And then the fans started chanting “Daniel Bryan!” over and over while the cameras focused on Orton in the corner for his Sunday PPV match. You couldn’t possibly draw up a better example of a scenario where WWE’s focus is completely different than the focus of the fans in terms of what they want to see the company’s direction be.
Sending a message, loud and clear
WWE’s philosophy of being a top-down command control operation flies in the face of why the Daniel Bryan phenomena grew in the first place. His appeal is organic, based on a bottom-up revolution from fans disgusted with the stereotypical cookie cutter wrestlers that WWE likes to rely on so often to push in corporate marketing campaigns. It’s why the fans voted Daniel Bryan as Superstar of the Year.
When John Cena did the right thing and gave Daniel Bryan the rub at Summerslam, WWE had a big opportunity to cash in. Instead, they continued to find every which way possible to screw over Daniel Bryan and blame poor PPV buy rates on him and not their horrific booking. They gave the fans the middle finger and tried to bury a dream in the process. WWE decided to play it safe and go back to their old veteran hands, John Cena and Randy Orton, because they sell merchandise to kids and women. And as the process of trying to bury Daniel Bryan and blame him for his woes continued, the fans at live events were sick and tired of being told what to believe.
So, as WWE pushes onwards and upwards with John Cena, Randy Orton, and Triple H, CM Punk will get thrown a bone and Daniel Bryan will be upper mid-card. What the Seattle fans did on Monday night was take over the show on live TV and say, no, your PPV programs suck right now and the guy you should be giving the vote of confidence is Daniel Bryan. And nobody in WWE could do anything about it. Call it a protest vote of no confidence in Vince McMahon, the Authority, or status quo in WWE. It’s why Daniel Bryan won the Fan Participation Award for his “Yes!” chant.
I’m sure the powers-that-be will soon take credit for making Daniel Bryan into the big fan favorite that he is. They have no other choice but to reject the truth because the truth exposes just how wrong they have been in terms of determining the company’s direction heading in 2014. They’ll blame Daniel Bryan for bad PPV buy rates and low TV ratings but they won’t give him the credit when he channels the voice of today’s frustrated wrestling fan and turns it into a positive. He may not win any title belts any time soon but I guess fan awards will have to make do.