“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 Must be an outdated concept.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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