Thursday, December 26, 2013

Yes! Yes! Yes!



I'm glad that I live in a world where professional wrestling fans can give a collective "fuck you!" to the establishment by showing their support for the 2013 version of the "people's champ." When The Rock coined that phrase for himself back in the late '90s, the irony was that he was actually the "machine's" champ - to steal a phrase from Colt Cabana.

In a perfect world, the stars align and the crowd appoints a new superstar. The WWE brass hears the audience and acts accordingly. Perhaps the biggest example is the rise of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. In 1996, he was a "heel," a bad guy. He did what he was doing and the crowd decided they liked it. A natural gestation period happened and by 1998, Austin was the hottest thing going, leading the last professional wrestling boom period and becoming a pop culture phenomenon. 

We all know the back story: Daniel Bryan was trained by Shawn Michaels and became the biggest indie star of the last decade. For the longest time, his reputation was going to be that he was the biggest star to never make it to the "big time." But, then, WWE came calling and he signed.

Similar to Austin, Daniel Bryan was a heel in 2012 and the "WWE Universe" decided that they wanted to cheer him. They enjoyed his heel bit where he would cheat to win and then over-dramatize his efforts by loudly chanting "Yes! Yes! Yes!" like he had actually done something worthwhile.

The WWE responded to this backlash of Bryan supporters by changing his character. Instead of a happy-go-lucky bad guy who chanted "Yes!" he was transformed into a cranky, angry bad guy who chanted "No! No! No!" He was also in the process of growing his beard out, prompting the announcers to make fun of him by making idiotic "goat-face" references.

It got to the point where WWE couldn't silence the fans. He finally made the switch to "Yes!" chanting good guy in the first half of 2013. He was the underdog that everybody loved. Then, finally, his moment in the sun was to arrive: SummerSlam 2013, he was announced as challenging John Cena for the WWE Championship. This was the battle of WWE's champion vs the people's champion. The sports entertainer in Cena vs the wrestler in Daniel Bryan.

There was one factor going into this match that intrigued a lot of people. Cena had a noticeable elbow injury and rumors abounded that he needed surgery. You can't be out of action and be WWE Champion, so this match with Bryan could see him dethrone the top star and become the champ.

There was one bad omen that we were all trying to ignore: Randy Orton and his "Money in the Bank" contract, which means that somebody can receive a world title shot anytime they want. A loophole in the contract basically means that somebody can cash it in whenever, including on an opponent that has just been beaten down and is thus easy prey.

Nobody really expected Daniel Bryan to come out of SummerSlam as champ. People really only expected two options: Randy Orton to beat Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam after a fluke victory over Cena or Cena to win and then lose to Orton the next night on Monday Night Raw.

What actually happened was amazing. Daniel Bryan defeated Cena clean and was awarded the title. It was such a happy moment for professional wrestling fans.



Until...

Randy Orton won the title. That set off the "Randy Orton is in cahoots with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon" storyline that nobody really wants to see. Randy Orton has been pushed as the top guy since 2004. I'm tired of it. A lot of other people are, too. The problem is that WWE markets toward kids now, and those kids will accept whatever WWE tells them to accept.

Or, so they thought. They did the obligatory Bryan-Orton rematches and had Orton cheat to retain each time. Then, they pushed Bryan to the backseat in order to give us what they thought we wanted to see - Randy Orton vs John Cena. Or, what people with a memory will recall is the main WWE feud of 2008 all over again.

Which leads us to the moment above. Triple H was leading a ceremony in the ring featuring all the former WWE & World champions on the roster. It was about Randy Orton and John Cena. But, the crowd hijacked the moment and made it about Daniel Bryan.

They initially started chanting and Triple H tried to talk over them, hoping they'd quiet down. They didn't. He then stopped, hoping they would stop. That didn't work. Shawn Michaels tried to play "peacekeeper," jokingly stepping in and telling the crowd to quiet down. That didn't work. Mark Henry held Bryan's hand up, and then made a "cut" motion across his throat, hoping that they would applaud quickly at the mention of the chant and then stop. It didn't happen.

One of the best Monday Night Raw moments of the year. I hope it goes somewhere. I'm not holding my breath, though.

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