Up to this point, a majority of WWE fans have disliked the state of the main event at WrestleMania 30. As it stood two weeks ago, the main event for WrestleMania 30 was WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton versus Batista for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (WWE WHC). Whether one is a Daniel Bryan fan or not, the lackluster return of Batista (although it has improved since he has turned heel) and Batista’s apparent “ring rust” since returning, and Orton’s recently uninteresting character do not make for a compelling main event. However, as of two weeks ago, the power of the fans prevailed, the WWE folded its hand, and the fans collected, as Daniel Bryan has entered WrestleMania 30 emphatically.
Although non-wrestling fans often hold a steadfast, preset view of wrestling’s scripted component, they must realize that what is currently happening with Daniel Bryan is not an elaborate plan from the get-go, but indicative of the immense adaptability of the WWE. Let me provide a brief preface for the current state of the main event at WrestleMania. Over a month ago, CM Punk left the WWE. Punk’s departure was not part of a contrived story – Philip “CM Punk” Brooks left the company for reasons that are still not fully known. Punk was originally set to face COO Triple H at WrestleMania 30, rumored to lose that match. At that point, Daniel Bryan was not in the WWE WHC picture, and the reaction that fans were assumed to have to Batista was positive. Batista versus Orton for the WWE WHC would have been the main event, period. With the fans’ rejection of Batista and absolute support of Bryan, along with Punk’s departure, the WWE had no choice but to quell its intense backlash from the fans by giving them what they want. The current events that have transpired as a result of the fans’ reactions is what separates professional wrestling from any other sport or form of entertainment; the fans actually can enact change.
Today, Daniel Bryan has the opportunity to be in the main event of WrestleMania 30 and win the WWE WHC. Bryan’s triumph at WrestleMania would be the ultimate pay-off to the millions of fans who have been chanting, “Yes!” since August 2013 at SummerSlam. The “on the fly” change of the angle (i.e. storyline) with Daniel Bryan and the WWE WHC began two weeks ago on Raw when Daniel Bryan came out to the ring and stated that he would not leave until he got a match against Triple H at WrestleMania 30. “We are going to occupy Raw,” exclaimed Bryan. Suddenly, fans of the “Yes Movement” began to enter and surround the ring, all wearing the same Daniel Bryan “YES” t-shirt.
With over a hundred fans and Daniel Bryan chanting, “Yes!” and standing their ground in the ring, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, The Authority, came out and told Bryan to stop his charade and get out of his ring. Through refusal, Triple H ordered security to stop it, but the officials were outnumbered. Triple H then ordered the next match to begin as Damien Sandow walked out, explaining to Triple H that he can’t wrestle with hundreds of fans in and out of the ring. McMahon quickly grew irate with the fans chanting, “Yes!” and Triple H followed suit. After some time, Triple H gave in to Bryan’s demands and granted him the match at WrestleMania 30. Of course, Bryan wanted “just one more thing”: if he could beat Triple H, he would be inserted into the WWE WHC main event at WrestleMania. An enraged Triple H hastily agreed and demanded Bryan to “get the hell out of [his] ring.” The fans chanted, “Yes!” and after the commercial break, the “Occupy Raw” movement was over, and the fans (and Daniel Bryan) got what they wanted.
WWE’s plans for WrestleMania 30 were not what they intended, but with the fans’ persistence, WWE’s plans are now what the fans intended: Daniel Bryan is facing Triple H at WrestleMania, and if Bryan wins, he will be inserted into the main event for the WWE WHC. On this week’s Raw, Triple H confronted Orton and Batista who had little confidence in Triple H’s ability to defeat Bryan, and Triple H stated that if he beat Bryan, he would insert himself into the main event. The move by Triple H adds another layer of complexity to this story, and despite its haphazard beginnings, it manages to get better by the end of Raw. Now, bear with me for a moment, because this does require proper explanation.
Daniel Bryan was scheduled to face WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton in a no disqualifications match. The match was excellent, and at the end, Orton entered the ring with a steel chair, ready to strike Bryan, when Batista speared Orton, was kicked out of the ring by Bryan, and Bryan pinned the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Batista then hit the Batista Bomb on Orton and solidified his place in the main event. Later in the night, at the very end of Raw, Triple H called out Bryan to address him “man-to-man.” Triple H explained that his treatment of Bryan was not personal, but “best for business,” and that he respects Bryan. After their exchange, Triple H exited the ring before being confronted by his wife, Stephanie McMahon. McMahon disliked how Triple H handled the scenario, favoring a more vindictive approach, and seven cops that handcuffed him and held him down in the center of the ring arrested Bryan. Triple H explained that the officers should stop, because they “aren’t even real cops,” and told them to leave; he then said, “I’m going to enjoy doing this myself.” What followed next was visibly hard to watch, even for a fan who knows the ins and outs of the professional wrestling industry like myself. The beat-down that Triple H delivered to Bryan for over ten minutes was simply brutal. I won’t delve into the details, but look that up if you’re curious. Some highlights include Triple H keeping Bryan’s head in a bucket of water ringside, throwing him into the barricade, and finally hitting him with a steel chair as Bryan’s head was propped against the steel post.
The fans changed the direction of WrestleMania 30 for the better. WWE was forced to listen, and the executives of the company should be glad they did. Now, the WWE is perfecting an angle forced by the fans, and has instantaneously become one of the more compelling stories in WWE history, let alone television (this is not hyperbole). It is a story that has spanned August 2013 to now, and regardless of its ending, will undoubtedly be satisfying at WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans.
For your weekly dose of professional wrestling, check out “The Stute Smackdown” every week, only in The Stute; and keep chanting, “Yes!”