A Family Affair

As WWE fans, we have been more than patiently waiting for the ascension of a new superstar to truly take the WWE by storm.  Someone that could truly dethrone John Cena as the next king of the mountaintop.   We caught a glimpse of this with CM Punk came through at Money In The Bank in 2011, though that was short-lived after Alberto Del Rio cashed in the following month at Summerslam after interference by the one and only, Kevin Nash.  Even when CM Punk was WWE champion and was the self-proclaimed, “Best In The World”, he never received the reaction like Daniel Bryan has over an extended period of time.  There are striking similarities between the ascension of both men, of which are a definite cause for concern as we head towards Summerslam.

John Cena was given the opportunity to choose his own opponent at Summerslam.  He stated he only wanted to face the best competition WWE has to offer, and he felt that was the bearded “dwarf” as so aptly put by Vince McMahon, Daniel Bryan.   Since that moment it has become not about Daniel Bryan or John Cena, but what Vince McMahon and HHH think is best for business.

Each of them are standing by their “guy”.  HHH wants to see Daniel Bryan succeed while Vince McMahon doesn’t think Daniel Bryan fits the mold of a typical WWE champion.  While an uncanny thought process to say the least, it really is a moment of art imitating life as Vince McMahon has gone on record numerous times to support the oversized, muscle-bound bodybuilder types as opposed to the smaller wrestler that what they lack in entertainment value, they make up for in their ability to wrestle.

While WWE is now known for being “sports entertainment”, there is still a desire from fans to forego the sheer entertainment and the over the top shenanigans that Vince McMahon constantly incorporates into WWE television and hope for WWE to focus once more on wrestling, the foundation of their company.  Yet it seems as if it is never enough for the McMahon family and company.

Being that it is the summer, it’s only appropriate that the McMahon family take part in its annual angle.  2010 was the supposed Summer of Punk, aligned with the unforgettable vote of no confidence for Vince McMahon followed by the vote of no confidence for HHH after the wrestler’s went on strike.  This lead ultimately to a match between Kevin Nash and HHH.

Last year was the epic battle between Brock Lesnar and HHH, with HHH’s arm being broken as Hunter was attempting to avenge the great name that is McMahon.  This culminated with a match between the two men at Summerslam, and once more at Wrestlemania.

Here we are once again, and Hunter and Vince McMahon have each chosen their guy to support in the wake of the midsummer classic known as Summerslam.  Each man will presumably be in the corner of each man making sure they protect their own personal interests.  But with the ascension of Daniel Bryan since the eighteen seconds hear round the world, is all of this really necessary?

Does WWE need to derail the push of Daniel Bryan by making this about what is best for the company rather than a superstar like Daniel Bryan succeed on his own merits?  This move to the top has been  more than a year in the making and it will all be halted because of the idea that the McMahons need to be included on television one way or another.  Daniel Bryan’s reactions today are far greater and much more consistent than that of CM Punk.  Daniel Bryan has many qualities that the crowd can relate with and it shows with the amount of support he has on a weekly basis.

CM Punk’s character, while successful in its own right, was for a very niche audience whether fans want to admit it or not.  His infamous promo in 2011 was catering to the IWC solely and his character is still played as that elitist and smarmy guy that will verbally berate you and destroy you in the ring as well (figuratively of course).  There is a demographic that has supported him, and he definitely earned his spot with his 434 day reign as WWE champion.  But he doesn’t have the universal charm that Daniel Bryan carries with him every time he enters the squared circle.

He is, perhaps, the ultimate underdog when it comes to WWE.  Despite his smaller stature, he doesn’t let anyone intimidate him.  Many consider him to be the best technical wrestler on the entire planet, and rightfully so.  He has had many great matches in the last year, and the gauntlet match against Antonio Cesaro was the second best match of the year on Raw behind Punk and Cena’s match for the right to main event Wrestlemania.

His size and stature also make him a more relatable figure.  He isn’t a muscle-bound Adonis and this works in his favor.  He isn’t out of shape by any means but he is closer to the shape and size of the average fan than the frame and size of John Cena.  He is today’s version of the WWE’s everyday man.  Let’s not forget about his beard either.

His beard, while it may appear unkempt and grotesque, it is a great feature that makes him stand out from the rest of the talent on the roster.  When it comes to appearance, it’s all about having something that allows the performer to stand out from the pack.  Whether it’s their look, their ring gear, entrance music or moveset, those qualities that make someone recognizable are very important to a wrestler’s success.

So why does WWE want to ruin a good thing when it’s right in front of them?  Clearly they haven’t gotten that far, but the same thing occurred during the summer of Punk and look how that turned out.  Vince McMahon went out of his way to make sure CM Punk didn’t leave Chicago with the title.  Despite his efforts, Punk was successful in doing so, thus resulting in the near-firing of John Cena before it was announced HHH was taking over for Vince McMahon.

Now it appears there is once again a power struggle at the top of WWE with Stephanie McMahon caught in the middle.  Why can’t WWE promote a match based on the merits of their own talent?  Despite what they may tell you in regards to HHH’s stance towards Daniel Bryan, the company has very little faith in him carrying them successfully.

It’s the same reason CM Punk hardly main-evented any PPVs while he was the WWE Champion, they had very little faith in him as a superstar.  They were willing to give him the belt, but WWE felt they were more comfortable with John Cena still closing out their shows despite not being the champion.  WWE desperately needs to pull the trigger on Daniel Bryan and allow him to reach the summit without anyone intervening whatsoever.

This story is not about the relationship between HHH and Vince McMahon.  This story should not be about corporate makeovers or having the CEO of the company standing in the ring to publicly humiliate it’s next potential face of the company.  That would be the equivalent of Dana White talking down his main event challenger that they didn’t deserve the match he himself put together because they looked a certain way or didn’t fit their UFC model.  Why would any salesman talk down their product in hopes of people purchasing it?  It doesn’t make sense whatsoever.

This match has the potential to be a defining moment for the WWE.  Just imagine, a superstar like John Cena, tapping out in the middle of the ring to Daniel Bryan.  It would be the ultimate ascension moment for an unlikely talent such as himself which would not have seen the success in WWE just ten years ago.  However, this match has the makings of a clustered finish with HHH and Vince McMahon both being involved to see that their parties win, thus creating an illegitimate finish thus stalling Daniel Bryan’s meteoric rise in the process.  Déjà vu will become the theme of Summerslam if that were to happen.

We truly are at a crossroads for WWE, a much similar one at that.  Will WWE turn in the proper direction and allow this story to bloom accordingly?  Or will they make a wrong turn and get lost on their way to their destination and refuse to ask for directions to get back on the right track?  We’ll only know at Summerslam, and by that point it might be too late for Daniel Bryan.