Looking At If WWE Is Listening To Their Audience
The WWE network launched this week and it’s estimated that a few hundred thousand subscribers have already signed up for it in just a few days. There have been some technical glitches, but it’s a common problem with new technology that will probably be fixed during the free trial that the WWE is offering fans for the launch of the network. After the result of the Elimination Chamber and the subsequent announcement on Raw this past week, Randy Orton vs. Batista was confirmed for the main event of Wrestlemania. Speaking of the biggest event of the year on the WWE calender, it’s included for the initial six month package of the WWE network at $9.99 a month so it seems like the fans will get their money’s worth. However, if the WWE is going to give the fans their money’s worth, I have to ask, why isn’t Daniel Bryan wrestling for the title at Wrestlemania?
The crowd nearly booed Batista out of the building at the Royal Rumble, not because he won the match, but mostly because Daniel Bryan didn’t win it and he wasn’t even in the actual Rumble. Follow that with the crowd chanting “Bootista” at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view and the reaction after the Chamber match, you have to wonder, does the WWE actually listen to the audience? Obviously, the crowd wanted to see Bryan in the main event of Wrestlemania, but the WWE has other plans. Despite the “Yes!” and “Daniel Bryan” chants on a weekly basis, the WWE seems like they will book Bryan vs. Triple H at Wrestlemania. Considering the outrage after the conclusion of the Rumble match and the reaction Bryan gets from the audience, you have to wonder why would the WWE continue to bury the wrestler getting the most reaction from the crowd?
Well, I don’t know the answer and the crowd response to a Batista vs. Randy Orton feud will probably remain hostile. If I had to guess, I would say that pushing Bryan isn’t in the WWE’s plans and any amount of crowd response probably isn’t going to change it. Again, this is just a guess, but a Wrestlemania main event might be apart of Batista’s deal to return to the company so that could be another reason Bryan is being buried. This might be a case of the WWE wants the stereotypical type of champion and Bryan doesn’t fit the mold, which is very similar to the CM Punk situation from a few years ago. Punk left the company after the Royal Rumble , but at this point what can Daniel Bryan do to get the credit he deserves? He’s the most over performer in the company and is one of the best in ring talents on the roster so what else can he possibly do to get the spot he deserves?
When there was the Triple H heel turn at Summer Slam, I mentioned that it was an angle that could make Bryan a bigger star and he could be a PG version of Austin vs. the corporation with Bryan chasing the title. However, instead of Daniel Byran getting the win to validate his status as a main event performer, the WWE booked a series of non finishes on PPV and then booked the Big Show in a title match at Survivor Series that had the crowd chanting “boring” during the show. As ridiculous as it sounds, it seems like the WWE is doing everything they can to actually minimize Bryan’s spot in the company because if he was going to be booked to finally get a title win, it would have happened during the Orton feud. There wasn’t a come back or a major pay off for the heat and if anything, the conclusion of the Orton feud, demoted Bryan from the main event scene back to the mid card. At this point, you have to wonder if the Triple H feud is a way for the WWE to keep Bryan busy while Batista and Orton feud for the title.
There’s a difference between heat for a heel and fans that are disappointed with the product. The heel heat was the swerve at Summer Slam where Triple H selected Orton as champion, but there was no come back or pay off for it. The reaction after the Rumble match was the fans that were disappointed that Bryan wasn’t even in the match and it could sour a lot of fans on the product. At this point, even if the WWE would book Bryan into the title picture it won’t have the same reaction as a Rumble win. The WWE had an opportunity to give Bryan a push and give the under dog get the credit he deserved, but it didn’t happen.
Let’s be clear here, Daniel Bryan is over with the WWE audience and it’s not just a bunch of jaded smart marks complaining about the WWE on the internet. The WWE audience wants to see Bryan in the main event picture and he should be, but he probably won’t get further up the card than the mid card. Again, you have to ask, why? This type of booking, where the WWE basically ignores the audience is the result of lack of competition in the wrestling business. The bottom line is, if people want to watch wrestling on national TV, they will watch Raw and the WWE can basically book anything they want because there’s not another option. Do you think if WCW still had a show head to head with WWE, the most over performer in the company would be minimized? The Attitude era was a boom period for wrestling because each company had to present what the fans wanted to see or they would change the channel to the competition.
Another aspect of this is another star returns to the company and goes directly to the main event of Wrestlemania. Don’t get me wrong, Batista has name value, but should he automatically main event the biggest show of the year? Regardless, if it draws money, why not? If the WWE is going to draw major money for the Batista vs. Orton main event at Wrestlemania, why wouldn’t they book it? The bottom line is, until there’s competition for the WWE or people don’t match Raw, there will probably be similar storylines. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t watch the product because it’s ridiculous to think that if a few people don’t tune into Raw that it will change the direction of the product and the smart marks that claim that won’t watch the product until Bryan wins the title are probably the same people that paid for the WWE network. As long as Raw gets ratings and fans pay for a network subscription, why wouldn’t the WWE book the product they want for the audience? If it draws money, there’s no reason for the WWE not to book it so the crowd can chant “Yes!” but it doesn’t make a difference what they chant, as long as they are buying tickets. The WWE has a lot of talent and mostly a good product, but it’s somewhat disappointing that the WWE’s monopoly of the wrestling industry keeps Daniel Bryan on the mid card when the audience wants to see him in the main event. Bryan vs. Triple H is the consolation prize for the audience and despite it being disappointing that he isn’t in the main event scene, it should be extremely interesting to see the crowd reaction for the Batista vs. Randy Orton match at Wrestlemania.
What do you folks think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
That’s My Story and I’m Sticking To It
E mail firstname.lastname@example.org | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta
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