I’m about do to something I haven’t done in years: praise WWE’s booking. Amazingly, the company has achieved this booking renaissance by rehashing an old favorite storyline: the good guy vs. the evil authority figure.
The storyline involving Daniel Bryan and Triple H has been fantastic. Not only is Bryan receiving huge crowd reactions and getting over as a monster babyface in John Cena’s absence, but it also has elevated Triple H to mega-heel status and given fans someone to truly hate.
Since the Attitude Era, there are very few true heels in wrestling anymore. Sure, there are guys who want the audience to boo them, but few of them actually have the entire audience giving them heat. Either the heels are “cool” heels that the audience cheers (CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler), or they are heels that win every match they are in and therefore receive babyface reactions (Randy Orton).
However, Triple H has become a true heel. Someone who relishes in crowd heat and who has become so despised that people are almost begging to pay money to see him destroyed.
Forget Vickie Guerrero and her crowd heat—that was simply people wanting to drown someone out. The heat that Triple H is receiving is old-school, “someone kick this guy in the head” crowd heat. The last time I can remember a (semi) non-wrestler receiving this kind of heat was Vince McMahon.
Does that make Daniel Bryan Steve Austin?
Don’t get me wrong, Daniel Bryan and Steve Austin aren’t the same character at all and aren’t even the same kind of wrestler. Steve Austin is a legend and by no means is this article placing Bryan on the same level as Austin. However, there are similarities between the Texas Rattlesnake and Daniel Bryan.
First of all, the underdog role fits both guys perfectly. John Cena has beaten this “overcoming the odds” persona into the ground so many times that people got sick of it because Cena simply doesn’t look like the underdog. He looks like the captain of the football team who stole your girlfriend in high school.
Daniel Bryan looks like a guy who needs our help and support to be great. Steve Austin played the “normal guy” role and got sick of being pushed around and finally did something about it. Bryan works in the underdog role where Cena failed because the audience identifies more with Bryan than they do with Cena.
Let’s be honest here, John Cena is not a normal male. He’s what every guy wishes he was. People saw some of themselves in Steve Austin just like they see some of themselves in Daniel Bryan. Austin was the beer-drinking redneck who had a boss who needed a punch to the head. Daniel Bryan is a the undersized, not-that-attractive guy who gets picked on by people bigger than him even though he’s overqualified.
Steve Austin and Daniel Bryan are also similar because their storylines have given other talent the opportunity to get over with the crowd as well. Austin’s feud with Vince also made superstars out of The Rock and Mick Foley and introduced the Big Show to WWE.
Speaking of the Big Show, can you imagine the crowd reaction when he finally has enough of the McMahons and sucker punches Hunter? The place is going to come unglued. While he has to watch how much he cries (wrestling fans are not very forgiving about emotions), Show is playing his role very well, especially with the Dusty angle that was featured on the most recent edition of Raw.
I’m not saying that Daniel Bryan is going to go on and become the biggest draw in the history of wrestling like Steve Austin did. However, there are definite similarities that need to be pointed out. Successful wrestling angles don’t need to involve ladders, blood, tables or War Games (but that would be nice). They need to have human emotion and something that makes you relate to the babyface.
Right now, Daniel Bryan is the hottest babyface in wrestling and Triple H is the most evil heel. Forget Randy Orton. The money match right now is Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H, and people would pay huge money to see it just like they did Austin vs. McMahon.
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