Hey everybody, Geddy Cahoon here with another edition of The Cahoon Run Down. This week, I want to talk about something that I’ve been bringing up for a while now: Daniel Bryan. However, instead of essentially restating “Daniel Bryan rules and I am gay for him” for the 6000th time, one of my faithful readers suggested that I write a Column about WWE’s aversion to pushing superstars that are not “Home grown.” In other words, they don’t want the fans to like the people that they don’t tell them to like. It’s an intriguing, somewhat maddening concept, and it’s one that we’ve seen a lot over the course of the past year or two, but it reaches back even further. Unless you have a gimmick and name that WWE ok’ed, you probably won’t be getting pushed.
The biggest example of this… “Phenomena” right now is obviously the inexplicable rise of Daniel Bryan. Don’t get me wrong; I love the guy. I always have. And it does strike me as a bit… Odd… That he had to wait until he lost the belt in an embarrassing manner to get such a great reaction. I was at the RAW two weeks before ‘Mania. The crowd hated him. Or maybe they always loved him, and just booed him for the hell of it. I don’t know. Point is, now he’s arguably the most over guy in the company. He’s definitely the most entertaining thing in WWE right now. People are speculating that YES! is going to replace What? as the go to “Irritated crowd” chant. However, WWE was not pleased when Daniel Bryan’s popularity first exploded. In fact, it seemed as though they were downright pissed. I like Sheamus as well, and so do a lot fans, but apparently everyone just likes Daniel Bryan more. It’s partly the fault of the fans, who should’ve been more vocal about it, but whatever.
Basically, in the few post-WrestleMania weeks that the chants were becoming very prevalent, WWE made Bryan a new shirt and thought that that would be the end of it. They kept speculating that the hype would die down, and that by week 2, D-Bry would be back to being a hated heel. That didn’t happen. So, rather than embrace his new found popularity, WWE actually tried to make the fans hate him more! He verbally abused his girlfriend, and they even did an angle where he told the fans to “Stop mocking him.” WWE even confiscated D-Bry signs at RAW, allegedly. I get that when someone’s a heel you want them to be a heel, but if it’s a sure thing like this clearly is, why not just give the fans what they want? It’s because WWE wants fans to act the way they tell them to. They don’t want you to cheer Bryan Danielson, the best wrestler on the planet. They want you to boo Daniel Bryan, the abusive jerk. Because THEY crafted Daniel Bryan. It’s a weird sort of ego thing that permeates the company.
CM Punk is another guy who was affected by this. Now of course, CM Punk is currently the company’s top dog, and that occurred without him changing his name or gimmick one bit since the Indies, really. But with Punk it’s really more about how much he had to claw and fight to get to this position. Sure, he got pushed back in 2008 and ’09, but clearly nothing came of that. I mean for god’s sake, he jobbed in a tag title match to Big Show and Kane last year! WWE also let him wallow in the undercard of SmackDown in the SES for a long time. WWE even fumbled the Nexus underneath him, and that team had a ridiculous amount of potential.
They were both entertaining angles, but they didn’t exactly help anybody. People have always loved CM Punk, or loved to hate him when he’s a heel. It’s almost like, until this past Summer when we got the most amazing angle of 2011, WWE would intentionally yank the rug out from under Punk because of his roots, regardless of the reaction he got. “Oh you know this guy because of RoH or TNA or some Indie promotion? Well too bad he’s gonna job to Orton at ‘Mania now.” WWE is paranoid about people leaving them for some other wrestling promotion. It’s never gonna happen. Hate them or love them, you can’t argue that any of those other promotions offers anything close to what WWE offers. But Vince and creative are still paranoid, so they basically kept screwing CM Punk over until they found an angle that was purely based in WWE, which would ensure that Punk’s most prominent mark on the history books would be WWE-related.
This obviously isn’t a recent thing; WWE pretty much did the exact same thing to almost all of the WCW and ECW talent that came over in the Invasion storyline. A lot of those guys wallowed in midcard nothingness for their entire WWE tenures. But a few of them also made it to the very top. Among those stars that would eventually be elevated was one Booker T. Booker T is one of the most entertaining wrestlers WWE has ever had. He’s got a great personality, and can really go in the ring for a guy his size. His catchphrase will be forever remembered in the wrestling world: “The Five time, five time, five time, five time, five time WCW Champion!” And yes, Booker was one of WCW’s top stars. What happened when he came to the WWE though?
Well, he kicked around the midcard for a while, jobbed to HHH at WrestleMania 19. His most memorable moments from this period include a partnership with Goldust and a US championship run. Clearly, WWE had no plans for this relatively talented, well-known performer. Then… He won the King of The Ring. He became King Booker. Or, King BookAH if you want to say it how Booker used to say it himself. Now, that was a ridiculous gimmick. It was kind of entertaining, but it mostly just annoyed the crap out of me. He had his own stable, but even that was kind of a joke. It was made up of former WCW star Fit Finlay, and William Regal. But, as King Booker, Booker T won his first and only WWE World Championship. The far less annoying and more well-known normal Booker T never achieved anything close to that. WWE wouldn’t do anything with the guy until he was THEIR guy. The Booker T you all knew was not a WWE champ. WWE’s Booker T was a champ.
Finally, we reach the bottom of the proverbial barrel. Zack Ryder. This past Summer, jobber heel Zack Ryder started his own youtube show. Word around the internet wrestling community spread relatively quickly that it was entertaining, and everybody jumped on the Ryder bandwagon. For weeks and weeks, nothing happened with it. He was not featured any more prominently on television than he had been before, or anything like that. Finally, after a couple months, Ryder started appearing on TV, and seemed to be getting pushed. Eventually, Ryder even captured the US title. It seemed that WWE really was listening to the fans for once. Then… He just kind of fell off the radar. He was US champ for like 5 minutes, and now he’s just a jobber again. WWE changed their plans with him. Now with Ryder, it wasn’t inexplicable. As soon as he won the belt, all of the people who claimed to be “fans” didn’t even watch RAW. It clearly showed them that perhaps internet popularity doesn’t translate into real popularity. Even though I don’t like him, however, I feel as though he should have a semi-prominent role of some sort. Maybe don’t put a title on him just yet, but fans do respond relatively positively to him, and involving him a little bit more could probably get him a little bit more over, and thus maybe people wouldn’t tune out when he becomes champ again.
Ultimately, I think WWE just wants us to like who they tell us to like. It wasn’t on their books to push Zack Ryder, so they responded negatively when fans started liking him. Booker T was molded and changed past recognition before he even got a title. CM Punk had a legacy that didn’t really include the WWE, so he got treated like shit, or pushed too early. And D-Bry signs were confiscated at RAW because we like a guy we’re not supposed to. However, the story doesn’t end too badly. Obviously, WWE has now embraced Daniel Bryan. He got a new shirt and he’s about to enter into a program with Punk, it seems. Punk is and will be the top guy for the foreseeable future. Booker T will probably be in the Hall of Fame soon enough. Ryder still has a ways to go, however. It’s possible that he could be pushed, but WWE could go either way with it. It seems that they have this mentality that what they say goes, and it takes a lot of time and fan support to chip away at that.
I hope you enjoyed this read. Post your comments below! Talk articles, wrestling, or action figures! Email me (hahahahawhy@Yahoo.com) or friend me on Facebook (Nodq Geddy Cahoon). Be sure to check out the other sites I write for: NoDQ.com, and QuickWrestlingNews.com. Also check out my website, Nerd World Country! Until next time, thanks for reading!