Last month, I penned an article about Bray Wyatt’s return to the WWE after an extended hiatus and detailed the misuse of his character during his original run in the company. I also explained why I thought that management should run with the character to capitalize on the buzz that was created through the firefly fun house segments and “The Fiend” with an ominous persona on-screen.
After a rather bland Clash of Champions pay-per-view this past weekend, the pieces of the puzzle were put in place for the HIAC event with Seth Rollins set to defend the Universal title against the previously mentioned Wyatt in a cell match. The first thing that should be mentioned is that while the stipulation fits with the fiend gimmick in this situation, these type of pay-per-views remain mostly counterproductive because a gimmick match should be used to enhance a feud, not simply because of when a match is booked on the calendar. While Wyatt made a successful return to the ring and slimmed downed to generate the most momentum in his career since the writing team mismanaged his potential years ago, this booking of a title bout might simply be WWE brass trying to find a main event for the month of October instead of any actual plans for Wyatt or the championship picture. In a very similar fashion that the Braun/Rollins title contest had no solid storyline or reasoning behind it, what exactly is the logic for the Wyatt vs. Seth match at HIAC other than the company needs a main event for the show? Furthermore, how can a compelling angle be built in just three weeks?
Granted, the generic reasoning could be that Seth is the champion and every star wants the title because of its perceived prestige, but none of that was presented yet. Does Wyatt want the belt because it will allow him to reach more with his message? There must be something of substance as far as why this match-up is booked or some type of grudge between the two athletes or it will be just another generic main event to get the company through until Survivor Series.
Considering how over the character is with the audience and the dynamic elements used in its presentation, I think that if Wyatt is scheduled for a championship match then he has to win the title or it hinders the character.
Keep in mind, in theory a shot at the championship should be a peak position for a competitor’s push so if Bray does the job a month after he returned to the ring, where does he go from there? More specifically, if he’s used as just another challenger, how is that any progress from the position he was before he was repackaged?
The lack of progress is a major problem across the board for the company and one of the reasons that the product lacks any major hype. Brock Lesnar was pushed as the most dominate on the roster with the theory that it would eventually pay off to make Roman Reigns the star the organization wanted for the past several years. That didn’t happen and now Roman is more of less at the mid-card because he must be featured since the promotion invested a lot of time into his push, but he can’t necessarily be pushed at the top of the card again because of the risk of rejection from the fans. When Brock continued as champion, his lack of appearances made Raw difficult to book without the title to build angles around, and his formulaic matches saw most of the shine wear off with his repetitive move set. Speaking of formulaic, the build up and booking for the Brock/Seth match at Wrestlemania was very basic and lackluster, which was repeated just a few months later with the same angle for Summer Slam. Was Seth Rollins really a bigger star after the feud with Brock than he was prior to it? The bottom line is, did the Brock experiment really pay off, considering that he was paid millions for just a few appearances?
Similar to Wyatt, much of the same can be said for Braun Strowman’s path in recent years, he’s used to patch a spot or to get someone else over rather than be a priority for the writing team. Remember when Roman pinned Braun to become the number one contender a few years ago? How about the three-minute match when Lesnar pinned him last year in Saudi Arabia? The point being, when Braun was at the peak of being over with the audience, management didn’t run with it because it didn’t fit into their corporate agenda so at this point they’ve completely missed the boat with him. In fact, another than being used as just a reason to have a main event on the card, what was the point of the Braun/Rollins match at Clash of Champions? Again, there was nothing as far as a heated angle between the two to justify the build up of a title match.
As far as Seth Rollins, he’s undoubtedly a very talented competitor, but the way he was portrayed before and even after the Lesnar feud doesn’t put him in place to be a champion with a lot of momentum. His promos come across rather generic and he almost sounds like a whiny baby face that tries to pander to the crowd to get cheers. That being said, the terrible Baron Corbin/Lacey Evans tag matches did nothing to help establish Rollins with a fresh run after the Lesnar feud.
This is not to say that The Fiend will be the next Undertaker, but his early push after his debut at Survivor Series 1990 is somewhat comparable to The Fiend’s current status. Bray has a mystic aura around him and that is an aspect that can bring a buzz to Raw, something that is often lacking from week to week. The aura that Wyatt has should be protected and not made to look vulnerable because it would dilute the character. In some ways, management booked themselves into a corner because if Seth defeats Wyatt, it hinders one of the few gimmicks on the brand that has a continuous buzz around it, but at the same time, if Bray wins the championship, the writing team has to task to figure out how to book The Fiend gimmick as the champion within just a few months of his return to the ring.
I don’t think Bray Wyatt should be booked for the title picture yet because his persona has yet to be used on a weekly basis for matches, but if management is going to schedule the match then it’s the right move to let him win the championship. Perhaps, something completely different on Raw will help spark some hype around the brand. However, the bigger problem is the stale paint-by-numbers approach to the product that has led to a lack of anticipation for most of the angles. As I’ve said several times, WWE’s monopoly has unintentionally led to a level of mediocrity and complacency around the product. If anything, Seth Rollin’s rather lackluster title run and the company’s stale status ahead of the Fox debut prove the importance of competition in the industry.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
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