Monday, April 2, 2012

18 Seconds Prove WWE Still Doesn't Get It

There's the match. Yep, the whole match.
Photo Credit:
Eighteen seconds.

With a match of that length, it was almost like Daniel Bryan and Sheamus were bumped off the card for a second straight year. This was a match that so many people were looking forward to for several reasons, not the least of which being that Daniel Bryan and Sheamus are both outstanding professional wrestlers. What did we get? A kiss, a Brogue Kick and a title switch.


It would be way too easy to condemn WWE for "burying" the Internet guy because Vince McMahon has this perverse hatred of people who want to give him their money the most. I've come to think that theory is kinda bullshit, although this match makes it hard to dispute that theory. The fact that guys like CM Punk, Zack Ryder and Bryan have been given prominent roles and a lot of airtime in the last few months puts down that cynicism soundly. However, it doesn't mean that because WWE pushes these guys, they do it correctly.

It's not like the swift title change is something new to WrestleMania. At XXV, Rey Mysterio defeated JBL resoundingly quickly to win the Intercontinental Championship. That being said, JBL was at the end of his career and certainly wasn't a favorite of the crowd. Yes, Bryan was a heel going into the match, and he's also quite over with most crowds. As we've seen with other crowds at the Granddaddy of Them All, WrestleMania crowds aren't most crowds. It's a bucket-list thing for hardcore wrestling fans. People who will spend the money to travel across state lines, international borders and oceans to get to the stadium aren't doing it because they're only casually invested in the company and want to give their kids something fun to do for the night. Nope, they're diehard fans. That's why Miz got cheered resoundingly last year against John Cena, among other examples.

So yeah, while there were reasons why Daniel Bryan should have lost in short order in storyline, having a match last for only that long was definitely the wrong move, and the crowd continued to prove it all night long. Bryan got audible chants in two other matches that night, and really the crowd wasn't really settled again until the Cell lowered and Triple H and Undertaker put on their show. The crowd was pissed, and if anyone putting together the show couldn't predict that would have been the reaction, then people in WWE still have a lot to learn about how their crowds work. The more amazing thing is that while the crowd was electric all night? It didn't come off that way on TV because of the acoustics of the open air stadium. Even with those inherent audio hurdles, the Daniel Bryan chants were loud and noticeable.

It isn't even that Bryan lost either. People don't cheer for Daniel Bryan just to see him win (although as with most of us, our "get lost in the moment" side is going to dictate that our favorite guys winning is more satisfying than them losing). They cheer for him to have the best match on the card. We know that he can wrestle a great match with Sheamus. There are more than a few free TV matches that prove this point dating back to when they were feuding for the United States Championship last year. Most people were expecting him to lose, and many of us, myself included, would've been happy with any result of the match as long as it got some modicum of time to allow both men to show their wares.

Instead, we got one Brogue Kick.

Yeah, no matter what anyone says or prefers, the wrestling match is still the main drawing factor of people to the product. People complain about short matches on TV, but that's understandable as there are other things that need to happen to set up for the PPV. However, on the PPV, there's no excuse to have a match between two able-bodied wrestlers lasting that long, especially when examining what was shoehorned into the show in its place. For example, there were seven pre-produced commercials, a segment featuring Mick Foley and Santino Marella that served only to shill for The Deadliest Catch, a segment where a wrestler (yeah, it was Heath Slater, but bear with me here) was punked out by a musician and a segment where Brodus Clay brought out his "mother" and her "bridge club" to act out awful racial stereotypes. This was all content that was deemed more important than having a World Championship match go longer than 18 seconds.

It would be one thing if it was Great Khali vs. Mason Ryan or some other match that the crowd was lukewarm at best to, or if it was some house show in Dubuque where the makeup of the crowd was different. But it wasn't. Daniel Bryan and Sheamus was a main selling point for that crowd. That WWE pulled this shit proves that they still have a lot to learn about what their live crowds really want.