Monday, January 13, 2014

Instant Feedback: Kill From Within

Punk should've seen this coming, if not for his own giant hubris
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Daniel Bryan joined the Wyatt Family two weeks ago. The air felt like it let out of the arena. He was a broken man, one who didn't have anywhere else to turn but the warm, comforting embrace of a family. His golden dreams were getting further and further out of reach. Leviathans emerged from the ocean to stake their claims, ones who bullied him when he was still in NXT and others who were let back into the title scene willingly by the Authority despite the fact that they had on more than one occasion clowned Triple H. All looked lost.

Meanwhile, CM Punk was fighting a battle against his own trio, The Shield, but he knew they were a proxy for the real, cold war he was engaged in with the Authority. Like Vietnam, The Shield may have looked easy to conquer first, but they've finally gotten around to getting under his skin. He needed some backup, and lo and behold, at the Old School RAW (one which I fell asleep watching during the main event and regrettably missed a true mark-out moment and writing an essay), he found two unlikely allies. Road Dogg and Billy Gunn sure did pal around with Triple H back in the day, but hey, maybe you can't judge a couple of guys by whom their mutual friend is. Still, the whole thing stunk like a Zack Ryder fart after Mexican night in craft services.

Each scenario shared a common theme that bore out tonight like the chorus sung by modern day troubadour, Ad-Rock. Listen all a-y'all, this is sabotage.

In order to take out a threat, one has to infiltrate, especially when those threats are as cerebral as the backwater, alligator-eating cultists from the bayou section of Parts Unknown, or the fox-witted, self-proclaimed Best in the World. The latter may have smarts and know how to move the chess pieces, but whether hero or villain, folk hero or corner preacher, Punk has never met an opportunity to promote himself that he didn't absolutely love. All Triple H had to do was play to his ego and send out old guys to fluff him, and the boss had his rogue employee right where he wanted him. That plan was simple and almost too transparent. The beauty of the Punk character is for as cerebral as he is at protecting his own interests in the ring, he's way too easy to bowl over when it comes to flattery and praise outside of it.

The Wyatts were a different egg altogether, however. Bray Wyatt is not a man to be trifled with. Even in his short time in WWE, he's proven to be diabolical with how he lays his roots in and attacks. His hold over Erick Rowan and Luke Harper was impenetrable, and their results were impeccable... until Bryan joined the group. Sure, he opened himself up to abuse, most of it seemingly voluntary. He dressed the part, and he was a seemingly good soldier. But as soon as Wyatt proclaimed that his goat had found a home, the wheels started falling off the axels.

I almost wrote the whole thing off as WWE booking, but then I thought that maybe Bryan wasn't going to go quietly into that good, quagmire-ridden night. Then, after the Usos won that cage match, and all hell broke loose, Bryan's masterplan was revealed. He didn't want to take down the machine with the Wyatts. He wanted to break them down from within.

Sure, two weeks might not seem like a long time to throw that large a spanner into the works, but I credit the quick work to be a credit to how efficient Bryan is at getting his job done. The man isn't the REAL best in the world for nothing. Besides, what better way to know where the weaknesses in a group, the soft spots if you will, than by taking an incessant, continuous beating from them? Bryan had been laid to waste by the Wyatt Family for two months. Surely, he wasn't going to not be taking mental notes, CTE accrued from the beatdowns he sustained notwithstanding.

And so the table is set for two wars going forward, refreshed from their original state of play from before TLC. In one corner, the forces of evil were the ones who set up the hero and made him a martyr. In the other, the hero was the one who finally turned the tides on a battle that he had been losing forever and a day now. I wish WWE wouldn't bunch their stories together thematically like this (it seems to be a trend with them), but for now, they have two intriguing threads to tug at going forward into their hottest period of the year.