Monday, March 31, 2014

Instant Feedback: Go Home

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The final show before a pay-per-view can say a lot for the direction of that show. It can also leave a lot of red herrings littered about the campus, waiting for people to pick upon them and be misdirected. Wrestling is still a carny industry, no matter how far WWE's stockholders are dragging it into legitimate entertainment territory. Promoters need to have their bags of tricks, but that most notable fake-out, the guy standing tall at the end of the final show before the big event ending up losing his match. The studies have been done, and to the best of my recollection, the correlation between those standing above the fray before and those winning after is weak at best, even less so before WrestleMania.

So Daniel Bryan coming out and laying waste to his three presumed opponents Sunday sent shivers down spines everywhere because those watching, myself included, have heard the rumors backstage that Vince McMahon likes to swerve the audience, and I've seen that playbook followed to a tee on a handful of occasions. The problem in this situation is that the narrative is playing right into fears that Bryan might not walk out of Mania with the one thing that would validate his entire existence since SummerSlam.

The Triple H montage of people he's "buried" was brilliant from an objective standpoint, because trolling the audience seems to be the only great way to get them to boo you. Maybe I was effectively heeled on tonight because I hated the segment. Maybe the wounds are still too deep for me, and I can't objectively judge any time Triple H comes out and tries to play into his supposed Internet persona; whether his backstage misdeeds were all true, false, or some mixture of the two, his on-screen character was what drove me away from wrestling for about five years. Or maybe I'm right in my assessment that Trips is just a bad e-fed character who doesn't know how to promo without showing any kind of ass. Of course, him bumping for DBryan like he was Henry O. Godwinn and a hogpen was nearby negated any false tough guy bravado Trips had in his promos. Hey, don't ever say I don't give credit where it's due, okay?

Still, the reason why the uncertainty cuts so deep is because at least I'm used to seeing a build that leads to everyone bowing at the almighty altar of The Nose. The stars line up, according to a debunked-by-research theory. None of it makes sense though. Is landing one knee in Batista's mush and making Trips bump around like a roided-out Dolph Ziggler payback enough for seven months of shit shoveled on him? Bryan walking out of the Superdome leading the biggest YES! Chant to date, both belts straddling a respective shoulder, is as big a no-brainer decision as Steve Austin going KICK! WHAM! STUNNER! to Shawn Michaels in Boston 16 years ago.

The biggest fear is that WWE might try to get cute with the ending and have either Randy Orton or Big Dave Batista walk out with the titles on some kind of screwjob. But Triple H is not even getting into that main event match unless he makes it a four-way. Common sense dictates that he wouldn't have rolled out the b-roll of everyone he supposedly sabotaged over the years if he was going to beat Bryan. Besides, Paul Levesque, the businessman, knows the value of a Daniel Bryan title victory. The chase is better than the catch, sure, but when no catch exists, the chase becomes a Sisyphean task. When millions of hours of entertainment exist - and that e-word is plastered all over the WrestleMania ads - WWE has to deliver some kind of catharsis if it wants to roll in with the other, decidedly non-wrestling entertainment with which it wants to compete.

Believe me, I've been as hurt by Triple H, the character, as anyone else has been watching wrestling. But he can't really hurt me anymore, because my happy place is Daniel Bryan wrestling in matches, any matches, especially main event-level ones that get a lot of time and showcase him doing things that allow me to commune with my friends, be it in person or online, and bask in their glow. He is as close to home as I'll get in wrestling fandom.

So I ask you out there, don't let Triple H hurt you anymore. If you're like me, then Daniel Bryan is at your center too. Follow your heart. Enjoy yourself. Just go home.