Pre-match – (9:00 a.m.) Morning of Extreme Rules
I woke up this morning and wiped all things non-wrestling from my mind.
I sometimes wonder if the powers that be at WWE understand how difficult it can be to maintain one’s wrestling fandom. Especially when you find something you like that seems to be doing well—like Daniel Bryan’s World Heavyweight Title reign—only to have it snatched away in 18 seconds.
I think the majority of us can agree the match between Sheamus and Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 28 did not deliver.
Even a Sheamus fan might agree on that.
Still, I wasn’t offended for the same reason as many. A lot of fans expressed outrage because the match lasted 18 seconds. That was part of my outrage, but that would have bothered me more had I traveled to the event.
What bothered me more was that a title reign of such quality could be erased so easily. It always scares me, as a fan, when I feel WWE has a plan that they will stick to no matter how the fans react. Like Sheamus being world champion; like Daniel Bryan not being world champion.
Like the night after WrestleMania 28 when fans protested. I’m glad, at least, a couple of positive things came from the fans protesting, such as a new Daniel Bryan T-shirt and mainstream attention for the Yes! chant.
Plus, out of bad booking at WrestleMania we are getting a two-out-of-three falls match at WWE Extreme Rules.
I feel the same way I did going into WrestleMania—that Sheamus will win. It’s only a hunch, but with the monster push he is receiving I can’t see a loss this early.
But, win or lose, there are things I want to see and don’t want to see tonight.
I want to see wrestling—lots of wrestling; I want to see AJ Lee.
I do not want to see Alberto Del Rio. I find it disrespectful to Daniel Bryan and the fans that support him that WWE would so quickly add another body to this program. It again smacks me like advanced booking that can’t be interrupted by a little thing called fan reaction.
I also want to hear the live crowd in Chicago unedited.
I don’t mind so much whether or not Daniel Bryan leaves with a belt, as long as WWE will book him like a champion. Like the top star of WWE SmackDown that he currently is.
So, here’s hoping for more than 18 seconds per fall.
Here’s hoping for a match that delivers this time.
Post-Match – Evening of Extreme Rules
Grade the booking choices of WWE in the Sheamus-Daniel Bryan program.
Daniel Bryan’s promo going into his match with Sheamus was a true masterpiece. Not only did I legitimately laugh out loud at the fact that Daniel Bryan said he was better than Sheamus because he got more chicks and had a better beard, but did you notice how he turned the pro-Daniel Bryan crowd against himself enough to get some No chants (Just so the announcers could make out that the fans were not hot for him). It amazes me that he can be so over, but still deliver the reaction that WWE seems to be stupidly after. Even still, heavy heat on Sheamus and much praise on Daniel Bryan.
But for the match. Did it deliver?
Let me put it this way: Daniel Bryan delivered.
I don’t know how to talk about the reaction Daniel Bryan received throughout the match, but to call it a Steve Austin reaction. In fact, Daniel Bryan was locked into the match like the Steve Austin matches with Bret Hart.
But he wasn’t wrestling Bret Hart.
I don’t have anything bad to say about Sheamus. I understand WWE is trying to make a brand out of Sheamus, but the longer Sheamus was in the ring with Daniel Bryan and in the frenzied arena, the more Daniel Bryan opened up a wide and unmistakable margin between himself and Sheamus as wrestlers and performers.
My problem with the edits on the SmackDown and the booking of Daniel Bryan is that the booking is not matching the momentum. That is what I meant in the first half of this column about sticking to the plan when the plan no longer makes sense.
WWE tried to edit Steve Austin, too. When they finally stopped, he saved their company.
Here is the fact of the matter on this one: Little Daniel Bryan is currently head and shoulders above anybody on his brand (maybe in WWE) as a wrestler and as a performer. WWE should be ecstatic to have anybody who is head and shoulders above the competition in just one of these categories. But both?! And they still won't book him according to what he has created?
Having Sheamus win this match was a greater abomination than WrestleMania 28. At WrestleMania, WWE didn’t know better.
They know better now. We all do.
I went into this match expecting Daniel Bryan to be great. He exceeded that. I expected the booking to be poor. It exceeded that.
This match did not deliver.
If WWE were losing a ratings war, Daniel Bryan would have a belt right now. If WWE wasn’t losing a ratings war during the era of Steve Austin, there may have never been an Austin Era.
I said I didn’t care about Daniel Bryan winning as long as he was treated like a champion.
I don’t think he was.
The dishonesty in the booking made Sheamus look phony tonight.
And the only thing WWE could grumble about in regards to Daniel Bryan tonight? He was far hotter than they want him to be.
And I’m not sure why I should ever have to write a sentence like that.
On a side note, today is the birthday of a friend of mine. Although we are basically the same age, he was writing wrestling columns on the Internet before I knew people wrote wrestling columns on the Internet. When I got started in 2010, he was quick to tell me that writing wrestling columns was about community. It was about the writer and the reader. He helped shape that in me early, and I hope those who are regulars here know that I try to maintain that standard of community to this day. In that sense he was something of a—what’s the right word?—Ayatollah: he was worthy of imitation. I joked with him that they should do a video package for him at Extreme Rules. While I can’t make that happen, I do have a platform covering Extreme Rules. So allow me to use it to say happy birthday and thanks for taking the time to impart wisdom to a rookie starting out.