Daniel Bryan shocked the world on Monday Night RAW, when he became the No. 1 contender for CM Punk's WWE Championship. The former World Heavyweight Champion will get his opportunity at Over the Limit, WWE's next pay-per-view, in three weeks time.
Such a short build-up seems a waste for a potentially classic feud. Could this just be the first step to a summer-long feud or was this a match thrown together to be the proverbial white-out that covers a referee's mistake?
Most fans expected Chris Jericho to have one more shot at CM Punk after their title battle at Extreme Rules, however John Laurinaitis announced a "Beat The Clock" tournament for RAW.
The tournament began with The Miz avenging his United States Championship defeat with a victory over Santino Marella in a time of 4:18. This set up a one-on-one match between Jericho and The Big Show.
The match was down to the last few seconds with both men out of the ring. Big Show went for a high boot, missed and went over the guard rail. This allowed Jericho to roll into the ring and get the referee to count the Big Show out.
Only the buzzer for time up went momentarily before the referee could count to 10. Both the in-ring performers and commentators were unclear on whether Jericho had successfully beaten the clock.
Michael Cole's first reaction was to give Jericho the decision. Describing the situation as being one of referee's discretion. Jerry "The King" Lawler, clearly listening to the voices in his earpiece, floundered around saying very little and the WWE quickly cut to a break.
The situation was reversed when RAW returned to our screens as The Miz was officially in pole position for a WWE title shot. An explanation of video evidence being used to make the decision was quickly made and then the subjected was bypassed in favour of the next segment. No mention to the close nature of those two matches were made again.
Daniel Bryan would eventually defeat Jerry "The King" Lawler in the quickest time to set up the title match with Punk.
This could be seen as a clever creative swerve by WWE officials. Expectations were for Jericho to get back for one last title shot before he leaves to tour with his band Fozzy.
If the WWE management made this decision to take the company in a different direction, then the move has really shocked most wrestling fans. With the abundance of Internet rumours, it is difficult for the WWE to pull this type of switch very often.
The move can also be seen as a distraction away from the potential loss of John Cena and Brock Lesnar. Punk versus Bryan is one of the most sought after rivalries in the WWE right now and should be given head-billing. This will be the case if Cena has to move aside for treatment to an injury and Brock Lesnar takes a few weeks off before getting in a feud with Triple H at SummerSlam.
However, evidence can be presented that makes it look like a hastily put together fix.
One of the key parts of this theory is Daniel Bryan's opponent being commentator Jerry "The King" Lawler. "King" stood out as being a heavily mismatched opponent in a tournament that had been mostly competitive. It also meant the WWE bypassed talent such as Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes and Christian as potential opponents.
Another aspect that was noticeable due to its absence was the title card. This is the screen that has the picture of the two (or more) wrestlers in-front of the PPV's logo. This is normally flashed up on several occasions when a new No. 1 contender is found, but was missing on tonight's RAW.
Whether this is a clever ruse by the WWE or the company covering someone's mistake, Punk versus Bryan could open up great possibilities for the summer. These two men are ideally suited to put on a clever and wrestling-heavy feud across several pay-per-views.
Let's hope the WWE embraces the situation and allows these two talents to do something special.
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