At WrestleMania XXVIII, the WWE saw icons clash, an era end, and stars be born; however, the night may be defined most by how it began.
Coming into the night, the pay-per-view was being heralded as possibly the greatest WM of all time, yet, within 10 minutes, many people had turned against the whole night, completely put off by anything that followed.
Why? Why could no one stand to sit down and watch Randy Orton and Kane do battle or continue to watch as the Intercontinental Championship was put up for grabs? It was all because of one moment, one opening "match" between two developing main-event caliber stars in Daniel Bryan and Sheamus.
Sheamus was the Royal Rumble winner, being built up to this point as being an unstoppable monster ready to run through anyone and anything to become the new face of SmackDown and redeem himself for his first runs as a heel champion.
Bryan was the Internet sensation, a man heralded as the greatest wrestler in the world today. This was his live WrestleMania debut, and many were wondering just what Bryan could bring to the table on his very first outing on the Grandest Stage of Them All, especially being World Champion at the time.
Most people knew that Sheamus would win here as he was built to do. What they didn't expect was how he would win. Clocking in at 18 seconds, after Bryan did his ceremonial good-luck kiss with AJ, he took a Brogue Kick and lost his World Heavyweight Championship.
After all the build up, after all the hype people had given the contest themselves, these two young stars were given only a third of a minute to work, and it infuriated everyone.
The crowd was up in arms, chanting "Daniel Bryan" and "YES" for the next three matches non-stop. At home, people were up in arms taking to the Internet to make their voices heard.
At the end of the night, after three amazing wrestling contests, people were able to leave happy, knowing they had seen one of the best WrestleManias of all time, but that one small stain still remained.
They all remembered how on this great PPV, Bryan and Sheamus were given no time at all to make an impression, and it began something no one ever could have expected.
Chants began in every arena, even non-wrestling events. The word "yes" which Bryan had been using somewhat to that point had become a popular thing to chant. Even though Bryan was technically a heel, he was cheered in every arena louder than most other faces and chanted for when he wasn't on TV.
On the other hand, Sheamus tried to become a cheered champion, finally getting his run at the top, but receptions for him were tepid. A face turn that had once been heralded as a great idea was being complained about left and right. Sheamus was not being treated as the star he was built to be, sometimes even being booed.
What had been a moment meant to create a star in Sheamus had unwittingly made the man who lost the true winner. Bryan, who was probably destined for the upper midcard to midcard for the foreseeable future, had become a star who would not be denied.
After the turn of events, WWE appeased the fans by giving Bryan his rematch in a two out of three falls match that arguably stole the show and was everything that fans could have wanted from the two stars.
Then they moved Bryan into a feud with CM Punk over on Raw for the WWE Title, which has already given us one Match of the Year candidate.
At the same time, Sheamus has been a fighting champion booked like a star, but it seems that fans are already getting tired of the Irishman. While he keeps winning and fights the tyranny of John Laurinaitis to an extent, his reactions from the crowd are not nearly as big as they used to be.
A man that seemed destined to be the face of SmackDown for the next few years has become a champion without an audience, a man with all the skill yet no real support.
WWE keeps trying to push him, but what was once a breath of fresh air and a successful main event push has deformed into the WWE forcing a star down the audiences' throats.
While John Cena seems relatively unchanged by his loss to the Rock, and the Undertaker and Triple H don't even show up on television much any more, Daniel Bryan and Sheamus have been forever changed by WrestleMania. They have taken radically different paths.
In the end, while it seemed like a mistake at the time, perhaps the greatest moment of WrestleMania XXVIII was the one that angered the masses, the one that rewrote two young stars' careers within one minute. It was pretty, and it wasn't legendary. However, it may have been the moment that made Daniel Bryan a star.
So what do you think? Did WWE make the right decision with the 18-second match? Looking back now months later, would you have changed the decision? Would WWE have been better off if they had given Bryan and Sheamus at least five minutes to compete?
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