WWE Will Draw New Adult Viewers with Punk, Bryan and AJ Plot
Whenever the WWE put CM Punk and Daniel Bryan together in a feud, wrestling fans around the world were going to rejoice at the technical skills being displayed in the ring. The genius stroke made by WWE officials has been to add AJ to the mix, as her presence has enticed casual onlookers to engage with the feud.
Much has been said about AJ, but the importance her character has had on humanizing both Punk and Bryan cannot be understated.
Both these men have shown glimpses of a rounded character over the last year. Punk's fake shoot promo last year showed Punk's humor and inner-strength, while Bryan showed that he was more than just that 'vegan guy' in his work with Big Show and Mark Henry last year, however both ended up in more generic roles around WrestleMania time.
AJ's craziness, which has seen her emotions flip-flopping between the WWE championship contenders, has exposed a deeper reaction from both men that goes further than a simple gimmick.
CM Punk may be the beloved face, yet positive and negative behaviors have come from his interactions with AJ. Punk missing AJ's match on Raw may have cost him a trip through a table later that night but it also showed that his interest in AJ might not be as strong as she or the WWE Universe believe.
In the same way, Bryan showed valor in standing between AJ and the table despite being the heel. Arguably this is down to her refereeing in the title match at Money In The Bank, but he could have as easily confronted her from a place of safety or even taken advantage of the situation to pick up the win over Punk.
The three-way confrontation between the protagonists on Smackdown only went to further muddy the waters of good and evil as both men approached AJ and their feelings towards her.
Punk and Bryan had different approaches, and possibly different motives, but both were left shaking their head in confusion at the end of the segment. Previous experience with the characters suggests that Punk's intentions are pure while Bryan's are not, but whether this really is the case has been deliberately hidden.
This ambiguity and complexity is the key to bringing back casual and adult viewers. At no point did anything in this story break the PG rules, but the interest is there as the three (four when Kane was involved) different people with multidimensional characteristics have interacted in a way that keeps the fan guessing from week to week.
Changes in the characters' mood and understanding of the current situation keeps the in-ring action fresh as the wrestlers do not enter the ring with the same mindset. This opens up several different scenarios that can play out, which helps fans lose themselves in the action going on.
The timing of such a feud is also immaculate as the WWE has a window of opportunity, due to summer hiatus of new network television and only regular season baseball to compete with, to expose their programming to people who wouldn't normally view it.
Feuds like Punk versus Bryan featuring AJ are the way forward for the WWE. This is a complicated storyline that enhances the importance of every wrestling match that coincides with the tale's development.
Perhaps this is the true face of an adult orientated WWE.
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