Daniel Bryan is one of the most talented professional wrestlers on the planet and currently the biggest fan favorite in the WWE. His push to the main event WWE title match at SummerSlam is a great achievement and recognition of his skill and crowd support.
Unfortunately, the purpose of the push isn't to establish Bryan as a main event draw. It's using Bryan to get people to cheer for the insufferable John Cena.
Monday Night Raw's opening and closing segments illustrated this ploy to perfection. When new general manager Brad Maddox questioned Cena's choice for a SummerSlam opponent, Bryan did get a chance to respond. Instead, it was Cena who came to his defense, rattling off other smaller competitors who have held the WWE title.
Even with Bryan standing in the ring with a mic in his hand, it was Cena challenging Maddox's criticisms of Bryan as a main event-caliber opponent. The crowd wasn't sure how to respond, because they agreed with what Cena said, but they didn't want to hear it from the champ, who was loathed by at least half of those in attendance.
At the end of the night, after Ryback slammed Bryan through a table to end the thrilling Gauntlet match main event, we saw Superman John Cena fly in to the rescue and chase off the big, bad bully. It was Cena who then challenged Ryback to a Tables match next week on Raw to avenge Bryan.
Why is Cena fighting Bryan's battle? Why didn't Maddox and Vince McMahon laugh at the attack and say that Bryan will get more of that next week, but tables will be legal? Let Bryan prove himself by beating Ryback in a Tables match in the main event of Raw, showcasing his underdog spirit and making him a star.
But instead, we'll get Cena to save the day. He'll beat Ryback for the third time in four months in an eight-minute Tables match that the crowd won't care about. It will be the same formulaic match that I, like thousands of others that have attended live shows the last few weeks, saw as the dark match following Raw in Baltimore.
It's baffling to witness the extreme lengths WWE will stretch to support its love affair with John Cena as the focal point of any and all programming.
After Cena was booed by all of MetLife Stadium at WrestleMania, The Rock actually raised his hand in deference to the new champ. After more than two years of bitter rivalry, insults and battles, The Rock endorses Cena as if they are old pals.
Then Ryback attacks Cena the night after WrestleMania and the crowd cheers. Well, we can't have an Ultimate Warrior to Cena's Hulk Hogan, so let's neuter the Ryback character by making him a coward that complains, runs away from fights and insults the fans when they jeer him.
Then Mark Henry fakes his own retirement and cuts fantastic promos, calling the fans puppets and mocking them openly. Still, the fans cheer him over Cena. They love the World's Strongest Man, especially in Philadelphia where they despise Cena and have for years. Henry remains a heel, though, until WWE notices how over he is and turns him face after the match. Of course, he has to say in his promo that Cena was the better man.
Now, we're looking at this sad state of affairs where WWE has a star ready to explode into superstardom. Bryan is more over than any Superstar in the last five years that didn't compete during the Attitude Era, and that includes CM Punk following his famous pipe bomb promo.
Instead of riding that wave to millions of dollars in merchandise and pay-per-view buys, we'll let John Cena hop on board in hopes for fan support from the 18 to 30-year-old male demographic that wouldn't mind if they never saw another Five Knuckle Shuffle or Attitude Adjustment again.
Even if Daniel Bryan were to win at SummerSlam, Randy Orton will likely cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase immediately to capture the WWE title before the show signs off. That is, unless John Cena saves the day and prevents the cash-in, thereby having WWE reaffirm that this show is about its Fruity Pebble-colored champion.
Either way, Cena wins.