Exposing Daniel Bryan's Broken Underdog Angle vs. WWE Champion Randy Orton
Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan is arguably one of the worst mismatches in history.
There have been championship feuds in the past where the challenger was clearly set up to simply fill the card for an upcoming PPV. But Bryan, most unfortunately, seems to have been given a bigger spot.
There has been a lot of truth to Triple H's recent promos.
Orton should be the face of the company because:
- It's good for business.
- He's qualified to do be.
Bryan is not qualified.
His skills as a talented technical wrestler have been common knowledge for many years.
The issue is that the "Daniel Bryan product" is broken from both a storytelling perspective and—believe it or not—an in-ring perspective.
I'll address both points as you read on.
Underdogs make short-term main eventers
Much, if not most of the appeal Bryan has gathered stems from his portrayal as an "underdog."
It's been done before numerous times with continuous failure at the main event level—and there's a very good reason for that.
The concept of being a world champion while simultaneously being an underdog is inherently contradictive.
Because being world champion is supposed to indicate that you are the "best in the world," Bryan can not be both that and an underdog for any substantial period of time.
His two-minute title reign meshes perfectly with the portrayal of his character.
He spent his entire career fighting to become the champion only to have it ripped from his clutches in favor of awarding it to a superior performer.
Champions—good ones at least—are supposed to be dominant.
Had Orton not cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and had the WWE allowed Bryan to remain champion, would WWE's resident "Yes" man really be dominating the competition?
That's what a champion is supposed to do, only if he managed to do so, he could no longer be the underdog that made him popular in the first place
And that's the problem.
Bryan does not have the look, the talent, the acting ability or the star power to sustain himself as a main eventer for any considerable period of time.
Instead, he relies on his "underdog" portrayal as a crutch necessary to keep the fans interested.
A dominant portrayal of Bryan as champion would be comical.
It's already painfully unrealistic to see him "overcome the odds" and beat up three members of The Shield, one after another. To see Bryan graduate from taking out undercard security henchman to defeating main eventer after main eventer is just not a practical expectation.
It wouldn't be good for business.
Remove Orton from the program for a month's time and leave Bryan to carry the show and watch how quickly ratings would plummet.
The fans are hooked for the time being, but the reality is that Bryan simply does not bring enough to the table to generate this level of momentum for much longer than a few months' time.
That's one of the many reasons you don't see a long list of "underdog" champions with lengthy title reigns.
Such performers either:
- A: cease to be acknowledged as underdogs and thus lose their luster
- B: quickly grow stale and lack the creative depth to keep fans invested.
Daniel Bryan is also overrated as an in-ring competitor
For as talented a technician as we know Bryan to be, great champions need more.
Orton wouldn't rank in the top "100 best technical wrestlers" in the world today—it just doesn't matter.
Hulk Hogan was a dreadful technician. The Rock wasn't world's better.
The bottom line is that the fans need to be entertained in the ring as well.
Despite Bryan's technical prowess, it's hard not to look ridiculous when a 5'10" troll of a man regularly beats up 6'5" men who look to be chiseled out of stone.
We've heard this all before, but that's the reality.
When superhero summer blockbusters come out year after year, we don't see men like Bryan cast in the leading roles.
While such rejection is part of the "Daniel Bryan appeal," it's not an angle built to entertain fans for years to come. Even the most devout of Bryan's fans need to recognize this.
Orton has taken his rightful place as the WWE champion, as the face of the company and as the "best in the world."
The following Bryan has gathered over the short term is not strong enough to justify his ascension to the pinnacle of sports entertainment for the long term.
Ryan Michael is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report.
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