Last week's edition of Monday Night Raw saw WWE allow the fans to vote for which of three WWE Hall of Famers would referee the Daniel Bryan vs Randy Orton Hell in a Cell cage match for the vacant WWE Championship at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view event on October 27. The results were:
- Shawn Michaels — 61%
- Bob Backlund — 32%
- Booker T — 7%
Poor Booker T.
It was par for the course as WWE polls go: The voting is completely legitimate, but the deck is stacked in terms of who the fans will vote for. It's amazing that Backlund did as well as he did.
Now that Michaels is the referee, one of the key story threads going into Hell in a Cell is obviously going to be where his loyalties are. On one hand, Triple H, the evil WWE C.O.O. who wants Orton as champion, is his best friend. On the other, Michaels was Bryan's initial pro wrestling trainer, and Bryan was his best student.
This should lead to a couple weeks of pretty interesting promos. Triple H is the devil on Shawn's shoulder, his former mischief-making tag team partner who's drunk on power and wants Shawn to do things much worse than dumping feces on the McMahons (in the eyes of the WWE moral compass, not a real one). Bryan is the angel, his legacy as a trainer that represents everything good about pro wrestling and none of Shawn's vices or other faults.
I suspect that they'll tease a conflict in Michaels' head, perhaps with some sort of ambiguous angle at the end of next week's Raw, the last before Hell in a Cell. Shawn can walk onto the stage during an angle of some kind, probably an attack on Bryan, and make his Shawn Michaels Sad Face as Michael Cole wonders who he's aligned himself with as the show fades to black.
In the end, though, there's no doubt that he will either call it down the middle or favor his student, Daniel Bryan. I suspect he'll call the match fairly throughout, only to intervene when The Authority pulls some sort of shenanigans. Maybe the cage mysteriously raises so The Shield can try to run in, only to be met by superkicks.
Honestly, I'd prefer for him to just stay out of the way. The match (which needs to deliver after two disappointing Bryan-Orton matches in a row) and storyline are both better off with a clean win for Daniel Bryan. Michaels should just be there to count the pin or call a submission. After that, they can hug as the confetti and fireworks go off to signal the beginning of the Daniel Bryan era for real this time as the show goes off the air.
Maybe Bryan's other trainer William Regal could even come out to join them!
Nah, that would be too good.
After that, who knows? Maybe Michaels can stick around a little to further endorse Bryan as the man following in his footsteps. It would be a nice way to really put Bryan over the top as a star. You wouldn't want to push him as "The New Shawn Michaels" as much as have Michaels just glowingly put him over.
What does everyone else think? Could WWE side Michaels with the forces of evil? Or do they know what they're doing and just happened to need to drag this feud across to many PPVs? Let us know in the comments.