The just must devour the unjust at WrestleMania XXX as Daniel Bryan makes Triple H pay for the whipping he took on the March 17 edition of WWE Raw and all the pain he's endured since SummerSlam.
All of Bryan's suffering has to lead to a victory at the upcoming pay-per-view. The arc of the story and the fans' expectations beg for that conclusion.
On Monday's Raw, Triple H addressed his WrestleMania opponent in the ring. He told Bryan that he had earned his respect and that none of his actions were personal.
He seemed to be content with walking away after that, but he had a ploy in the works.
Stephanie McMahon ordered a pack of fake cops to handcuff Bryan. Triple H then shooed them away before delivering an attack seeped in maliciousness.
He cracked Bryan's back against the announcer table, tossed him around and swung a chair onto the crown of his head. The show ended with Triple H breathing heavily from the thrashing he handed out, towering over a lifeless Bryan.
The moment circled back to the beginnings of Triple H and Bryan's feud. The COO used The Shield, Big Show and Randy Orton to hand out the beatings before, but this was his turn. He topped every mauling his cronies had ever delivered.
Before that, when it was just a dialogue between two men, Triple H summed up the story to this point in a single line.
Seeing Bryan roll around the mat in pain has been the most prevalent image of the narrative and Monday's Raw created that image again, the most unsettling version of it to date.
It's fine to have the hero fall this hard and this often, if he eventually triumphs. The audience expects a happy ending at some point. Years of watching movies and reading books have conditioned us that way.
Bane broke Batman's back in The Dark Knight Rises, but Batman worked his way back to fighting shape and defeated him in the end. If Bane had managed to keep Batman down, the exhilarating ending would have instead been a letdown.
The Lord of the Rings would have suffered had Sauron won in the end. The same goes for Hans Gruber in Die Hard.
Triple H is Gruber, Sauron and Bane in this equation and, even at the risk of being predictable, he has to lose at WrestleMania.
The fans have waded for too long through the heart-sinking elements of this story. It's time for a celebratory moment to end it, a decisive victory to make up for all the times Triple H has left Bryan flat on his back.
It felt as if with Triple H's attack on Bryan, WWE was trying to pop every balloon of hope that had emerged as of late. It served as a reminder of why Bryan wants to fight and defeat Triple H so badly.
Later in the night it will be about a championship opportunity, but in that bout against "The Game", it will be about revenge.
WWE did well to restock the hatred tank on Monday's Raw. The viciousness of the attack helped fans forget its scripted nature, begging viewers to shout at the screen.
Injustice on stage done as well as that evokes a deep response from the audience.
That response is most often to hunger to see the hero take vengeance against the villain. If that doesn't happen, the story will have a hole in it. The journey would have just been meandering, not the path to the climax that it should be.
The result of Triple H's smackdown in the short term was that fans and columnists alike want to see Triple H vs. Bryan more than they did before Mondays's show began.
I don't believe I could be any more hyped for Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H. #Raw— Kevin Berge (@TheBerge_) March 18, 2014
Anticipation for the payback is how WWE has created that hype. Seeing the unfeeling villain get his comeuppance doesn't happen enough in real life. That's a big part of the appeal of WWE as it does deliver that satisfying moment.
Monday's Raw provided a highlight for the Bryan and Triple H story. It can only end one way, though—Bryan riding a wave of rage to victory.