The upcoming match between Kane and Daniel Bryan at Extreme Rules has been sold in the best way possible considering the circumstances.
The circumstances following Bryan's world title win included time off for a wedding and the passing of his father. In addition, WWE seemed to have the plan of The Shield as the top babyfaces against Evolution for the weeks leading up to the next pay-per-view.
Excuse me, "Special Event."
All of this taken into consideration, I like where we're at for Bryan's first big title defense. He's been on the back burner, but it hasn't harmed his stock.
He's going up against someone he's very familiar with, as he and Kane had a successful run in 2012 as a tag team. That hasn't really been talked about, nor should it have. But it's something people still can remember, which can offer a good sense of betrayal and even add fuel to the fire, given their extensive history knowing each other.
Had WWE brought up the past when Kane was doing comedy skits in an anger management class and arguing with Bryan over "I'm the tag team champion," it would have taken away from the return to the demonic side of Kane's character.
The demonic side needed to be sold right, and it has been. The passing of Bryan's father is tragic, but in wrestling, you have to adapt to the situation. The situation is that Bryan had a match that needed to be promoted, but he certainly deserved to have some time to be with family and take care of personal business.
WWE creative did a good job in balancing a situation where its top talent needed to handle a personal issue and the company finding how it can best make that work with what would be presented on television. The brutal attack Kane gave Bryan in the opening segment of Raw evoked my favorite emotion when selling a heel's dominance—uncomfortability.
WWE did this with Triple H leading up to WrestleMania when he had Bryan handcuffed and was attacking him. It kept going and going. It got uncomfortable, even for live scripted theater. That's powerful stuff. Kane did that with Bryan, and it was the perfect reintroduction of the masked demon.
This past Monday, they brought Bryan's wife into the fold, which was smart. Prior to Raw, I was hoping Kane would get his hands on Brie Bella and chokeslam her. I thought that would've been a great final go-home sell for this match. A chokeslam didn't happen, but the fact that he became a threat to her safety and brought out an angrier-than-normal side of Bryan is good.
I don't think many people anywhere, no matter their level of intelligence on professional wrestling booking and business, are expecting Bryan to drop the title in this match. I'd say there is very little chance of that. That's okay, though.
For months, we've seen Bryan in these must-win situations where the odds are stacked against him in his pursuit to be considered the best. This situation will allow us to see a more violent side of Bryan who is getting personal vengeance.
I think back to the story of Shawn Michaels in April 1996 against Diesel. It was the next pay-per-view after Michaels finally saw his boyhood dream come true of being world champion. He had a long history with Diesel. It had a personal backstory with the build-up and promos. Michaels was on his way to the ring for the match—no smile on his face, no dancing and taking off his ring gear en route. You immediately understood the tone of this match.
HBK wasn't going to lose the title a month after finally winning it, but that wasn't the point. Diesel even said in the one promo that was properly exploited, "I'm going to ruin your life."
That turned out to be a classic match, which began the first of many WWE title runs for a legendary career.
The same will be proven on Sunday between Bryan and Kane.
Justin LaBar is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the creator of the "Chair Shot Reality" video talk show and "Wrestling Reality" radio show.
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