For as many things as WWE is doing right with Daniel Bryan, Monday night's Raw showed that there are still some systemic issues.
Chief among them is that while Kane was a perfectly fine stopgap, post-WrestleMania opponent for him, the feud being dragged out is not a good idea at all.
With a Randy Orton rematch being unlikely due to just how played out the rivalry is, a Batista feud being unnecessary since Bryan tapped him out to win the title, Bray Wyatt still occupied with John Cena, The Shield turning babyface and Sheamus—Bryan's original WrestleMania opponent, according to PWInsider (h/t Wrestle Zone)—not having turned heel yet, Kane getting the mask back and having a match with Bryan made sense.
He's a dragon for Bryan to slay, a scary, credible, veteran, star heel who he can beat convincingly—and the mask allowed them to freshen up a program that felt like it was blown off long before WrestleMania.
But now? Nothing from Monday night helped anyone.
Kane and/or The Undertaker doing magic tricks to scare their opponents is played out. The movie monster stuff doesn't fit with the 2014 WWE product at all.
While there were some nice little touches—of course Bryan knows how to fix a car himself—it was just a bad horror movie overall. Brie's screaming doesn't sound authentic and the whole thing just wasn't well-produced.
Kane can be a pro wrestling monster without being a horror movie monster. When he's a horror movie monster, it comes off like bad cosplaying.
Plus, and I hate to say it since they seem like such a lovely couple in real life, Bryan and Brie don't really work as an in-storyline couple.
Occasional reminders that she's his wife when it makes sense would be fine, and it was brilliant writing to have her call Stephanie McMahon "the b-word" because it would be bad for Bryan to say it, but this direction just isn't working right now.
As much as they perfectly complement each other in real life, they don't work that well together as performers.
When I think about the alternatives, I believe WWE should have turned Sheamus as planned en route to him being ready to be an opponent for Bryan after WrestleMania.
In their past feuds with each other, they had amazing chemistry, with their 2-out-of-3 Falls match two years ago at Extreme Rules being one of the best WWE matches of 2012. Sheamus is going nowhere as a babyface at this point and it looks like he's turning heel earlier, so why couldn't WWE have gotten the ball rolling sooner?
Meanwhile, Mick Foley chimed in with his thoughts on the Bryan-Kane storyline, tweeting this last night:
He then followed it up with this post on his Facebook page:
Whether Daniel Bryan knows it or not, NOW is the time that the fiercest fighting takes place for a WWE champion - and it has nothing to do with the action in the ring. Now is the time to step up and shoot down horrible ideas that can derail even the most promising of ideas. I used to joke that Daniel was the exception to the rule that every top guy in WWE has been percieved at one time or another as a pain in the neck - largely for their willingness to step up and call the creative team out on bad ideas when they see them. That thing I saw tonight - that thing with Daniel and Brie Bella and the car? That was a bad idea - one that never should have seen the light of day.
I have said on several occasions that I used up my ammo when it came to complaining about WWE storylines when I went to bat for the #YesMovement in the aftermath of the Royal Rumble. I'm going to do my very best to do just that. But I'll first ask everyone involved - Daniel, Brie, Hunter, Steph, Vince, etc., to take a good look at the nearly identical storyline that ran Zack Ryder's promising career off the rails...and do everything they can to avoid that same horrible stretch of track.
Have a nice day.
While he's right that it was bad and could hurt Bryan somewhat, I disagree that it's similar to the Zack Ryder/Eve Torres storyline. That killed off Ryder because he was a rising babyface whose dream girl spurned him for John Cena and displayed no concern for his well-being when Kane repeatedly maimed him.
Other than the involvement of Kane and the babyface's female significant other, the current program is absolutely nothing like the Ryder stuff.
Having said that, yes, anything that echoes that storyline would be bad.
It's one of the most awful programs in recent memory and brought down the stock of everyone involved. Ryder became a total loser. Cena became a terrible person who "stole" the girl his little buddy was pining for. Torres, who was very likable as a babyface, was miscast as a conniving heel.
I have no idea why anyone thought it was a good idea. Even if you have conspiracy theories about burying Ryder, it hurt Cena so much that I don't buy them.
Foley's right to be wary, but I don't think he's seeing this the right way.