Kofi Kingston was replaced in the WWE Championship match at Fastlane by CEO Vince McMahon on Tuesday's SmackDown, and needless to say, some members of the WWE Universe thought this was an unfair decision by WWE management.
However, anyone who has ever paid attention to storylines involving the McMahon family knows this is the start of a storyline that likely ends with Kingston winning the WWE title at WrestleMania 35.
We saw something similar with Daniel Bryan leading into WrestleMania 30, and with the kind of response Kingston has received from the WWE Universe, he appears to be experiencing the same kind of push.
Let's take a look at how Bryan and the Yes Movement helped pave the way for The New Day member to potentially win the WWE Championship.
A Groundswell of Support
When it comes to how WWE Superstars are pushed, it usually happens because McMahon or someone else in the right position sees something in a certain person.
When the company decides it wants someone to be a top star, it stops at nothing to get them over with the crowd. As far as Bryan and Kingston are concerned, they were never meant to reach the level they are at.
Granted, Bryan had already won the World Heavyweight Championship earlier in his career, but the WWE title was always looked at as more important when they existed simultaneously.
Both men are valuable to the company in different ways, but it took the WWE Universe's fervent support before they were given real opportunities to do so.
With Bryan, it all started when the Yes Movement began to catch on. He was already well-respected by fans, but he didn't start getting the biggest pops at every show until the "yes" chants began.
Becoming a Target for the McMahon Family
As we got closer to WM30, Bryan began feuding with the McMahon family. Stephanie McMahon called him a "B+ player," and Triple H gave him a nearly impossible task if he wanted to win the WWE Championship.
He had to beat The Game in a singles match before facing Randy Orton and Batista in a Triple Threat bout for the title. Needless to say, it was an uphill battle.
With Kingston, the fans got behind him more than ever began when he lasted over an hour in a Gauntlet match on SmackDown. He was a last-minute replacement for Mustafa Ali and ended up stealing the show.
He continued to gain momentum with another stellar performance at Elimination Chamber, when he lasted until the end of the match with Bryan.
After he secured another title shot at Fastlane, it was hard to tell whether WWE was giving him some spotlight to appease the fans or whether it would end with Big E and Xavier Woods carrying Kingston on their shoulders as the newly crowned WWE champion.
By choosing to replace Kingston with Kevin Owens, McMahon kicked off what could turn out to be the entire McMahon family feuding with The New Day.
If you are a target for the McMahons, it means you are worthy of being in one of the top storylines on Raw or SmackDown.
Defying the Odds
When Bryan finally won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXX, WWE created a moment fans will never forget. With Kingston, it could be even bigger.
Bryan spent more time in the business than Kingston before reaching the top of the mountain, but when it comes to time in WWE specifically, The New Day member has The Beard beat with an impressive 11-year run.
Some fans have been calling for Kingston to be taken seriously as a top competitor as far back as his feud with Randy Orton in 2009. He might not have been ready 10 years ago, but he has improved by leaps and bounds since then.
Now that the wheels have been set in motion, the McMahon family needs to keep stacking the deck against Kingston so he can keep building sympathy with the WWE Universe while continuing to jump over every hurdle Vince, Stephanie and Triple H put in front of him.
WWE already has the perfect roadmap for how to push Kingston because it did something similar with Bryan when he started gaining momentum with the fans.
Why This Matters
As fans, we like to think we have some influence when it comes to WWE programming, but the truth of the matter is that WWE has a poor track record of capitalizing when a Superstar organically builds a large following.
Just look at Zack Ryder. When his Z! True Long Island Story YouTube show was making him the most popular star on social media, WWE didn't jump on the opportunity to make him into a huge star on television.
Fans were chanting "We want Ryder" when he wasn't even booked to compete. That's how over he was with the crowd. WWE gave him a reign with the U.S. title and a few high-profile storylines, but he soon faded back into the lower-midcard scene despite his popularity.
A more recent example is Rusev. The Bulgarian was gaining more and more fans each week with his Rusev Day gimmick alongside Aiden English, but for some reason, WWE never pulled the trigger on a new push for the former United States champion until.
For every time WWE has changed its plans because of the way the WWE Universe is reacting to someone, it has failed to do the same with other people 10 times.
If Kingston ends up winning the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 35, it will give us hope that the McMahons are listening to fans and wasn't just blowing smoke when they said we would see changes to the product in 2019 and beyond.