Pavlovian, Nothing More; Bryan’s Run is Over

Nick Paglino

Daniel BryanAt WWE, all significant business barometers are down: Pay-per-view buys, house-show attendance, TV ratings. The live crowd at Buffalo for the Battleground PPV dumped all over the main event’s non-finish. WWE bigwigs are said to be shocked and confused because Daniel Bryan isn’t over like he was. And he isn’t.

So, tell me again how great WWE is. Tell me how it’s working.

It isn’t. What WWE has done to Bryan is a crying shame. It’s so tough for a babyface to catch fire organically. It never happens.

But it happened with Bryan, and WWE responded by mercilessly sabotaging him. Maybe they don’t see it like that. But they belittled him. Made Bryan look like a dope with ambush after ambush. Pointed out his flaws constantly. The heel menaced his girl. No response. Some babyface. Feel free to F with his chick. He won't mind.

It all added up. Now, Bryan is a Pavlovian crowd reaction, nothing more. He says “Yes!” They say “Yes!” That’s it. WWE blew it with Bryan. Blew it big-time.

Subconsciously – or, maybe not – that’s exactly what WWE wanted. A little guy who looks like that isn’t really a WWE superstar. B-plus? Not even.

So, WWE rushed back John Cena. As long as that’s WWE’s attitude, the promotion will never build another go-to guy.

But, again – tell me how it’s working. You know better. That’s what all the nonsense below says. It’s great. People love it. Not tangibly. There’s no proof. But you say it’s great, so it must be great. You’re watching, right?

Maybe that says more bad about you than it does good about the product.

The only performers in the Bryan storyline who have been truly kept strong are Triple H and Stephanie. Stephanie can’t provide a payoff. Triple H is a part-timer who might be in the Greg Valentine stage of his career if he hadn’t married well.

The Shield and Randy Orton are stooges. Puppets for Triple H and Stephanie. Big Show is the guy who cries. That’s what people think of.

Eventually, Vince McMahon leads the charge back. Oh, boy.

But it’s great. It’s working. I love it, too. I just don’t realize it. Wrestling is popular in cycles. Product quality = ABSOLUTELY INCONSEQUENTIAL. There's so many entertainment options. The ratings don't mean anything. Except to the advertisers.

WWE is indulging two important components of its corporate philosophy: A) It’s all about the family, and B) WE ARE RIGHT. Bryan is a midget indie slug who can’t make it in the big time. Oh, he’s over? We’ll fix that. WE ARE RIGHT.

There’s a general malaise about WWE’s product that goes beyond how individuals are being booked. WWE has conditioned marks to think house shows are disposable, so marks aren’t going. Now, except for WrestleMania, the PPVs are also becoming disposable. So less and less marks buy them. Most WWE PPVs are nothing but episodes of Raw you have to pay for. No better.

Consider Battleground. The main event ended inconclusively, with Big Show knocking out everyone. No one won. No one got the WWE championship.

THAT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN. PPVs are supposed to provide winners and losers. CONCLUSIONS. Storylines are supposed to wrap, not be furthered.

But you like it. It’s terrific. It’s fantastic. BEST FAKE WRESTLING EVER.

Honestly, it’s hard to write about fake wrestling right now. I will, however, keep milking the paycheck.

But I’d rather just review the Legends of Mid-South Wrestling DVD. I enjoyed watching that. Watching WWE and TNA right now provides very little enjoyment for me, the educated fan, the veteran of the business who knows what it’s supposed to be.

WWE ain’t it. WWE’s current product isn’t working.

But you like it. You think it’s working even though you can’t provide one, single, solitary scrap of evidence to support that hypothesis beyond personal preference.

Now Cena is coming back. Him, you DON’T like.

Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkMaddenX

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