When Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs Shinsuke Nakamura & Randy Orton was announced with Shane McMahon as the referee with the stipulation of, “If Zayn and Owens lose they are fired” I immediately thought, “someone is turning heel” and “they aren’t stupid enough to try to turn Daniel Bryan heel are they?”
Tension has been building subtly between Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon for months. Who can forget Shane McMahon going rogue and leading Smackdown into combat without even telling Daniel Bryan, his general manager, what the hell he was about to start doing? Bryan, a more thoughtful man attempted to make peace with Raw, and Kurt Angle but he caught a chokeslam for his troubles. They’ve openly disagreed with one another backstage, and during promos with the theme being Shane doing what he wants, and Bryan ironically not willing to be just a “YES” man.
Shane for some reason has been long known as the “good” McMahon, probably because he’s a backyarder who’s willing to jump off anything in a building. But if you look at WWE history, no such thing exists. They are ALL evil. It was brilliant for Kevin Owens to show Shane McMahon in 1998 screwing over Stone Cold Steve Austin, and using it as a way to demonstrate how the McMahon’s tend to get in the way of top stars. Reality is starting to catch up to Owens’ paranoia, as it has gone on so long, he’s spoken Shane’s glaring dismay for he and Sami Zayn into existence like Lavar Ball, while angling Bryan and Shane against each other. At this point, Bryan looks like he is going to identify with Owens by the passing day due to his own issues with Shane.
Is it nuanced storytelling, well sure it is. But people are NEVER going to boo Daniel Bryan. Trying to accomplish that would be wasted television and creative energy. Remember when they had Daniel Bryan turn up his aggressiveness and assume the heel role in his 1 month program with Roman Reigns in Feb 2015? Not a soul booed him. Much in the way Zayn’s turn made all the sense in the world when he was tasked with explaining himself, Bryan a MUCH more beloved version of Zayn, would explain himself to an audience that would say, “Well, he’s got a point” while they hit uncontrollable Yes chants.
Cheering a McMahon against Daniel Bryan just feels wrong, but all the cards are on the table for the WWE to pursue this. This past week, Owens hit on the point of Randy Orton being made to do a McMahon’s bidding like he always does, and maybe this sends Daniel Bryan into a rage when he remembers how Randy Orton was the guy put in his way. Bryan’s thought Shane has been punishing Owens and Zayn excessively already, and firing them “unjustly” due to a stipulation that Shane put on the match would directly contradict what seems right to Daniel Bryan based on everything we know about him as a character.
The real heel is Shane. To quote every heel that comes across a face authority figure, he is drunk with power, but not realizing his actions against talent are alienating his closest confidant. Do I expect Shane to be the villain, well no, that isn’t how these things tend to work with Shane. So the only option is the most beloved babyface of this century in WWE…Daniel Bryan.
That is absolutely ridiculous.
If Daniel Bryan was cleared today he would be the instant favorite of the crowd to win the Royal Rumble despite him not wrestling a match since April 2015. As a whole, people just like this guy. In a company of carefully controlled superstars and narratives, Bryan Danielson cut through that years ago. WWE has very few things that feel real, and to try to mess with that isn’t a bright plan no matter how they want to spin it.
Maybe WWE knows Bryan’s possible exit is looming large, and they want to try to make sure he departs the company in jet-cooling fashion, and take away the moral character shield he’s organically put around himself. Not that it will mean anything to folks who will show up to see Bryan headlining around the world, but to make him into an evil character the average fan want to see go away, is probably much easier than watching a hero walk off with so much to give, and send him rolling into the indies on fire.
I really think WWE is about to turn Daniel Bryan heel to further shine up Shane “The Civilian” McMahon for Wrestlemania season. They’ll be met with the fury of Daniel Bryan fans who have remained a dormant force while Bryan was medically disqualified over the past 2 years. They’ll earn every counter reaction they get to the story they are trying to tell, and inadvertently make him the hottest act in WWE all over again if they aren’t careful. I’m not going to dive fully into the conspiracy around a company giving a medical staff orders to follow, but it happens in pro sports all the time, usually in reverse. “You’re healthy enough athlete!”…”No I’m not, team!”
Looking at everything leading up to Clash of Champions gives me a reason to think it is happening but I still find myself coming back to the question of, WWE isn’t dumb enough to turn Daniel Bryan heel are they?
Rich Latta is a writer for LordsofPain.net & host of the One Nation Radio Podcast on www.SocialSuplex.com He appears monthly on Chad Matthews’ podcast The Doc Says after Raw PPVs. Give him a follow on Twitter, @RichLatta32 or drop him a comment below. If you like hip-hop, check out his music here. www.Soundcloud.com/RichLatta
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