The most recent edition of Monday Night Draw sent the internet into a fury over a closing angle involving Daniel Bryan and Triple H. During the segment, Triple H told Bryan that he isn’t the one, and while he might be very talented and very popular, so were people like Chris Jericho, Edge, and Rob Van Dam. He went on to say that if any of those guys had been “the one,” they’d all be working for Ted Turner right now.
Cue internet pandamonium. And I’m not just talking about “smart marks,” either – Chris Jericho had something to say about the segment on Twitter. Internet news sites everywhere were reporting that Hunter’s words drew heat backstage despite being scripted. Some articles even postulated that HHH’s words were directly damaging to Daniel Bryan. both his character and his career.
But just because the internet went crazy, and Chris Jericho agreed, doesn’t mean those opinions are validated. Were Triple H’s remarks controversial? Certainly. Professional wrestling is a business of controversy, though, and this segment seems very tiny on the greater scale of professional wrestling sins.
Take a look at what he said. He never put down Chris Jericho or Edge, he just said that they weren’t “the one.” What does that mean – they weren’t the face of the WWE? If so, his remarks are spot-on. You know who used to be the face of the WWE? Hulk Hogan. Shawn Michaels. Bret Hart. Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Rock. John Cena. While Edge and Chris Jericho are two of the greatest of all time, and while the internet puts both men on pedestals for their in-ring talent and ongoing character evolutions, they never carried the company solely on their own.
It’s not entirely their fault, however. The company never gave either man the chance to be the lead dog, mostly because that role was always filled by somebody arguably more popular with the fans – and by somebody who sold a lot more merchandise at the arena kiosks. They never had the chance to really be “the one.” And despite that, despite not being pushed as the face of the company, both men still left lasting legacies in WWE. Chris Jericho has done more to put over young talent than anybody else in the business for the past 20 years. Edge proved that, despite long hair and a slender build, a pure wrestling fan at heart could still do it all, and win it all.
But let’s look at it from a different angle. HHH said these remarks in character, while he’s actively playing a heel authority figure whose sole purpose has been to overlook Daniel Bryan because he’s not good enough. He cut this promo as HHH, the COO, and leader of “The Authority.” So was he supposed to play nice with Bryan? The whole point of this ENTIRE storyline is that nobody thinks Daniel Bryan can win the big one. Bryan is the underdog, while HHH is the Apollo Creed/Clubber Lang/Drago/whoever that dude was in the fifth move.
So fans hate HHH now. Casual fans already despised his ‘business as usual’ smugness, and now internet fans have a legitimate gripe as well. They’re pissed. Doesn’t it make sense that the creative team would WANT the fans – all the fans – to hate WWE’s biggest baddie?
And from that perspective, everything makes a little more sense. Fans are universally against Triple H. When Bryan finally wins the WWE Championship, he proves that he is good enough, and that those comments from Monday night are dead wrong. HHH said he wouldn’t pick Daniel Bryan for a match. So when HHH decides the only way to stop Bryan is by doing it himself, and both men tear the roof down in an epic confrontation at Survivor Series or Royal Rumble, Daniel Bryan yet again gets to overcome the odds and score a win for the entire WWE Universe. In doing so, he only further cements his superstar status.
I’ve often compared Daniel Bryan to Stone Cold Steve Austin as being a champion of the people, and I think that’s what WWE’s had in mind all along. But until fans start to revile Triple H as much as they once did Vince McMahon – and not just the Triple H character, but Triple H himself – Bryan can never fulfil that role in modern WWE. Fortunately, RAW made that a whole lot easier for him this past Monday night. And in doing so, Daniel Bryan might still yet become that face the company, and the entire industry, so desperately need.
How do you feel about the closing segment of RAW? Was it actually a big deal, or are the internet fans just making too much out of it? Give me your opinion in the comments below! And be sure to follow Between the Ropes on Facebook and Twitter.