Saturday, June 12, 2010

How to screw up business without really trying......

On Monday, the WWE, transitioning from one "season" to the next for NXT, decided to have the "graduates" of the first season, stage a mass attack in the ring during the main event, a cross-brand match between WWE Champion John Cena (Monday Night Raw) and CM Punk (Friday Night Smackdown). Both wrestlers, along with Punk's cornerman, Luke Gallows, announcers Matt Striker & Jerry Lawler, ring announcer Justin Roberts, and assorted others, were brutally beaten. The announcer's table was destroyed, and the ring was broken down in part by the 8-man riot squad. Only announcer Michael Cole, and Punk's valet, Serena, managed to escape the carnage.

2 nights later, at a Florida Championship Wrestling event, the rebels struck again. It was supposed to be a tag match pitting Christian and Heath Slater against Mike "The Miz" Mizanin & Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson). That match never happened. Miz presumably was laid out in the backstage area. Slater turned on Christian, his mentor, and Bryan joined in. Miz came racing out and, turning babyface for a moment, suggested to Christian that they switch partners and make it mentors vs. "rookies". Christian agreed. The other 6 rebels, led by NXT "winner" Wade Barrett, hit the ring several minutes later, and the scene was a repeat from Monday, but with the carnage a little more contained.

Unfortunately for Danielson and the WWE, the fact that he choked Roberts with the announcer's own necktie threw a monkey wrench into the proceedings------or has it? On Friday, WWE announced that Danielson had been fired, and it was reported that his actions were a little too violent, considering that WWE is offering PG-rated programming these days. Speculation has run as to who might've been responsible for WWE taking action, be it a sponsor, a corporate partner (Mattel, which now has the license to make action figures and toys for WWE, has been mentioned), or NBC-Universal, parent to USA & SyFy, two of the WWE's four TV partners. Fans commenting on message boards aren't entirely convinced that Danielson really is gone, and that he could conceivably still turn up on Monday in Charlotte, NC, for the next Raw. If not, then you have a hole in the plotline that could be filled pretty easily by announcing that Danielson got too out of control and had to be "disciplined". However, WWE is taking a risk. They could be "working" not only the fans, but their own employees as well as the competition (such as that is), but making a public announcement of Danielson's dismissal while leaving open speculation that he could be covertly still under their employ.

From the start of NXT, Bryan Danielson was never allowed to showcase the talents that made him an internet darling over the last decade. He was asked to portray a luckless schlub who couldn't win a match when he really needed to. After being eliminated from competition, he snapped and went after Cole, his chief on-air tormentor. After Monday, people speculated that Cole might be secretly involved with the rebellion. I don't think that would be the case, and if in fact Danielson is gone, it would remove Cole from suspicion entirely-----which might be what WWE wants.

It's been a long time since WWE has had a compelling storyline that people could connect with and talk about. When it finally happens, it seems, their own decision to dial down the violence may be their own undoing. The only thing left to do, to see if Danielson really is gone or is secretly still with the company, is to.........stay tuned.

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