Wednesday 5 September 2012

Daniel Bryan - The new Flair? Plus other random WWE thoughts By Shaun Nichols

Yes that headline is quite a bit provocative, but allow me to explain and hopefully you might even agree. I'm not talking about their respective wrestling abilities, their legacies or anything like that. I am referring simply about their tremendous ability to entertain the fans in angles and segments that in the hands of other wrestlers would lead to most viewers quickly grabbing their remote controls and finding something else to watch.

Ric Flair is without doubt one of the all time great promos, if any doubt check out youtube for dozens of examples. But he also delivered against the face of great adversity when he the bookers it seemed wanted him to fail or become irrelevant to the fans. Among his many highlights was having to play musical chairs in an angle with Eugene in 2004, being placed in a mental asylum in WCW when weeks before he was supposedly running the company and in TNA he was seen drinking Smirnoff Ice in one which ran for several weeks when the company found that the viewers seemed to like this quite a bit.

I would have struggled to think of any other wrestler who in similar circumstances could have done as well as Flair. As Brock Lesnar famously said 'You can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit' which is true but Flair could just about make even the most pointless and humiliating angles into some form of entertainment.
Which brings me to Daniel Bryan, I had my doubts rather Bryan would be able to successfully get over with the TV audience of the WWE which relies on promos, wacky backstage angles and until recently extremely short matches. It seemed to go against all of his strengths, well how wrong was I? The current anger management angle with Kane had the potential to bury Bryan, but he's once again turning it into TV gold. The 'Hug it Out' angle on Raw could have been horrendous, but against the odds they kept the fans with them through the full 10 minutes which included loud chants of 'Hug Him Back' at Kane after Daniel Bryan had finally and reluctantly hugged him first. This was followed by a chant of 'One More Time' and more cheers. I think the only other two people in the last 10 years who could have done equally as well would have been Steve Austin & Vince McMahon, though that would have finished with a Stunner rather than a brawl.

Bryan has been fantastic pretty much throughout 2012 and is consistantly the most entertaining part of Raw and Smackdown. Check out a youtube clip of a baseball player from the Oakland A's coming out to his music while part of the crowd chant 'Yes, Yes, Yes' while the rest look completely baffled, very funny.
In other thoughts, I wonder how big a screw up Michael Cole made in ignoring Punk hitting a Rock Bottom deliberately on Lawler in the cage match on Raw recently to build to the Royal Rumble match. A major error there I think.

Caitlyn winning the Diva Battle Royal turned out to be a mistake and it should have been Eve winning. The Caitlyn vs Eve match on Raw was one of the worst things I have ever seen, however the commentary with Layla and The Miz was probably the worst thing I have ever heard it was very very bad.

The pairing of CM Punk and Paul Heyman shown at the end of Raw wasn't a one off, Heyman has agreed a new deal but Lesnar hasn't got many appearances left on his deal so it makes sense to give Heyman something else to do. The downside is you have two of the best talkers together which seems a bit of a waste.

How annoying is AJ Lee as the GM on Raw? Every time she appears I have great desire to change the channel, fortunately I can compromise and fast forward her bits thanks to Sky +. The problem is that her angle with Vickie is getting over huge with great fan reactions so I'll have to suffer for the greater good, there were rumours that Ric Flair could make his WWE return to work with Dolph Ziggler which would be quite the pairing so Vickie will need to be moved into a different role.

Finally I wonder if Triple H has got over the fans lukewarm response to his retirement tease a couple of weeks ago. He should be thankful at they least the fans weren't chanting 'You Tapped Out' at him as they did at Summerslam. The big problem is that no-one seriously believes that he won't come back at some point, there have been thoughts that Triple H vs Lesnar II could happen anywhere from this years Survivor Series to next years Summerslam. Currently favourite is a meeting at Wrestlemania 29, I wonder who would win that one?

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