On any other pay-per-view, the Miz vs. Daniel Bryan could be the main event.
On Tuesday’s episode of SmackDown Live, WWE presented a three-part vignette that was essentially a mini-documentary, detailing the background behind the Bryan-Miz feud dating back to 2009, when Miz was Bryan’s “pro” on the first season of NXT.
WWE ripped a page out of UFC’s playbook. The video packages were split in three sections airing throughout the show, all with different chapters. As a standalone 30-minute episode, it would be great TV and could easily sell SummerSlam on their match alone.
It’s a similar tactic that UFC and professional boxing uses all the time. HBO airs behind-the-scenes shows on boxer prep ahead of big fights … they call it “24/7” and there’s one planned for an upcoming fight between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. If you’ve seen the UFC embedded vlog series ahead of their big shows, the WWE package was similar to that.
The Miz-Bryan feud came about, basically by accident. The reason this match feels like such a big fight is because it’s been a rivalry that has been brewing for years, without the luxury of the two wrestlers having a match. They haven’t faced off in the ring because of Bryan’s concussion issues, and his two-year absence from the ring.
Left to their own devices, WWE wouldn’t be disciplined enough to keep Miz and Bryan away from each other for such a long period of time. With so much content to fill, I would give WWE six months, at best, before succumbing to some pressure and pushing Bryan and Miz either on pay-per-view or, worse yet, on some throwaway episode of SmackDown just to “pop a rating.”
Bryan’s injury forced WWE to hold course with a long-term rivalry, and the hype behind this match should show WWE bookers just how valuable a process like that can be for a feud.
WWE could main-event SummerSlam and Bryan and Miz, and I’d think nothing of it. Most people would accept it. That being said, WWE won’t do that. I’m sure they’ll main-event the show with Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns, and there’s good reason for that From a star power standpoint, that match has the most on the show and Vince McMahon is going to want Roman Reigns’ big “crowning moment” to be the lasting image for the show.
But Bryan vs. Miz feels like a bigger match, and it feels like a bigger feud. On top of that, the outcome isn’t preordained and the Brooklyn crowd isn’t going to reject the match.
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