Has WWE Backed Itself Into a Corner with Bryan and Shane?
Despite Daniel Bryan's uncertain wrestling future, he's been put on a collision path with Shane McMahon ...
Imagine you’re writing a television show, and you decide that the central focus of your program, the top storyline, is something you’re going to focus on for months but there’s a possibility you might never be able to properly end it?
Sounds stupid, right?
Well, WWE is doing exactly that at the moment with the unnecessary feud between Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon as the powers that be on SmackDown Live. The entire storyline seems to be hinging on whether or not Daniel Bryan will be cleared for a return to the ring, because it only seems natural at this point for Bryan and Shane to have a match. But, whether or not Bryan will be cleared is a huge unknown. In fact, most believe it’s impossible.
So why start the story to begin with?
Back when Vince McMahon himself was getting involved in matches in the late-90s, he said that as a character on a WWE show, everything eventually leads to the ring. He’s right, Stephanie McMahon, Shane McMahon and even Vickie Guerrero had matches in their time with WWE. Everything in wrestling will eventually lead to a match, which makes it so difficult to have a character like Bryan, who according to WWE doctors is medically unable to compete.
If Bryan gets cleared, all of this nonsense the last few months will at least be able to have a proper conclusion. But what if that doesn’t happen? Will the audience be OK with Bryan “in the corner” of someone against Shane at WrestleMania? I doubt it.
Becky Lynch beat Ruby Riott
This was a tricky match to pull off, and I’m not sure WWE did it correctly here. First, Becky Lynch needed a win. There’s no doubt about the fact that her character has been put on the back burner, and to heat her up again, she needed a big victory on TV. That being said, why is Ruby Riott and why is her Riott Squad, a new, fresh act, used as the fodder?
Lynch was absent from TV because of the Riott Squad, and the group beating her down was a big entrance for them. To have Becky return and just get that win right away de-values anything you built up with the new Riott Squad stable. The equity there is dwindling. The Riott Squad, and Ruby especially, is a different look for the WWE women’s division, but I don’t think that WWE is going to take them seriously.
The Bludgeon Brothers beat The Ascension
In terms of optics, this looked like the Bludgeon Brothers beating a big and powerful team in the Ascension, but anyone who has watched SmackDown for any length of time knows that the Ascension are glorified enhancement talent.
The Bludgeon Brothers, as an act, have a chance to get over well but their dumb name and dumb attire might hold them back in the long term.
Mojo Rawley beat Zack Ryder
Mojo’s heel personality is strong, but nothing about his look has changed since he went heel on Ryder a few weeks ago. His gear, with the popping colors, still comes across as something a babyface would wear.
But on the whole, he has changed his character. His demeanor is different and they’ve established a credible reason for why he went heel on Ryder, frustrated with Zack holding him back.
The Fashion Police beat Rusev Day
I like that The Fashion Police at least have a different name now. There’s nothing more annoying than WWE pairing up two singles wrestlers as a tag team and then just combining their singles names. It screams “we’re lazy!!!”
Breezango, Jerishow … the only one that was even remotely clever was Rated RKO for Edge and Randy Orton.
Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura & AJ Styles beat Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
The main event sent the crowd home happy (at least the television crowd, who didn’t have to sit around for 205 Live). On top of that, it gives Daniel Bryan plenty of ammunition in his feud against Shane McMahon for next week and coming weeks.
The promo earlier in the show also established Shinsuke as wanting to be WWE Champion, so it will be interesting to see if they do eventually begin a build towards Nakamura vs. Styles for WrestleMania. As we saw in New Japan just a few years ago, that match can — and likely will — absolutely steal the show in New Orleans if WWE decides to pull the trigger on it (hint: they should).