The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. This was an idea I’ve had for a while. I originally saw it in Game Informer, although it seems to be a common thing in journalism. I’ll use it to highlight the good, the bad and the ugly of a certain feature, whether it’s a match, a storyline, an event or a news story. I won’t be doing it every week, rather only on those occasions when I feel there’s something to feature that would really suit the format. This week, I’ll be taking on the brutal Street Fight between Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton in the main event of RAW 6/24/13.
I almost don’t want to say just “good.” Everything ranged more from awesome to fudgin’ epic, and I don’t like to use that word carelessly. First of all, it was a great match. Methodical, hard-hitting (surprisingly so, especially with the use of that chair), clever and also very dramatic – that’s what we were treated to on Monday night.
But what’s neat about this match is how Daniel Bryan successfully made Randy Orton tap out. I know we’ve had a lot of characters in the past who made it their priority to emphasize just how big of a flippin’ deal it is to submit someone. The general idea? It’s one thing, an easier thing, to catch someone unawares or knock them out long enough for a three-count, but a much more calculated and cruel thing to inflict enough damage on someone to the point where they must make the conscious decision to give up. Really, about the same spiel as I Quit Matches. In a less dramatic way, it does seem to have an effect on the audience (you don’t ever hear, “You got pinned!” when someone loses by pinfall) and there’s the fact it’s simply less common to see a submission. Oh, and did I mention we’re talking about Randy Orton? Randy Orton, the nine-time world champion who’s occasionally been criticized as not losing cleanly enough? This incredibly over, allegedly protected wrestler taps out to Daniel freakin’ Bryan? You bet that’s good.
Daniel Bryan’s been heaped with character development out the wazoos since Team Hell No vs. The Shield really kicked into high gear. (Really since cashing in Money in the Bank, but with some lulls.) In the fallout of their title loss, WWE refocused on building a rivalry between Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan. It may have not led to Orton’s long asked for heel turn (yet), but that fact may have actually been to the benefit of Bryan. Rather than Orton turning heel, thus being the conflict for Bryan to overcome, thus demanding more camera time to flesh out his new mindset, his motivations, yada yada – we instead got Daniel Bryan creating the conflict for himself, projecting his insecurities on Orton, and thus most the mic time was spent by Bryan pretty much creating a conflict out of intangibles. The focus has been on him, not Orton. He’s been the one becoming a bigger star, whereas Orton’s just been the template on which he superimposed an illusionary conflict. As far as giving a conflict for a rising babyface to overcome, it’s pretty freakin’ brilliant.
And what do we get at the end? An unlikely victory over an unlikely loser. Daniel Bryan’s overcome his insecurities, he put on a stellar performance and generally wowed millions of fans. He may have been World Heavyweight Champion before, but this is his biggest win ever in WWE. His television wins over CM Punk last year were nice ways to introduce him to the WWE Championship scene (and have one of my favorite matches ever), but they still left a lot of questions unanswered. Will the WWE ever take him seriously? Is his height too much of an obstacle? Can he beat top stars without any funny business?
All of those questions were brought to light with the “Weak Link” tag line, allowing for Bryan to field all those questions in just one story, and finally answer them in the rubber match: YES! The WWE can take him seriously. NO! His height won’t be an obstacle. YES! He can beat top stars without any funny business. Any more questions?
Just one. Will he ever be WWE Champion?
Let’s see what happens at Money in the Bank.
Although I loved the storyline, it still does kind of stink that Randy Orton hasn’t turned heeled yet. I actually don’t see much evidence of him slacking it in the ring. He normally seems pretty enthusiastic to me. He yells a lot at least. I think it’d be fair to argue almost any wrestler looks a bit routine during their week-to-week television matches, unless they’re on a particularly good streak.
However, I still love Randy Orton as a heel, and I do want him to be in a role that he’d prefer. To me, it’s not the ring work that’s suffered from him being a face (I thought the best matches of his career were as a face during his feud with Christian), but the promos, the character. He’s been directionless for so long, a borderline auxiliary talent. It’s been great for Daniel Bryan (and really I wouldn’t have it any other way because I’m completely biased in favor of Bryan), but I would like to see that turn, which would be more than a turn of character. It’d give him a new direction, a new trajectory for his career. Randy Orton turning heel isn’t the same as when some jobber on Superstars does. (Sorry my old home.) It means there’s a big program in the works. That means we’ll also have to accept Orton won’t turn heel until there’s room for him to have such a program. Could they work it in as a result of his loss to Daniel Bryan? I dunno.
Nothing was especially hard to watch in their match, but that slightly misplaced T-Bone Suplex into the table made me grimace a little. Partly because Daniel Bryan was holding his arm in a way that made me think he might have suffered another stinger. That sort of thing really terrifies me. We don’t want any more wrestlers to go the way of Edge. For conjuring up images of a teary eyed Daniel Bryan saying his farewell on RAW, that spot deserves to be called ugly. I hope that table doesn’t get asked to prom.
As always, thanks for reading. Let me know what you think of the GBU concept. I’m open to criticisms and suggestions. Until next week, I’m going to go repeat the phrase, “Do you want fries with that?” while working the register at Wendy’s. Or, more likely, “Do you want half- or full-sized?” because surprisingly their salads are crazy popular. In the meantime, check me out on Twitter, shoot me an angry email (seriously, it must be really fun, otherwise my mother wouldn’t do it all the time) and take a gander at my fiction page.