Barnett’s Raw Blog: Daniel Bryan is becoming a political character, and is inching his way towards to jumping the shark, plus other thoughts
By Jake Barnett
The occupy movement, in terms of newsworthiness, is such a stale loaf of bread that you could probably beat somebody to death with it at this point. WWE, always at least a year (this time 3) behind the cultural curve, wants to use that concrete baguette to make Daniel Bryan into WWE’s version of a counter culture hero, but instead of wearing Guy Fawkes masks, you wear that Daniel Bryan shirt that makes him look like an existentialist hobo.
If you caught the Raw Post Show, you also heard Daniel Bryan talk about, among other things, how his Yes Movement is comparable to telling corporations that they aren’t allowed to pollute the planet. I’m as big a fan of Daniel Bryan as anyone, but no….no it isn’t. This is where WWE and Daniel Bryan can nudge this character off the hype train for WrestleMania, and directly onto a pair of water skis to jump over a shark. As cliché as shark jumping has become in the internet age where new memes are created ad nauseam at all hours of the day, it certainly fits here, because wrestling and politics only mix in the general and not the specific.
If the desire creatively is to cast Daniel Bryan as a revolutionary figure that will upend the power structure in WWE, then that’s a fine story to tell. Where they lose me is asking me to buy into Daniel Bryan as a politically liberal wrestling superhero that makes clumsy metaphors about his personal passions like environmentalism, sustainability, and corporate privilege. It’s not that there is anything wrong with Bryan’s passions or his politics; it’s that it’s too specific, and as a fan who wants to see him given a shot to be the lead baby face in the company, he can’t afford to divide the WWE audience with politics. That doesn’t even begin to address the logical problems with Bryan being employed by a monopolistic global wrestling company, while potentially playing a character that thinks corporations are unrepentantly evil.
It’s not hard to understand why they would try this road. Wrestlers are historically more successful when they play characters that are amplifications of their own personalities. Steve Austin used that formula to become the most successful WWE Superstar ever. The question of course is whether it makes sense this time, and whether or not tweaks need to be made after watching what was presented last night. I think the primary difference is that somebody like Steve Austin cussed a lot, drank beer, and refused to take shit from anyone. If Daniel Bryan is a sweetheart who likes to talk about renewable energy and farm-to-table living, is that a mass market wrestling character or a niche one?
Bryan is in a prime position to finally capitalize on months of building fan frustration and capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania. It’s my hope that he does so without having needlessly gone political in a way that cools off a portion of the audience that would have otherwise cheered him had he stuck within the context of wrestling and avoided politics altogether.
Random Raw Thoughts:
1. Bray Wyatt gave some fantastic promos last night, and John Cena proved why he’s not the guy that Bray should feud with, because his character is limited to schoolyard insults for the return volley.
2. Nobody does condescending quite like Stephanie McMahon. It’s almost like she was born with it.
3. Paul Heyman really made the streak feel special last night. He did not, however, make it feel like it was in danger. In the end, it was an entertaining segment but a missed opportunity.
4. The one thing I grabbed from the Total Divas season two premiere trailer is that listening to Summer Rae talk for long periods of time may be detrimental to your mental health.
5. The Main Event of Raw was solid and the finish made sense considering that this was a very Daniel Bryan heavy show. The next few weeks have to put heat on Triple H, Batista, and Randy Orton in a major way, because you can’t have Return of the Jedi without the Empire striking back first.
Do you have questions, comments, or concerns? Feel free to rip me a new one at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @barnettjake.
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