Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Your move, Yes Nation
Well, you got what you want Yes Nation. Your man is finally the WWE World Champion, after seven-plus months of chasing the title and getting screwed out of it repeatedly. He was derisively called a B-plus player on camera by Triple H and Stephanie (and probably off camera by them and others) and was cast out of the main event of WrestleMania only to be reinserted when you guys voiced your displeasure with being force fed a main event of Batista vs. Randy Orton. And for once, you got your wish. The man you championed is your champion. And now comes the hard part: keeping him there. You see, in the eyes of WWE management he's still a B-plus player. He's not a guy to cross over into mainstream entertainment media like the Mount Rushmore of modern day WWE superstars (Hogan, Austin, Rock, and yes, John Cena), not a guy who will move the needle in terms of television ratings, pay per view buyrates (and WWE network subscriptions), and house show ticket sales. So far, he gets the crowd to cheer loudly for him and he sells a good bit of t-shirts. That's a good start, but if that's all he does from a business standpoint then his run at the top won't be a long one. What Triple H has been saying during this whole storyline is true. They have to do what's best for business and if Daniel Bryan as champion does not improve or at least maintain the level of revenue that came in before he got his big main event push he will correctly be labeled not a big enough draw and sent back to the high midcard.
Now if you want to avoid that, if you don't want Daniel Bryan to go the way of say, Alberto Del Rio, then it's up to you. You have to tune in whenever he's on RAW or Smackdown. You have to buy the pay per views when he's defending the title, even if it's a forgone conclusion match against an opponent he has no chance of losing to. And finally, most importantly, you have to buy some tickets and go to house shows where he's on top of the card. You may not like John Cena, but his fans show up for him. Don't let the vocal crowds at RAW and Pay Per Views fool you; those fans are the ones who will show up regardless. But a house show where nothing newsworthy is going to happen, where you are just going to see these guys work in the ring and nothing else, is a true test of a star's drawing power. House shows don't the business they once did, largely because most people know that nothing major is going to happen there, but they still draw five to ten thousand people on a good day. Those crowd are largely pro-Cena; you can chalk it up to it being kids and their dads if you want to, but at the end of the day a purchased ticket is a purchased ticket. Those same kids may not as eager to go see Bryan if their hero Cena is not there; if the slack isn't picked up somewhere then Vince and Triple H are going to look out at the stands and see a house with three thousand fans for Daniel Bryan that had five thousand when Cena was in the main event. That's real money, and at the end of the day the WWE is a business. They don't exist just for you to watch when you feel like it; they exist to make money.
So the ball is in your court, Yes Nation. You have the chance to make Daniel Bryan the next big thing. Don't do like my generation of fans did in 1990 when the Ultimate Warrior was given a chance to run with the title after beating Hulk Hogan. Those of us who were pulling for the Warrior rejoiced at his WrestleMania VI victory and then we.....did nothing. We didn't support him, and less than a year later the belt was taken off of him and put on Sgt. Slaughter in order to set up another Hogan title reign. The Warrior was never a serious title threat again. The same thing happened with Bret Hart, and Diesel, and Shawn Michaels, before Stone Cold Steve Austin finally secured the position at the top in 1998. If Cena's star is on the wane, and CM Punk doesn't come back, then someone has to carry the torch as either the new standard bearer or the man to keep the ship afloat until the next icon emerges. Bryan can do it, but not without your support and more importantly, your money. It's up to you make the dream continue to be a reality. Put up or shut up time, folks. What's it gonna be?