Said, woman, take it slow
It’ll work itself out fine
All we need is just a little patience
Said, sugar, make it slow
And we come together fine
All we need is just a little patience
(Patience) – Axl Rose
These days we consider Jim Cornette to be ridiculously out of touch with modern wrestling. I don’t think he takes it as an insult. One of Cornette’s talking points from the pre-podcast days was the idea that everything in modern wrestling happens too fast. The matches go by too quick, the feuds & angles don’t last long enough to resonate, and promotions blow through things in a month that could go on for a lot longer.
There are legitimate reasons why this happens, even more so now than when Cornette originally made the point. WWE has three hours of Raw, two hours of SmackDown & an hour each of NXT, 205 Live, Main Event, and maybe even something I’m forgetting off the top of my head to produce every single week. Not to mention the PPVs that take up more hours with each passing month. It’s a lot of time that needs to be filled with something.
Don’t expect this to change. Wrestling companies have never been in the business of lowering their output unless they were in financial crisis. If you look at WWE’s stock price, you can see they aren’t in financial crisis.
Sometimes I forget how long it’s been since Cornette did those eight-hour RF Video shoot interviews. At the same time those were happening, today’s smart mark was a young fan that didn’t know anything except what was put in front of them. Their first exposure to wrestling was the Monday Night War, when WWF & WCW were throwing everything at the wall to get an edge on their competitor. Today’s smart mark grew up on Vince Russo booking the same way Cornette grew up on Memphis wrestling. Long-term stories aren’t valued by today’s “die hard wrestling fan” the same way they were by previous generations.
Long-term storytelling isn’t what it used to be, but WWE can still pull it off from time to time. Even when people don’t think it’s working. Take the Bayley/Sasha Banks saga. They’ve been on the verge of breaking up since the Royal Rumble. They tried to stay friends in spite of mounting tension, tempers flaring & everybody on the Internet yelling & screaming that they should just break up already.
Hey, I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a long-running friendship, but breaking these things up takes time. You don’t always agree with your best friend, and maybe the disagreements grow over time, but you don’t make a decision like ending a friendship too rashly. After all, it’s tough to get a new best friend.
Bayley finally snapped on Monday night. They’d had an altercation the week before, but it’d seemingly blown over enough that they could team with Ember Moon in a six-woman tag team match. After the match, we found out otherwise.
You know what else we found out? People wanted to see it. Bayley got a better reaction for beating up Sasha than she got for anything else she did this year. The time spent telling the story made it matter more than if Bayley had attacked Sasha the night after the Royal Rumble & ended the friendship after one misunderstanding. Creative took their time, and it paid off.
A little patience goes a long way. I think one wrestler has a fanbase that’s less patient than any other.
Sorry Daniel, but it’s true. I say it as a proud member of the Yes Movement. Daniel Bryan fans whine & complain about how their favorite wrestler is used more than any other fanbase. It’s not even close, honestly.
Have Bryan’s fans had reason to complain? Sometimes. Certainly not as often as they’d have you believe. If Bryan’s not being booked as champion, or regularly going over in “dream match” booking against certain guys, his fans are going to let you know about it. I feel like this only got worse when we were convinced that we were why Bryan won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXX. So it’s actually WWE’s fault for creating this monster.
Bryan’s booking hasn’t been a grand slam since his return. The WrestleMania match teaming with Shane McMahon against Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn went the right way in that it didn’t lead to a feud with Shane McMahon. Bryan vanquished the evil Canadians & everybody was happy. We all figured that he’d be going for the WWE Championship next, which would lead to dream matches with AJ Styles & Shinsuke Nakamura. Or he’d be targeting The Miz, which has been WWE’s best long-term feud in recent memory. Either of these seemed like the obvious next step.
Turns out Big Cass was the next step. It wasn’t a terrible idea on paper. Cass was somebody WWE had high hopes for, so why not feud him with Bryan & use that to make people care about him? The answer: Because Cass got himself fired.
Hey, sometimes things just don’t work. WWE picked the wrong guy to try & get over. It was a waste of time for Daniel Bryan. It happens. When it does, you just have to move on to the next thing. Would it be AJ Styles? Could it be time for The Miz? Would it be Samoa Joe or somebody else we like?
I’m fine with the Bludgeon Brothers. Harper & Rowan are big dudes & play their roles well. The only problem is there aren’t many tag teams interested in challenging them. They already crushed the Usos & the New Day. Who else is there? Nobody, really. That’s where Bryan comes in, and it just so happens that he has a long-running frenemy that for right now is a friend again.
Of course, the idea of Bryan teaming or feuding with Kane is anathema to many of Bryan’s fans. Kane’s never been much of an Internet favorite. He’s big with the casual fans though, and it’s tough to deny that Team Hell No wasn’t a major part of getting Bryan to the next level with those folks. Whether Bryan’s hardcore fans like it or not, Kane is as big a part of Bryan’s career as anybody else on the WWE roster. It’s long-term storytelling that paid off with Bryan & Kane hugging their issues out in front of a cheering crowd that was all about it.
Was it perfect? No, but that’s mainly because Kane’s decisions are inconsistent. You can never really tell where that guy’s coming from. The last time Kane & Bryan were in the same room, Kane chokeslammed him. Now he’s saving him from Harper & Rowan. Is there a reason? Maybe, maybe not. It’s Kane. Hopefully Kane & Bryan end it as friends before Kane retires to become Mayor of Knoxville. Bryan can induct him into the Hall of Fame after his term ends. This seems like the proper ending to me. Afterwards, Bryan moves on to Miz, who seemed pretty happy to hide behind Harper & Rowan during the opening segment on Tuesday night. The longer Miz tries to avoid Bryan, the happier we’ll be when Bryan finally makes him tap out.