If you watched RAW or SmackDown the last few weeks you’d believe that a Daniel Bryan revolution was going on in the WWE. If you read the recent RAW ratings report you’d probably realize that this revolution could be very short lived.
I am not a big ratings guy. Unlike a lot of my fellow bloggers and voices online I don’t pay particularly too much attention to the RAW ratings. However when something like Bryan opening and closing a RAW happens, I become intrigued with this week’s RAW ratings breakdown. It became apparent quickly that no matter what I think or what I am seeing on television, Daniel Bryan is not a draw.
[adinserter block=”1″]You won’t find a bigger Daniel Bryan fan than me. I go out of my way to watch him every time he is on WWE television. I still laugh every time he does a “Yes” or a “No” in a promo. So believe me when I tell you, I am not writing this blog as any kind of I told you so. On the contrary I have always thought the guy was money. I still think he is but maybe that money isn’t headlining for the WWE.
Monday was a real test of where Bryan stood as a draw in the WWE Universe. He opened and closed the show against one of the top stars in the company Randy Orton. The segments were part of a story that has built over the last few weeks. He had all of the tools to succeed and yet the reality is that the majority of the WWE fans still see Bryan as a mid-carder who is unimportant to them.
The Bryan vs. Orton match opened up RAW with a 2.82 which according to analysts is not a very good number. To put it into perspective Ricardo Rodriguez vs. Zeb Coulter vs. Big E back a few weeks ago opened with a 3.10. Now you tell me what you would find more compelling? I don’t even think I watched that Big E match yet to the casual fans and the WWE Universe that was bigger!
At least Orton and Bryan had a second chance right? Bryan vs. Orton in a Street Fight, a match picked by the WWE fans through the app mind you gained 104.000 viewers. That is not good at all for a final segment. Most segments on the non-NBA championship weeks have gained about 500-600,000 viewers over the last few weeks. I wouldn’t call it a flop because they didn’t lose anyone but the number certainly doesn’t make a case for Bryan breaking out as a big star.
I know what most of you Bryan fans are saying. “Screw the ratings, he’s the best!” I get it, I love watching the guy, but the reality is that he is just not connecting the way I thought he would. It’s ironic because you watch the television show and you have everyone in the crowd chanting along with him. This of course goes back to the argument as to what is an “over” guy. I have argued for two years that CM Punk is not over and hardcore Punk fans hate to hear that. They always argue that he gets big reactions from fans. So does Hulk Hogan when he walks out on Impact Wrestling yet nobody outside of the core TNA fan base is inclined to follow TNA because Hogan is there. As fun as CM Punk’s rise has been to watch isn’t a big ratings draw nor has he made a big difference to the pay per view numbers. Daniel Bryan is unfortunately falling into the same boat.
So what is it with Bryan? Why do I want to watch everything he does while the majority of the casual audience does not? Let’s start with Vince McMahon. When you have Vince McMahon going out of his way to point out how small Bryan is or script in segments calling him a hobbit, what do you expect? Remember when Kevin Nash went on television to point out how small Punk was and how he looked like a short order cook? Things like that matter to casual fans who are on the fence about a guy they have seen as a mid-card wrestler and when they hear it over and over again, subliminally they just aren’t going to buy in to this new hype.
Wins over Orton and The Shield were huge, absolutely huge, but let’s talk about the story for a second. Bryan has been portrayed as a “weak link” and a comedic character now for the last several weeks. There is nothing really to rally behind if you are a casual WWE fan. Who isn’t tired of hearing from that whiny guy or girl who is constantly complaining? Let’s be honest. Bryan has been playing a subtle heel and if things played out as they generally than he would have turned on Kane or Orton by now. Maybe fans just don’t trust him and are waiting for that shoe to drop? Why rally behind the cry baby?
[adinserter block=”2″]Does Daniel Bryan have the talent to work main-events and sustain as a headliner? I think he absolutely does yet perception is reality to WWE fans and the perception is that he is a goofy character who isn’t at that level. Bryan’s story should work like a Rocky story with fans getting behind the underdog. Unfortunately the WWE Creative minds did a poor job of setting that table. Thanks to them I think that this Bryan ride is a short one.
For that reason alone I am going to enjoy every second of it and hope it continues. Unfortunately in speaking of the WWE audience I think I am in the minority.
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