Daniel Bryan is a hot topic in pro wrestling social media today and the debate continues as to whether he is truly over or not. Bryan had a golden opportunity to prove naysayers wrong on WWE RAW and unfortunately all he did was reinforce their criticisms.
I have been having this debate on podcasts and on Twitter for the last couple of weeks. There is a big difference between someone being over with the live audience and someone being over with the mass audience. Hulk Hogan could walk out on RAW Monday and get a standing ovation but are people going to go out of their way to watch him in six weeks after the initial pop wears off? No but if you turned on television you’d probably still see the same pop from the live crowd for him. This is where the waters get muddied regarding Daniel Bryan.
Bryan is certainly over with the live crowd but he is struggling badly to get over in terms of drawing money and eyes. The only real test these days are ratings. Ratings are broken down by quarter hours so it is easy to see who the casual audience wants to watch and who they don’t. I am not a big John Cena fan but when you look at the ratings he still draws the best numbers for a reason. Daniel Bryan on the other hand is having a difficult time connecting.
I started this conversation a few weeks back when Bryan headlined RAW against Randy Orton. Bryan opened and closed that show and while his segments were great, his ratings were terrible. That is why I was fascinated to see this week’s rating. Bryan wrestled three matches to close the show. How much more of a chance would he ever get to prove himself as a ratings draw? It was almost as if Vince McMahon wanted him to go out there and prove critics wrong by giving him three matches in the final segment.
Or was Vince setting him up to fail?
The ratings are in and they aren’t good. The third hour declined in viewership according to a detailed report on PWTorch.com. The show took a steep decline in the third hour from 4.162 million viewers to 3.933 million viewers. That is huge! The quarter hours aren’t out yet so it’s hard to get a real gage on exactly when the viewers left. Regardless no matter how you cut it it’s not a good sign for Daniel Bryan.
But is it his fault? I think that’s a tough question to answer. Personally I don’t think Bryan has been booked to succeed. He is portrayed as a goof, an idiot, and an over achiever. You have Brad Maddox in the beginning of the show mocking his size which amazes me. In 1984 you couldn’t make fun of Hulk Hogan’s hair for a reason if you were a WWF heel. Yet in 2013 it is perfectly acceptable to accentuate the weakness of one of your top stars?
I want Bryan to succeed, I really do. Yet the facts are the facts and the numbers don’t lie. He’s struggling and while I don’t necessarily blame him at some point we all just have to come to the conclusion he is not a draw.
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