As WrestleMania 30 fades from memory, and amidst the death of WWE legend Ultimate Warrior, Daniel Bryan has assumed the role as face of the company by winning the WWE Championship on the grandest stage of them all. The journey towards the title was propelled by the “Yes” movement, as Bryan got a promotion from B+ player to main event superstar.
The victory for Bryan is seen as a victory for the smarks and the Internet Wrestling Community (IWC) — that has an antagonistic relationship with all things WWE — in their ongoing battle with Triple H and Vince McMahon for control over the company’s direction. The IWC believes they can push programming, bending it to their will and making stars out of wrestlers who in years past would have had no chance. This, of course, is a fallacy. For anyone who can remember, this isn’t the first time the IWC has tried to make a star and failed. Witness Zack Ryder as the most prominent case.
As much as people want to believe it, the “Yes” movement was not organically grown. It was born out of necessity due to the fact that CM Punk, the established anti-establishment star, went AWOL. Bryan inherited the role by default, and the once pitter patter of “yes” chants started gaining steam, as fans needed a new anti-hero. In essence, any wrestler in WWE could have been Bryan.
The movement is not so much pro-Bryan as it is anti-Triple H and McMahon. Fans bitterness and anger driven by Triple H built the “Yes” movement, not Bryan, whose title win was nothing but the WWE paying lip-service to the fans they’ve manipulated into believing they were involved in the decision making process. For now, the fans have been pacified, but the movement is on borrowed time, and will ultimately fail for a myriad of reasons.
First, Bryan is not “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, despite the numerous comparisons made between “Yes” and “3:16.” Then again, neither was Punk as the revolving door of anti-establishment stars keeps spinning. Bryan is hindered by character weaknesses. His promos are tedious and he lacks personality, sounding like a mannequin with a voice. Crowds are listless unless he can get them to chant “yes” as fans cheer in spite of him, because they falsely believe it affects WWE storylines and because Bryan’s opponent was Triple H, the embodiment of the corporate establishment.
Furthermore, the “Yes” movement was wholly manufactured drivel, as evidenced by the superficial “Occupy Raw” segment where the occupiers were WWE employees.
Second, Bryan is a transitional champion, and even that might be stretching it. Vince has always had WWE poster boys, whether it was Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, The Rock or John Cena. Only Austin was the surprise that Vince did not anticipate. However, current poster boy Cena elicits too many boos and is used more to sell t-shirts to 10 year olds, so the WWE is facing a dilemma. Enter Bryan, a modern day Bret Hart.
Now that is not a knock on Hart, who actually was the excellence of execution, but without the self-destructive behavior of Michaels or Hogan leaving for World Championship Wrestling, he never would have gotten the push he got. Though, when the chance presented itself, Vince wasted no time in ripping the belt away from him, and will do the same to Bryan. As case in point, the embarrassing, 18 second long WrestleMania 28 match.
Lastly, Bryan was not the reason his storyline went over with the crowd. That distinction belongs to Triple H. He sold their storyline and got the fans emotionally invested, not Bryan. Even if Bryan does get the loudest cheers, he is still the least interesting performer in WWE, and once Triple H moves on, the movement will die out as the fickle IWC fans turn their ironic anger elsewhere.
In the end, Bryan is just a placeholder for the “next big thing” to arrive — possibly Bray Wyatt or Roman Reigns, or even former “big thing” Brock Lesnar. Bryan is a victim of circumstance, with a personality that is devoid of appeal. He will never be the face of the WWE, because he is simply not good enough.
Vince already knows this, and fans will soon believe it too, because contrary to popular belief, fans still believe what the WWE tells them to, no matter how many times they chant “yes.”