In case you haven’t noticed, Daniel Bryan has a new valet these days. Of course, that individual is none other than his lovely bride, Brie Bella. Naturally, one can’t help but make the comparison to the first lady of wrestling, Miss Elizabeth.
Miss Elizabeth, real name Elizabeth Ann Hulette, began managing Macho Man Randy Savage in the summer of 1985, less than a year since the two were married (for real). They quickly became the most famous couple in wrestling. The WWE may be trying to recreate the Savage-Elizabeth dynamic with Bryan and Brie. It’s pretty obvious that Brie is going to be a mainstay alongside Bryan, accompanying him almost everywhere he goes.
It’s not a bad idea. In fact, marriages in wrestling are almost always great, and there’s a very elementary reason for this: realism. As a viewer, it’s easy to suspend your disbelief when there are real emotions brought on by a real relationship inside the ring.
It’s also an elementary way for a heel to get heat. When Stephanie McMahon realized that stacking the odds against Bryan was never going to work, she went after his wife instead. First she forced Brie to watch the hellacious beating Kane dished out to her husband. Then she lured Brie into a Divas Championship match against Paige, intentionally putting her in harm’s way of Kane, who everyone knew was waiting in the wings (or under the ring).
Stephanie is using her power to toy with Bryan’s emotions, tactfully using his love for his wife against him. It’s despicable, ugly and downright sadistic. It’s also wrestling booking 101.
Miss Elizabeth didn’t shy away from storyline involvement, either. In fact, the year-long love triangle between Hulk Hogan, Savage and Elizabeth from 1988 to 1989 is considered by many to be one of the greatest storylines the WWE has ever done.
To give you some idea of just how successful that program was, here are some stats. WrestleMania II, III and IV did 250,000, 400,000 and 485,000 PPV buys respectively. WrestleMania V in 1989, built around the aforementioned love triangle, garnered 767,000 PPV buys. That’s almost a 60 percent increase from the previous year. The buyrate for WrestleMania V went untouched for a decade before losing out to WrestleMania XV in 1999, which did 800,000 buys. That show had the Rock defending the WWE Championship against Stone Cold Steve Austin at the height of the attitude era.
Will Bella mean as much to the business as Elizabeth? It’s way too early to tell, but there’s no reason to think it absolutely can’t happen. The WWE probably feels that Bryan needs a little extra something — an added edge to remain on top. They’re taking advantage of a real-life situation that fell into their lap, and it’s hard to blame them.