The WWE Three Count column is back because it gives me a chance to write about three different topics that are on my mind for that particular week. The rest of December will likely focus on end of the year topics, plus a look at next week’s WWE TLC pay-per-view. For now, I’m going to start off by talking about the current WWE Champion, Daniel Bryan.
Daniel Bryan is finding new life as the heel WWE Champion
When the news broke this past March that Daniel Bryan had been cleared to wrestle again after three years on the shelf due to concussions, the wrestling world rejoiced. Bryan is one of the best professional wrestlers of the last 15 years and if you only focus on WWE, I would put him right at the top during his run in the company from 2011 to 2014.
While there was initial excitement over his return with good reason, it just didn’t feel the same after WrestleMania. Bryan was put in a feud with Big Cass, who cut the same promos every big man wrestler does when they face Bryan, which is making fun of his height. That’s the Vince McMahon go to promo because it’s cheap heat. Their matches were fine, but also a bit boring. Bryan moved on to feuding with The Miz, which was a natural rivalry that a lot of us got excited about. Looking back, was it really that great? No. It was just okay. The matches were fine and some of the promo segments were entertaining, but it was hardly the feud of the year contender a lot of us hoped it would be.
When Daniel Bryan won the WWE Title from AJ Styles on the November 13 Smackdown, he did it after a low blow kick to the groin and a running knee to the face. After the match, Bryan stomped on AJ’s face to cement his heel turn. That set up Bryan for the Survivor Series main event against Brock Lesnar, which was a very entertaining match.
I didn’t expect the title change, but I’m glad that they did it and for anybody that thought Bryan would be unable to pull off an entertaining heel act, he’s showing you that he can do a great job of it. That doesn’t surprise me because he was very entertaining as a heel in 2011-12 and the whole “YES” chant started when Bryan was a heel that used that to taunt the fans. Bryan was also a tremendous heel in Ring of Honor last decade, so there’s not a concern about whether he can pull it off.
Bryan has already shown he knows how to get genuine heat by ripping on the fans. This week, he went another route by ranting about the way society harms planet Earth. Here’s some of the dialogue from Bryan’s promo this week on Smackdown:
“I kicked one man in the groin on one day. These people harm the Earth every single day with their needless consumption, every single day they drink their plastic water bottles, every single day they eat their factory farmed meat, which emits methane into the atmosphere, which causes permanent change to the climate! If you want to count sins, I kicked one man in the groin on one day. These people commit countless atrocities against the Earth and future generations every single day, every single week, every single month, every single year – count the sins!”
It’s Daniel Bryan, the environmentalist! It’s how he really is because he has talked about protecting the Earth for years, so give him and WWE a lot of credit for making a gimmick out of this. The real Bryan isn’t going to rip on somebody for not believing in what he believes in, but as a wrestling character, it works perfectly. The gimmick reminds me of CM Punk doing his Straight Edge Society character in 2009-10 where he would say he’s better than us because he didn’t drink alcohol or do drugs.
The best heels in wrestling often times are the ones that speak with conviction about something they believe in. Lying is part of being a heel too, but if they can speak truthfully and believe in whatever their cause is, that helps. Bryan didn’t get booed during that promo because what he said was false. He was booed because of how he said it while throwing in the “you people” stuff in a derogatory way, which is classic cheap heat. Blaming the fans for your own actions is what wrestlers always do.
I’m excited about this heel WWE Champion run of Daniel Bryan. It was by far the best thing on Raw or Smackdown this week. What I don’t know is who Bryan might face after he retains the WWE Title against AJ Styles next week. Smackdown doesn’t have a lot of faces at the top of the card right now. It might somebody like Rey Mysterio or Jeff Hardy, but both of them are past their prime in their early 40s now. Hopefully, there is somebody that emerges that can be a quality WrestleMania opponent for the evil WWE Champion. If not, maybe he can wrestle a plastic water bottle?
Raw’s Tag Team division is a complete mess
There are a lot of things that frustrate me about WWE’s Monday Night Raw these days. The shows are boring most weeks, the faces are made to look like losers way too often, and there’s a lack of star power with no Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, or Braun Strowman around. I enjoy seeing Drew McIntyre on the receiving end of a push, though, so that’s encouraging. I’m less interested in all of the Baron Corbin segments because I find him boring as the heel GM. The worst thing of all may be the tag team division.
The feud between Raw Tag Team Champions AOP (with their tiny manager Drake Maverick) vs. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable hasn’t gone well for either side. After Maverick pissed his pants at Survivor Series, it led to multiple weeks of pee jokes that Vince McMahon probably thought were hilarious. It even led to Maverick pissing on Roode’s robe in a bathroom. Lame comedy. This week on Raw, Roode and Gable were made to look like fools again. If the story ends with Roode and Gable winning the Tag Team Titles, maybe this story could be considered a success, but I doubt AOP loses the titles so soon after winning them.
The other tag team feud involves the babyface Lucha House Party (Lince Dorado, Kalisto, and Gran Metalik) wrestling the heel team known as the Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder). The bizarre thing about these matches is the ring announcer will say the match is “Lucha House Rules” which means it’s a 3 on 2 match for the LHP or even 3 on 1 against Dawson this week. That leads the announcers to wonder what Lucha House Party rules are. How are we supposed to know? This is just something WWE made up out of thin air with no explanation.
It makes even less sense considering that Raw is currently being run by a heel authority figure like Baron Corbin. This is the same guy that makes things unfair against Roode and Gable, yet he’s helping Lucha House Party? Why would he allow Lucha House Rules and 3 on 2 matches to benefit the face side? Of course, there’s no explanation by WWE’s creative team or by Corbin. By having the two Revival guys face three opponents, it makes the fans sympathetic towards The Revival, which is not what WWE should want since The Revival are clearly heels. The announcers questioning and complaining about the rules isn’t helping matters either.
Why should I cheer for the guys that win 3 on 1 handicap matches? I want to boo them because it’s unfair. Just because they carry around pinatas and hand them out to kids doesn’t make them likable to me. That’s why this whole thing is very confusing.
We want better storylines, WWE. It’s not that hard. Book a team to beat the other teams on the show for a month. Have them earn a title shot. We don’t need to see guys pissing on a robe or 3 on 2 handicap matches every week. Those aren’t good storylines. They make me want to turn off the show.
The arrival of Lars Sullivan should lead to a monster push because he is exactly what Vince McMahon likes
If you have been watching WWE TV regularly for the last month then you have likely noticed the Lars Sullivan video packages that have aired. Every time they air, the Raw and Smackdown announce teams talk about him as if he is a coveted free agent like you’d see you in professional sports. It’s up to Stephanie or Shane McMahon to get him to sign with their show. Is he really worth all the hype? No, but he is the kind guy that Vince McMahon likes. Since Vince is booking and writing the shows, he’s going to give us what he wants a lot of time. That is Lars Sullivan.
When you look at Sullivan, he is an impressive physical special. He’s not that tall at only about 6’1” or so, but when you are as thick as him and look like a bigger dude that carries 250 pounds well, WWE is going to treat you like a monster. Plus, he’s got an intimidating look about him with a mean looking face, big hands, and the bald head that makes him look tougher.
Smaller wrestlers in NXT like Ricochet, Tommaso Ciampa, and Johnny Gargano are much better all-around performers than Sullivan and in a perfect world, they would be wrestling in main roster main events with the likes of AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan. However, they are not big, so whether those smaller NXT talents are big stars on the main roster is an unknown at this point.
What Vince McMahon always wants are the bigger guys. It’s why The Undertaker, Kane, and Big Show are still around even when they are well past their primes. It’s why Braun Strowman got a monster push in the last two years. I’m not saying Strowman didn’t deserve it because I like him, but when you are booked to win 95% of your matches in a dominant way, of course you are going to be looked at as a big star by the fans.
I’m not sure what show Sullivan will be on. Most likely, he’ll be a heel that wins squash matches for at least three months, if not more. Raw seems heavy on the heel side with bigger heels like Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre, and Bobby Lashley. Smackdown feels like a good fit for Sullivan, but we all know WWE views Raw as the “A” show even though Smackdown is clearly better.
It would be to Sullivan’s benefit if he had a manager to do promos for him. However, WWE doesn’t have a lot of managers right now. I’m not sure if they will give him a manager or he’ll simply be the guy that grunts at the camera with intensity.
When Sullivan debuts on the main roster, he’ll probably win every match and sometimes they will be handicap matches. That should go on for several months. At the Royal Rumble, he will probably eliminate the most guys. At WrestleMania, I can see him winning the battle royal unless there’s some storyline for him to have a match.
My expectations for Sullivan are low. I saw a lot of his work in NXT and while I enjoyed some things, like a Takeover match against Aleister Black, he doesn’t impress me that much. He’s just a regular guy to me. I don’t expect him to captivate the audiences with his matches. If this was 1987 and Vince needed to feed Hulk Hogan another heel to beat, then he’d be perfect for it. In 2018 and 2019, I’m not as interested in Sullivan. It’s up to him to prove me wrong.
Thanks for reading. The next WWE pay-per-view is TLC on Sunday, December 16 on WWE Network. I’ll be back next week for a closer look at that with some predictions on what might happen. Have a great weekend.