Last week, WWE gave us one of the worst 2 hours and 45 minutes in Monday Night Raw history. Then, suddenly, none of that seemed to matter.
With 15 minutes left on what was a brutal Raw to that point, we were given one of the most interesting and captivating angles we have seen in years. The original NXT rookies, spearheaded by winner Wade Barrett, purposefully exploded onto the main event scene and in one fell swoop they completely dismantled John Cena, CM Punk, the SES, the ring announcer, the timekeeper, the TV announcers (sans Michael Cole), and everything else in their path.
It was one of the most striking scenes in the TV-PG era of WWE, and I think there are two main reasons why this was such a revelation:
1. Because it was a throwback to the Attitude Era that still seemed fresh, given the fact that they were elevating eight rookies at once, which had never been done before;
and 2. Because of the “unscripted” feel that the segment had as the NXT rooks literally destroyed everything in a very veteran-like, nuanced performance that was accentuated by all of the little things they did with such a momentous spot.
Let’s face it, the entire episode of Raw before the NXT Invasion was chock filled with all of the things I hate about TV-PG WWE: outlandish angles with guest hosts (I mean how do you BOTCH having Rampage Jackson on a wrestling show?!), and sloppy unfunny comedy segments — Khali and Hornswoggle being thrown together as a tag team; Koslov and Santino having a dance-off — that took WAY too long with little payoff.
And to think, all of that precious time could have been used to, I don’t know, give more of a thoughtful follow-up to the Evan Bourne push rather than relegating him to a quick minute with Cena backstage.
However, with all of that said, NOBODY was talking about the first 2 hours and 45 minutes of Raw this week, because that’s how AWESOME the NXT Invasion angle was. It was a rare surprise from WWE lately, and the fact that this angle has been continued throughout this past week in multiple formats – TV shows, FCW house shows, Twitter posts – shows an even rarer sense of total commitment to a new storyline from Vince McMahon and Company.
And yet, here I am, one week later, and I have to talk about how this NXT Invasion — something that gave us all so much hope over the past 7 days — has already been given a huge blow to its staying power with this weekend’s RIDICULOUS decision by WWE to release Bryan Danielson.
Danielson was the CLEAR standout during last week’s segment. He played his role as the anti-establishment antagonist perfectly, and those little nuances I mentioned before were all over Danielson’s actions. He played into the NXT gangbusters’ mentality with everything he did, and he did it to perfection. First, he picked on / preyed on Justin Roberts and choked him out, making Roberts look like Popeye. Then, he got in on the action against Cena and had the most memorable exchange of the night. The way he yelled at Cena and said “You’re no better than me!” repeatedly, the way he spit at Cena and then kicked him in the head, it was exactly what a hotheaded member of a gang would do when trying to make a statement against the establishment.
Ultimately, Danielson was simply playing his character to the hilt and doing it so well that it seems to have scared off someone in the TV-PG world that the WWE now relies on for sponsorships, investors, or, you know, senatorial campaigns in Connecticut that would rather see more pointless dance-offs and less emotionally charged TV resonance.
My two points are this:
1. The NXT Invasion last Monday night would NOT have been as memorable without Bryan Danielson’s actions, regardless on what was scripted and what wasn’t;
and 2. Just like they gained all of that momentum in one fell swoop with 15 minutes, they just lost a ton of it with one of the most miscalculated firings in the WWE’s history.
Let me wrap things up with something we can all hang our hats on. While we all are asking the same question in regards to Bryan Danielson’s release — “Why Vince Why?” — I personally believe that sometime sooner than later, Vince McMahon will be looking into a mirror and asking himself that same question.
Bryan Danielson WILL be a mainstream star somewhere, and when he is, I hope he continues to proverbially spit in the face of everyone in the all-too-corporate, fun-less, TV-PG-catering sports-entertainment world.
That’s all from me this week — CB.
Around The Pulse
It’s been awhile since I’ve officially given props on here, but I’ve remained an avid reader of everyone’s work on here and I can say this with absolute pride and conviction: The Pulse Wrestling staff is truly one of the best in the business, and it’s only gotten stronger over the years I’ve been here.
Pulse Glazer — our most prolific pontificator and one of the rising stars in ALL of the IWC — produces one of the best columns in the industry with his Tuesday Morning Backlash masterpieces every week.
To avoid being labeled a Pulse Wrestling “nottie”, I must pay my respects to Chantal. Her Hotties ‘n’ Notties columns offer up both a fresh take and a thoroughly entertaining look at all of the different looks in the wrestling world.
Meanwhile, Grey Scherl likes to explain his pro wrestling perspective in Shades of Grey, Will Pruett is still The People’s Columnist, and just for you, Raffi Shamir thinks about all things up for grabs in the wrestling world that are still To Be Determined.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t shout out two of the best weekly wrestling commentators I’ve ever worked with: Mark Allen and Andy Wheeler. These two are the consummate columnists, and you can check out their author pages for their most recent offerings of This Week in ‘E’ and For Your Consideration, respectively.
Now, that’s REALLY all from me this week — CB.
Tags: attitude era, Bryan Danielson, Daniel Bryan, john cena, Michael Cole, NXT, nxt invasion, Raw, sports entertainment, TV PG, vince mcmahon, Wade Barrett, WWE