Hello everyone, I'm glad you could join me for another edition of Planet Kayfabe. I'm K.C. and I'm also just about the only person WWE hasn't turned heel this fall season apparently. Yes, like the turning of the clocks it seems like WWE has switched half their roster from 'good' to 'evil' lately. The latest being Daniel Bryan and that's mainly why I will be talking about today.
In September of 2017 I wrote a piece called "Putting Smiles on Faces". It was a commentary about how at the time (and still today) WWE sucks at booking babyfaces. I talked a lot about Roman Reigns who, of course as you know, was still being pushed as "the guy" and it only took a potentially terminal illness to get fans to cheer him. I also got into Jason Jordan who they really wanted to get over as a babyface even though he was given a bad angle and corny dialogue. Even after he got over(ish) as a heel they still didn't turn him. Of course you weekly WWE consumers know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Sure, sometimes fans turn on babyfaces they once loved after a while. It happened to Hogan. It happened to Rock. However, these days they have a problem with getting superstars loved in the first place. It seems the only way they "know" how to get someone cheered is by taking a talented worker and under-pushing them.
That is what kind of lead to Daniel Bryan's rise in popularity if you recall. Sure, Bryan was and is a great talent and has a charming personality, but it was really WWE's stubbornness, tone deaf attitude, lack of caring what the fans think, whatever you want to call it that only made the fans cheer him harder and it made him a true superstar. Of course WWE today will say that was their plan all along but anyone watching back then knows that's a load of shit. They legit tried to turn him heel and make him one of Bray Wyatt's lackeys to cool off the fans and it took CM Punk walking out after the Royal Rumble and a wide rejection to Batista's return and him main eventing Wrestlemania 30 with Randy Orton for this company to finally present Daniel Bryan as a babyface superstar and *gasp* actually give the fans what they want and send them home happy. Yeah a wile old-school rasslin' mentality but it still worked believe it or not.
It has been reported that Daniel Bryan has been pushing for this heel turn for a while. Why? Probably because he's not a dumb ass and knows that being a babyface right now in WWE is a kiss of death to put it mildly... Or like a golden shower and corn crackled shit cocktail raining down upon the front office of WWE if you prefer less mild imagery. When Daniel Bryan returned to the ring he was perhaps instantly the biggest babyface in WWE. Once again Daniel Bryan fell right onto their laps. All they had to do was strap the rocket to him.
...and they put him in a feud with Big Cass.
Its shit like that that's going to make me relocate my column from Planet Kayfabe to the nearest mental hospital one of these days. After how terrible Backlash was this year, I probably would have taken a blade job to the wrist if Bryan actually lost to Cass instead of making him tap out. Keep in mind, that wasn't the plan. WWE's big plan was to use Bryan's comeback just to put heat on Cass who came back from injury looking... (say it together now) SAWFT and cut generic promos and really didn't improve in the ring at all. However... He's 6'9" and of course guys like him are going to get more opportunities and easier routes to stardom in WWE as long as Vince McMahon is in charge. Bryan went over decisively in the feud pretty much due to Cass' attitude problems that lead to his release. These day's he's working indy shots as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
For months people have been saying Bryan's return have been underwhelming. They're right, but it's not really Bryan's fault. He's still charismatic. He's still great in the ring. He's still a very good promo. We got that Miz feud we all wanted and it really turned into more of a cross-promotion for their reality shows than the blood feud we all wanted complete with those hokey WWE f*** finishes we all love because, again, this company only knows how to book for heat now instead of what makes logical sense or will send the fans home happy. So much heat the fans are numb from the burn at this point to where no one really gets any heat. Look at Dean Ambrose. We all wanted him to turn and they used Roman Reigns' cancer as a way to get the turn over. They got the heat they wanted and are now flying by the seats of their asses to make this story into something and what is it? Just another generic "I don't owe you an explanation/you were holding me back" breakup angle.
Thanks, WWE. You turned Dean Ambrose and stood on the shoulders on Roman's cancer and before you even knew what you had you patented it and packaged it and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox and now you wanna sell it.
It sure beats being wacky clown Dean, though. That was one big pile of shit.
Now Daniel Bryan, the most natural white meat babyface of this decade is a heel. He is also the WWE Champion defeating AJ Styles and ending his world title run at 371 days on Smackdown this past week. Safe to say Bryan's card position has instantly improved from where it has been since returning, but where does he go from here? He's wrestling Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series and it is a match Bryan has openly wanted. I'm sure Brock will go over and it will be a fine match and... then what? Are they just going to have one of WWE's few actual over babyfaces come out and suddenly start running down the fans who supported him simply because this company sucks at booking babyfaces? It could also be a case of Bryan being a step ahead of the wind here because while WWE was content with him just being in a nice little upper-midcard babyface role, he was indeed losing steam. The 'YES!" chants aren't as enthusiastic as they once were but people still cared. I'm sure its in his mind that in WWE right now sometimes the best way to get popular in this company again is to turn heel.
As a heel you have more freedom and an issue with WWE and their issues with heat obsession is that the heels always look cool and smart. They sometimes technically get the more wins, too (excluding house shows) in angles like with Bryan and Miz where the heel gets cheap win after cheap win only for the babyface to get a meaningless win in the end after trying too hard to pile on so much heat and turning the fans off from any interest in a big match after watering down the feud so much with cheap heel wins. It's always the heel that looks cool and the babyface slips on a banana peel. Shouldn't it be the other way around? This company thinks they are "protecting" babyfaces by having them lose via surprise roll-ups or getting counted out after playing cat-and-mouse with a heel. These finishes never get anyone over and just make the supposed hero we are supposed to get behind look like a complete goof and that's why no one really gets cheered anymore unless you are, like I pointed out earlier, a perceived overlooked talent and if you turn heel while developing a grass-roots following. Its like they stumble into over babyfaces out of spite and are still too stubborn to turn them instead of listening to the crowd. Rusev is another example of that. They finally turned him and did this dumb story with Aiden English who was a key figure in getting the Rusev Day act over and now he's just a guy who smiles and comes out wearing a 'Rusev Day' shirt completely stripping away everything that got the act over in the first place.
This turn will be good for Bryan in the long run. Yeah, the stock is what it is and the company is in no danger of going out of business with these TV deals, the Saudi deal and other revenue sources beyond live attendance, but they clearly lost their way when it comes to getting babyfaces over. Bryan will once again rise to popularity in spite of WWE's booking not because of it. I just hope once his career is resurrected they keep him in a featured role unlike the Usos who resurrected their careers with a heel turn and since turning face again they aren't making much noise now. Seriously... Look how shitty the tag divisions are on both shows. Why aren't the Usos pushed to the top? It makes no sense. Gotta get the bi-polar middle-aged giant's hundredth or so turn over, I guess.
As for the "YES!" bit. I'm not sure if Bryan will keep it even though he originally got it over as a heel. His 'Yes Lock' was renamed from the LeBell Lock, ya know, because when the referee asks if you want to quit you will scream "YES! YES! YES!" ...ya know and then "YES!" got really hot so he had to call it the 'No Lock' because WWE doesn't want you to like things. He could still do the bit in over-the-top heel fashion, but this is the age of fans always looking for an excuse to chant anything and everything, so he's not going to be much of a heel if they're chanting along with him while stretching a babyface... Ahh, now you see this perpetual dilemma they have?
There's my thoughts on Bryan's turn. What can I say? It's better than just being another geek babyface out there just to get another heel over. Remember when WWE used to be a very babyface company all about sending fans home happy and having good overcome evil? How times have changed. Well, kinda. NXT still knows how to get stories of good vs evil over. That's why I don't buy this "smark crowd" bullshit. Especially in 2018. They've whittled the audience down to the casuals in the 3 hour era since 2012. They're ALL "smark towns" now. It's also dumb how some people think "internet fans" means the same thing it meant 20 years ago, too. Yeah, these aren't rogue vocal minorities who are just trying to f*** with the company and refusing to get behind everything they push. It's just the way they tell the stories now are garbage. Most recently how Becky Lynch was supposed to be some sort of heel after working hard and her friend came in to pull the rug out from underneath her.
A few weeks ago on Twitter I had a comment with someone about internet wrestling personalities proclaiming themselves to be a "heel" and thinking they are a "heel" just because they got a rise out of a comments section. First of all, any idiot can go on the internet and get people to hate them. Its not an accomplishment. These young geek writers in WWE who know diddly dick about wrestling are the same way of those clowns who wear being an "internet heel" as a badge of honor. Anyone can book and write for heat. Any dumb ass can go in front of a crowd and get booed. It takes a good writer and booker to actually get someone over as a babyface and get the crowd to like them. Pulling a Roman Reigns and just having someone plow through top guys and legends and carry every fake belt in the company isn't how you do it. That's where the force feeding accusations come in. Its just another area they are tone deaf in. Rollins comes back from a serious injury, they document the events leading to his return on the WWE Network.... and keep him heel. At least things eventually worked out for him. Now in a company scrambling for a top guy and no real babyface identity in the main event they take one of their most naturally likable wrestlers and turn him heel.... and if you've been paying attention I can't even disagree with the move. f*** it. This company can't book babyfaces to be likable and cool anymore -- f*** it. Be a heel and have fun and have fun with your new WWE Championship, Bryan.
Thanks for reading everyone. Enjoy War Games. Enjoy Survivor Series, which I will be back for a review of. I hope you're all doing well and thanks for reading. Follow me on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe. I'm KC for NoDQ take care and God bless.