Fuck the vaunted 18-49 male demographic and the drooping Nielsen ratings. The newest and most efficient barometer for gauging whether WWE is doing something positive is by invoking a reaction out of those in attendance. Whether the feedback comes in the form of shrieks from those without Adams apples or witty chants based on things seen on REDDIT by grown men, the important thing is they aren't sitting on their hands as they do during a Drew McIntyre entrance.
I have seen a recent surge in acknowledgment of live crowds by wrestling writers and those with a vocal opinion. Many are quick to point out a "wrestling city" or a hot crowd. On the other side of the coin, those same writers will jump all over a city for "killing a segment."
Newsflash: this shit does not matter.
Smarks don't run the wrestling world; Vince McMahon does. He is well aware of what will create a reaction and come SummerSlam look for him to have his hand in what occurs with Daniel Bryan and John Cena. Would the crowd reaction matter if something similar to WrestleMania 17 and Stone Cold's heel turn occurred?
Aside from how hilarious this type of talk even is, the town WWE has rolled into for the event matters about as much as TNA ever leaving the Impact Zone. Patrons of these events will react to good wrestling, engrossing storylines and by not insulting their intelligence every week. There are only so many count-out victories one can handle a week before a blow-off match at a pay-per-view.
These so called wrestling towns (Chicago, Philadelphia, most recently New York) have a rich history within the sport and those who have attended events in years past are able to look back fondly upon landmark events as a reason to keep buying tickets and making 3:16 signs.
The same cannot be said about a place similar to where I live: Los Angeles.
Sure we have been home to the past five SummerSlams. There have also been some big time main events. But since WrestleMania 2000 (which actually took place in Anaheim, which likes to still call itself L.A.) there hasn't been much to latch onto and expect from a live event.
These types of moments are saved for known wrestling cities. Middle of the (Victory) road style pay-per-views and mediocre results are given to the stale, un-knowledgeable, comped ticket venues similar to the Staples Center. A great deal of the lack of reaction can be placed on just how huge the Staples Center actually is. The arena isn't a prime example of sound retention and I'm positive WWE cares much less about how something sounds in comparison to maximizing butts in seats.
All this can be changed at SummerSlam by something big happening. No, not a Money in the Bank briefcase cash in, or a returning nWo member with a Just For Men contract. I'm talking about a fresh act, in this case Daniel Bryan, winning cleanly over the most prolific wrestler of the last 10 years, John Cena.
A crowning moment for not only Daniel Bryan, but for a fan base who has been pandered to far too often by paying homage to our strong Hispanic population with multiple Rey Mysterio returns and in last years edition, an underwhelming Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar match.
I can see the e-mails now.
A reader from Arkansas Pine Bluff writing and telling me how I should be ashamed of myself for bitching. "We are lucky if we even get a "WrestleMania World Tour" live event in our parts every couple years."
I am campaigning for something which will help to leave every stop on a WWE live tour packing the decibel punch the "wrestling cities" do. Not in the style of played out "What" chants or bullies chanting names of retired or deceased wrestlers. But in reacting to a champion the so called "Universe" can get behind.
WWE has done a great job of moving away from relying on shock value style instances to create a pop and focused on the basics of building up believable superstars the average fan can get behind and, as asinine as it may sound, in some cases even relate to.
Daniel Bryan was supposed to have a moment at SummerSlam previously. But as much as I may of enjoyed his unannounced re-emergence at the 2010 edition of the show, no one knew who he was. Much has changed since the forgettable return, including the burial of Wade Barrett and the short lived Nexus stable (OR WAS IT THE CORRE?) which was the forefront of the pay-per-view.
After what has been one of the hottest runs in the company since Jeff Hardy's meteoric rise in 2009, the stage is set for a defining moment featuring Bryan at the conclusion of SummerSlam complete with confetti, fireworks and a top turnbuckle pose with the title.
As cliche and predictable as this scenario seems, it is exactly what should occur and end up being the defining moment in Daniel Bryan's WWE career to this point.
Whether those in attendance cheer or boo doesn't matter (even though Cena will get booed out of the building); what does is the company backing Bryan as an elite wrestler. Many are calling for a Randy Orton cash-in, others wonder what the Wyatt's have in store. The amount of moving parts makes for one of the more intriguing main events in recent history.
I will be in attendance, refusing to Fandango, cheering for people I shouldn't be, and awaiting the worst. You learn to take the good with the bad and forget the ugly. As far as WWE goes in Los Angeles, I hope it's a case of them doing what is right.