When the curtain fell on the 2014 Royal Rumble, the prevailing wisdom among fans -- according to the steady trickle of angry tweets -- was that WWE had screwed the "Universe," booking Batista to win the golden ticket to a WrestleMania main event, at the expense of everyone's favorite underdog.
"D-Bry" opened the show with an incredible performance against fellow rising star Bray Wyatt, only to be relegated to the green room for the remainder of the night, as 30 other superstars took turns in the annual pay-per-view (PPV) elimination tournament.
The decision to exclude Bryan from the biggest match of the night had everyone up in arms, evidenced by the merciless boos that accompanied "The Animal's" big win. Nobody cares about Batista. Not through any fault of his own, but rather because we haven't been given enough time to care about him.
He's only been back for two weeks.
The fans care about Daniel Bryan. That's why we fall for what Stephanie McMahon refers to as his "parlor tricks," which all things considered, don't take much to get started. Heck, sometimes he doesn't even need to be in the arena to get cheered.
Is WWE deaf? Haven't they been paying attention?
Of course they have. And that's exactly why they continue to keep him from us. What's the worst thing that could ever happen to the YES movement? Have it succeed. See how long those "YES!" chants last when Daniel Bryan becomes the next John Cena, pandering to the crowd and STANDING TALL in the face of any and all adversity.
Thanks, but no thanks.
Those long-ass title reigns, like the one CM Punk had last year, only work when you're a heel. It's really the essence of all stories pitting good versus evil. There has to be something to fight for. How much fun would Samurai Jack be if he killed Aku in the first episode?
There is a reason Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are called "The Authority."
This is not unlike Steve Austin's fight against Vince McMahon and "The Corporation" in the late nineties and "Stone Cold" dropped the belt plenty of times during that run. I know the fog of nostalgia will cloud the comparison, so here are some numbers.
And they're big.
Daniel Bryan won the 2011 Money in the Bank ladder match, then captured the World Heavyweight Championship at Tables, Ladders and Chairs. In 2012, he got to play AJ Lee's boyfriend before claiming the tag team titles as a member of the wildly-successful "Team Hell No." In 2013, he won the WWE Championship by pinning John Cena.
The "flying goat" has also been in a staggering 26 straight PPV events (Elimination Chamber will be No. 27) across a span of more than two years. In 2013, five of those appearances were as the main event, more than CM Punk and more than John Cena.
Hardly anything to be "disgusted" about.
Naturally, there will be collateral damage. Like poor Rey Mysterio, who was sacrificed to the raucous Rumble crowd, or the easily-wounded Batista, who really wants to be received like it's still 2004. But those are acceptable losses in the war against apathy.
And I believe this entire charade (especially this silliness) is all part of the battlefield strategy.
People have argued that Bryan is insanely over in spite of not being the top guy, but I'm arguing that Bryan is over because he's not the top guy. We don't cheer for the beard because they want us to, we cheer for the beard because they don't want us to. WWE isn't punishing us, it's giving us what we need.
Call it anti-establishment, or anti-Authority, but whatever label you have for it, it's the next movement.
Has it been successful without the title?