The main event segment of last night's (July 15, 2013) episode of Monday Night Raw at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, New York, was undoubtedly a smash hit (watch it here if you don't believe me). It was a strong close to a strong show, setting up the WWE championship match between John Cena and Daniel Bryan at the SummerSlam pay-per-view (PPV) on Aug. 18 in Los Angeles.
How they got there is rather interesting, especially with some added back story.
The segment called for Cena to bring out every wrestler on the roster to choose which one he wanted to defend his title against at the biggest party of the summer. The only wrestler who didn't come out to the ramp was CM Punk, who was selling injuries at the hands of Brock Lesnar.
The way the segment was booked was that Cena wouldn't actually choose his own opponent but would get help from the audience in attendance at the show. One by one, he went through a list of wrestlers, most of them high profile names like Randy Orton, Sheamus, Chris Jericho, and Rob Van Dam.
And, for the most part, each of them got a mild to downright hostile reaction.
The one man who didn't is Daniel Bryan, who the crowd was calling for before Cena even got the chance to bring his name up. Interestingly enough, his size -- long a detriment to the advancement of his career -- kept him out of the line of sight, as he was carefully hidden by all the big men surrounding him. This was likely by design.
What wasn't by design, and the part that WWE essentially lucked into, was the fact that he got the reaction he did likely in part because he hadn't appeared on the show up to that point.
But that wasn't originally the plan.
No, Bryan was originally scheduled to wrestle a long match against Wade Barrett during the show, according to the Wrestling Observer. But because the segment with Punk, Lesnar and Paul Heyman went longer than expected, the decision was made to scrap the Bryan-Barrett match altogether and give Chris Jericho and Rob Van Dam some extra time for their match.
That turned out to be a brilliant decision for all parties. The Punk segment was one of the best in Raw history, Jericho and Van Dam tore the house down in a 20 minute classic, and the reaction for Bryan was likely much bigger -- and no one is saying it wouldn't have been big anyway, just that it was likely much bigger -- because the crowd, who absolutely adored him, had been made to wait to be exposed to him the entire night.
He came away looking like a gigantic star, on par with Cena, and their match at SummerSlam now has as much hype as it possibly could up to this point.
Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good but it's best to be both and that's exactly what WWE was last night.