With two wrestlers in Batista and Randy Orton that hardcore fans loathe booked for the WrestleMania XXX WWE World Heavyweight Championship match, and with CM Punk not returning their phone calls, the company had a problem. How could they ensure it didn't go down in history as one of the worst received, flattest world title bouts in WrestleMania history?
Last night, WWE solved that problem with a unique twist in the announcement of the long expected Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H grudge encounter at WrestleMania 30. If Bryan can somehow defeat The Game, then he will be entered into the WWE title main event at the end of the show.
A simple solution that many had come up with on their own, but knowing how stubborn Vince McMahon can be, the fear was that he would just try to ride the backlash out and not heed the warning signs that it was a mistake to hold firm with his original plans.
The stipulation has been received warmly, not just by the WWE Universe, but also by their former wrestlers who have been outspoken about the past mishandling of Bryan's growing momentum.
Mick Foley was so convinced that Bryan was the no-brainer choice to win this year's Royal Rumble match that he vowed to throw a brick through his television set if he wasn't victorious. When Batista won, Foley was quick to tweet his disgust and was a man of his word, although he used a trusty old baseball bat instead to destroy the screen to smithereens.
Unsurprisingly, Foley has now changed his tune, writing a gushing love letter to WWE on his Facebook page to thank the company for their willingness to adapt their storylines in the face of fan opposition:
If you knew from the beginning what a super hot heel a win at the Royal Rumble would make Dave Batista, then you were smarter than all of us.
If you didn't know, and were then forced to adapt to a unique set of circumstances that the backlash from the Rumble provided, then you adapted very well.
With one outstanding Raw, you've got me, and millions of fans around the world excited about the biggest showcase in our business, and I'm thrilled to be going.
When I expressed concern after the Rumble, you told me not to judge a book by its cover. I came darn close to just putting that book back on the shelf, but it now looks like the final few chapters are going to turn into a captivating page-turner.
On behalf of RAINN, which saw a HUGE jump in #WrestlemaniaDreamVacation raffle entries after last night's Raw, thank you for the difference you are allowing them to make in the lives of thousands of people through this raffle - 100% of which goes to RAINN, the largest anti-sexual assault group in the US. Even as I was voicing my displeasure with some of the shows, you were sending me HOF tickets, allowing WWE Superstars and Divas to participate, and asking how you could help to make my raffle better.
Thanks also for allowing me to speak my mind without any private or public reprimand. Yes, I'll admit that attending the Knicks game in my pyjamas, while officially representing the company was a form of protest. Maybe not as blatant as smashing my TV, but a form of protest, nonetheless. But as my friend Brendon Burns, a brilliant comic from Australia, with an incredible mind for the wrestling business (who would love to write for you guys, by the way) put it - WWE's recent shows have actually helped create one of the most fascinating, influential characters we've seen in wrestling in years: the fans.
Newly excited fans can learn more about, and enter the #WrestlemaniaDReamVacationRaffle at http://www.rainn.org/wrestlemania-dream-vacation-raffle-2014
Sincerely, Mick Foley."
It's a bit ridiculous to think WWE would ever punish Foley for his online publicity stunts that would only help to spur people to get onboard the corporately approved YES movement and garner more online chatter about one of their leading creative directions. If Foley was being honest that his outrage was "not a work at all", then I'm sure Hunter would have loved it that he had whipped his arch-rival into such a lather that he had behaved like a teenage mark.
Meanwhile, Chris Jericho's congratulations on Twitter was much more snide, chiding them for taking so long to do something so obvious:
An alternative perspective came from Jim Ross on his blog, who chastised WWE's naysayers for thinking that they would let WrestleMania pass without giving Bryan a worthy spot on the show and always nitpicking their booking:
"Daniel Bryan had another terrific night and WWE is booking DB expertly even though some critics will micro analyze the storyline and find fault with it because that's simply what they do.
As I have said for many weeks, I fully expect Daniel Bryan to have a significant "WrestleMania Moment" in NOLA on April 6.
Just waiting on a handful of fans to complain now that the Bryan story is now too "predictable." Please...stop my pain."
Of course, if Daniel Bryan doesn't walk out of WrestleMania 30 as champion, then these wrestling authorities may get egg on their face and publicly turn on WWE again. That's the wrestling merry-go-round for you, Cagesiders.