While there was much about last night’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view to feel disappointed about, nothing compares to the conclusion of the event, in which Randy Orton captured the WWE Championship over Daniel Bryan in one of the most convoluted and idiotic screwjob finishes in WWE’s history.
Now, after months of having his momentum drained by night after night of setbacks and screwjobs, Daniel Bryan would be lucky to get out of this angle with enough of an aura to remain in the upper midcard.
No one gained anything by last night’s dusty finish to the WWE Championship Hell in a Cell contest. Randy Orton, the new WWE Champion, is made to look like a bit player to everyone else involved in the bout. Orton took a backseat to the antics of Triple H and referee and Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels, who looks like a complete idiot for not only giving Daniel Bryan his signature Sweet Chin Music, but for making the count for Orton immediately after while trying to remain a face.
This is key, here: Shawn Michaels, a WWE Hall of Famer who just moments before putting Daniel Bryan down took a bump and sold it like he was a standard WWE ref, looked both conflicted and upset at having made the count that he himself caused. Which actually seems to be something of Shawn Michaels' schtick when it comes to being a guest referee, it seems.
And why did Michaels superkick Daniel Bryan? Because Bryan delivered the Running Knee to Triple H, who had been tormenting Bryan for literally months now. Does Shawn Michaels not watch WWE programming? Or were the “best friend” bonds between Triple H and Michaels so strong that no matter how hard Triple H heeled it up, face Michaels was somehow obliged to avenge his friend for an attack that he has deserved for months?
Giving this angle the benefit of the doubt, one could say that this is an incredibly slow burn that will end with Daniel Bryan getting his vindication in the future. But this is no longer an era of patience. People are not open to the idea of the slow burn anymore. In an era of instant gratification, dismantling Daniel Bryan and repeatedly telling people “he can’t get it done” and that he’s not a main eventer will, not surprisingly, convince people that he can’t get it done and that he’s not WWE Championship material. No one will remember the knee on Triple H in a month, they’ll only remember that Daniel Bryan couldn’t get it done. No one will even remember the nature of the screwy ending. They’ll only remember that Orton walked out as champ.
Daniel Bryan, arguably the most over individual on the roster heading into his SummerSlam bout against John Cena in August, is slowly being destroyed by an angle which was initially designed to officially make him a key player. An angle which was completely unnecessary because in beating John Cena clean at SummerSlam, Bryan was already made. But instead of seeing any benefit, Bryan has slowly lost the audience, because at this point, no one expects him to win, and when he does, the audience pauses with their applause, waiting for the other shoe to drop and for Bryan to get screwed.
Again. And again. And again.
There is no defending this angle anymore. Last night’s big bout was a logical blow-off that could have moved from Bryan chasing the belt to Triple H and his corporate cronies chasing Bryan. Instead, Daniel Bryan walks out the loser, Randy Orton is again WWE Champion, and Triple H gets everything he wants while pretty much seeing no consequences for verbally dismantling Daniel Bryan week in and week out for months.
Even if Daniel Bryan gets a Wrestlemania bout for the WWE Championship or a bout against Triple H, will anyone even care anymore come April 6, 2014? Does anyone even want this story to drag out for another half a year?
Fans can only watch a guy lose so many times before they stop caring. Even if it happens, Bryan’s “big win” will come too late to make up for months of fans being told and shown that Daniel Bryan can’t get it done. Hell in a Cell was just one more step towards Daniel Bryan’s fall from the main event picture.