Here’s your guide to the big show this Sunday. Further brilliant insight and analysis can be found on my wrasslin’ blog.
TRIPLE H VERSUS DANIEL BRYAN – The winner of this match qualifies to be the third participant in the world title match later in the show. It’s an unusual stipulation for WWE–ten years ago they would have just put all the challengers in one match, and twenty years ago they’d have leveled the playing field by making sure all the contenders wrestled twice. It’s unorthodox booking to cap off an unorthodox storyline.
Triple H turned heel on Daniel Bryan seven months ago, helping Randy Orton defeat him for the WWE championship. Since then HHH has played a caricature of an out-of-touch wrestling promoter, droning to the fans about how what they think they want isn’t “best for business.” Daniel Bryan is too small, too funny-looking, too unimpressive to be given a chance to be champion; WWE needs a tall, sleek, tan figure like Orton to be the face of the company. Essentially Hunter is playing a caricature of himself, emphasizing the reputation he has (deserved or not) for holding down wrestlers who don’t fit the mold he comes from.
As recently as January, it wasn’t clear that Bryan’s war with “the authority” was going to go anywhere; it seemed like he’d been fed to HHH and Orton to build them up for some other rivalry at Wrestlemania. But when live audiences started to realize Bryan was being moved down the card, they rallied around him until there was little choice but to set up this match, with this stipulation. It’s hard to say if it was all by accident or design. What is clear, though, is that Bryan is over for more than just being a strong technical wrestler, or a legend from the indies, or an “internet darling.” All that nerd credibility aside, he’s been the focal good guy in WWE storylines for the better part of a year, to the point that even casual fans see him as the #1 hero. With CM Punk abruptly walking away from the promotion and John Cena long past stale, there just isn’t anybody else for crowds to really get behind.
With that in mind, it’s almost inconceivable that Bryan can lose this match. Perhaps for that reason, WWE has worked very hard to make Triple H seem as unstoppable as possible. Logic would dictate that the hero has to prevail here, but politics suggest that you can’t rule out HHH booking himself to win in spite of common sense. So that gives this match a real irresistible force/immovable object feel, which is just what I want at Wrestlemania. Whatever happens, it’s bound to be exciting. I must admit I’d like to see the spectacle of the Superdome shitting all over a Triple H victory, but nevertheless I’m picking Bryan to win.