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CALDWELL'S TAKE
CALDWELL ON RAW: "What?!" to "Yes!" - Is D-Bryan vs. McMahon the new Stone Cold vs. McMahon?

Jul 30, 2013 - 2:38:41 AM
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By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

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Is Daniel Bryan vs. Mr. McMahon the new "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Mr. McMahon feud for this era of WWE programming aimed at a younger audience?

Corporate make-overs, wanting anyone else to be WWE champion, warring against the fans in support of Austin/Bryan, etc. The elements are there for WWE trying to re-create a program that is based on grassroots support for the top "anti-establishment," rising star babyface.

"What?!" has given way to "Yes!" Beer has given way to beards. In this case, Bryan's character does not fit the mold of a typical "WWE Superstar." Whereas, Austin's character was too foul-mouthed, too aggressive, too corporate-unfriendly for McMahon to want his promotion represented by Stone Cold.

If - a big "if" - Bryan wins the WWE Title from John Cena at Summerslam, it could play out one of two ways - either Bryan wins the title and walks out of Los Angeles as WWE champion, which would leave McMahon angered and embarrassed, or Bryan wins the WWE Title and Randy Orton attempts to cash in his MITB briefcase at McMahon's urging.

Looking at the second example, Orton would either cash in and win the title to save McMahon the embarrassment of Bryan being champion even for one night, setting up Bryan on a title chase and in a long-term feud with McMahon. Or, Bryan would thwart Orton's cash-in and leave Los Angeles the WWE champion, also setting up Bryan in a long-term feud with McMahon to remain WWE champion.

This all ties into the McMahon vs. McMahon program that is rumored to play out throughout the fall leading into WrestleMania. Right now, Triple H is clearly behind Bryan, Mr. McMahon is clearly against Bryan, Stephanie McMahon the "corporate voice" trying to find a compromise, and new Raw GM Brad Maddox is the puppet authority figure trying to throw stumbling blocks at Bryan.

If the plan is to play this out until WrestleMania, WWE will need several Stumbling Blocks for Bryan. Mark Henry if he pivoted heel again? A refreshed Ryback The Bully? Free agent Matt Morgan, who could be brought in by McMahon as "his prototypical WWE star" to work with Bryan?

Everything is centered on whether Bryan is "good for business" as a potential WWE champion and seeing how he handles the obstacles presented to him while bonding with the audience in the underdog role. Would there be any bigger underdog role than standing face-to-chest with Matt Morgan?

Bottom line is WWE appears to be setting up Bryan vs. McMahon as a long-term program, taking a similar approach to the successful Austin vs. McMahon program from the previous era. But, will this era's version be successful? Time will tell, starting with Summerslam in three weeks.

Follow PWTorch assistant editor James Caldwell on Twitter @JCTorch.


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