SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
The one constant in all of WWE programming is that there will always be feuds. Sometimes over titles, sometimes over prestige and sometimes over coffee. Here, we celebrate the highs and lows of WWE feudage and, hopefully, will only ever focus on a feud once.
I’m Tom Colohue and this is Focus Your Feud.
Follow Tom Colohue at @Colohue for updates.
Team Hell No vs. Bludgeon Brothers
There was a time, back during the build for WrestleMania, that Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were at the top of the Smackdown Live card lining up against Shane McMahon. Shortly afterwards there was a monumental moment where it was announced that Daniel Bryan would be returning to the ring and this set in motion a chain of events that rewrote plans for Smackdown Live almost competely.
Bryan killed time in a feud with Big Cass, who WWE seem very happy to be rid of right now, before storylines began to catch up and he was moved into a more prominent position. That said, is the prominent position in question any better?
The idea behind dual brand pay per views was that we wouldn’t get long, dragged out builds to rematch upon rematch upon rematch and would instead have interesting, entertaining feuds that people look forward to returning to later in the careers of the talent in question. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the lukewarm blue side of Extreme Rules. Asuka vs Carmella is the only match they have that isn’t a brand new set up. There is a downside though.
A.J. Styles vs Rusev is one top talent and one rising star going at it. New Day vs Sanity in a tables match, even on the pre-show, is established talent with major backing causing utter mayhem. Hardy vs Nakamura is fuelled by a US title so we know there’s already a story in place but it goes even further when you consider just what these two can do in the ring. So why am I not excited about this feud?
The answer is fairly simple. The return of Kane, while entertaining, seems rather arbitrary. Kane is a legend in the business and worthy of respect but it’s hard to sit down and say he’s had any great matches, especially recently. His in ring storytelling is essentially a string of power moves and slow selling. You know who else has that same schtick? The Bludgeon Brothers.
So we’ve got three powerhouses and one underdog high flier. I’d say we already know exactly how the whole thing’s going to go. In addition though, we have a lot of weaker parts. Luke Harper is considered extremely underrated but Erick Rowan is not. The Bludgeon Brothers are not well established, though they have looked great whenever they have been used. Ideally they need to be on TV week in and week out picking up dominating wins but unfortunately all the jobber tag teams have moved to Raw in the shakeup.
So really, Daniel Bryan is the only high profile name and he’s just come off of an unpopular feud with Big Cass. Here’s the thing though, since his return, everything has been about Daniel Bryan, often to the deteriment of anybody else in the ring with him. Since the feud between The Usos and The New Day ended the Smackdown Live Tag Team Titles haven’t been much of a guarantee of quality. Even should Team Hell No win, is this really where we want Daniel Bryan to be? His fanbase is rabid and they have only one title on their minds that he should be holding.
Behind all of this as well we have to add in to the mix the lurking of The Miz. There are rumours that he will be costing Daniel Bryan the match in the build to a Summerslam match between the two but if so what then will happen with Kane? Why would he come back for two weeks of television and then no storylines? Would WWE really undercut The Bludgeon Brothers so heavily when their title reign is in its infancy?
On the surface this looks like a feud with a lot of moving parts. When you scratch the surface a little deeper everything unfortunately starts to wear away and by the end of it it looks more like the rest of the Smackdown side of the Extreme Rules card; a predictable, paint by numbers affair. If the idea of this particular card is to raise the profile of midcard players (Rusev, Nakamura, Carmella, Sanity, Bludgeon Brothers) then it should work perfectly. The casual fans will go home happy with some new heroes to cheer.
Anything else and that simply isn’t the case. Maybe it’s time we started asking the awkward question: Is Daniel Bryan good enough to make any feud worth watching or is he a triumph of storytelling that is now suffering under different writers?
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: FOCUS YOUR FEUD: Colohue evaluates the Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler dynamic, the history and the highs and lows so far