SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
In a land of modern-day WWE with frequent turns, feuds, and alliances, it says something that for over eight years WWE stuck with a feud that left two WWE wrestlers constantly at odds: Daniel Bryan and the Miz. This feud was the first subject to the new Network series WWE Timeline (DIRECT LINK)
Mauro Ranallo narrates the journey of this feud and, at times, what he is saying is in direct contradiction to what is seen on screen. One such instance declares that both were enjoying time in the main event while cutting to both holding the Intercontinental Title. Some Mauro-isms are also used such as “En Fuego” which is just awkward being done almost monotone in a voice-over capacity.
While the premise of Timeline is that it is going to chronologically through this feud, a bit more history on either one may be appreciated. For the Miz, they show plenty of his time on “Tough Enough” and toiling around in the lower and mid-card. Daniel Bryan’s career seemingly started on the original reality game show version of NXT. It would have been nice to have at least some stills from his beloved tenure on the independents but alas WWE didn’t even do that. Which is a shame because so much of the initial tension in their feud was that Miz was Bryan’s “Pro” on NXT. One interesting thing that isn’t very WWE-like is that they do show Bryan losing to lots of people no longer in WWE on that original NXT including Chris Jericho, Wade Barrett, and Ryback.
Bryan’s firing after that initial NXT attack is as expected glossed over, but his return to the company is included as Miz is integral in the elimination of Bryan in that match. After their initial feud, Timeline glosses over the successes both had over the next few years. Less than five minutes is dedicated to show either one of their world title victories and reigns to get to the Daniel Bryan retirement.
Timeline then really focuses on the Miz’s promo ripping Bryan on Talking Smack that got people’s attention at the time. “Talking Smack” has always had a soft spot in my heart, and I feel that stuff like “Talking Smack” is what utilized the Network the best. But then WWE had to be WWE and often never acknowledge what happened on that show. This Miz promo is one of the few exceptions.
Bryan’s return is then covered and his inevitable feud with the Miz is covered. I’ll admit I had blocked out of my memory the trainwreck this feud was, in my opinion. And how it is laid out condensed somehow made it even worse to me! First, the Summerslam 2018 match ends with a cheating finish by the Miz. I remember at the time thinking Bryan really needed a triumphant win as his comeback had included feuds with Big Cass and the Bludgeon Brothers. And the next match in the series was a mixed tag match with Miz & Maryse vs. Daniel Bryan & Brie Bella. And again, Maryse and Miz cheat to win.
Now Timeline taught me something as I had never watched the 2018 Super Showdown from Australia. So I missed the two-and-a-half minute Daniel Bryan vs. Miz match that Timeline portrays as the blow-off to their eight-year conflict. Timeline finishes the story by showing Bryan’s heel turn and the following episode of Miz TV where the Miz takes credit for teaching Bryan what to do to make it to the top intercut with some of the Miz’s mentor sessions on the original NXT.
I admit I’m just not sure what to think of a program like Timeline. While it is nice to have a streamlined and focus presentation of a particular feud, I would be interested in something by the competitors involved at a bare minimum. Instead, it is focused entirely on what we’ve seen on WWE programming so it comes off as just a 40-plus minute promo package. Several years ago WWE released a “Shawn vs. Bret” DVD that was just great, and I wish they had done more things in that format. I feel like some mix of Timeline and that format would provide some great programming but we are stuck with this imperfect approach.