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'Rassle Dazzle: A Wrestlemania Recap

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 7 Apr 2014 16:00
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Match I: Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H

WrestleMania is built on stories, and this is Act I, Scene I of this year's. The feud between heel Triple-H (aka "Hunter Hearst Helmsley," semi-retired former champ, current chairman of the company and husband to "heiress" Stephanie McMahon) and babyface Bryan has been running about 8 months. It's possibly the most "meta" setup the company has ever engaged in. The gimmick: Since the start of the broadcast era of the sport, fans (well, the "smarts" in on the joke anyway) have lamented the script being written to push bigger, more colorful/sellable performers over technically-skilled hardworking audience favorites (think the late Chris Benoit.) Bryan's storyline is an "in universe" version on that theme - he's the "rightful" champion, but Hunter and Stephanie's mustache-twirling authority figures keep interfering with his matches because they'd rather have more marketable icons like Randy Orton (the current World Heavyweight Champ) or the returned David Batista in the top spot.

There's no title on the line here. Rather, the winner gets to join a three-way fight for World Heavyweight in the main event. Bryan wins, obviously (this isn't the kind of wrestling story that ends well for the villains), but it's an interesting setup. Guys with Bryan's build usually get pushed as speed/stunt performers and Triple-H was always best in street-fight mode, but they both play strategic technical grapplers. With lots of reversals, the well sold and pre-fab "people's champion" Bryan routine has the crowd absolutely buying it. Bryan wins, but Hunter and Stephanie gang up on him and injure his shoulder. Oh no! How can he win the Title back now??

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