"Super" John Cena ran rampant on WWE's shows, Monday Night Raw commonly had some celebrity guest hosting and, in many cases, botching the names of wrestlers and pay-per-views alike – need I remind anyone of "Summerfest"?
It was a product just moving along with little excitement along the way.
Surely in the recent years, we had the Nexus "invasion" and other factions along the way, but things have not been so "Attitude Era"-like in quite sometime.
As recently as 2011, we saw the transition of the on-screen power begin a shift from the villainous Vince McMahon to his son-in-law Triple H after CM Punk ran away with the WWE Championship. Triple H assumed the powers of "COO" on-screen, but later became involved with Punk, Kevin Nash, the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar along the way.
It was not until the last few months, during this giant push for Daniel Bryan, that Triple H seemingly came out of nowhere to reinforce his power, all the while entering into a power struggle with McMahon and his wife Stephanie. The struggle, as it obviously turned out, was a ruse as the McMahon trio set forth the actions that would lead to neither Cena or Bryan holding the company's crown jewel championship, but rather Randy Orton, a well-played heel with generations of a wrestling family behind him.
The support given to the new champion and the continued fight by Bryan as he continues to try and overcome the odds against him – whether that be height, talent, ownership or Jerry Lawler referring to him as a goat. It's refreshing for many of us who have sat through the PG-era of the WWE and yawned, but it's a storyline we've seen many times before.
The most recent "fight against authority," and possibly the most well-known among today's crowd, is the Austin-McMahon feud during the late 1990's. "Stone Cold" and Vince went at it for weeks, with McMahon using his power as owner of the then-WWF to do everything he could from having Austin as the champion, believing him unworthy of the title.
|Orton's reign might skyrocket both the troubled superstar and Daniel Bryan into an Austin-Rock type of feud. Credit: WWE.com|
The storylines get even closer – McMahon and his son Shane handpick the guy they want to be "the face" of the WWF: The Rock. Similar to Orton, Rocky had generations of wrestling in his blood and a solid heel gimmick. It was the constant one-upsmanship by both sides, usually Austin and McMahon that led to both Austin and Rock becoming the legends they are today. Fans bought into the angle and "Stone Cold" ran wild and raised hell whenever he was on screen.
The angle has to keep playing out like it did then to keep the momentum up. Bryan, whose short WWE title reign at Summerslam shocked fans with a Triple H heel turn, will need to keep up the fight, pulling out all the stops in his battle to gain the title and, possibly, some in-character respect.
Nothing riles up a crowd like the underdog standing up "The Man" and we should expect to see and hear things that have not been on WWE television in some time: crazy stunts, expletive-laden promos and surprise heel turns by who only knows.
It's a good time to be a wrestling fan – again. Things are looking up as fresh talent begins to move in and we're in for a hell of a ride.
If the WWE can keep this angle up with the rising star of Bryan, the established prowess of Orton and the careful eyes of the McMahons, wrestling fans are in for a real treat the next few months.