Monday 30 July 2012

Bryan v Sheen

If last week’s RAW is anything to go by we may be seeing a match between Daniel Bryan and Charlie Sheen at SummerSlam. Yes, that’s the actor Charlie Sheen, famed for his roles in Two and a Half Men, Hot Shots! and... erm… Spin City. These days he’s probably most well-known for going off the rails last summer.

Involving celebrities at big events is nothing new for WWE. It’s been a key aspect of the company since the very first WrestleMania and is a large part of the reason Vince McMahon’s national expansion of the 1980s succeeded. It’s part of the package with WWE. For some people it’s part of the promotion’s appeal.

Charlie Sheen’s appearance on last week’s RAW 1000 was fairly low key. He appeared three times in total, talking to Michael Cole and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler about what he’d thought of particular segments of the show. In his second appearance Sheen made light of Daniel Bryan being stood up at the altar. This prompted the former ROH champion to blast the actor during a backstage interview. When Sheen appeared to talk to the commentary team for the third time it was clear that a SummerSlam showdown between the two was being teased.

I’d say there’s a good chance this will happen. Sheen’s not got much else going on in his career right now and WWE will always want to bring in celebrities. The logic is that Sheen’s fans who usually don’t purchase WWE events will have tuned in to RAW 1000 to see what whacky misadventures Sheen would enjoy and will do the same at SummerSlam. The hope will be that some of these people will find something to like about WWE programming and become fans.

The problem is that WWE have (as usual) left it too late to capitalise on Sheen’s popularity.

It was this time last year, when the guy was going off the rails and cutting bizarre, wrestling-esque promos about “winning” and gobbling hefty amounts of various narcotics, that his popularity was at its height. A combination of WWE management not having their finger on the pulse as they did in the 80s and the fact that outside stars will not willingly associate with the wrestling business until their popularity wanes means that WWE is once again late to the party.

This is the same expression Bryan pulled when Vince told him he was considering booking him against Charlie Sheen at SummerSlam

This isn’t to say that Sheen’s involvement in a match or angle at SummerSlam won’t garner media attention and increased viewing figures before the event. It will. It’s just that he would have been more effective had he appeared at last year’s show.

I think this match will happen. WWE wouldn’t have scripted the jibes Sheen and Bryan directed at one another if they hadn’t confirmed something with Sheen (or at least you hope they wouldn’t). The attitude towards SummerSlam this year seems to be to make it as big as possible, and that means bringing in a celebrity for a high profile appearance. That Bryan’s ex-girlfriend AJ has just been made the General Manager means there is a logical way for Bryan to be booked into a gimmick match such as this.

This could be Bryan’s toughest challenge since leaving the indies. No, I’m not being sarcastic! Bryan has travelled all over the world and produced excellent matches with everyone he’s faced. He’s the guy who has worked classic wrestling matches from everyone from Samoa Joe to Kamala (yeah, seriously, Kamala. Watch it here).

What he’s never done is wrestle a non-worker with no wrestling experience or known interest in the business. If anyone on WWE’s roster can pull it off though it’s Daniel Bryan.

Working in their favour are Sheen’s charisma and the fact that the pay-per-view is being held in his hometown, along with Bryan’s immense popularity and ability to turn crowds against him. He may be over, in large part thanks to his “Yes” catchphrase but I am convinced that if this match happens the former American Dragon will be able to ensure he hears more jeers than cheers.

Bryan v Sheen will by no means by a classic or the best match of the night at SummerSlam. But if handled correctly a match between the two could be a memorable spectacle for the show and potentially a way of attracting some new regular viewers to the product.

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