Professional wrestling fans are very passionate. They remember obscure story lines from many years ago. They even remember story lines from other wrestling promotions.
Every now and then the WWE will recycle a storyline from the past and hope that wrestling fans fail to notice. Sometimes these recycled stories come at inexplicable times like the Monday Night Raw before SummerSlam.
One of the major feuds going into SummerSlam is between Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella. The feud was going almost perfectly. The two women closed out Raw two weeks in a row. A female storyline is rarely put in the main event slot of Raw let alone on back to back weeks. The premise was simple: McMahon has worked hard to keep the WWE World Heavyweight Championship off Daniel Bryan (Bella’s real life husband) and Bella is avenging her husband.
WWE decided to add a wrinkle to the feud Monday. McMahon introduced Bryan’s physical therapist Megan Miller. Miller tearfully confessed to having an affair with Bryan. Bella came out and slapped Miller to the glee of McMahon and the crowd booed mercilessly due to the absurd nature of the segment.
If this angle seems familiar it is because it was done just a few years ago in the other televised wrestling promotion TNA. In that storyline a pregnant woman appeared on the weekly television show Impact claiming that top babyface in the company A.J. Styles was the father of her child. The storyline ended when it was revealed that his onscreen rivals Christopher Daniels and Kazarian blackmailed her to accuse Styles of being the father to hurt his credibility. In reality, the actress who played Lynch quit the company because of backlash online from wrestling fans. I’m not making this up.
Let’s ignore the absurdity of adultery storylines in wrestling and just talk about why these segments are awful. The first reason is they take the fans out of the drama. Professional wrestling is a soap opera meant to entertain the audience. Fans know this but the best moments in wrestling are the ones that are believable. The ones where we temporarily forget that we are watching a scripted show. Wrestling fans instantly tune out when there are infidelity stories in wrestling. It takes them out of the moment and reminds them that what they are watching is scripted television.
Another problem with infidelity storylines is the company often brings an actress to play the mistress. Typically the actress does a horrible job (like Lynch in TNA) and gets booed by the crowd for all the wrong reasons. It’s not their fault. They are only working with the awful material they are given and are often performing on live television for the first time.
— Lance Storm (@LanceStorm) August 12, 2014
In this case, the woman portraying Miller was Chelsea Green, a graduate of the Storm Wrestling Academy in Calgary ran by WWE and ECW alumni Lance Storm. WWE hired an actual wrestler to play a character which means we might see more of Green in the future.
The biggest problem with this is that accusing the top babyface in the company, in this case Bryan, of having an affair is idiotic. Babyface wrestlers are supposed to have good qualities the crowd can get behind and accusing them of cheating on their spouses is not a cheerful quality. TNA did the same thing with Styles and it hurt his standing with the fans and WWE is risking doing that to Bryan.
I assume it will eventually be revealed that Bryan never had the affair with Miller and all will go back to normal. But why execute this story in the first place? To recreate a dreadful storyline done by your inferior competitor? The infamous Claire Lynch angle in TNA got blasted by wrestling critics and fans and it makes no sense for WWE to try to recycle the story.
— WrestlingNewsSource (@WNSource) August 12, 2014
I’m having bad Claire Lynch flashbacks.
— ProWrestling.net (@prowrestlingnet) August 12, 2014
WWE is a big fan of social media. They have hashtags in the upper left hand corner during every match hoping to be constantly trending on Twitter. During Raw “Claire Lynch” was trending and I somehow feel that was not the response WWE was looking for.
It remains to be seen where this Daniel Bryan affair angle will go. It could create great television drama or it could create groan producing segments like the one we had Monday. Regardless of whether this storyline ends up being entertaining or not, the wrestling community on Twitter proved that it’s impossible to recycle wrestling storylines without us noticing.