When Stephanie and Shane McMahon announced that Mick Foley and Daniel Bryan would be running RAW and SmackDown Live as the general managers of their respective shows, Foley and Bryan both declared that the focus would be put back on the superstars in the ring instead of on authoritative figures. The WWE Draft and brand extension are still fresh in people’s minds, and Foley and Bryan are still in the first month of their administrations, so it’s debatable where that focus truly lies at the moment.
While Foley’s declaration came primarily off of WWE television, the big crux of Daniel Bryan’s GM gimmick was to make sure the superstars on SmackDown Live are given enough opportunities to get over. At the same time, Bryan is arguably the most popular figure on Tuesday nights which (in his case) unintentionally takes some of the spotlight off of the active roster.
Many people questioned whether having four authority figures, two on each brand, would curtail the progress of some of the up-and-coming superstars who needed more air time than Stephanie McMahon, Shane McMahon, Mick Foley, and Daniel Bryan. But for the most part since the brand split, those in power have simply made matches and settled backstage arguments.
That changed a little bit when Randy Orton invaded RAW to attack Brock Lesnar, with The Beast returning the favor the next night on SmackDown Live. In addition to furthering their feud which culminates at SummerSlam, it also gave the GM’s an angle to address in regards to those uninvited guests. In the storyline, it provoked Mick Foley to invite Daniel Bryan to this week’s RAW in an attempt to clear the air.
So yes, there was a built-in reason for Bryan to appear on the rival show, but there was a legitimate reason for his appearance as well that likely trumped anything in kayfabe. According to Cageside Seats, Daniel Bryan was booked to appear on RAW in an effort to help boost RAW’s ratings as they were going head-to-head with the Olympics. Bryan’s appearance was advertised days in advance so we’ll have to see if the numbers were affected one way or the other when they are released.
Smackdown Live will also be going up against the Olympic games, but nothing to the magnitude of a Daniel Bryan appearance has been advertised for the show as of this writing. RAW’s entire broadcast led to the in-ring meeting between Bryan and Foley, with Mick apologizing for Lesnar’s intrusion and Bryan returning the favor halfheartedly. It oddly set up the reemergence of both Rusev and Cesaro in what turned into an impromptu United States Championship match in which Rusev retained thanks to interference from Sheamus.
What came across as a little jumbled on television is perhaps a building block to a bigger angle at play. There is already talk within the WWE of some roster reshuffling, specifically in regards to Randy Orton and Kevin Owens switching brands, and perhaps others. Bryan did make mention of Cesaro being under-utilized on RAW, which got a good rise out of the live audience.
Originally, the goal of the brand split was to keep the shows unique and separate from one another, but the company has softened that stance and may continue to do so during the builds to their four major pay-per-views. That includes SummerSlam, but it also now appears that Foley and Bryan may work an angle to facilitate trades between the two brands.
In any event, if management is already concerned with ratings based on the competition for RAW on a given night, you’d have to believe they’ve got other things up their sleeve beginning next month when the NFL returns.
[Image via WWE]