NEW ORLEANS – Batista has to deal with it. The voices in Randy Orton’s head are speechless. And Triple H’s corporate throne will have to do without its crown jewel, because Daniel Bryan – the Goat Face, the Weak Link, the B-plus player, he of the high school gyms and double-digit paydays on the independent scene – is the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

Perhaps, however, to say he simply won a title (or two) is an understatement. Bolstered, as ever, by the legions of the “Yes!” Movement that have carried him to glory, Bryan didn’t just capture the championship he’s chased for almost a year now: He rectified every malicious misfortune that befell him throughout his rise. He beat The King of Kings via pinfall in the opening match of the evening to earn his way into the title bout. He reclaimed the WWE Title that was stolen from him at SummerSlam (and again after Hell in a Cell) via submission. Given the two-title nature of the WWE World Heavyweight Title, he even got his hands back on the World Heavyweight Championship he lost in 18 seconds two years ago, in an ignominious WrestleMania XXVIII loss where this Movement really started.

Despite the fairy-tale ending, the bout was far from a fantasy fulfilled until the last possible second: Opposed by not one but two of Triple H’s protégés, Bryan fought tooth and nail to claim the ultimate prize. He certainly had to fight to earn the honor. Orton is the embodiment of WWE’s status quo; a Superstar for whom the brass ring practically came with the brass baby rattle. Batista – despite being recast by the fans from a conquering hero to an extension of The Authority’s rampaging ego made flesh – is and always has been less a man than a force of nature inside a wrestling ring.

Bryan, meanwhile, was always the perennial underdog: a “B-plus player” who supposedly would never make the grade and a bearded ragamuffin who simply would not do as the clean-cut face of a WWE that would never give him the opportunity to succeed anyway. In the months leading up to WrestleMania, it became apparent from screwjob after screwjob that Bryan would never be given  the ultimate prize in the same gift-wrapped way that Orton did. He would have to take it.

In so many words, he did. 

 

Daniel Bryan def. Randy Orton and Batista to become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion

Having felled The King of Kings to make the main event in the first place, it’s likely many in the WWE Universe thought Bryan had already gotten his victory  by embarrassing his tormentor on The Grandest Stage of Them All. Bryan, evidently, did not agree with that. The “Yes!” Man stood a full head shorter than both his opponents but fought with twice the heart, launching himself into Orton with a running dropkick all of two seconds into the match. After expelling Batista from the ring with a hurricanrana, Bryan targeted Orton again and was quickly cut down  when The Viper stomped the life out of Bryan’s injured shoulder.

With the submission specialist reduced to a non-factor, The Animal locked horns with his former Evolution teammate. Having finally gotten the one-on-one confrontation he wanted, Batista took gleeful advantage of the Triple-Threat’s no disqualification rule by using the barricade, ring apron and steel steps as weapons, though Orton staged a last-second rally by back-dropping Batista onto those same steps.

The WWE Universe continued to shower their typical jeers on The Apex Predator, though for once he did not seem fazed by them as he started to dismantle Batista. In what would become a recurring theme, Bryan re-entered the fray right when his enemies had written him off, connecting with a missile dropkick that put the Champion of Champions on his back. Despite being hindered by an excruciating injured shoulder, Bryan turned seamlessly to his famous feet and didn’t miss a step – so to speak – in the process. The Superdome erupted in waves of “YES!” chants each time The Beard’s kicks found flesh, peaking as the overachiever ping-ponged back and forth between the turnbuckles to pulverize Orton and Batista with running dropkicks.

It was Batista who briefly neutralized Bryan again and brought the bout back down to two, although champion and challenger both seemed slowed  by the lingering effects of The Beard’s attacks. Again, Bryan used the opportunity  to rally, blasting Orton with a flying headbutt and applying the “Yes!” Lock on  The Apex Predator.

In the past, this had been The Authority’s cue to save Orton’s serpentine skin, and with the ultimate prize on the line, the corporate powers that be did not disappoint. With Stephanie McMahon in tow, the conquered King of Kings pulled  the referee out of the ring and summoned Scott Armstrong – his bought-and-paid-for  official from WWE Hell in a Cell – to ensure that the job was done. But even a Batista Bomb and a crooked  ref couldn’t put the “Yes!” Man down for three; not only did Bryan kick Armstrong’s head in, but he took King, Queen and their pawn out all together with a suicide dive to the outside.

The sight of Stephanie laid out  by the “Flying Goat” drove The Game into a rage, yet the “Yes!” Man finally sent The Game packing the same way the COO has dispatched many of his own foes throughout the years: With a sledgehammer – The Game’s own sledgehammer, in fact – to the head.

 

Daniel Bryan def. Randy Orton and Batista to become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion

With Orton and Batista at a dead heat and Bryan refusing to stay down, each Superstar unleashed his heavy artillery in a last-minute blitzkrieg. Batista, aiming to hit Orton with a spear, bisected Bryan instead when The Viper leapfrogged him, and then The Apex Predator struck with an immediate RKO that  kept The Animal down for a two-count.

Yet, Orton made the same mistake he has made throughout this entire saga: He did not account for Daniel Bryan. The Champion of Champions’ disrespect cost him in the worst way, too. As he sprinted towards Batista to punt him in the head, Bryan hurled every ounce of his 200-pound body through the air like a cannonball, connecting knee-first with The Viper’s jaw. Batista was able to capitalize by tossing Bryan from the ring and planting Orton with a Batista Bomb that took him out of the match. Bryan then roared  back into the ring for a second flying knee , this time to Batista .

The “Yes!” Man quickly applied a wicked “Yes!” Lock on Batista that finally – finally – finished the job and propelled Daniel Bryan to the top of WWE. With three taps of his tattooed paw, The Animal relented and the Superdome detonated with the force of the “Yes!” Movement, confetti falling from the ceiling and Bryan’s family swarming the ring to embrace him in victory.

Perhaps it’s fitting that The Game had proclaimed the post-WrestleMania 30 period as the “Reality Era”: Bryan is certainly a Superstar anointed for greatness not by the corporate think-tank that has churned out champions for half a century, but by the emotion of the WWE Universe itself. The reality is now this: Daniel Bryan is the Champion of Champions and The Face of WWE. That’s the reality. Deal with it.

With Orton and Batista at a dead heat and Bryan refusing to stay down, each Superstar unleashed his heavy artillery in a last-minute blitzkrieg. Batista, aiming to hit Orton with a spear, bisected Bryan instead when The Viper leapfrogged him, and then The Apex Predator struck with an immediate RKO that  kept The Animal down for a two-count.

Yet, Orton made the same mistake he has made throughout this entire saga: He did not account for Daniel Bryan. The Champion of Champions’ disrespect cost him in the worst way, too. As he sprinted towards Batista to punt him in the head, Bryan hurled every ounce of his 200-pound body through the air like a cannonball, connecting knee-first with The Viper’s jaw. Batista was able to capitalize by tossing Bryan from the ring and planting Orton with a Batista Bomb that took him out of the match. Bryan then roared  back into the ring for a second flying knee , this time to Batista .

The “Yes!” Man quickly applied a wicked “Yes!” Lock on Batista that finally – finally – finished the job and propelled Daniel Bryan to the top of WWE. With three taps of his tattooed paw, The Animal relented and the Superdome detonated with the force of the “Yes!” Movement, confetti falling from the ceiling and Bryan’s family swarming the ring to embrace him in victory.

Perhaps it’s fitting that The Game had proclaimed the post-WrestleMania 30 period as the “Reality Era”: Bryan is certainly a Superstar anointed for greatness not by the corporate think-tank that has churned out champions for half a century, but by the emotion of the WWE Universe itself. The reality is now this: Daniel Bryan is the Champion of Champions and The Face of WWE. That’s the reality. Deal with it.

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NEW ORLEANS – Batista has to deal with it. The voices in Randy Orton’s head are speechless. And Triple H’s corporate throne will have to do without its crown jewel, because Daniel Bryan – the Goat Face, the Weak Link, the B-plus player, he of the high school gyms and double-digit paydays on the independent scene – is the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

Perhaps, however, to say he simply won a title (or two) is an understatement. Bolstered, as ever, by the legions of the “Yes!” Movement that have carried him to glory, Bryan didn’t just capture the championship he’s chased for almost a year now: He rectified every malicious misfortune that befell him throughout his rise. He beat The King of Kings via pinfall in the opening match of the evening to earn his way into the title bout. He reclaimed the WWE Title that was stolen from him at SummerSlam (and again after Hell in a Cell) via submission. Given the two-title nature of the WWE World Heavyweight Title, he even got his hands back on the World Heavyweight Championship he lost in 18 seconds two years ago, in an ignominious WrestleMania XXVIII loss where this Movement really started.

Despite the fairy-tale ending, the bout was far from a fantasy fulfilled until the last possible second: Opposed by not one but two of Triple H’s protégés, Bryan fought tooth and nail to claim the ultimate prize. He certainly had to fight to earn the honor. Orton is the embodiment of WWE’s status quo; a Superstar for whom the brass ring practically came with the brass baby rattle. Batista – despite being recast by the fans from a conquering hero to an extension of The Authority’s rampaging ego made flesh – is and always has been less a man than a force of nature inside a wrestling ring.

Bryan, meanwhile, was always the perennial underdog: a “B-plus player” who supposedly would never make the grade and a bearded ragamuffin who simply would not do as the clean-cut face of a WWE that would never give him the opportunity to succeed anyway. In the months leading up to WrestleMania, it became apparent from screwjob after screwjob that Bryan would never be given  the ultimate prize in the same gift-wrapped way that Orton did. He would have to take it.

In so many words, he did. 

 

Daniel Bryan def. Randy Orton and Batista to become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion

Having felled The King of Kings to make the main event in the first place, it’s likely many in the WWE Universe thought Bryan had already gotten his victory  by embarrassing his tormentor on The Grandest Stage of Them All. Bryan, evidently, did not agree with that. The “Yes!” Man stood a full head shorter than both his opponents but fought with twice the heart, launching himself into Orton with a running dropkick all of two seconds into the match. After expelling Batista from the ring with a hurricanrana, Bryan targeted Orton again and was quickly cut down  when The Viper stomped the life out of Bryan’s injured shoulder.

With the submission specialist reduced to a non-factor, The Animal locked horns with his former Evolution teammate. Having finally gotten the one-on-one confrontation he wanted, Batista took gleeful advantage of the Triple-Threat’s no disqualification rule by using the barricade, ring apron and steel steps as weapons, though Orton staged a last-second rally by back-dropping Batista onto those same steps.

The WWE Universe continued to shower their typical jeers on The Apex Predator, though for once he did not seem fazed by them as he started to dismantle Batista. In what would become a recurring theme, Bryan re-entered the fray right when his enemies had written him off, connecting with a missile dropkick that put the Champion of Champions on his back. Despite being hindered by an excruciating injured shoulder, Bryan turned seamlessly to his famous feet and didn’t miss a step – so to speak – in the process. The Superdome erupted in waves of “YES!” chants each time The Beard’s kicks found flesh, peaking as the overachiever ping-ponged back and forth between the turnbuckles to pulverize Orton and Batista with running dropkicks.

It was Batista who briefly neutralized Bryan again and brought the bout back down to two, although champion and challenger both seemed slowed  by the lingering effects of The Beard’s attacks. Again, Bryan used the opportunity  to rally, blasting Orton with a flying headbutt and applying the “Yes!” Lock on  The Apex Predator.

In the past, this had been The Authority’s cue to save Orton’s serpentine skin, and with the ultimate prize on the line, the corporate powers that be did not disappoint. With Stephanie McMahon in tow, the conquered King of Kings pulled  the referee out of the ring and summoned Scott Armstrong – his bought-and-paid-for  official from WWE Hell in a Cell – to ensure that the job was done. But even a Batista Bomb and a crooked  ref couldn’t put the “Yes!” Man down for three; not only did Bryan kick Armstrong’s head in, but he took King, Queen and their pawn out all together with a suicide dive to the outside.

The sight of Stephanie laid out  by the “Flying Goat” drove The Game into a rage, yet the “Yes!” Man finally sent The Game packing the same way the COO has dispatched many of his own foes throughout the years: With a sledgehammer – The Game’s own sledgehammer, in fact – to the head.

 

Daniel Bryan def. Randy Orton and Batista to become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion

With Orton and Batista at a dead heat and Bryan refusing to stay down, each Superstar unleashed his heavy artillery in a last-minute blitzkrieg. Batista, aiming to hit Orton with a spear, bisected Bryan instead when The Viper leapfrogged him, and then The Apex Predator struck with an immediate RKO that  kept The Animal down for a two-count.

Yet, Orton made the same mistake he has made throughout this entire saga: He did not account for Daniel Bryan. The Champion of Champions’ disrespect cost him in the worst way, too. As he sprinted towards Batista to punt him in the head, Bryan hurled every ounce of his 200-pound body through the air like a cannonball, connecting knee-first with The Viper’s jaw. Batista was able to capitalize by tossing Bryan from the ring and planting Orton with a Batista Bomb that took him out of the match. Bryan then roared  back into the ring for a second flying knee , this time to Batista .

The “Yes!” Man quickly applied a wicked “Yes!” Lock on Batista that finally – finally – finished the job and propelled Daniel Bryan to the top of WWE. With three taps of his tattooed paw, The Animal relented and the Superdome detonated with the force of the “Yes!” Movement, confetti falling from the ceiling and Bryan’s family swarming the ring to embrace him in victory.

Perhaps it’s fitting that The Game had proclaimed the post-WrestleMania 30 period as the “Reality Era”: Bryan is certainly a Superstar anointed for greatness not by the corporate think-tank that has churned out champions for half a century, but by the emotion of the WWE Universe itself. The reality is now this: Daniel Bryan is the Champion of Champions and The Face of WWE. That’s the reality. Deal with it.

With Orton and Batista at a dead heat and Bryan refusing to stay down, each Superstar unleashed his heavy artillery in a last-minute blitzkrieg. Batista, aiming to hit Orton with a spear, bisected Bryan instead when The Viper leapfrogged him, and then The Apex Predator struck with an immediate RKO that  kept The Animal down for a two-count.

Yet, Orton made the same mistake he has made throughout this entire saga: He did not account for Daniel Bryan. The Champion of Champions’ disrespect cost him in the worst way, too. As he sprinted towards Batista to punt him in the head, Bryan hurled every ounce of his 200-pound body through the air like a cannonball, connecting knee-first with The Viper’s jaw. Batista was able to capitalize by tossing Bryan from the ring and planting Orton with a Batista Bomb that took him out of the match. Bryan then roared  back into the ring for a second flying knee , this time to Batista .

The “Yes!” Man quickly applied a wicked “Yes!” Lock on Batista that finally – finally – finished the job and propelled Daniel Bryan to the top of WWE. With three taps of his tattooed paw, The Animal relented and the Superdome detonated with the force of the “Yes!” Movement, confetti falling from the ceiling and Bryan’s family swarming the ring to embrace him in victory.

Perhaps it’s fitting that The Game had proclaimed the post-WrestleMania 30 period as the “Reality Era”: Bryan is certainly a Superstar anointed for greatness not by the corporate think-tank that has churned out champions for half a century, but by the emotion of the WWE Universe itself. The reality is now this: Daniel Bryan is the Champion of Champions and The Face of WWE. That’s the reality. Deal with it.