GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Among the most controversial moments of a wild Raw in Michigan was the unexpected stoppage of the Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton contest after the submission expert suffered a “stinger” in the middle of the bout and was deemed unfit to compete by WWE officials, with the final decision coming from WWE COO Triple H himself.
“Whether anybody likes it or not, it’s my job as COO of this company,” confirmed Triple H to WWE.com. “I made the call that Daniel Bryan’s health was important and I called the match.”
Bryan – currently battling a self-imposed perception that he is a “weak link” – seemed less than happy at the result on air, and in fact, he let The Game know exactly how he felt once he stepped backstage.
“I saw Daniel face-to-face with Triple H, nose to nose, screaming at him, saying that the match should not have been stopped and he’d worked through several injuries over 13 years,” said referee John Cone, who followed Bryan into the locker room area. “Triple H fired back, saying he’s worked through torn quads, but Bryan was saying it was supposed to be the biggest match of his career and it was taken away from him.
“I’d never seen anything like it; they almost came to blows,” elaborated Cone. “Randy stepped in and pulled Daniel Bryan back, it was the craziest thing I’d ever seen backstage.”
Layla agreed: “It was probably the most intense argument I have ever seen right in front of me.” The former Divas Champion was backstage when Bryan emerged through the curtain.
“Bryan beelined straight for Triple H, and the passion in his voice – [he said] ‘I have wrestled for 13 years, this was supposed to be my biggest match, my biggest accomplishment; you don’t ever stop a match without me!’”
Alicia Fox, who was also backstage with several of the Divas, agreed.
“I think he was just trying to state his fact that he’s very passionate about what he does, his job and how he handles his work in the ring and taking care of his body,” she said. “At the same time, the way Triple H saw it, he was looking out for his safety, his well-being for his future, the company, and future matches to come.”
All the eyewitnesses seemed to agree the two Superstars were coming from a place of passion, not animosity.
“Both Daniel Bryan and Triple H have a ton of passion, if anyone could relate to what Daniel Bryan felt it’d be Triple H,” Natalya said, “But I’d just never heard an exchange so heated like that in my life.”
“I’ve never seen Daniel like that before,” Cameron said. “He was cursing, just saying he’s worked through everything … Triple H was only doing what’s right for Daniel, but Daniel is just so passionate about this business.”
Veteran official Chad Patton drew a haunting parallel in his own summary of the argument: “What I did see when Daniel Bryan and Triple H went at it, for him to talk to his boss and just to the extreme he was doing it, I haven’t seen anything like it since Bret Hart and Vince McMahon.”
Triple H himself confirmed the situation had been smoothed over and both parties apologized to each other, but Bryan’s status for this Friday’s SmackDown is still up in the air. While he has been reviewed by WWE doctors, his injury requires close observation and further tests will be done down the line before his scheduled bout with U.S. Champion Dean Ambrose.