The planned main event for Wrestlemania 30, just five weeks away, certainly isn't going as planned.
At least not for headliners Randy Orton, Batista, WWE or its followers.
The dilemma, pure and simple, is that a vast majority of WWE fans want to see Daniel Bryan - not only in the Wrestlemania main event, but wearing the world heavyweight title belt at the conclusion of pro wrestling's biggest event of the year.
Unfortunately that's not the course WWE is headed in.
What the creative gurus didn't realize when they set up Orton-Batista for the Wrestlemania headliner was the growing groundswell of support for the ultra-popular Bryan.
But they should have.
Bryan has been the company's hottest commodity for the past several months and, until C.M. Punk's recent and unexpected departure from the company, wasn't even figured in to the top part of this year's Wrestlemania bill.
With Punk out of the picture, Bryan was elevated into his spot on the card, as the yet-to-be-announced opponent for Triple H.
Not a bad position or payoff, but fans wanted more for Bryan. They wanted the gold and that storybook ending at the end of the big show.
Unless things change quickly, that's not going to happen. And WWE risks the very strong possibility of a hostile crowd reaction in New Orleans on April 5.
Batista, who has a starring role in this summer's Marvel movie "Guardians of the Galaxy," was booked to return to WWE as the top contender for his former Evolution running mate's world championship.
Through no fault of his own, though, Batista has instead been placed in the unenviable position of usurping a lofty spot that many fans feel Bryan rightly deserves.
The results thus far have been far from pretty.
Instead of being received as a conquering hero, Batista has been booed loudly, so loudly in fact that he has been forced to acknowledge the negative response.
The once-familiar "Batista" chants have been replaced by more ominous "Bootista" catcalls.
His pending title match with Orton has come with warning signs.
While some see it as a potential train wreck, The Bleacher Report described it last week as "a one-way ticket to Disasterville."
Batista is receiving a lot of the hate.
Not only do many fans perceive Batista as a reason for Bryan being blocked out of the Wrestlemania title picture, some cite him as an indirect reason for Punk leaving WWE.
They don't think that Batista, after an absence of nearly four years from the wrestling wars, should be allowed to waltz back in and steal a main-event spot.
A spot, they maintain, that all along should have gone to Daniel Bryan.
Longtime fan Joe Dobrowski is one of the many Bryan boosters perplexed by the WWE booking process.
"How can a multibillion dollar company get something so wrong? It's more rhetorical, but this is a product of a few people imposing and force-feeding their view of the business on tens of thousands (maybe more) who reject the presentation."
It's clear that WWE needs to make a move, and they need to make a move fast to preserve the integrity of Wrestlemania's main event.
Speculation that Bryan could be somehow inserted into a three-way scenario has grown stronger with each passing day.
Will WWE be able to turn lemons into lemonade before its biggest show of the year comes around?
That will be the company's biggest challenge.
Raw in Chicago
This week's edition of Raw will be held in C.M. Punk's hometown of Chicago, so WWE can expect a steady chorus of Punk chants to go along with the Bryan "Yes" movement.
The former WWE champion isn't scheduled to make an appearance, though, after walking out on the company several weeks ago. Several of Punk's WWE-related appearances have been canceled, lending further credence to the real-life split between Punk and the McMahons.
But don't rule out a surprise return from Punk to stir the Wrestlemania pot even more.
Road to Wrestlemania
Kudos to WWE for putting on an entertaining show Friday night at the North Charleston Coliseum.
A strong crowd was treated to a great night of action as WWE performers worked hard at the Road to Wrestlemania event.
John Cena, who sold an "injury" from Raw four nights earlier, apologized to the crowd after his main-event match with Randy Orton for not being one hundred percent, even though the bout was one of the strongest on the show.
A tip of the hat also to veteran WWE referee Charles Robinson, who has to be one of the hardest-working individuals in sports entertainment.
Robinson not only reffed most of the matches Friday night, but helped put up the ring before the show and helped tear it down after the event (he's a longtime member of the ring crew). He also helped put up the steel cage for the main event, and even took a bump during the Cena-Orton match.
Now that's dedication.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts underwent a 5 1/2-hour operation Tuesday to remove a cancerous growth found behind his knee.
The tumor, which was the size of a half dollar, was discovered last month growing into his muscle and required emergency surgery.
The type of cancer is yet to be determined.
"If the devil can't defeat me, cancer doesn't stand a chance in hell," he told TMZ. "Pray for sick children who face this horrible disease 'cause The Snake will be just fine."
Diamond Dallas Page is scheduled to induct Roberts into the WWE Hall of Fame in New Orleans.
Page has been credited over the past year with revitalizing Roberts' health and rescuing him from the throes of addiction, helping Roberts resurrect his career and reclaim his life through DDP Yoga.
Reach Mike Mooneyham at 843-937-5517 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @ByMike Mooneyham and on Facebook at Facebook.com/MikeMooneyham.
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