I wish I could have responded to the Daniel Bryan topic before the Smackdown spoilers came out, and I’ll fully admit that I did in fact read them. I’ll respond without any spoilers, but I can’t promise that they haven’t clouded my judgment with most of these queries.
And I’d like to thank each and every person who has responded to any of my columns. Whether I use your comment or not, I read each and every one sent my way, be it email or facebook. I have no qualms with my columns looking more like Ann Landers, because it brings a different style to the LOP main page. Much like the WWE, variety goes a long way.
As for Daniel Bryan, I want to say that my previous column was possibly a tad premature. As much as I predicted WWE would drop the ball with the new champion, Monday’s Raw did everything possible to fix the errors of his title win. Monday night felt like the WWE was finally giving the fans what they want. This isn’t an IWC vs regular fans issue, because fans from online, arenas, kids, adults, males, females… they’ve all been getting behind CM Punk, Zack Ryder and Daniel Bryan (though, admittedly, more for Punk and Ryder than Bryan). The fans are behind Punk more than anyone these days, and in a rare moment of genuine emotion, he put over Zack and D-Bry in the opening segment, and accomplished more in those 12 minutes than anything else in 2011 did for the 2 new champs. John Cena has been a great on screen supporter of Zack, and CM Punk doubled it for Daniel Bryan Danielson.
And if that weren’t enough, all 3 men entered the ring through the fans for the main event, to show their allegiances as fan favorites. To top it off, Bryan got the submission victory over Alberto Del Rio, followed by massive celebrations for all 3 with the fans at ringside.
Raw was great for these events alone. Finally, the WWE has given the fans what they want. It might be too late, and it might not be executed to 100%, but it was done.
Next, is the follow through… which is where my apprehension still exists.
Rob (via email):
Daniel Bryan...They can fix this.
Just like when he cashed in on Mark Henry. They should find a way to invalidate this one.
Big Show was nursing his hand after he beat Henry...Say it was broken and he would not have been cleared to compete against Bryan.
Big Show hadn't reached his feet yet, so the match should not have started. (This wouldn't hold water if you consider Edge's cash-in on Undertaker, but who's really going to look that far back?)
Whatever...just find a way to erase it from history, give the belt back to Big Show, and give the briefcase back to Bryan.
Meh...They're not going to do anything. Daniel Bryan's the champ. They just ruined what could have been one of the best Wrestlemania moments of all time....for the IWC, at least...where Daniel Bryan would have beaten Mark Henry and maybe also the Rumble winner (Sheamus, Orton, or Barrett?) in a Triple Threat.
As Raw proved, nothing will be invalidated. So I can’t really comment on that.
Honestly, I don’t know if the Wrestlemania moment you described could have surpassed Monday’s Raw. See. Momentum is a big key in making a Wrestlemania moment work. If Orton and Bryan were in the same ring together, it’s hard to imagine the audience getting fully behind the underdog Bryan. The closest comparison might be WM20 with Benoit being in the Bryan position. But NYC is a much different animal than a stadium of Miami fans. And Benoit had more mainstream history of being the underdog than Bryan does today.
I think they COULD have executed it well, but it’s hard to picture the WWE creative team putting their efforts into building up D-Bryan properly for that spot. While credit must be given for their efforts to establish new stars, the minor downfall is that they are pushing a lot of people simultaneously, and it won’t work out for everyone involved. While I think Mark Henry vs Daniel Bryan would have been the best method to put him over, I think the suggestions of making it a Triple Threat is evidence that the star power is not there for a singles match.
Right now, contenders for Bryan are Henry, Show, Orton, and possibly Barrett. Sheamus and Christian would be easy names to include as well in due time. That’s a long list of fresh angles for Wrestlemania. If Bryan is penciled in for the Wrestlemania World Title Match, I see Orton being a part of it more than the others, but I don’t know how that angle could play out without the Orton heel turn. Orton is at his height as a face right now, and I feel there is still some steam out of his face run. But there’s no denying that Orton is a much better heel, and that heel turns are most successful when they are unexpected due to how over they are as a face. So the risk of losing Orton to the dark side is a big one. But there’d be no better way to make Bryan a star. I guess we shall see.
Rey Castillo (via facebook): Daniel Bryan versus a returning Christian for the World Title at Wrestlemania. Now that would be a classic "wrestling" match.
They will undoubtedly put on a Match of the Year contender if they ever face off on PPV or get a decent amount of time on TV. However, as I sort of insinuated above, I think Orton vs Bryan is the only true Wrestlemania Title Match if the effort os to make Bryan a star. Christian does not have the name power, nor would by the time April 1st hits. But, they will definitely cross paths at some point, and it will be an instant classic.
Derek Price (via facebook): I completely agree. The WWE have a few routes they can take. If Big Show beats Daniel Bryan in a rematch it will completely bury him (at least for a while). However, I don't think they have built up D Bryan enough for fans to believe he can beat Show. Remember the backlash Rey got when he beat giants and won world championships? Granted, Rey is like Cena in sofar as he is kid friendly and shoved down our throats while D Bryan is an IWC darling, I can't help but thinking that the casual fan will NOT buy D Bryan beating Big Show. Unless... they play up the fact that Daniel Bryan is a submission specialist and have him go over OTHER big men like Big Zeke or MAson Ryan or whoever BEFORE he takes on Show. The storyline needs to be that Daniel Bryan realizes that he has to prove himself now and the WWE just has to let him have great matches and go over the competition. The other, less attractive option, is to have Daniel Bryan go heel with the gimmick that he is the fallen hero who will do anything to get and retain the gold. He injures his opponents in strategic ways before matches so he can take them out with his submission moves. Maybe he could don a mask and attack Show in a parking lot, or he could hire another wrestler to do it to add a layer to the storyline. In this scenario, I see Daniel Bryan facing Randy Orton at Wrestlemania. But really, I am not getting my hopes up. After all, this is the WWE we are talking about.
Another Orton vs Bryan prognosticator. Correctly done.
The way you described Bryan’s face title run is quite identical to the man I compared him to this week: Bret Hart. He won the title, but then had to secure his spot by defeating Razor Ramon at Rumble 93, Bam Bam Bigelow to win King of the Ring, overcome Yokozuna at WM 10, and then beat Diesel at King of the Ring. Bret cemented himself as World Champion by showing he could defeat all comers, of any size and strength. Bryan needs to do that too.
Unfortunately there’s one tool Hitman had that Bryan does not: announcing. While Michael Cole is a massive tool, he is not going to help portray the American Dragon as a champion of champions, who is an athlete to defeat anyone the way Vince McMahon did quite well during the 90s for Hart. Sure, defeating these guys helped him out, but having the point driven home by a competent play by play man is something drastically missing from today’s WWE. Even as a heel character, Cole is incredibly inept at portraying any star in a grander light. His praise of Del Rio and Miz do nothing to make them credible, but rather more arrogant and undeserving. Jerry does his best, but it’s not in his skills, nor his job to put Bryan over properly. His position is to say “C’mon Michael, give the guy a break. He’s done achieved so much, why can’t you finally accept it?” And while that seems to be a great portrayal of getting Danny Boy over, it’s merely a line to allow Cole to counter with whatever drivel he’s being told to pass on about veganism or not owning a TV.
Chris Hageman (via facebook): I hope you're wrong... but I don't think you are. This will come back to bite WWE in the ass, and they may very well miss out on a great talent in Bryan because of it. Less talented men than Bryan have recovered from worse errors, but it definitely puts him in a bad place. He now has a lot of weight on his shoulders and WWE have left him almost entirely without leverage. My only thought is, if Henry can recover in time for the Rumble (doubtful), is if he would win it and WWE could run the hoped for DB/Henry program after all. Doesn't work quite as well in reverse but would still be a strong payoff.
Chris, the sooner you accept that I’m always right, the more you’ll enjoy life in general.
Not a bad idea, and it doesn’t need the Rumble to do it. Henry can win contendership in any fashion, and be the returning giant who demolished Bryan in the steel cage. He could beat him in a non title affair before the event, and make Daniel Bryan the underdog yet again. That’s not too hard, and honestly, it would work well to establish Dragon.
My issue, which I hate to repeat, is that Henry vs Bryan does not seem like a WM main event match to me. Not with a roster on Smackdown that includes Big Show and Orton.
Mark Lynch (via facebook): I was shocked at what I saw at TLC. I like Bryan but I'm not sure about him winning the title that way. I don't see how it helps him. It wasn't even a match!
And on that subject, I was surprised that Teddy Long didn't come out after a minute or two and reverse the decision, because it wasn't a legitimate match - Big Show didn't even get to his feet, Bryan just pinned the flat out Big Show. It was only a few weeks ago that Long did that to Bryan when he tried to cash in on Henry. So scenario - could Long reverse the decision on Smackdown? Perhaps Big Show protests or threatens legal action and the title is taken off Bryan, thus turning Show heel?
Legal action? Sounds like another heel turn on Smackdown this year. And no, there was a difference between Henry from 3 weeks ago, and Big Show at TLC. Henry wasn’t cleared to compete in the first place, whereas Show was cleared to compete at TLC.
fanstalkingsports(via facebook): The Big Show should be the most pissed off, he was completely screwed in this entire angle. Why not have Daniel Bryan vs The Big Show at Wrestlemania? They could have had a "David vs Goliath" gimmick where fans would have been extremely confused on who to cheer for, that would have/could have been solid. The WWE screwed up again. Not surprised.
Not the best idea, but possibly the second best one, behind heel Orton. A face vs face respect match for the World Title between Big Show vs Daniel Bryan would be a spectacle, and would put Bryan over if he won (especially if capped off with a handshake between the two men after the match).
Lance HestheDj Naera (via facebook): I agree with everything in the column (great column) except 1 if you can clarify how is Bret Hart over-rated? do you mean the wrestler or the man in general? not spewing at ya just askin? I was against Bryan cashin in would of waited for his Mania moment (like the man said).. but meh No Cena on PPV guess they had to spike it somehow.
Simply put, Bret Hart is not as good as he and the WWE thinks he is. He was never a major draw, nor a major star, he was merely the only star when WWF was at a low peak. I’m not saying he doesn’t have fans, nor that he didn’t help explode the international business of the WWF, but I think it has more to do with the company expending internationally while he was champ, not because of it.
Burt Hollobaugh (via facebook): Punk is my favorite guy in the WWE right now (even the slightly watered down face version) because of his all around package of mic work, charisma, ring skills. But his in ring skills are a level below Bryan's at least. I don't know what "debate" can be had, D Bryan is the best in ring worker in the WWE hands down.
Bryan Danielson has the tools, and has a better history in the independent federations with in ring performances. But since coming to the WWE, there’s no question CM Punk has a much more consistent record of strong match ups. While I do think Daniel Bryan could do better if given the same time and opponents Punk has had, the fact remains that he has not performed at the same level as Punk. You’ve got no leg to stand on there. At this point, John Cena, Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk are all better performers than Daniel Bryan. Future will tell if Bryan can reclaim that past success in the ring, but he's lost a step since entering the WWE, and hasnt' had a stand out performance in over a year (since being US Champion and facing Miz and Dolph Ziggler).
Charles Lupula (via facebook): Is the Big Show really one of the most beloved personas in today's wrestling world? I, personally, can't stand the man. He's a definite channel changer for me. I rolled my eyes when he won the title last night.
Yes. You can personally not stand him, but he’s widely respected by most sensible fans. If you aren’t one of them, that’s your own issue to deal with. While not the best in ring worker, he’s definitely a star, and a valuable one.
And on that note, peace out.
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