I’m not sure I fully understand what’s going on with WWE and its booking of Daniel Bryan upon his return to full-time ring action. The former company champion made his return to action at WrestleMania 34, winning a tag team match with Shane McMahon by taking down Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.
After the raucous celebration of Bryan’s return victory, the last few weeks have been a constant state of confusion. Daniel Bryan beat Big Cass at Fastlane, halting any momentum the 7-footer had as a mega heal. The Tuesday following the pay-per-view, he drops a match to Rusev.
It’s this kind of booking that leaves me pulling what little hair I have left out of my head. It’s a guarantee Bryan will once again carry WWE gold. Ryan Dilbert of Bleacher Report thinks it’s only a matter of time.
“Bryan is too popular, too talented and too connected with the WWE fanbase not to be world champion again,” Dilbert wrote. “The crowd will have to be patient, though. The sight of Bryan hoisting the WWE Championship above his head amid a shower of confetti isn’t going to happen immediately.”
I agree with Dilbert’s assessment of slow playing any title run Daniel Bryan might receive. And given AJ Styles is the best the company has to offer (at the moment) and Shinsuke Nakamura may be next in line for Bryan as an opponent, it’s only reasonable to maximize the best possible booking for all three superstars.
Styles should have his hands full with Samoa Joe while Nakamura and Bryan could turn in another five-star feud over the next three pay-per-view events. Falling to Rusev is not a bad thing for Daniel Bryan, but WWE must prove this decision to mean something other than a particular case of a “chance victory.”
“An early chapter of that story unfolded when Bryan lost to Rusev on Tuesday’s SmackDown. Bryan looked set to join Braun Strowman and The Miz as the next entrants in the upcoming men’s Money in the Bank ladder match. He just had to make it past a man often booked as a doormat in a qualifying match,” Dilbert explained.
As a side note, I love the fact Rusev will be part of the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. The uber-popular heel deserves a run toward the main event. While Rusev has been a solid mid-card champion, putting him in matches with Styles and Bryan only increase his profile as a top superstar.
Given that Big Cass still beat the hell out of Bryan following his loss on Sunday, the two wrestlers figure to lock up a time or two before they move on. Bryan is an automatic main event star, while Big Cass needs more seasoning in the ring and on the mic.
I see Big Cass as a mid-level champion before he is pushed to the main event picture. WWE loves the underdog story, but it cannot allow Bryan to beat the neophyte twice and expect the fans to get behind the former tag team wrestler as a true threat to the WWE Title.
It’s also possible Samoa Joe and Bryan face off at some point soon. If Joe were to beat Styles for the title, then this could be the path by which Daniel Bryan is crowned champion once more.
Fans are still counting on Daniel Bryan and The Miz to face each other in the ring. The dream match that hasn’t happened yet could be a headliner for SummerSlam or Survivor Series. It could also be the final step Bryan makes before he takes aim at becoming the leader of the blue brand in the ring, not from the general manager’s role.