In EP20 of PlayByPlay the Daily Wrestling Podcast Armaan Kirmani shares his views on why the hype around Daniel Bryan is misguided.
Daniel Bryan is the most over wrestler with the WWE Universe. Daniel Bryan is one of the best in ring workers the WWE has ever seen. Both statements are correct but the same was true of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels in the 90’s and both had to be extremely patient before they became the face of the WWE during the New Generation Era and the beginning of the Attitude Era respectively.
There is enough precedent of poor workers that have a good look and story line being the face of the WWE – Hogan, Warrior, Cena, Batista and to an extent even the Rock, who was better than all the previous in the ring but by no means one of the best in ring workers ever.
Daniel Bryan much like his predecessors who were of a smaller physique and size will need to accept that if he is to endure longevity in his career he will need to take a back seat and prepare for a marathon. I have no doubt that he will go on to headline many more Wrestlemania’s in the future but considering he has just returned from a 9 month injury and coupled with the fact that the WWE gave him his Wrestlemania moment at possibly the grandest and best Wrestlemania’s of them all – it is unnecessary to demand that another wrestler should not be given the opportunity. Reigns does not have the mic or in ring work skills yet that some other candidates have – such as Dolph Ziggler, Bray Wyatt and perhaps even Dean Ambrose but he does have a superior look and the benefit of a singles career in which he is largely untainted in terms of storyline. His gimmick is also one that can last for a long time in the main event as it is largely oriented around Reigns the individual.
If Bryan can draw and is so over, then surely the WWE, especially in the Network Era does not need to centre its Championship around Bryan. He is a bonafide main event talent but this is the time when the WWE needs to allow other performers to have the opportunity to main event in order to make future feuds (inc. those with Bryan) more attractive. On the one hand many consider the roster to lack depth but at the same time anyone getting a push that is not completely organic and rooted in the struggles of independent wrestling is tarnished with an Anti-Bryan stigma. This is largely a consequence of social media which the WWE is using as part of their storyline. In my opinion the WWE are using the power of social media against the IWC themselves by making the ‘booking’ the heel in an era where they are blurring the boundaries between babyfaces and heels. By not giving the WWE audience what they want every week and every month they are in fact making the programming more appealing because they continue to give the audience hope and pay offs as well. If they did not believe in Bryan at all they would cut his air time completely. They would not let him give the promos he does acknowledging the IWC’s thoughts but they are. What is Daniel Bryan’s gimmick? It is hard to define but it is centred around him being the peoples champion whereas the authority find him an embarrassment. This is the PG ERA equivalent of what they did with Stone Cold Steve Austin’s character in the late 90’s and we all know how much he went on to draw.
I know that Wade Keller in Stone Cold’s podcast suggested that the WWE could cash in on Bryan’s popularity in the short-term but that would be short sighted. For once the WWE should be credited for sticking to a long term plan and backing an up and coming talent. He may or may not succeed but the opportunity will make for great television.