The Daniel Bryan Question: Time to Solidify a Star
We haven’t seen anything comparable to this since 2009.
Jeff Hardy somehow managed to get a rocket strapped to his back and went straight to the top that year. His last WWE run was white hot with the majority of fans and we watched Hardy capture championship gold. Now we are seeing the latest incarnation of such a hot run.
Is Daniel Bryan over right now? YES! YES! YES!
SummerSlam stands to be a milestone moment for “Air Goat.” He had a less than memorable SummerSlam a couple years ago. Bryan was introduced as a last minute substitute for “Team Cena” in the battle with the Nexus. In that match, quite simply no one cared. Now, it’s a totally different story. Crowds are hot for the Bearded One.
And with that, the stage potentially could be set for one of the biggest moments not only in Daniel Bryan’s career, but in the Staples Center’s history. It’s been said that WWE will modify crowd reactions on their taped shows (and if you watch closely enough you’ll see the sound doesn’t match the physical movements sometimes), but in a live pay per view situation there’s nothing they can do about it.
The scenario could easily go down almost like a made for television movie. John Cena – a man widely considered the “face of the company” yet reviled by the more knowledgeable wrestling fans – will get booed out of the building. Bryan’s entrance as the plucky underdog looking for validation will be greeted with cheers and “YES!” chants. And then there’s that crowning championship moment: a huge pop for the clean pinfall or submission victory, combined with pyro and/or confetti, and Daniel Bryan holding the WWE Championship and posing on one of the turnbuckles.
It’s the stuff storybook endings are made of. It should be the scene we get to close SummerSlam. But I have my doubts.
Where will this championship match end up on the card? There is a story brewing between CM Punk and Brock Lesnar that is extremely compelling. The build to this point has been hot. It easily could be the match that closes the show. Or, they could move it down the card and let the title match close the show for tradition’s sake. What ending provides the happy moment for the majority of fans to go home with? And does the match placement telegraph the ending?
Then there’s the Reddit saga. Someone named “Dolphin1925” has been leaking pay per view results, and he claims he’s getting them from someone inside WWE. More importantly, WWE now knows about this leak. Will WWE troll us by taking away the moment and allowing the championship to remain with John Cena? Or will they simply try to appease Bryan fans, yet create a long awaited heel turn?
Randy Orton is floating around out there with the Money in the Bank briefcase, entitling him to a shot at the WWE Championship. He was absent from Monday’s Raw, presumably selling the stinger he suffered at the Smackdown taping. A really popular theory right now is that they let Daniel Bryan beat John Cena cleanly, but have Randy Orton immediately cash in that briefcase.
That scenario is not new. In 2011, Alberto Del Rio was carrying the Money in the Bank briefcase. After his match with John Cena to unify the then-divided WWE Championship, CM Punk fell victim to the “cash-in” moment. Del Rio seized the opportunity and became the WWE Champion.
Certainly Orton is entitled to take advantage of an opening to grab the championship, and he has openly stated that he will. But here’s my concern with that scenario: will it halt the natural build-up of Bryan’s character for the sake of turning Orton heel? I feel it would be more productive to allow Orton to tease the cash-in, only to hold on to the briefcase and wait for another moment.
There are a lot of moving parts in this situation. Reddit leaks, knee jerk booking changes to throw those leaks off, the Money in the Bank briefcase, and card placement all seem to give us a feeling of “what if” as we work toward this match. Even the fact that it’s John Cena across the ring and Cena having been accused of going into business for himself to protect his spot adds in. Intrigue is good in wrestling. It makes for a good story when we aren’t sure of what will happen next.
But there is one thing that is clear as well. Daniel Bryan is considered by many to be an “internet darling”, having worked his way up the ranks through the indies, into Ring of Honor, and now in WWE. WWE has the opportunity in this championship match to truly declare Daniel Bryan elite. Bryan has paid his dues and all that hard work has brought him to this moment.
Daniel Bryan feels like a star right now, even without the championship. It’s this writer’s opinion that at SummerSlam, it’s time to solidify that star status with the start of a Daniel Bryan championship reign.