Friday 28 October 2011

The Invisible Man

Think back to the SmackDown ladder match at Money in the Bank. There were several men fans felt were potential winners: Wade Barrett, Sheamus, Cody Rhodes, and even Sin Cara. But none of them left victorious. That honour instead went to Bryan ‘Daniel Bryan’ Danielson.
It was a move that surprised everyone, mainly because WWE had done nothing with the former ‘American Dragon’ for months. His last appearance on a WWE pay-per-view had been a disappointingly brief showing in the Royal Rumble six months earlier. Since then he’d been limited to TV appearances and pay-per-view dark matches against the likes of Drew McIntyre and Ted DiBiase. There was also the infamous decision to bump his US title match with Sheamus from WrestleMania and turn it into a pre-show battle royal.
Many assumed, perfectly reasonably, that Bryan winning Money in the Bank would be the start of a renewed push. That wasn't the case. Bryan cut a promo on the July 22nd SmackDown in which he announced his intention to cash-in his shiny blue briefcase at WrestleMania XXVIII in Miami. Following that he... well, he didn't do much frankly.
Bryan's sole pay-per-view appearance since becoming 'Mr Money in the Bank' was at SummerSlam, where he lost a very enjoyable bout to Wade Barrett. Losing to Barrett, a man who has been pushed consistently as a future world champion and is an established upper mid-carder in WWE, didn’t hurt Bryan at all. But it also did nothing to establish him as someone who would be wrestling for a world championship any time soon. At SummerSlam it was Barrett who left looking like the bigger star with the brighter future, and as it is Bryan who is currently ‘Mr Money in the Bank’ that should not have been the case.
WWE should have changed its attitude towards the former ROH champion when it booked him to win the blue brand’s ladder stunt-fest. If Bryan is to be accepted as a serious contender to a world championship (and that is what WWE wants otherwise they wouldn’t have booked him to win) then the weekly burials by ‘The Voice of WWE’ Michael Cole and the nonsensical losses to men that should be beneath him have to end.

Whether WWE intends for him to win his cash-in match or not it would be better for business if Bryan is perceived as a genuine threat to the champion, whoever it is, when he challenges for the gold. If he’s built up with convincing wins and is treated like a star on the rise by the commentary team (the guys who are paid to put the talent over, remember) then Bryan could become a star even if he loses to the world champion.

Perhaps WWE don’t want him to succeed. It’s no secret that Vince McMahon is not a fan of any wrestler who has been embraced by “the internet wrestling community.” The nastiness that Cole directs at Bryan each week is fed to him by none other than Vince himself. In Vince’s world (which, sadly, WWE is) Bryan becoming the first man to unsuccessfully cash-in a Money in the Bank briefcase will “prove” that he doesn’t have what it takes to be a WWE Superstar™.

Hopefully that’s not the case. Hopefully there’s a long term plan in place that necessitates Bryan being lumbered with the dreaded losing streak gimmick recently. Perhaps he will cash-in on an unsuspecting champion early in 2012, win the title and then brag about how he fooled everyone into thinking he’d wait until WrestleMania. A heel Daniel Bryan would be a tremendous addition to the current WWE product and would make a great opponent for a babyface CM Punk.

Or perhaps WWE really will manage to hold off and save Bryan’s championship match for WrestleMania. It’s pretty much guaranteed Bryan would have a great match with whoever the champion is (and I’m including Mark Henry in that statement!). The best choices for his opponent at ‘Mania would be Randy Orton or Christian: both are accepted by fans and would wrestle a great bout with the challenger.

The happy-go-lucky smiley babyface we get right now isn't doing Bryan Danielson, the fans or WWE justice. Neither is the claim that he "won't shave his beard" until WrestleMania. WWE should be doing everything it can to get the guy ready for a top spot. The fact that “internet fans” like him is irrelevant and should be forgotten: simply put, Daniel Bryan at the top in WWE would be good for business.

Sooner or later WWE are going to have to promote 'The American Dragon'. He’s too talented for them to overlook for much longer.

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