Read part one of this article ‘Daniel Bryan Despite WWE’s best attempts, a star has been born’ Here.
So with Daniel Bryan again losing out to Randy Orton with the WWE Championship on the line, many wondered where he would go next. Another rematch with Orton seemed unlikely, and as easy as Bryan-Michaels would have been to book, it was clear that HBK would not be coming out of retirement. It appeared Bryan would now find himself in a creative lull, a definite comedown from the few months prior when he was arguably the biggest star in the company. And there was more embarrassment with the release of the cover for the upcoming Hell in a Cell DVD and Blu-ray, which you can see at Shop.WWE.com
Notice the distinct lack of Randy Orton’s opponent from the cover. The focus was clearly on the champion, the special referee and the boss. Despite being the third pay-per-view in the row that Orton and Bryan clashed for the title, the challenger was deemed not important enough part of the story to feature on the front. And in addition to the bizarre graphic choice, when early word came out that HIAC had pulled more buys than the previous two years’ shows, inside WWE the credit for that was being attributed to the addition of Shawn Michaels as special referee. It was clear Bryan was never going to be given credit or the respect of a top-liner. What now for Daniel Bryan?
24 hours after Hell in a Cell, Bryan was attacked backstage by the Wyatt Family, a fairly new act in WWE that had been garnering a lot of attention. Fans immediately looked at this new feud wondering if it was an overdue elevation to the top of the card for the Wyatts, or a demotion from the main event for Bryan; and then they remembered the last few months. The constant belittling, the assurances that he wasn’t quite good enough to be champion. This was a demotion for Daniel Bryan.
Disappointed though the WWE fans were with his demotion from the main event, Bryan still received tremendous support, possibly in an almost-defiant show towards WWE for their refusal to book Bryan in a way that his popularity suggested he should be. On the same Survivor Series that Orton and Big Show drew such a disappointing buyrate on, Bryan teamed with CM Punk to face rivals The Wyatt Family, a match they won. Heading into the PPV, many believed the Wyatts would pick up the win here to keep the rivalry going. With the babyfaces going over – as well as TV wins for Bryan and Punk in solo action against Luke Harper and Erick Rowan – it seemed this new feud would be over before it ever really started.
Meanwhile, Vince‘s search for an “attraction” – something Bryan apparently didn’t provide at SummerSlam – led him to book Big Show to challenge Orton for the WWE Championship at Survivor Series, resulting in an alarmingly-low 179,000 buys. It spoke volumes for Vince’s choice.
Back with Bryan and the Wyatts, the feud was not over, though the dynamic of the rivalry was changed. Punk was quickly removed to start the slow build to his expected WrestleMania 30 match with Triple H, and on the December 30 Raw the feud took a surprising turn.
It’s fair to say that statement summed up the last 5 months.
There was a lot of anticipation heading into the first Raw of 2014 – an Old School-themed Raw, at that – of how WWE would follow-up Bryan joining the Wyatts…which made the show extremely disappointing. The follow-up consisted of a six-man tag-team match that the Wyatts lost, and then no further sightings of them for the rest of the show. Of course, WWE had other stories to push, as well as the Old-School aspect of the show to focus on with the returning legends, but considering the interest in the Bryan-Wyatts story generated from the suprising angle the week before, this could only be viewed as a major missed opportunity. And possibly decreased interest in the story for the next week’s Raw. A Raw that now had the promoted tag-team match featuring the first teaming of Bryan and Bray Wyatt.
A steel cage hung ominously above the ring for the January 13 edition of Raw, though it’s presence and purpose would not be known until later. A show-opening disqualification loss to the Usos did not inspire confidence that WWE were taking the story in the right direction, until a rematch was announced for later that night…inside the steel cage. Though the main event had the feeling of a feud-ending battle for a tag-team rivalry that only started one week earlier, it was an extremely entertaining match which did seem to further the story when Bryan fell the cage, taking down Bray with him, leading to the Usos picking up another win. And then came the post-match angle.
The question now is, will WWE allow them?
History has shown that WWE don’t like wrestlers – sorry, Superstars – getting over when it hasn’t been written to happen. However when the reaction to Bryan has been this strong and this consistent, how can they not? And with WrestleMania season starting to creep up on us rapidly, has this changed booking plans? Obviously the Bryan-Wyatts story had been concluded early (or at the very least, rushed towards a conclusion), so now that has been removed from the booking sheets what goes in it’s place for arguable the most over superstar in the company right now? This Sunday at Royal Rumble Bryan will take on Bray Wyatt, and as it stands is not entered into the 30-man Rumble match itself. If the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is still not in Bryan’s future, given his status right now – and WWE’s long-standing insistence that they “listen to the fans and give them what they want” – there is only one other scenario that would give Bryan a major WrestleMania platform;
Last year the speculation was that Undertaker hand-picked CM Punk to be his ‘Mania opponent, and last month rumours cropped up that ‘Taker had done the same thing again, this time personally requested to work with Bryan. And while the idea of Undertaker losing the famed Streak to Bryan may be far-fetched to some, if there was anyone that would not be hated by the fans for ending the Streak right now, Daniel Bryan may be that one man. It would also be fascinating to watch the crowd reaction in a match between the two. And that in itself may be the reason why WWE – despite Undertaker’s personal choice – will never book the match.
Whatever happens on April 6, whether he is challenging for the title, or trying to end the Streak, or in a midcard match with nothing on the line, it is virtually guaranteed that with a sell-out WrestleMania crowd, Bryan will get a momentous reaction that will once again show those backstage that despite the subpar booking and the on-screen belittling, Daniel Bryan is a bone fide star.
A star that even WWE can’t diminish.