We should all be grateful that Daniel Bryan can once again do what he does best – perform in the middle of a wrestling ring. The news spread like wildfire that one of the greatest performers in professional wrestling over the past 20 years was cleared to take bumps on a mat and follow his dream.
Bryan’s “underdog” story and rise amongst the ranks as one of the greatest is one all sports can relate to. His arrival as a wrestler changes the dynamic of WWE and SmackDown Live as he goes from general manager – a role he looked uncomfortable in at times – to someone who undoubtedly want a shot at the WWE Title once again. How the company plans to book him following WrestleMania 34, where he will certainly face Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens in a tag team match (with I am assume Shane McMahon).
The news that Bryan is back is great for the business, but it could present challenges for booking moving forward. If WWE plans another superstar shakeup, which I hope happens, does that mean Bryan leapfrogs other talent to get a shot at gold.
After watching the heartfelt speech Bryan gave in the ring and announced he was fit to compete again, I immediately thought of The Miz and the feud that must happen. Then, I went down the list of potential matches. Finn Balor, Check. Seth Rollins, Check. Shinsuke Nakamura, Check. Bobby Roode, Check. AJ Styles, Check. Dolph Ziggler, Check.
WWE now has options, some we may not see yet. Once Bryan and Owens and Zayn end this storyline, which we all happens once WrestleMania 34 is over, what’s next? Can he have the same kind of success as he once enjoyed? Will there ever be a moment where the “YES!” movement comes to a crashing halt?
Regardless of the immediate future, this is already the storyline of the year in WWE. It is also something we can all learn from, following your dreams and never giving up.
“If you fight for your dreams, your dreams will fight for you!” Bryan told the crowd as written by Des Bieler of the Washington Post. I knew at some point WWE would be part of a life imitates art moment. Bryan did that with one sentence. It was special and poignant and the right time with the biggest night of wrestling on the horizon.
If his career never recharged and Bryan remained on the sidelines in an “advisory” role, he could still make the argument he is Hall of Fame worthy. Bryan held the WWE Championship three times and WWE’s World Heavyweight Championship once, in addition to being a one-time United States Champion, a one-time Intercontinental Champion and a one-time WWE Tag Team Champion as part of Team Hell No (with Kane). He was also the 2011 SmackDown Money in the Bank winner and the 2013 Superstar of the Year Slammy Award winner.
Bryan is the 26th Triple Crown Champion and the 6th Grand Slam Champion in WWE history and headlined several major pay-per-view events, including SummerSlam and WrestleMania XXX.
Ultimately, I could see Bryan move to Monday Night Raw with other talent shifting gears to the SmackDown Live brand. It opens the door for the confrontation with The Miz and could also mean he gets a shot at the Universal Title against Roman Reigns. The locker room may not support a title run by Bryan right off his return, but popularity dictates it should happen. Even with the return of Brock Lesnar and the beatdown he gave Reigns on Monday night, the red brand is still in need of an infusion for ratings’ sake.
Bryan does that. Like I said, his return is tremendous for the company, the business and the fans. I just hope they all don’t expect too much of him too soon and see all this greatness backfire if Bryan isn’t the performer he once was.