WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE and the Daniel Bryan Dilemma

Now that the WWE is trying to squash John Cena (angle only), promote Roman Reigns as the next great champion (with the help of everyone else propping him up), and book the odd ladder match that is about to ensure between everyone in the locker room (so it seems) over the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania XXXI, there is one more issue that must be settled. What do you do with Daniel Bryan?

After his early elimination from the Royal Rumble, setting all the fans in Philadelphia in a frenzy, and subsequent interview the evening after on Raw, I have believed, as it has been also discussed by others, that there is a plot to destroy the “Yes!” movement. This would certainly help with a Bryan heel turn. While both Bryan and Reigns were sidelined with injuries that took them out of action at a time when both were red-hot and as popular as any superstar in recent years, Reigns continues to get the push the company (namely Vince McMahon) wants him to have, come hell or high water. Bryan is another story. I think the WWE has masked his return well enough to show it is pondering a change in the popular wrestler’s status. The subtle change in attitude, the more “warrior-like” image and the fact he is nothing more than a mid-card wrestler at the moment has to mean something. A heel turn is the most obvious answer.

I’d like to call it the “Barry Windham” complex.

Windham would never be mistaken for Bryan and vice versa, however the two have walked a path in different wrestling eras. Bryan, having more success as a world champion means nothing in this comparison, so please just hear me out.

Back in the mid 1980s, the NWA was at the height of its popularity with Ric Flair and the Four Horseman, Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA, the Road Warriors and the Russians. And of course, Windham. Magnum TA was being groomed to beat Flair and take Rhodes’ spot as the top face in the promotion, except for one thing – he almost lost his life in a car accident, ending his career.

Flair remained the top heel in the NWA and later WCW. All the while, Windham rose in the company’s food chain to wrestle Flair, but never beat him. Coupled with the fact that Lex Luger and Sting were two very popular wrestlers as well and in the mix for title runs, Windham challenged Flair on many occasions to only come up short. He never beat his nemesis. The only thing left for him was to join the Four Horsemen in what I think is one of the greatest heel turns of all time, which eventually led to an NWA World Title reign.

I was there and saw it firsthand at Clash of the Champions.

He teamed up with Lex Luger to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship from Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard. A few weeks later, on April 20, in Jacksonville, Florida, Windham betrayed Luger causing the team to lose the titles back to Blanchard and Anderson. Windham turned heel and joined Ric Flair’s stable, the Four Horsemen (which also consisted of Anderson and Blanchard).

In addition, he began using a black glove as well as the claw hold as his finisher, which was a signature move of his father Blackjack Mulligan. He went back to singles competition and defeated Nikita Koloff in a tournament final to win the vacant NWA United States Heavyweight Championship when NWA suspended then-champion Dusty Rhodes.

Windham was a dominant US Champion, who reigned for nine months. He defended the title against the likes of Brad Armstrong, Dusty Rhodes, Sting and Bam Bam Bigelow before dropping it to Lex Luger at Chi-Town Rumble in February 1989

Could the same be said for Bryan? Could the build of not losing the WWE World Title, not beating Roman Reigns at Fast Lane and the desire to beat a faction (The Authority) that continually knocks him down lead to the heel turns of all heel turns?

If you think so, give me a “Hell Yeah!” It could be the best thing for business for everyone involved.

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