Daniel Bryan is officially back.
News broke last week that the American Dragon was cleared to return to a WWE ring once more. After nearly three years, hundreds of doctors and millions of heartbroken fans, Bryan finally received the go-ahead from WWE head doctor Joseph Maroon to wrestle again.
Last night’s episode of Smackdown brought further excitement to the WWE Universe. While the match had been rumoured for months, it was made official last night - Bryan will team with Smackdown commissioner Shane McMahon to battle best friends Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens at WrestleMania. It’s yet another marquee match on a stacked ‘Mania card that’s already set to see Ronda Rousey debut, AJ Styles take on Shinsuke Nakamura and Charlotte Flair put her title on the line against Asuka in a Steak vs. Title match.
I qualify this article by stating that yes, I too would love a Daniel Bryan win. Should none of this article turn out to be true, I’d be thrilled to eat my words. However, to use the words of Triple H, you have to do what’s best for business - and I, Spencer Love, believe that business would best be done with Daniel Bryan losing his return match.
Why? I’ll tell you why, dammit!
Is DB Winning Realistic?
While the American Dragon may only be 36, it’s still been nearly three years since he’s wrestled a match.
In a scripted world, should realism truly be a concern? Admittedly, we’re talking about a sport in which a 53-year-old Undertaker is expected to compete with Roman Reigns like he’s a real threat, but I digress. I’ve always firmly believed that the best stories are the realistic ones, and while no one does an underdog story quite like Daniel Bryan, it’s difficult for me to believe that his team would truly stand a chance against Owens and Zayn. How can a GM who hasn’t wrestled in three years and a commissioner coming off diverticulitis possibly defeat a team consisting of two former NXT, United States and Universal Champions?
In the world of WWE, it’s completely feasible; realistically, however, could you see it happening?
How Could a Loss Hurt Him?
Short answer: it can’t.
Daniel Bryan is like Teflon; there isn’t anything at this point that could damage his popularity. He’s the last true babyface in WWE - a man who is cheered beyond belief in every area he appears in. Win, loss, disqualification, it doesn’t matter. At this point, Bryan is essentially a legend who’s been granted a magical youth potion; he’s already revered in his mid-thirties. It will be nigh impossible to get him booed - although if anyone can screw up a babyface like this, it’s WWE.
If there was ever someone that wins and losses truly didn’t matter for, it would be Daniel Bryan. The same can’t be said for Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens.
A Bryan loss won’t damage his popularity, nor is he in need of a legacy-cementing win. Sure, a return victory in New Orleans - the site of his greatest triumph - would be incredible, but where does that leave Zayn and Owens? On the flip side, an Owens/Zayn victory would give them genuine nuclear heat and the bragging rights of a victory over Daniel Bryan; two things that few members of the current roster can say they have. Perhaps more in Zayn’s case, it would be a career-defining win - while Owens has won multiple championships across both brands, the former El Generico has yet to taste huge success since his main-roster debut. A WrestleMania victory would instantly catapult him into the status of a main-event caliber superstar for the foreseeable future, and give WWE another top heel to work with - something that I feel they’re in desperate need of.
What would a Daniel Bryan win accomplish?
In the short run, it would be incredible. The sight and sound of 70,000 fans in New Orleans chanting YES! once more would truly be an epic WrestleMania moment. Frankly, it’s something that I’d be ecstatic to see; not even my cold, dead heart can deny that. However, I don’t think it’s the best route that WWE could take.
As I mentioned, Bryan is already a living legend among WWE fans. His legacy needs no establishing; even at this point, he’s a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer.
Just think of what a victory over someone like that could do for two wrestlers still looking to completely establish themselves.
With a win over Bryan and McMahon, KO and Sami would become the de facto top heels on Smackdown, if not the entire WWE. Both will remain on Smackdown, where they can run rampant over a commissioner and GM with absolutely no power to stop them. Tensions deepen between the two co-workers; could it lead to Bryan’s firing by his tyrannical boss? A marquee match between Shane and Daniel at, say, Summerslam? The possibilities are endless - far greater than Owens and Zayn remaining fired.
A loss truly won’t damage Bryan’s reputation. Hell, he’ll be placed in marquee matchups at WrestleMania until the man decides not to wrestle anymore. Thankfully, there’s still a long, beautiful career ahead for Daniel Bryan; he’ll be able to recover from any loss he takes.
Just dammit guys, don’t turn him heel.
WWE Last 5:
- Spoiler-Free NXT Preview and Predictions: March 28
- Smackdown Live Preview: March 27
- Monday Night Hayden: Predictions for the 26/03/18 RAW
- BREAKING: Daniel Bryan cleared for In-Ring Return
- Over the Top Rope: Episode IV