The Road to WrestleMania is afoot as it always is once 2012 begins.
We are now headed toward the Royal Rumble with both Raw and SmackDown's title pictures developing in unique fashion.
CM Punk has begun a feud with Dolph Ziggler which is more about John Laurinaitis than Ziggler. Is this a good thing? Maybe not, but it won't hamper the match quality come Royal Rumble.
On SmackDown, a much bigger change is on the horizon.
For those who watched Friday Night SmackDown this week, Daniel Bryan began a near-certain heel turn. It is not official yet, but he sounded like a heel in promos and had the crowd booing him by the end of the night.
Now, most expected Bryan to be going into WrestleMania as a face if he went to the pay-per-view as champion. This would have allowed main-event level feuds with guys like Wade Barrett or perhaps Cody Rhodes, though both seemed unlikely.
In fact, there were not really any major heels that made sense for Bryan to face on the Grandest Stage of Them All.
Now with Daniel Bryan looking to be a heel going into Mania, what can we expect to change for his outlook for the night?
Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania headlining alongside The Rock and John Cena.
Seems too good to true, doesn't it? We all know that WWE loves a good story. We also know that they love to allow the good guys to win, and the bad guys to get humiliated.
Well, now Bryan would be the bad guy. He would be the one who everybody would want to see lose.
That never bodes well for a heel, especially in modern WWE.
Does anyone remember what happened to the last first-time heel champion going into Mania?
That was Sheamus, and he lost his title inside the Elimination Chamber to Cena. Can anyone else see the same thing happening to Bryan this year with Randy Orton?
I have been thinking about it, though, and I have faith that Bryan can make it even as a heel.
Why? Well, look at that poster for WM. It doesn't show the typical mass of stars. It's all about Cena and Rock. That means that WWE needs absolutely no other selling point for the PPV.
Of course, Orton will be on the card, and so will some former legends in some form. However, there is room to have young stars compete without worrying about draw which is absolutely what Bryan needs to get that semi-main event spot.
Why not give us a wrestling spectacle when you already have your main story on tap?
As I said in the intro, none of the heels made much sense to face Bryan at Mania mainly because they were all still developing as Bryan is.
The main two choices were Randy Orton and Sheamus. Well, those seem even more likely with Bryan as a heel.
Seriously, this makes either choice make complete sense.
Orton and Sheamus would make huge challenges for this cocky, brash (at least that's how I see him developing) heel in Bryan.
Sure, Orton vs. Bryan would have been cooler with Bryan as the underdog face, but Orton is just too big of a draw. I can easily see Bryan playing off Orton well going to WM.
At the same time, a role reversal here from the almost WM match last year could be interesting. Sheamus going in as the challenger isn't a change, but this time he is the good guy.
That could make for a unique tandem that will elevate both stars, this time getting them on the card.
Both matches could be show stealers with the right story and build, and now they make a lot of sense.
You know what we haven't seen from Bryan much in his time in WWE? His greatest strengths.
Bryan is an amazing wrestler and can talk on the mic. Most people don't seem to realize the math of mic skills and being a face.
You see: mic skills are not at a level ground in modern WWE. Heels are given the mic and allowed more clever scripting in the company at a much higher rate than faces.
This makes many people consider guys like Bryan, Kofi Kingston, even Cena sometimes (due to bad scripting) to be lesser to guys like Miz, Barrett, and Rhodes. Sure, those guys are great on the mic, but they are also allowed a ton of freedom and time that faces rarely get.
Bryan, from what I have seen from his time in ROH and other such organizations, is a better heel. Why? Because he can really pull off the cocky and confident persona necessary.
Also, in WWE, the heel leads the action in a match unless the opponent is an exceedingly more experienced veteran. Bryan leading the action in a match is almost guaranteed to be a solid contest.
Bryan has mic skills that will only shown further in his heel role. At the same time, his wrestling ability will be even more on display.
This will only show off what Bryan can do even more than what we have already seen which means that the story leading to WrestleMania could be just as good as the match itself (which is a great thing).
Shawn Michaels retired after WrestleMania XXVI. He was called Mr. WrestleMania because quite simply, no one performed better on that big stage. He made it fun to watch any WrestleMania.
Now, WWE is looking for the man to full that gap. So far, they have not found him. In fact, WrestleMania XXVII felt a bit absent without a big-stage performer.
This year, we don't know who will get the big matches at the event. Three stars could take that label.
CM Punk has been on a roll lately, and he could pull that all together and elevate himself at WrestleMania though he has numerous matches now that have been easily overshadowed, which could continue.
Dolph Ziggler, who has competed at WrestleMania twice and never in singles competition, could finally get that chance this year. If he does with how much he has improved, Ziggler could very well steal the show.
While both could take that label, I see Bryan taking the Mr. WrestleMania title from his former trainer. Bryan is probably the best wrestler in the company, and he may be getting his first-ever Mania match defending the title against a serious face competitor.
Think about how great the match could be especially if Bryan is allowed to let loose a little bit. Bryan may be the best wrestler in WWE, but he also has a reserve that he has not been allowed to let loose in most matches.
In fact, Bryan is rarely given PPV matches at all. Who knows what he can do? As a heel against, say, Orton at Mania, this match could be legendary.
So, it still isn't for sure, but, if Daniel Bryan becomes heel, will it hurt or help him at WrestleMania?
Well, it might hurt his chances getting there, but it could very well make for a much more entertaining build up and match at the event.
I know that many are worried that Bryan's size will hamper him as he won't make for a convincing heel, but I say wait and see, because there is no doubt in my mind that Bryan can do even more as a heel on the mic and in the ring.
In the end, the outlook is cloudy, but Mr. WrestleMania could be reborn. Who knows? This might be the beginning of a great career for Bryan.
I hope, and I know others do too.
Thanks for reading!