When it was first announced nearly two years ago that Bryan Danielson would be participating in the innovative NXT concept, many saw this as the perfect opportunity to finally see the former Ring of Honor star compete in a WWE ring. As his in-ring name officially changed to Daniel Bryan, hope began to dwindle as he saw little to no success while he was a part of the FCW-themed program.
Following his impromptu release from the company in June 2010, the IWC raved in protest on the internet as well as live events in order to get Bryan back in the WWE. With their voices heard, the American Dragon resigned with the WWE a mere two months later to return for the biggest blockbuster of the year, SummerSlam.
However, nothing much had changed in the development of his persona upon his comeback, except for winning the United States Championship from The Miz at the Night of Champions event. Sure, his move to SmackDown in the 2011 WWE Supplemental Draft was beneficial, but not to the point where he had grown much as a character.
In a shocking turn of events, Daniel Bryan surprisingly captured the opportunistic Money in the Bank briefcase this past July by defeating seven other hungry competitors. While the general thoughts were that the briefcase would launch the career of the former indie wrestler to super stardom, Bryan then pursued a losing streak for the next three months and was used on television sparingly.
Nonetheless, Bryan was able to develop an alliance with Big Show in his feud with then-World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry in late November while also attempting to capture the golden prize himself. At the TLC pay-per-view a few weeks later, Bryan did just that when he ended Show's near-minute reign as World Champion to take the strap for himself.
Obviously, most viewers were ecstatic to see the American Dragon finally wear gold around his waist, but they were also simultaneously concerned that he wasn't quite ready yet due to his bland gimmicks and sub par mic skills. Being an amazing wrestler isn't the only attribute one must acquire to be a top player in the WWE, so speculation arose as to how soon he would inevitably drop the belt.
Meanwhile, Big Show's reaction after losing his first World Championship in nine years strongly foreshadowed a heel turn by the giant, similar to Christian's story last year when he continuously came up short.
On the premiere edition of SmackDown 2012, I was awestruck when I witnessed D-Bry resort to dirty tactics in order to retain his World Heavyweight Championship against Big Show that night. Despite the blatant boos from the audience, Bryan still continued to celebrate in a cheerful fashion.
My initial reaction to Bryan's turn was pure confusion and anger, as they worked tremendously hard to get this guy over for the past two years only for him to toss it out the window in favor of a Christian-like gimmick. However, as time progressed, his character started to win me over, with the jeers from the crowd getting louder and louder as he emerged from the back.
Additionally, his witty ways were also showcased when he sneakily manipulated his girlfriend AJ into coming down to the ring, taking a bump from Show and forcing him to feel sorry for himself because of it. Unlike Christian, Bryan still believes he is a fan favorite in his own eyes, which is what I love most about the Washington native.
Now, while I do realize that his recent rants on being a vegan strongly resemble those of CM Punk's during his days as part of the Straightedge Society, I do believe that it may only help in the long-run in generating even more heat from the crowd.
Sadly, every good thing eventually comes to an end, so I expect to see Bryan more than likely drop the title to Randy Orton at the Elimination Chamber event in a few weeks. He may come off as cowardly now, but a new-found intensity could be unleashed at any given moment by the current reigning World Heavyweight Champion.
Regardless, I hope to see Bryan booked as a legitimate threat going into WrestleMania where he can finally receive his deserved moment on the grandest stage of them all. Personally, I find his heel run extremely amusing, as he is currently offering some of the best work of his career at the moment.
If Punk's initial run as a villain three years ago was any indication, Bryan is on his way to becoming one of the most hated heels in the business.
Thanks for reading, Bleachers, and be sure to drop a comment below with your thoughts on the controversial World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan. As always, your criticism and overall feedback on my piece is greatly appreciated.
Would you prefer Daniel Bryan as a face or a heel?