WWE Elimination Chamber 2012:Why Daniel Bryan Has Become a Transitional Champion
The Elimination Chamber proved one thing last night.
Daniel Bryan is never going to get a serious with the title. At least not in the persona he has right now.
Bryan was given almost no momentum during the Smackdown Chamber match and only eliminated one wrestler: Santino Marella.
He only got it so that he could hold onto his title.
Unlike CM Punk, Bryan isn't being given the same push even if he his being pushed as a heel. He hasn't won one match during his reign in which fans could say that he beat an opponent through traditional means. Each victory has been because he found a loophole in the rules that allowed him to keep the belt.
The Elimination Chamber match on Sunday was an extension of that.
But the match isn't the moment that shows that the WWE is planning on using him to elevate someone else. It was when Sheamus made his entrance and beat on Bryan after his win that did that.
Sheamus has been on a run since he turned babyface, and it continued when he won the Royal Rumble. No one saw it coming, but it was an indication that Sheamus has been anointed as being worthy of carrying the title yet again.
Most Royal Rumble winners get the victory at WrestleMania. There is only a handful of times where the champion has escaped with the title.
The way that the diminutive Daniel Bryan has been built doesn't give the indication that he will be one of them.
Sheamus is a giant, clocking in at 6'4", while Bryan is under six feet tall. If Bryan was pushed in the same direction as a Chris Benoit or an Eddie Guerrero, it wouldn't be that much of a serious prediction, but with the lack of build-up Bryan has gotten as champion, a win doesn't appear likely.
The only question is how the WWE will wrap up the Big Show-Daniel Bryan angle that they have had running for the last few weeks. Bryan has taunted and insulted Show for everything from being a champion with a short title reign to inadvertently attacking Bryan's girlfriend.
The Chamber match didn't draw the feud to a close, and while Sheamus might win the title, if he does, the storyline between Show and Bryan loses its purpose.
Bryan was the one who beat the Big Show to win the title. The Big Show is trying to win the title as much as he is trying to get a victory over Bryan. Without the title in the picture, that effort gets halved.
Part of the change is based on physique. Sheamus has the build that Bryan does not, even if Bryan is the more talented wrestler.
He also has more charisma.
Bryan is an interesting personality in his own right, and with enough time, WWE fans will grow to appreciate him, but it is going to take time. Sheamus is already a star, and one that knows how to work a crowd.
He translates into ratings, pay-per-view buys and sold merchandise. If he didn't, there is no way the WWE would be gearing him up for a title run or even let him win the Rumble.
It may not be "fair" to Bryan fans to see their underdog hero lose his crown, but at the end of the day, the WWE gave him a chance. That doesn't mean that it will be his last. It was more like a test run with the belt if anything.
The WWE wanted to see how he would do with the title, and in the end, Bryan has acquitted himself well. Not enough that he is going to keep the title through WrestleMania, but enough that he may get it one day.
Time is on Bryan's side. He may already be a veteran, but he is also 30. As long as he doesn't suffer any serious injuries, he should be fine to compete.
Considering what a talented wrestler Bryan is, that shouldn't be a problem.
So, Daniel Bryan is a transitional champion. It isn't a perfect solution for wrestling purists, but it is a step in the right direction. So for now, Bryan and his fans will just have to grit their teeth and bear it, because in the end, it should come full circle.
If not, the company gave Bryan a chance, and that is more than most get.
Matthew Hemphill writes for the MMA and professional wrestling portion of Bleacher Report. He also hosts a blog elbaexiled.blogspot.com that focuses on books, music, comic books, video games, film and generally anything that could be related to the realms of nerdom.
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