As of now, Daniel Bryan is the IWC golden boy, embroiled in a feud with the former golden boy, CM Punk.
Yet, it boggles my mind that WWE has put Daniel Bryan in this position when during his entire run as a main-eventer on Smackdown as World Heavyweight Champion he had almost no defining victories that would make someone say "You know, this guy is gonna be a major player from here on out."
Not a single clean victory to speak of over anyone of significance.
If you don't quite get what I'm pointing at, then allow me to breakdown the World Heavyweight Championship rise and fall of Daniel Bryan. With that said, let us start at the beginning: WWE: Money in The Bank.
For the majority of the buildup, 99 percent of people were saying it's going to be Wade Barrett or Cody Rhodes winning that case. Occasionally, Sheamus would come into the conversation, but very, very, very few people really thought Daniel Bryan had a chance of wining that case. (I was rooting for Rhodes, personally.)
I mean, Bryan hadn't even been on a PPV in months before MiTB, but WWE sat there and for some reason said "Let's just forget about the work of these great heels like Barrett, Rhodes and Sheamus, and give to D-Bryan." So I sat there in disbelief that he won the case.
Then, however, it dawned on me, that this is probably a good thing. I wasn't a Daniel Bryan fan by any stretch, but I do like what's good for business and it occurred to me that having another big face to help Orton carry the load would be good for Smackdown.
That said, it also became very clear to me that WWE had no idea what they were doing, because the very next PPV, Bryan did the job to Wade Barrett at SummerSlam.
To be frank, it was all downhill for Bryan after winning that briefcase, because as far as I know, his biggest win was over "The One-Man Southern Rock Band" Heath Slater in a dark match. Aside from that, he was everyone's punching bag from Del Rio, to Barrett, Sin Cara Negro, to Cody Rhodes, etc.
Needless to say, Bryan very rarely won a match. Yet, sure enough, he was still touted as the same bland, boring, vanilla face through it all. Even when he was getting destroyed by Mark Henry or owned by Michael Cole on commentary.
Then it happened. Months of being pummeled by everyone and their brother, Daniel Bryan cashed in his Money in The Bank contract on The Big Show at TLC in a stellar contest where Bryan picked up a huge...nah, I'm just kidding.
Mark Henry laid out The Big Show after losing the World Title in a Chair Match and Bryan came in and laid on top of him for the win. (Now I could swear, at the very least, both men had to be standing for a match to start.)
So, thus began to the slow heel turn of Daniel Bryan...pretty much failing to do what I'm sure the originally intended goal of the process was to do in making a top face. Instead, we got a very un-credible heel.
During the initial turn, Bryan's biggest clean victory was over Cody Rhodes. Every other win ended in some way that didn't help Bryan look any stronger as Champion.
He never defeated Big Show by submission, or even by pinning him. He ran away from Mark Henry. He got DQ wins over the likes of Orton and Punk, and his biggest wins came rather cheaply.
His victories in the Steel Cage with Show and Henry (where you can win by escaping your opponents) and Elimination Chamber (where he entered sixth, only eliminating Santino Marella) were not wins to write home about either.
Fast forward to WrestleMania, where Daniel Bryan lost his World Title in 18 seconds. Yes, this is a guy who should be competing for World Championships, this guy is a threat to CM Punk who went toe-to-toe with one of the best in the business in Chris Jericho, and walked away with his title in hand.
At what point does Daniel Bryan look like a threat through all that? At what point does he seem like he can fight on an even playing field as CM Punk? I'm not talking as a Punk fan, either, but as a logic fan.
At Extreme Rules, Bryan got a rematch with Sheamus in a Two-Out-of-Three Falls Match. Now, I didn't see the match, but from what I read Bryan looked great as usual and again Sheamus performed. That said, I also read Sheamus didn't tap during his match. In fact, he passed out.
Now, I'm on the fence on this one. On one hand, WWE were starting to legitimize Sheamus as a main-eventer so I can understand wanting him to look as strong as possible.
On the other hand, if Bryan couldn't make Sheamus (the low-man on the totem pole, as far as big faces go) tap out, can I really expect him to make CM Punk give up his title with the LeBell Lock? I mean, CM Punk said it himself. "There's no shame in tapping out during practice, and after that bell rang, that's what it became" (or something close to that. I don't remember his exact words).
So, while we established that Punk is willing to tap after the bell, can we expect the same during a match? It's hard to answer so I'll leave that one with a question mark, or better yet some hope that MAYBE WWE is gonna try to fix their problem with Bryan.
Even now, he can't get a big victory. He earned the right to face CM Punk at Over The Limit by beating a 60-year old Jerry Lawler. Yeah, because there was nobody else they could have picked to face Bryan or even in place of Bryan.
They couldn't have given us, Daniel Bryan vs. R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, Brodus Clay, Alex Riley, John Cena, Tyson Kidd, or heaven forbid Cody Rhodes even gets entered into the Beat the Clock challenge. No, they picked Jerry Lawler.
Bryan recently had a match with Big Show that ended in a screwjob, via Johnny Ace calling for the bell after Bryan put on his LeBell Lock.
Like I said, I'm struggling, people. Help me. Help me see where WWE thinks I'm supposed to take Daniel Bryan seriously as a World Champion (contender.)
As far as I've seen, the man can wrestle. He works very good as a woman-using heel. He can talk. But that doesn't make you a threat. It makes you talented. WWE has done nothing to make me believe that he can beat Punk.
If anything, he's in a similar position to where Jeff Hardy spent so much time. That guy with the talent to win the Title, but simply not the booking. How many times did Hardy come ever so close to main-event stardom, before failing to reach the brass ring?
How many times did they put him in there with guys he should have been able to beat cleanly at least once in awhile? (Orton, HHH, Cena, etc.) How long did it take before you could legit say "Yeah, he's a main-eventer?"
It took a long time, but the thing about it is, they didn't put the title on Hardy before he had that feeling, but that's exactly the opposite as far as Daniel Bryan goes. The man was booked in reverse and suffers for it now.
I'm not saying that somewhere down the line, things can't change but Bryan is not in the spot his booking would have him placed at. He should have some big wins over big names, but he can't even beat Big Show or Alberto Del Rio. I'm sorry but he's just not at that level yet.
I mean hell, most heels get a bone thrown to them every so often with a big win, but they give Bryan nothing, really.
So, to answer a question like, "Is Daniel Bryan really a threat to the World Championship?" I think the answer would be...NO! NO! NO!
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