Jake "The Snake" Roberts, "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase and Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka are just a few of the all-time greats who never won a title in the WWE. Over the years, however, fans have come to consider wrestlers a failure if they aren't holding championship gold. That is something that Daniel Bryan is coping with right now.
Bryan has already had a reign with the World Heavyweight Championship as well as the United States Championship, but he is currently outside the title picture, and there isn't really any sign of him getting back into it any time soon. Even if Bryan is without a title for an extended period of time, though, he can still be a major asset to the WWE.
One of my biggest problems with the WWE over the past few years has been the lack of commitment when it comes to cultivating and developing meaningful mid-card feuds and storylines. That has taken away from the overall quality of pay-per-views, and it is something that I would like to see rectified.
There isn't really any sign of it improving, but the fact that Bryan now appears to be entrenched in the mid-card does give me hope. Since his 18-second loss to Sheamus at WrestleMania, Bryan's popularity has skyrocketed, and he continues to get better crowd reactions than the vast majority of the roster.
I'm not sure how much I like his feud with Kane since there really isn't much sense behind it, but at least it's a mid-card feud that the writers seem to care about to some degree. With John Cena and CM Punk holding down the WWE Championship scene and Sheamus having a host of reasonable challengers for the World Heavyweight Championship, Bryan is in a logical spot right now.
Not only can Bryan go out and have a great match with pretty much anyone he is put up against, but his character has developed as well. Many considered Bryan to be somewhat boring when he debuted, but his psychotic gimmick has been highly entertaining, and he has even proved capable of handling a comical role.
If nothing else, Bryan's run outside the title scene should enhance the overall quality of his performances and make him a better all-around superstar moving forward. Essentially every wrestler in the WWE has a fairly sizable fan base, and it isn't possible to please everyone, so a guy like Bryan is going to be left out in the cold once in a while.
Although Cena has been in the main-event scene and always will be, he hasn't held a title in almost a year, so it isn't unprecedented for Bryan to be away from the titles as well. The world titles are typically given the top guys in the company, while the mid-card titles are given to guys who need them to get over, and Bryan simply doesn't fit in either category.
D-Bry has a lot of promise, and I have no doubt that he will either hold the World Heavyweight Championship again one day or perhaps win the WWE Championship, but he has to bide his time for now. Bryan hasn't quite reached the level of the Punks or Cenas of the world, so he is going to have to deal with holdover feuds once in a while.
His current feud with Kane is exactly that, but I feel like it will ultimately be very good for him moving forward. With that said, I don't expect Bryan to be without championship gold for much longer. It may not seem sensible, but with Bryan set to undergo anger management classes as dictated by AJ Lee, I can see him and Kane forming a partnership.
Can Daniel Bryan thrive without a title?
They both have mental issues from a storyline standpoint and can find some common ground that way. Then he and Kane can perhaps win the Tag Team Championships and hold them for a while until the creative team has something substantial for Bryan in the main-event scene once again.
That may seem like a step backward for Bryan, but the writers do seem to be putting a bit more emphasis on the tag division lately, so maybe Bryan and Kane can be the ones to make the tag straps relevant once again.
Even if Bryan doesn't get involved in the tag-team title picture, though, he's going to be just fine. Some guys need a championship around their waist in order to connect with the fans, but Bryan is someone who doesn't, so I'm perfectly fine with the way he is being utilized at the moment.
Championships are often the measuring stick for how successful a wrestler is, but Bryan is proving right now that with the right character and wrestling ability to boot, the fans will still care about a mid-card guy with no title to speak of.