Daniel Bryan: Team Hell No Has Prepared D-Bry for Main-Event Success in the WWE
Prior to teaming with Kane and forming Team Hell No, Daniel Bryan was World Heavyweight Champion and on the ascent in the WWE. At the same time, there were questions about his long-term sustainability as a main-eventer, but his time as Tag Team Champion seems to have erased any doubt.
Bryan's in-ring work was never in question, as he is arguably the best in WWE currently and one of the best pure grapplers the company has seen in a very long time. The real worry with Bryan was his personality and charisma. Neither of those things were on display early in his WWE tenure, but once he turned heel, he was allowed to speak freely and have more character.
Has Team Hell No prepared Daniel Bryan for main-event stardom?
The heel character garnered Bryan a strong crowd reaction, particularly at WrestleMania XXVIII. He lost the World Heavyweight Championship to Sheamus in 18 seconds, but the fans cheered raucously for Bryan and that was really the first time when it was apparent that Bryan was going to become a big star in the WWE.
Bryan could have been kept in the singles scene, but the WWE found an even better way to utilize him after he dropped the title and failed to regain it. Bryan began to feud with Kane before both of them were placed in anger management by former Raw general manager A.J. Lee. They ended up finding common ground and it was decreed by Dr. Shelby that they would become a tag team.
Some were apprehensive about supporting a Bryan and Kane team since it seemed like an odd couple, but those types of tag teams are often the most entertaining with The Rock 'n Sock Connection being the obvious example. Team Hell No has proven to be similar in that regard as their anger management segments and in-ring interactions have been fantastic.
Even prior to the team forming it seemed like Bryan was on the fast track to permanent main-event status, but there is no doubt that this partnership has helped him. Bryan was starting to develop some personality before teaming with Kane and I liked where he was heading, but Team Hell No has launched Bryan to new heights in terms of being an all-around performer.
Bryan is perhaps the only true tweener in the WWE right now and he pulls it off masterfully. He is probably leaning toward face status, but he acts like a heel most of the time. Despite that, the fans love him and that mostly stems from his interactions with them. The crowd pretty much eats up everything Bryan does and that makes it a virtual guarantee that he'll succeed when Team Hell No inevitably breaks up.
As much as I love Team Hell No and believe that it has revitalized the tag-team division in a major way, their split is likely on the horizon. The fact that they graduated from anger management suggests that they're ready to move on and it seems like they're likely to lose the Tag Team Championships to Team Rhodes Scholars at the Royal Rumble.
Both Bryan and Kane have also announced that they will be competing in the Rumble match itself, so Sunday could easily mark the end of their partnership. If they lose the tag straps and battle it out in the Rumble, both will be free to go their separate ways. That would definitely hurt the tag division, but I can easily see The New Age Outlaws returning on a semi-full-time basis through WrestleMania to feud with Team Rhodes Scholars in order to pick up the slack.
There are so many great singles feuds out there waiting for Bryan that it makes sense for him to move on. The ideal situation would be a feud with Dolph Ziggler. Whether or not Ziggler is World Heavyweight Champion by the time WrestleMania rolls around, a feud with Bryan would be fantastic from an in-ring perspective and it would also work in storyline terms since Bryan was with A.J. previously.
Perhaps the fans wouldn't have reacted as favorably to Bryan in a main-event role at this time last year, but his time as a part of Team Hell No has prepared him for the next level. It is now apparent that Bryan has personality and a defined character, and he very well may have one of the best characters in the entire WWE.
Getting away from the main-event scene for a little while and refining the areas that are unrelated to in-ring work has helped Bryan in an immeasurable way. When Bryan is a huge success a few years down the road, it's likely that fans will look back at his Team Hell No run as the thing that launched him to superstardom.
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