When Daniel Bryan arrived on the WWE scene full time back in 2010, his clean-cut all-American look, smallish stature and ear-to-ear grin made him look like a member of the high school chorus or the Young Republicans rather than the Superstar roster.
But little did we know that three years after he “aw, shucks”-ed his way into WWE that Bryan would morph into the major star that he is today. In that time frame, he has held two singles championships (World Heavyweight and United States) and now is part of the most unlikely World Tag Team Championship title holders in WWE history.
And you know what is scary about Daniel Bryan? He still has potential left to tap.
Sure, Bryan has had his “moments” when he looked like the rise was finished and he was headed back down the ladder deep into the midcard.
He lost the World Heavyweight belt in 18 seconds to Sheamus at WrestleMania 28. He got “left at the altar” by AJ Lee. He seemed destined to be nothing more than a comedy act when WWE stuck him in that anger-management shtick, even though it wound up snagging him a share of the World Tag Team titles with Kane.
His character as a tag champion brought a whole new appreciation of the words “Yes” and “No.”
In all honesty, though, Daniel Bryan really does not need the comedy. His wrestling ability should be enough to take him to the pinnacle of the WWE. It might be entertaining to watch him carry on with the “No” stuff, but it is more entertaining to watch him work in the ring.
Bryan is the rare type of athlete who matches up so well against anyone he faces. It does not matter if the opponent is much bigger than him because Bryan has the wherewithal to be able to bring large opponents down to size.
One month after the 18-second debacle at WrestleMania 28, Bryan and Sheamus engaged in a classic 2-out-of-3 Falls match at Extreme Rules 2012. Later, at the Over the Limit pay-per-view, just when you thought he could not get any better, Bryan did just that and gave then-WWE champ CM Punk all he could handle.
It was Punk, as you recall, that hung the now-famous "Goat Face" moniker, thus adding to Bryan's entertainment value.
Then came the whole anger-management thing that has brought us to the present day.
Now we are heading into Extreme Rules 2013, and Bryan and Kane likely will defend the tag belts against The Shield. If the match happens, they are expected to finally lose the belts. And it is time they did.
Bryan and Kane did everything they could to bring WWE’s tag team division some attention. And while they were entertaining in defending the titles, the tag belts could just as easily have been handcuffs for Bryan.
After Extreme Rules and the obligatory rematch for the tag titles, Daniel Bryan needs to take his career to the next level.
He easily could become the top contender for Dolph Ziggler’s World Heavyweight Championship. For that matter, he also could contend for Wade Barrett’s Intercontinental title—provided WWE does not shift Alberto Del Rio into that title picture.
Or Bryan could finally go after the belt that so many wrestling watchers feel he is destined to hold—the WWE Championship. All the John Cena haters out there would love to see someone like Bryan take him down.
On the other hand, it could be a very good match. Remember…Daniel Bryan matches up well against anyone he faces.
And that will take Daniel Bryan straight to the top. Most importantly, it will keep him there.
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.