It's just a rumor now, so perhaps this column will be a waste of bandwidth, but with reports circulating that Daniel Bryan will challenge WWE Champion John Cena for the title at Money in the Bank, I can only shake my head in disappointment.
B/R columnist Imaan Jalali posted this morning, citing Wrestling Observer, that Bryan is penciled in for the featured single bout of next month's PPV. After more than a year away from the title scene, and nearly eight months running with the Kane as Team Hell No and the tag team champions, it looks like Bryan has earned a push to the main event. Unfortunately, I can't help but feel its too soon and will damage Bryan.
If the Wrestling Observer report is accurate, Bryan will not turn heel for this feud. This is the right call, because no crowd would consider cheering against the Goat-faced Gremlin in a match with Cena. In the immortal words of Hansel from "Zoolander," Daniel Bryan is so hot right now.
But white hot crowd support does not alone make a main event. The circumstance and long-term commitment of the company are equally important. At this moment, Bryan has much unfinished business to resolve. He's one of the most well-booked characters in a company that hardly books anyone in effective, long-term story lines.
His rivalry with The Shield that goes back to the upstart stable's debut most certainly wasn't crafted with the idea of making Bryan a WWE Title contender. It just happened by accident and now WWE is trying to capitalize.
I've harped on the WWE for not listening to the fans in many instances. They don't seem to notice that few fans care about Alberto Del Rio and only cheer his entrance to see Ricardo Rodriguez. They ignore the big pops for Dolph Ziggler and insist on booking him as a heel. Zack Ryder sold more merchandise than anyone not named Cena, Orton or Mysterio and he can't get off Superstars without facing down a squash match.
Yet, now the WWE sounds primed to push the most white-hot babyface on the roster to the main event and I'm saying it's a bad idea. May sound contradictory, but hear me out.
Daniel Bryan is not going to win the WWE Title at Money in the Bank. The company, be it right or wrong, will not head to SummerSlam; it's the second-biggest show of the year, with Daniel Bryan holding the WWE Title and penciled into the main event. We're likely to see Cena in a rematch with Brock Lesnar as the primary draw, relegating Bryan back to a grudge match.
Let Bryan continue to build and finish the rivalries he has on his plate before hot-shotting him into a one-off PPV title shot that won't receive much story line and will be forgotten when Lesnar returns to challenge for the belt.
There is so much to do with Bryan already.
Kane could turn on Bryan. He could challenge Dean Ambrose for the U.S. Title in a great rivalry with star-making matches. If you've read the Smackdown spoilers, you'd know he has a new snake to deal with that could raise his profile. I'm expecting Chris Jericho to turn heel since his run as a babyface since returning has been lackluster. Jericho called Bryan the best in the business today and would certainly embrace a chance to work with him.
There are so many options that could help build anticipation for Bryan to challenge for the WWE Title. In my opinion, when they finally decide to put Bryan in a WWE Title match, he should win the belt. No need to build him up, only to dump cold water on the guy and remind the fans that, well, he's not John Cena.
I'm a Daniel Bryan mark. If I could grow a beard like his, I would. I think he could rise to Kurt Angle levels within the WWE Universe in the next year, but don't rev the engine only to slam on the breaks before SummerSlam. Bryan's time will come. I just don't think Money in the Bank is the right place.