A potential Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena feud can be approached in far better ways than WWE turning to Nikki and Brie Bella.
Some angles have benefited from a love story, from jealousy and soap-opera-like plot twists, but Cena versus Bryan is capable of much more than that. Using the Bellas as onscreen girlfriends borders on lazy.
Wrestling Observer (via PWMania.com) reports that this is the story WWE is currently considering for a Cena vs. Bryan clash at SummerSlam 2013:
The Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena WWE Title match is now planned to co-headline SummerSlam with Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk. With WWE’s Total Divas reality show airing at that point, and with Cena and Bryan’s relationships with The Bella Twins being featured, it’s very likely that Brie and Nikki will be featured in the Cena-Bryan storyline.
Bryan is dating Brie Bella in real life. Cena is dating Nikki. Just because that story is available, doesn't mean that it has to be told.
It's clear what WWE is thinking here. Bring reality into kayfabe and have Cena and Bryan's relationship create a schism between the two Bella sisters.
The bonus for WWE is that they make their new Total Divas show more interesting, but the trouble is the story heading into SummerSlam suffers.
The relationship-centered plot involving Hulk Hogan, Elizabeth and Randy Savage decades ago worked because of how invested fans were into Elizabeth. Her and Savage's relationship was already used onscreen and so it was naturally fed into an eventual angle that broke up two close friends.
Many fans may know of Bryan and Cena's ties to the girls, but it hasn't yet been a part of WWE TV. WWE can still introduce them as onscreen couples before the SummerSlam event, but how much connection can fans really have to these two women we see so infrequently?
Bryan and Cena don't have the close relationship that Savage and Hogan had either, so it won't be nearly as powerful for them to start butting heads.
Besides, there are more compelling entry points into this feud.
Bryan's quest to prove that he is not the weak link has been fascinating and could continue in a way with a collision with Cena. He could be obsessed with outdoing his world title reign that ended in humiliating fashion in an 18-second match at WrestleMania 28, and still be focused on proving his greatness in spite of his stature.
A Napoleon complex sounds more intriguing than a fight over twins.
Perhaps Cena vs. Bryan becomes a story of a new alpha male trying to oust the old one. Perhaps Bryan is jealous of the attention Cena gets from fans and it drives him crazy.
The point is, there are alternative options out there and WWE should seek out one superior to a Bella-centric story.
Chris Jericho and Christian's 2004 feud that revolved around Trish Stratus was entertaining, but that didn't feel like a main event story. It was nice midcard filler.
Compare that to Jericho's intense rivalry with Shawn Michaels in 2008.
That critically acclaimed feud began with Jericho calling out Michaels' morals and calling him a liar for faking an injury. Things intensified from there.
Had Michaels and Jericho's girlfriends been the basis for their bad blood, it wouldn't have achieved the hold on the audience that it did. Instead, the story had a natural progression and explored each man's inner workings.
That doesn't sound like what WWE is considering for Bryan and Cena.
It simply sounds like WWE is more interested in adding to the entertainment value of Total Divas than maximizing the drama between these two top stars. Reality show fans, though, are generally not the same fans who watch WWE's in-ring action.
WWE cannot afford to alienate the latter to please the former.
Should Bryan seek out Cena and his WWE title at SummerSlam, there's little reason to involve the Bellas. A deeper, more resonating story awaits to be told.