How Daniel Bryan's Popularity Will Facilitate a John Cena Heel Turn

Bryan HaasFeatured ColumnistAugust 2, 2013

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Judging by the cheers he's been receiving of late, as well as the deafening choruses of "YES!" chants that the WWE Universe has been producing, Daniel Bryan is a pretty popular guy these days.

And whether you love him or hate him, one thing is very clear; Bryan might be the hardest worker on the roster at the moment.

Sure, guys like Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk appear to be giving their all each and every night. But one need only look at Bryan's intensity inside the squared circle for proof of his level of commitment to his craft.

His recent gauntlet-style match in which he defeated Jack Swagger, Antonio Cesaro and Ryback (by disqualification) was grueling, hard hitting and brutal, but it was also highly entertaining.

And despite his smaller frame, ridiculous beard and somewhat wacky personality, Bryan appears to be one of, if not the most popular competitor in WWE.

Yes, guys like Punk and Triple H get huge reactions when they appear, but on a consistent basis for months now, Bryan has been the recipient of the loudest and continuous cheers every time that he walks down the aisle.

The crowd chants along with him as he bounds to the ring screaming "YES!"

They suffer along with him when he is losing and feel connected to him as he charges to victory.

And that all spells trouble for the company's resident savior, WWE champion John Cena.

Cena, who for his part is beginning to take a somewhat cold approach to Bryan, has been somewhat standoffish to his SummerSlam opponent, though he did save him from an attack by Ryback several weeks ago.

But the writing may be on the wall for Cena, and at this juncture, a heel turn might actually be the best move for him.

Frankly, it seems as if it has been coming for years now, with Cena's reaction from every crowd seemingly incredibly mixed.

In fact, in most arenas, it sounds as if there are many more boos than cheers. Cena's demographic has always been the younger crowd, and a heel turn would be the opposite of what would expect from their hero.

When Hulk Hogan turned heel in 1996, and joined the nWo, the wrestling world collectively gasped. Hogan had been the top face wrestler for nearly his entire career, and seeing him as "a bad guy" was more than some people could bear.

But the business was changing back then, and Hogan changed along with it. Gone were the days of clear-cut "good" and "bad" guys. At that point in time, the wrestling business was undergoing a revolution, and Hogan smartly changed along with it.

And the business is in an interesting state right now as well. Many of the company's top heels are actually cheered more than they are booed. When CM Punk was firmly planted as a heel, he still received a huge amount of cheers whenever he appeared. The same could be said for Dolph Ziggler when he was world heavyweight champion.

And the newly debuted Wyatt family generates a great deal of buzz wherever they go.

For Cena, the turn could be predicted, but probably not expected. Yes, his popularity with many fans has waned, but his drawing power is still excellent.

His feud with Bryan aside, imagine the billings if Cena took on a newly face Punk. Or the battles he could have with other "heroes" like Sheamus or even someone like Triple H if he decided to come back for the storyline.

But what happens to the company without their top hero?

The answer may be Bryan.

No stranger to the limelight, Bryan took a winding down feud with Kane and turned it into one of the most entertaining and interesting storylines of the past few years. Though in fairness, Kane deserves some of the credit for his role.

It seems as if with each passing week, Bryan becomes more and more popular, culminating with the near deafening reaction the crowd gave him when Cena chose him as his opponent for SummerSlam.

Does Bryan have the level of popularity to warrant Cena's turn?


But it remains to be seen if the company will ultimately pull the trigger on the change.