Daniel Bryan's loss to the Wyatt Family at TLC was surrounded by uncertainty, given the current storyline. Bray Wyatt has been lobbying for Bryan to join the Wyatts, even going so far as to kidnap the former two-time WWE Champion.
With Wyatt kneeling over Bryan's motionless body, it certainly seemed as if he was preparing to hold Bryan hostage yet again. However, the pay-per-view moved on with no closure or advancement to the angle on Sunday night.
The Wyatt victory is an indication that the rivalry will continue. The heels currently have the advantage, setting up a babyface chase for Daniel Bryan to score an elusive victory.
That is, if he doesn't join the Wyatt Family first.
If Daniel Bryan is going to join the Wyatt Family per WWE storylines, the most effective way to do so would be as part of a match stipulation.
WWE has already gone the handicap route, therefore the next sensible match would pit Bryan against Bray Wyatt, with Bryan joining the Wyatt Family should he lose. A would-be allegiance with the Wyatt family because of a stipulation would preserve Bryan as a babyface while putting a creative twist on his character.
Bryan would not be turning heel in essence, and he would even garner sympathy by aligning himself with the Wyatts against his will. Instead of joining the stable out of choice, thus sabotaging his current momentum as a unanimous fan favorite, Bryan would have an out to regain his freedom down the road.
A similar instance took place late in 2008, where Shawn Michaels was forced to pair up with mega heel John "Bradshaw" Layfield.
The angle told the story of Michaels' kayfabe financial woes following the economic downturn, leaving him no choice but to join Texas aristocrat JBL.
Michaels' unpopular actions in support of JBL, including a superkick of JBL opponent John Cena at the 2009 Royal Rumble, were always justifiable. Assisting JBL was all he could do to remain financially stable and keep his family together.
This led to a stipulated match at WWE No Way Out, where Michaels defeated JBL for his financial freedom. The angle received high praise from many wrestling pundits, including Wade Keller of PWTorch.com, who felt "the story was told dramatically and effectively."
The Wyatt-Bryan feud will become more interesting as the stakes continue to be raised. Whether it be a handicap match, Bryan joining the Wyatts or Bryan's potential freedom with his employment on the line, WWE can take fans on an emotional journey with a happy ending that gets both parties over.
With multiple months still left until WrestleMania season, Daniel Bryan's current conflict with the Wyatt Family will give him a program of substance before likely being booked in a more high-profile match come April.
Should his status as an honorary Wyatt become a product of WWE competition, with future redemption in mind, he will connect with the WWE Universe better than ever.