At the Royal Rumble pay-per-view next month, WWE should book Daniel Bryan to challenge for Randy Orton's WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Not only would it aid his credibility, it would give the company's third-biggest event of the year a significant boost.
The company's mistakes with Bryan in 2013's latter half have been well-chronicled. He won the world title from Orton at Night of Champions only to be stripped of it 24 hours later.
He failed to regain the belt at Battleground and Hell in a Cell.
Even worse, he was continually trashed in promos for “not being a star” by Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and others. Fans were constantly reminded that Bryan was not in the same league as John Cena, Orton and others and not to be taken seriously.
No wonder he'd fallen back to the midcard by October. WWE was booking him into oblivion.
Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. The company told everyone he wasn't a star, thus ensuring he couldn't become one.
Thankfully, lively crowd reactions in arenas have revived his career—most notably on the December 9 edition of Raw during which the fans in attendance went absolutely crazy for the former Ring of Honor star.
It got to the point where it threw off Triple H during his promo and hindered the company's attempt to promote TLC's Orton/Cena show.
In order for Bryan's comeback to be complete, though, WWE has to book him as a challenger to Orton's belt on January 26. Not only would it provide a much-needed boon to his career, it would be the company's way of telling the fans that their opinions do matter.
The company's business won't plummet if Bryan doesn't get a push, but it will likely alienate more than a few fans. Considering how lukewarm his business is right now, this is the last thing Vince McMahon needs.
Of course, many would argue that, after previous Orton/Bryan bouts have failed to drum up much business, putting them against each other at the Royal Rumble wouldn't be a great idea.
This is why Cena should be placed in the match too, making it a Triple Threat.
Even if a Triple Threat bout isn't much of a draw, it's not like it's a big deal. The rumble match is the main draw anyway. That's partly why putting Bryan in the match makes sense: The company is taking no real risk here.
The second time around, Bryan has a real chance to be a main eventer.
But will WWE allow him the chance to be and give him a prominent spot at the Royal Rumble, or will it once again squander his considerable talents?