Daniel Bryan's shot at winning the 2014 Royal Rumble was exponentially better than that of Daniel Wyatt's. In terms of possible winners, Bryan would have been the leader in the clubhouse.
Daniel Wyatt isn't even in that clubhouse.
Bryan's recent character evolution, or lack thereof, depending on whom you talk to, has doused any world championship aspirations he may have had.
In what seems to be WWE's rebellious answer to his hometown fans going off script to cheer him during their final sales pitch for TLC, WWE has made a controversial decision to turn Bryan heel.
The Daniel Wyatt character isn't just any heel. Fans would have settled for the standard blowhard who openly antagonizes them.
WWE has no shortage of loudmouth villains who became so good in character that they were eventually cheered. In fact, Bryan began the "yes" chants and eventually got over as a boisterous heel. This incarnation of Daniel Bryan, however, draws more disappointment than heat. The longer this character persists, the more it is a reminder of what could have been and how it all went horribly wrong.
WWE has done everything outside of shaving Bryan's beard to make him borderline indistinguishable from his popular babyface persona. He's a far cry from the fun-loving lumberjack who enjoyed a deep (and unplanned) love affair with the WWE Universe.
Things are now returning to the status quo with Bryan continuing to fall out of favor with live crowds as a subordinate heel.
Has The Authority storyline of holding Bryan back become a shoot?
During a recent conference call, WWE Chairman McMahon seemed to take a thinly veiled shot at the former two-time WWE champion. In regards to a disappointing buyrate for a SummerSlam headlined by Bryan and Cena, McMahon said, as per James Caldwell of the PWTorch website: "SummerSlam was not the right attraction. That was a swing and a miss."
He sure wasn't talking about Cena being the wrong attraction.
Bryan now must do his part to bolster the Wyatt attraction, but even that may be a tall task. His coveralls resemble that of his new brethren, namely Eric Rowan, and he now answers only to Bray Wyatt. Once an anti-establishment man of the people, Bryan has been transformed into a bearded clone.
After being screwed out of his first two WWE championship runs, it appeared as if WWE was setting up for Bryan to exact sweet revenge down the line. The eventual comeuppance would have completed an epic hero's journey. Cena even teased a Bryan-Cena rematch during the aforementioned go-home segment for TLC. James Caldwell of the PWTorch described Cena's memorable promo:
Heck, the only legit title shot Bryan ever got was against [Cena], and Bryan won. Loud "Yes!" chants from the crowd as Bryan smiled in the background. Cena then gave Bryan a fair re-match if he wins the title match on Sunday. They shook on it.
But when Cena lost at TLC, talk of a rematch dissolved. Bryan became a Wyatt, and thus, WWE left behind an unwritten chapter in his story, which may or may not have included a Royal Rumble win.
Not only does Bryan look like a Wyatt disciple these days, but all three disciples now share the same chance of winning come January 26.