Fans know the unpleasant truth about Daniel Bryan's chances of wearing the WWE Championship when WrestleMania XXX arrives—the odds are terrible.
Bryan's ever-surging popularity will undoubtedly get him a true shot to carry that belt and be the company's top star eventually. With as much as WWE has fought it so far and with all the marquee part-timers around for WrestleMania season, there is little hope that he will accomplish that until after April 6.
None of the rumored bouts for the premiere event involve Bryan battling for the WWE Championship. Plans can shift, but as the puzzle begins to come together, the rumors are starting to become reality.
The word backstage, per F4WOnline, via WrestlingInc.com, was that John Cena would be facing Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania. Wyatt then attacked Cena at the Royal Rumble and again the following night, making the report look awfully prophetic.
The same goes for reports, such as one from PWInsider, via WrestlingInc.com, that said that the plan was for Batista to win the Royal Rumble and headline WrestleMania. "The Animal" went on to toss out Roman Reigns to win the second Rumble match of his career.
For Bryan, there is talk of him facing on old foe, one not named Batista.
F4WOnline, via WrestleZone.com, reports that "Daniel Bryan vs Sheamus is likely for WrestleMania, as that is another match being described as 'set in stone.'" As fantastic as that match could potentially be wrestling wise, that's not going to satisfy Bryan's vocal fanbase.
For him to headline WrestleMania as champion, Bryan has to win the Elimination Chamber match on Feb. 23 against Sheamus, Randy Orton, Cena and two others. As much as it will pain disgruntled fans to hear, the signs point toward Orton winning that match.
On Batista's first night, he confronted Orton and pointed at his championships, citing them as the reason he was back.
After winning the Rumble, Batista, Orton and Lesnar had a three-way staredown with the WWE title at the center of it all. Bryan was not in that picture.
Orton vs. Batista is not what an outspoken portion of the crowd wants, but it's the bout the folks from PWInsider, via WrestlingInc.com, believe WWE is planning. Bryan winning the Chamber match and facing Batista, a man many feel represent the company's disconnect with the audience's desires, is the more daring, smarter move.
Don't count on it happening, though.
The last two WrestleManias have been an example of how WWE depends on established stars far more often than it elevates new ones. Had The Rock been available to wrestle once more, he likely would have earned the top spot again this year.
WWE knows that The Rock can bring in money as the name on the marquee. It knows that about Cena as well. It appears that the company is more willing to put Orton and Batista in those spots than a man who has electrified crowds, but who has yet to prove that he can significantly boost pay-per-view numbers.
While much of the blame for Night of Champions and SummerSlam disappointing buyrates, per CagesideSeats.com, has to go to places and people other than Bryan, they make it hard to convince Vince McMahon and company that Bryan is a money maker.
Orton and Batista are likely to receive a downpour of boos from fans upset that Bryan isn't in their shoes, but WWE is certainly willing to suffer that fate if it thinks those two wrestlers will sell more tickets.
Having Bryan win the WWE Championship at the Elimination Chamber and besting Batista would likely propel him in the way that Steve Austin's win over Shawn Michaels did at WrestleMania XIV or Batista's win over Triple H at WrestleMania 21 did.
It doesn't look as if he will get that chance, at least not this year.
There is a disparity between the way the company views Bryan and how his howling fans feel about him. That will equal an Elimination Chamber match that ends with Bryan watching someone else raise their hands in victory and a WrestleMania where Orton walks in as champion.