The past few weeks has seen WWE fans get what they want: Daniel Bryan has the chance to enter the main event of WrestleMania 30 and challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. But is this as a result of a last-gasp audible, or a carefully planned strategy that has played out over the last few months?
This article from the end of February cites F4Wrestling as being behind the then-rumour that a third competitor was to be added to the title match, but also offers rumors of several other matches like Big E vs. Dean Ambrose and Luke Harper and Erick Rowan vs. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns that we now know will not be on the card.
Reports that WWE would hold emergency creative meetings in the wake of CM Punk's departure and negative reaction to Batista winning the Royal Rumble earlier this year seemed to suggest that big changes were on the way for the WrestleMania card, but the lack of any major changes on-screen in the run-up to Elimination Chamber had some fans worried.
It's only been in the past few weeks that Bryan's WrestleMania moment has seemed to start taking shape—and it's best to remember that he hasn't won the title, or even gained admittance into the main event just yet. However, there's no denying that Bryan could be heading to a huge win on that biggest stage of them all, and the rocky road that he's had to traverse would make that win all the more sweet for him and his many fans.
Those fans waited for Bryan to emerge in the Royal Rumble match back in January. Most were cheering him on as he held the title for a few short minutes ahead of Randy Orton's Money in the Bank cash-in at SummerSlam last year and some were even in Bryan's corner as he lost the World Heavyweight title in 18 seconds at WrestleMania 28.
While it would have been difficult to predict how the latter would have began the Yes Movement on its course to filling arenas with outstretched arms and pointed fingers today, it's rather less difficult to imagine that those in the know took notice of how it turned out. Breaking Bryan down got the support behind him, and it's certainly no exaggeration to say that he is now one of the top stars in the company.
The series of matches between Bryan and Orton last year left fans feeling dissatisfied thanks to a string of anti-climactic finishes. If Bryan had won the Royal Rumble, the moment itself would have no doubt been very memorable, but where does the rest of the build to WrestleMania go? We've seen that match before, and we'd be pretty certain that Bryan was going to win it.
Introducing Batista to the mix shook everything up, especially with Bryan needing to beat Triple H to even enter the main event. WrestleMania is unpredictable up until the night itself, even down to the exact landscape of the card.
When Batista won the Royal Rumble, I'm sure I wasn't alone in wondering who wanted to see Batista take on Randy Orton and feeling that Daniel Bryan would spice the match up considerably. However, the more I think about it, it makes far more sense that Batista is being used to spice up Orton vs. Bryan, not the other way around.
Everything in the WWE is subject to change—the recent departure of CM Punk is proof enough of that, it seems. However, as far as Bryan challenging for the title as WrestleMania 30 goes, I'd be very surprised if it hadn't been the intention all along, even before Batista was brought into the picture.
Daniel Bryan has long been deserving of a spot in the main event of WrestleMania 30, and I suspect that has long been intended to get that spot. That being said, WWE Creative has quite masterfully managed to keep fans guessing, and will continue to do so until the night of WrestleMania. WWE has made a very obvious storyline seem like it was anything but—and it certainly seems like they know exactly what they're doing.