Daniel Bryan (or more precisely Bryan Danielson) is the embodiment of a performer being held back by his current gimmick, or lack thereof.
Bryan is in a state of creative limbo. The persona he portrays on WWE programming is that of a generic baby face and now that the “ladies man” gimmick (that was seemingly a tool to elevate Nicki and Brie Bella) has passed, he appears to be lacking any genuine direction.
Where is Bryan going?
What can we expect?
These are questions that cannot be answered at the present time due to the nature of the two-dimensional persona currently depicted on TV.
However, it must be asked, is this representative of Daniel Bryan’s talent? Is his lack of creative direction and attention indicative of his career prospects in the WWE?
The answer to all the above is an emphatic “no."
It would be redundant to explain how tremendously talented Daniel Bryan is. The man is generally regarded as the best technical wrestler in the WWE, with a large proportion of the Internet wrestling community hailing him as the best technical wrestler in the world today.
Moreover, in a WWE sans Shawn Michaels, Daniel Bryan is one performer who can be relied upon to have a fantastic match. This is evident in his match with Dolph Ziggler at Bragging Rights in October last year, a match that was recognised as the best of 2010, tying with the sublime Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker. It is testament to the quality of that match considering its buildup in comparison to the WrestleMania juggernaut that was Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker.
Thus, it is clear that it is not Bryan’s talent that is currently holding him back in a WWE midcard that is drowning in a sea of irrelevance. The only thing preventing Bryan from becoming the future World Champion he is capable of being is his uninspired gimmick.
The Daniel Bryan gimmick is in dire need of an overhaul.
The current Daniel Bryan gimmick is ostensibly going nowhere and needs changing. Here begins the Daniel Bryan gimmick intervention.
One highlight of the entire NXT experiment was the series of promos executed by Daniel Bryan following his elimination. Through this run of promos and his subsequent feud with Michael Cole, Bryan showcased passion and ability absent from most NXT rookies.
Bryan also illustrated that he is efficient on the microphone, something that is regularly questioned of him in the Internet wrestling community. Bryan began to exhibit an aggression lacking from his early NXT run, a characteristic he continued until his bizarre release and briefly resurrected during the initial stages of his return at SummerSlam.
This is the Daniel Bryan the WWE Universe respond to and is more likely to invest in.
This is the Daniel Bryan the WWE need to bring back—only this time better.
Independent wrestling is the antithesis of WWE’s brand of sports entertainment. Moreover, Daniel Bryan is synonymous with independent wrestling and has an established fanbase from his time on the indie circuit. The WWE need to capitalise on the fact that Daniel Bryan is far from your typical WWE superstar and they need to make this evident in his gimmick.
This is why an anti-WWE gimmick would be a perfect fit for Daniel Bryan.
It is exciting, it is different and it is something that Bryan could identify with to a larger extent. The WWE creative team should allow Bryan to bash the nuances that form the WWE vernacular. Allow him to cut scathing promos, declaring himself a wrestler in a wrestling company being watched by wrestling fans. Furthermore, he should mock terms such as “superstar,” “WWE Universe” and “sports entertainment.”
In addition to this, Bryan’s in-ring style should then be less restricted, as it is common knowledge that his WWE style is not representative of his versatile repertoire.
This gimmick has more chance of allowing Bryan to become the World Champion he has the potential of being. Granted, it would be a highly polarising persona, with the large proportions of the female and younger demographics booing Bryan’s blasphemy, whilst the older male demographics or more experienced wrestling fans are more likely to embrace the persona.
Whether the WWE decide to go this route with Bryan’s on-screen portrayal is another question. The WWE political landscape would surely prevent such a gimmick coming to fruition, despite it being arguable that it would only enhance Bryan’s character and the overall depth of WWE programming. However, such logic as pushing one of the finest wrestling talents in the world is ostensibly absent from the WWE creative team.
Hopefully, some form of gimmick intervention will take place. Unlike many young talents on the roster, the WWE cannot bring up another Daniel Bryan from FCW. Daniel Bryan is a truly unique performer and any further misuse of this talent may not only damage Bryan’s career, it may damage the quality of WWE’s main event scene in the future.