Daniel Bryan: How WWE Should Book the New World Heavyweight Champion
It happens time and time again.
A star works himself to the bone, getting over with the fans and the backstage audience. Eventually, something they do sparks Mr. McMahon's interest.
That young star finally gets his shot. He get that World Title in his hands, and then he face his toughest challenge: the WWE booking staff.
WWE notoriously can make or break a star as they hold the World Title for the first time. One moment, they are poised to make it big, and the next they have effectively disappeared.
The biggest example that easily comes to mind for most modern fans would be Jack Swagger. Swagger is a good wrestler with decent enough skills to become a player for WWE in the long term, especially with his WWE friendly build.
WWE made the huge miscalculation of handing Swagger the World Heavyweight Championship almost randomly to add fresh blood to the title scene. While the reign lasted almost three months with a clean victory over Randy Orton, Swagger's general booking was horrible.
He wasn't ready for the top spot and was forced into feuds with Rey Mysterio and the young star-killer Big Show, which effectively ended Swagger's reign before it really even got off the ground.
Daniel Bryan is the newest young star to get that main-event push, and he has quite a few hurtles to climb as it is. If Bryan has any chance of becoming a serious main event player and a worthy champion, he must be booked properly, starting from his very first days as champion.
Time to Win
Those who have been following the last few months of Bryan's career noticed that Bryan has not been coming up big lately. After his win at Money in the Bank, Bryan spent months getting low card wins or losing to any serious, rising star.
Bryan's several losses to Wade Barrett and Alberto Del Rio along with a loss to Cody Rhodes just days before Bryan became World Heavyweight Champion will not help his credibility.
Luckily, since winning the championship, Bryan has been the deciding factor in all of his matches which he has ended up winning. Now, this was only one week, and it was in tag team action. That means that getting excited about the victories would be a huge mistake.
It is time for Bryan to beat the guys who stepped on him before. Del Rio is falling right now with very little direction, so it would be Bryan's benefit to actually use Del Rio's credibility to his advantage with a decisive victory over the man that has made him submit in several different outings.
Bryan needs credibility, and it starts in the base shows. A SmackDown main event singles victory here and there can lead to huge momentum for the young star.
Though this isn't enough. Christian can tell you that as World Heavyweight Champion his big wins against midcard talent were not enough to make people see him as a credible threat. What Bryan needs that Christian didn't have is...
Serious Main Event Feuds Coming out Victorious
Right here Daniel Bryan is shaking hands with the most dangerous veteran in WWE history.
I don't mean that Big Show can actually outwrestle or outperform Bryan. I am saying that Show can notoriously outbook his opponents.
Show has had many feuds over the years, and none have lead to the betterment of his opponents. Worse, while John Cena or Orton have squashed opponents before, at least those heels who lose get a main event rub. Show, on the other hand, does not have the presence of a star.
Swagger, Del Rio, CM Punk, even Mark Henry now have all fallen to Show with no benefits to their careers.
Bryan almost certainly will be facing Show in the coming month or so with his World Heavyweight Championship on the line. I highly doubt that the WWE will give the belt back to Show, but that fact never helped Swagger.
Swagger had to get himself intentionally disqualified against Show in their title match at Over the Limit which would lead to Swagger losing the title less than a month afterward.
Bryan needs to get this feud and win. He needs to actually pin Show or make him submit. Unless that happens, the entire feud will be pointless, and Show needs no rub at all with a career that will already lead him to the Hall of Fame.
After this feud, Bryan needs to get serious competitors who can work with well in the ring and on the mic to build up a memorable resume as champion. Orton or Barrett could be the next stars to challenge Bryan, and those feuds could be masterful if done right.
Time to WrestleMania
As a WWE fan and a minor Bryan mark, I will admit that I would love to see Bryan hold onto the World Heavyweight Title for months on end. In WWE today, long reigns are few and far between, so they can leave a lasting impression.
Bryan needs to survive as champion until WrestleMania. The only Money in the Bank winner to ever take their title that they gained with the briefcase to WrestleMania was The Miz though Edge would use a briefcase he had not won to take the World Heavyweight Title to WrestleMania.
That big time spot is huge especially for a young rising star. Bryan has had very few major pay-per-view contests. Even though he has had a fair bit of success with most of his PPV appearances.
In fact, Bryan has had seven appearances at PPVs (not including his twenty minute survival time in the 2011 Royal Rumble) and only ever lost once. That would probably be a much more even record if Bryan was ever given serious matches going into PPVs.
Instead, it has usually taken a title of some kind to get Bryan onto a PPV card even though he could easily go on the big stages when asked.
Time is now to see just how great Bryan can be when he is given serious main event booking. That means actually defending his World Heavyweight Title as one of the main events of the night at each PPV.
It all leads to WrestleMania where Bryan will hopefully still be champion. There, with a worthy opponent, Bryan can be allowed to show that he can truly be the next Mr. WrestleMania. However, WWE has to book him to make the event. If they do though, who should he face?
The Ultimate Rub
While I would mark out to no end for Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler at WrestleMania, there is truly only one match that can put over Bryan as World Champion more than any other.
At this point, Bryan will have hopefully gone over Show at Royal Rumble and probably Elimination Chamber. At Elimination Chamber, Orton would win the Chamber match and qualify for the main event match against Bryan.
Many may say that this won't work without Orton as the heel, but the face vs. face feud here could be one of the greatest lead ins possible.
Bryan, the rookie, would want to prove himself against the face of SmackDown. Orton would play the role of the cool and collected veteran. For weeks, they would build up the fact that the two were good guys as they pull out big tag teams wins together until a sudden blow up right before the contest.
Orton would have said for weeks that while he respected the young talent in Bryan he was the bigger star and was after that title once again. The final blow up would lead to an RKO that would lay out Bryan. Orton would threaten the punt leading to further animosity.
The final match between these two would tell the story better than either could in the build up. The rookie Bryan fights hard against the superstar in Orton who has the veteran instincts that won't let Bryan pull anything out.
In a hard fought match between the two for a good thirty minute contest (hopefully), the two would tell this underdog story as Bryan finally pulls out the gigantic upset against Orton at WrestleMania.
With Orton giving this final run to Bryan, I would even be okay with Orton taking the title off Bryan in the coming couple months, but this win would be the nail that finally allows Bryan to stick. He would be the champion that survives WrestleMania cleanly, and the moment would put him over to no end.
Losing the Title
Bryan must lose the title eventually, and I have no problem with that.
A good reign until after WrestleMania is all I ask, so I would be okay with him losing the title at Extreme Rules or Over the Limit.
But to who? Well, I have a list of all the people who should at least be given consideration who I will list from most to least likely for WWE to give that shot to.
Randy Orton: As I said in the previous slide, only if Orton allows Bryan to win at WrestleMania. A loss in the two's second bout would not harm Bryan's main event level credibility at all in comparison.
Wade Barrett: Barrett is on the rise, and he could really use that final push. Barrett would be an ideal opponent for Bryan with their background, and the final win would finally give Barrett that shot he has been fighting to achieve for a year now.
Sheamus: Two years ago, Sheamus won his first World Championship and became one of the least deserving champions in the business. Since that time, Sheamus has paid his dues and improved astronomically, yet WWE doesn't even give him chances at the belt. Sheamus needs this win to solidify his place as the second biggest face on SmackDown.
Cody Rhodes: Bryan and Rhodes would certainly be a great contest, and Rhodes would be a worthy champion; however, I don't see Rhodes winning the World Heavyweight Title this early in the year. He still needs a little bit more build up as Intercontinental Champion first.
Dolph Ziggler: This would only work if Ziggler moved over through the draft to SmackDown. If that happens, Ziggler has the credibility now to lead the company though I highly doubt that WWE will move one of their biggest assets to the "B show".
William Regal: Regal will not get this shot, and this is the last time I'll ever address it; however, Bryan handing his mentor that one title reign would be phenomenal. Regal deserves that reign even if WWE won't give it to him. He is technically supposed to still be a SmackDown star.
The Follow Up
Perhaps even more important than his whole reign is Bryan's booking following his loss. Just because Bryan doesn't have the title does not mean he should not be treated as main event talent. It also does not mean he should start jobbing to anyone who needs a push.
Hopefully, this first reign would only be the beginning of Bryan's career and not his only World title reign.
Bryan needs to be allowed to get in more true feuds with some of the stars that I listed in the previous slide as championship contenders. Perhaps a feud with Bryan taking the Intercontinental Title from Rhodes who could then move up to the main event scene as well.
Even without the title, Bryan vs. Barrett would be a great feud to watch between two former NXT stars. The history between these two has been surprisingly sparse considering that Bryan has managed to make history ahead of Barrett at every step of the NXT stars' journeys capturing singles and World Title title gold before any other NXT star.
Just in general, Bryan needs to finally be given real feuds with major talent. He won't be gaining any ground if he is just left out to dry like he was basically his entire run as Mr. Money in the Bank.
Thanks for reading!