Since his WWE debut in 2009, Daniel Bryan has been one of the most noteworthy stars on the company's roster. Lately, Bryan has shared the tag team titles with Kane, as half of Team Hell No. With a breakup seemingly on the horizon for the tag duo, it's time for Bryan to begin another run as a singles competitor. Daniel Bryan's career in WWE will only get bigger in 2013.
Bryan has a championship pedigree. He won the WWE's United States title in 2010, won the SmackDown Money in the Bank match in 2011 and cashed in his briefcase to become the World Heavyweight champion for the first time in December of that year. Bryan held the title until WrestleMania 28 in April of 2012, successfully defending the belt numerous times. Bryan, along with Kane, took the WWE tag team titles at Night of Champions in September of 2012, and have held the belts ever since. It's clear that WWE doesn't have a problem putting a belt on Daniel Bryan. Look for him to wear singles gold in the year to come.
Bryan has experience as the top star in an organization. Bryan became one of the "founding fathers" of Ring of Honor in 2002, and was widely regarded as the top wrestler in the company during his entire run. Starting in 2005, Bryan won the ROH championship numerous times, and was one of the primary reasons for the early success of the promotion. Clearly, Bryan has what it takes to be a top star.
No one in the WWE has better in-ring skills than Daniel Bryan. His matches are almost always high-quality. Bryan has gotten five-star matches out of everyone from Big Show to CM Punk. His matches with Punk at Over the Limit and Money in the Bank, along with his bout with Sheamus at Extreme Rules were some of the best matchups in WWE in 2012. When it comes time to shine on the big stage, Bryan almost always delivers.
When he first arrived in WWE, some fans feared that Bryan lacked the charisma necessary to become a top-flight star. Those fears were unfounded. Bryan has been a heel and a babyface, and has shown the ability to portray both serious and comedic characters. His Anger Management skits with Kane were some of the best comedy segments on WWE TV last year. His versatility both in the ring and on the mic make Bryan one of the best all-around performers in WWE.
If you're looking for a comparison to Bryan, look at Kurt Angle. Both men were highly skilled in the ring, had the ability to get a good match out of just about anyone, and could work as serious heels or comedic babyfaces with equal effect. Angle was one of the top stars in WWE from 1998-2005, and Bryan could be just as effective if given the chance.
What has to happen for Bryan to ascend to the top of the WWE?
First of all, Team Hell No needs to break up, freeing Bryan up for singles competition. Though Kane and Bryan have done a lot to elevate the cachet of the tag belts, their act has just about run its course, especially since their primary foes, Team Rhodes Scholars, was broken up. It's time to end Bryan's run with the tag belts and put him in the ring for one-on-one competition.
Bryan's character needs to take on a harder edge. Though he's proven that he can get over with fans as a comedic character, Bryan is most effective as a serious submission specialist. If booked properly, he could be as effective in the ring as Chris Benoit was back in the early-to-mid 2000s. Bryan could be an even bigger star than Benoit, since he's far stronger on the mic. While fans all love a funny babyface, serious grapplers almost always have more credibility. If Bryan were booked more like his ROH American Dragon persona, there's no telling how big a star he could become.
Daniel Bryan has what it takes to be one of the all-time greats in the WWE. His in-ring skills are some of the best the company has ever seen. He knows how to carry himself as a babyface or a heel, and he's willing to do what it takes to get to the top of the card. He's never injured and is still relatively young. Crowds respond to him and he makes everyone he wrestles with look better. Bryan's rise to the top will begin in 2013.
Don't think Bryan has what it takes? Rather see someone else pushed to the top of the card? Have a particular memory or story about Bryan that you want to share? Speak your mind in the comments section below.