Why Daniel Bryan is WWE's Most Valuable Wrestler in 2019

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2019

No one has been more vital to WWE programming this year than Daniel Bryan.
No one has been more vital to WWE programming this year than Daniel Bryan.Credit: WWE.com

It's still surreal to think Daniel Bryan was once shelved from in-ring competition by WWE due to his history with concussions but within months of returning to the ring last year, he was WWE champion.

The story of his miraculous comeback will be one that is not soon forgotten by fans, especially as he continues to evolve and carve out an incredible career for himself.

It would have been extremely easy for the master of the "Yes!" movement to rest on his laurels upon his return in 2018, but instead he chose to take his once-stagnant character in a completely different direction.

As a result, Bryan has become the most valuable wrestler for WWE in 2019. For a guy who didn't wrestle a single match for over three years until WrestleMania 34, that's a pretty impressive feat.

Credit: WWE.com

Bryan started 2019 as WWE champion and as the company's hottest heel, which would have sounded far-fetched to your typical viewer one year ago. He has always been a natural fan favorite, so for him to go so far as to rid his on-screen persona of everything that made him likable was risky yet ultimately rewarding.

From his stellar series of matches with AJ Styles to his various run-ins with Ali and Kevin Owens, he was at the top of his game heading into WrestleMania 35. He was a part of two of the best bouts on the Elimination Chamber and Fastlane cards and successfully retained his title on both occasions.

Not only were his matches always must-see while he was in possession of the prestigious prize, but the weekly promos he was cutting about the environment also never ceased to generate massive boos from crowds. He also elevated a slew of Superstars, but no one benefited more from Bryan's reign as WWE champion than Kofi Kingston.

The original plan likely would have seen either Ali or Owens vying for the gold at The Show of Shows, but Kingston's sudden surge in popularity changed that.

The New Day man has always been a resilient babyface with a strong following, but there's no denying that Bryan being such a fantastic foil for him was what made their feud so memorable.

In fact, it can be argued Kingston hasn't had a real rival as WWE champion since that feud concluded earlier this year. Those two stole the show at WrestleMania, and despite failing to walk out with his title intact, Bryan paying it forward after his own rise to superstardom five years prior could not have been more perfect.

Bryan mysteriously disappeared from WWE TV following 'Mania, and fans feared that was it for him for the foreseeable future. Thankfully, it wasn't long before he resurfaced on the blue brand, entered the tag team ranks with Rowan and almost immediately won the SmackDown Tag Team Championship.

The Planet's Champion is no stranger to tag team wrestling. He and Kane once held the WWE Tag Team Championship for a whopping eight-month period as Team Hell No and took the tag division to heights it hadn't reached in years.

With Kingston currently dominating the main event scene on SmackDown, the tag team title picture is exactly where Bryan belongs at the moment. In the last month alone, he has done wonders for Heavy Machinery, with whom he and Rowan had a standout match at the Stomping Grounds pay-per-view on June 23.

Regardless of where Bryan is slotted on the show, he excels at not only making the most of whatever he's given but also being the best in all of WWE in every aspect. Although Kingston and Seth Rollins are the WWE and universal champions, respectively, neither can hold a candle to what The Beard can do and the excitement he brings to everything he's involved in.

Bryan's booking has been brilliant for the better part of this year, and it's unknown what kind of shape SmackDown would be in without him. The blue brand struggled in his absence post-WrestleMania, and with so many others moving to Raw in the Superstar Shake-up, he has helped pick up the slack on Tuesday nights.

Once he and Rowan drop the SmackDown Tag Team Championship, Bryan should set his sights on the intercontinental title. It's safe to say that virtually everything he touches turns to gold at this point, so maybe he can make that belt a top priority again as well.

Rollins, Styles, Kingston and Drew McIntyre are all tremendous talents but haven't had the same consistency Bryan has had in 2019.

With another six months to go in the year, it's scary to think what more he can accomplish.

         

Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.

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