Daniel Bryan Becomes Centerpiece of Blue Brand, More SmackDown Fallout

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2019

Daniel Bryan Becomes Centerpiece of Blue Brand, More SmackDown Fallout

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The evolution of Daniel Bryan took him to the forefront of Friday's episode of SmackDown on Fox and provided fans with one of the better shows in recent memory as a result.

    Establishing Bryan as the centerpiece of the blue brand, for the time being, has more than one significant benefit, but that was not the only major takeaway from the broadcast.

    From new romances to some more-than-questionable booking, Friday's show was jam-packed with buzz-worthy moments that may affect the talent involved both positively and negatively going forward.

WWE Gives Fans a Taste of a SmackDown Built Around Daniel Bryan

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    By building Friday's broadcast around Daniel Bryan, the SmackDown creative team accomplished two things: Feature one of the most organically popular Superstars of the past decade in the main event role and, perhaps more importantly, took the spotlight off of Roman Reigns so as not to overexpose him.

    Bryan is such an engaging performer that the crowd's reaction to him is always passionate regardless of his status as a heel or babyface. One way or another, he has this ability to generate a strong reaction and make people care. It is, perhaps, his most underrated trait.

    Thus, it is no surprise that a show built around him and The Miz, another one of those performers who can generate passionate responses with the snap of his fingers, would be as easy and enjoyable a watch as Friday's show proved to be.

    If WWE is wise heading into Royal Rumble and what is almost certain to be a rematch between Bryan and Wyatt from Survivor Series, it would focus heavily on Bryan while reducing Reigns' role.

    It is no secret or spoiler of any kind that WWE would want to prominently feature The Big Dog, perhaps even as Wyatt's next challenger, as WrestleMania approaches. Rather than allowing Reigns fatigue to set in before we arrive in Tampa for The Showcase of the Immortals in April, reduce his role, let him fight, scratch and claw for the opportunity and give the always-excellent Bryan the opportunity to gain an even larger following on network television.

Mind-Numbing Booking Plagues SmackDown's Midcard Title Scene

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    What better way to heat up intercontinental champion Shinsuke Nakamura for a title defense against Braun Strowman, as teased on Friday's show, than...by having him and Cesaro lose to The New Day in a non-title match.

    Wait, what? 

    Nakamura has benefited exponentially from his allegiance with Sami Zayn and is delivering some of the best work of his main-roster career, yet he continues to be plagued by booking that leaves fans scratching their heads in confusion or disbelief.

    It is clear from the backstage confrontation and post-match angle that Nakamura is on a collision course with Strowman, and while that is unlikely to go his way, would it kill WWE Creative to book The Artist in a manner that does not suggest he is about to get steamrolled by The Monster Among Men?

    Did New Day need any more momentum from beating Nakamura and Cesaro, who have formed a relatively entertaining and quality tag team, especially in a non-title match? It would have done nothing to hurt their reputation and if booked correctly and could have seen Nakamura pin former WWE champion Kofi Kingston to hand him momentum ahead of his title match.

    Instead, WWE Creative opted to put over the babyfaces at the expense of a heel who needed a win the most, and the result is the further diminishing of a Superstar's heat at a time when he could sure benefit from it.

Personal Edge Brings More Heat to Feud Between Lacey Evans, Bayley, Sasha Banks

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    Suddenly shifting course on Lacey Evans' character by mentioning her history as a Marine and her status as a role model for her daughter may not immediately get her over with fans in the babyface role, but Sasha Banks' confrontation with said daughter and adding a personal edge to her and Bayley's feud with The Sassy Southern Belle sure will.

    Friday's show brought with it the latest chapter in Evans' march toward the SmackDown women's title, as she squared off with The Boss in singles competition. That match ended indecisively and saw Dana Brooke come to the top contender's aid, almost definitely setting up a tag team match for the next edition.

    It was less the new partnership between Brooke and Evans than the taunting of the latter's husband and child and attempted humiliation that will strengthen the newly turned babyface's relationship with the WWE Universe.

    Fans can appreciate and respect yet not fully relate to a former Marine. What they can sympathize with is when they're subjected to a heel bully who makes someone look bad in front of their family and friends. They can sink their teeth into that and get behind the heroine.

    The booking of Friday's show was effective, will only enhance Evans' new role and will set her up as an undisputed fan favorite against Bayley and Banks when the time comes for her latest championship opportunity.

WWE Continues Trend of Romance Storylines with Otis and Mandy Rose

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    WWE has been romance-heavy in recent months, beginning with the disintegrating relationship between Maria and Mike Kanellis that was suddenly and inexplicably dropped from TV and continuing through the divorce proceedings between Rusev and Lana and the latter's engagement to Bobby Lashley.

    If Friday's show is any indication, fans should get ready for more romance, this time between Heavy Machinery's Otis and Mandy Rose.

    Rose gifted the charismatic big man a ham Friday, one week after his ham was destroyed by Sami Zayn. She added a peck on the cheek for good measure and then embraced the sweaty heavyweight following his team's Miracle on 34th Street Fight win over The Revival.

    She even followed up later on social media, tweeting a kiss to her prospective beau.

    Common sense says Rose is running an angle and is setting up Otis for heartbreak. Perhaps she is preparing to introduce a new team on SmackDown or simply finding entertainment in toying with Otis. Maybe, though, WWE Creative has a babyface planned for The Golden Goddess.

    Whatever the case may be, this felt like the start of a fairly significant midcard story that hopefully proves far more entertaining and effective than the nonsense on SmackDown's sister brand.

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