As a fan that writes about wrestling, I try to be positive and look at things from both sides, however recently a wrestler and angle have really made me feel negatively about the business. The wrestler is Daniel Bryan and the angle is him as the chicken s*** heel, World Heavyweight Champion boyfriend of A.J (Not Styles).
I want to start this week’s column off by mentioning that I’m aware D-Bry is a tremendous wrestler and I happen to enjoy watching him, it’s just him being booked as the World Champion that I can’t get my head around. The past few weeks, I’ve read many comments, blogs and spoken to fans who seem to be loving Bryan’s reign and the potential it has for him in the future. As you can guess by this week’s title, I just don’t get it.
Wow…wow…wow….wow. Don’t be shaking your head thinking I’m crazy just yet. My opinion and theory is that Daniel Bryan is NOT World Heavyweight Champion material and this reign isn’t working. However, I’d like to explain the reasons I feel this way and I welcome any feedback to my reasons….
- It’s common knowledge that SmackDown has in the past few months, suffered several important injuries like Christian, Mark Henry and recently this week, Randy Orton. I understand that this leaves few choices to be the World Champion. I remember watching Bryan win the MITB briefcase last July and looked forward to a long build to him finally being elevated to the point where he wins the belt. The first issue I have is I don’t see the vegan as a star. If the current angle was taking place with him as Intercontinental Champion, I’d be totally behind him and excited about the future. Instead he’s had the title flung on him after being presented as a mid card loser for five months. The World Title has a long lineage with recent champions like Edge, Undertaker, Randy Orton and Christian, and to be honest D-Bry just isn’t at that level yet.
- Regular readers of my columns will remember me saying that size matters in terms of success as a World Champion. To clarify, I’m not saying Bryan is not a good choice for Champion because he isn’t the size of Hulk Hogan. CM Punk is similar to Bryan in size but his charisma and years of hard work in WWE have elevated him to his position as WWE Champion. With Bryan not having a large body of work in the Stamford group, it just doesn’t feel like he’s at the stage where he can be taken seriously with the World Title. A feud with some established stars like Orton, Cena, Taker, Punk etc before his reign would’ve made the world of difference. My main fear for Bryan is if he walks into WrestleMania as undoubtedly the weakest World Champion in the events 28 year history then it’ll be that much harder for him to progress up the card in the future.
- Wrestling has always been about the in ring work and the submission specialist is one of the world’s absolute best. Another problem is that in WWE it’s always been about more than the in ring work. Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle and Eddie Guerrero were some of the best workers but they also had boat loads of charisma and presence to add to their overall package. Daniel Bryan has always reminded me throughout his career as Chris Benoit (the wrestler, not the murderer). Benoit was outstanding in the ring. Couldn’t be touched. But his world title reign was forgettable because after he completed his 20 year journey to get there, he just didn’t have the skills the Stamford group require to be a mainstay as a title holder. Bryan makes me feel the same way. The only way I think Bryan could be a believable champ is as a heel who’s so dangerous that if he gets you in a Submission, then you’re beat. This would require build and being put over by several big name stars for this to work. To have him lose to practically every SmackDown mid carder then win the belt on a fluke and not have one victory through skill makes his title reign instantly forgettable in my eyes. I hope for Bryan’s sake, he proves me wrong and works on his charisma that would be required for him to be a WWE main eventer long term. If he’s not prepare to do that or doesn’t have the ability then he should accept a career in the upper mid card (nothing wrong with that) or go and work in Japan again where he could become a huge star through his work in the ring.
I’m aware that many Daniel Bryan fans will either disagree or take offence at my harsh opinion but let me close this with something positive. I don’t blame Daniel Bryan completely for being a failure as Champion. He’s been pushed into a position he’s not ready for in my eyes. I hope one day he proves me wrong and that he’s not the next Chris Benoit. In fact, Bryan has been given an opportunity which, although it’s too soon and wasn’t given a proper build, he will sink or swim. At the moment, for me, he’s sinking. For Daniel Bryan’s sake, I hope he swims. If he does, I’ll be the first one to admit I was wrong.
Enjoy the Chamber tonight fans! I’ll be back with more of my road diary from WrestleMania XX later this week.