Daniel Bryan was never supposed to win the main event of WrestleMania, in fact it is questionable as to whether it was ever planned for him to be a babyface going into the event let alone leaving as the all-conquering, triumphant hero World Champion.
Back at the start 2014, after months of the company booking him into screw job finishes in main events, he was inexplicably turned heel and paired with the Wyatt family. This was Vince McMahon’s direct attempt to silence the majority who were cheering for him above all others, and a reaction entirely to the closing segment of the Slammy’s in Seattle. The heel turn was thankfully short, as McMahon got wind of the fact that the ‘Yes’ chant was catching on across sports teams in the US and was getting main stream publicity meaning it was nonsensical to continue with him as a bad guy.
Yet still the obvious position for him to compete in & win the Royal Rumble was not forthcoming. Thankfully for Bryan the crowd at the Rumble completely rejected the outcome and the promotion as vociferously and passionately as any wrestling crowd in years. It is not clear when the decision was ultimately made to go with Bryan, possibly not until after the February pay-per-view, but it was the only decision WWE could make without risking the entire crowd in New Orleans turning on the biggest show of the year.
He put in two show stealing performances on the way to without a doubt the biggest moment of his career. Shortly thereafter he was married to Brie Bella away from the squared circle but within hours of his return from honeymoon he learned that his Father had passed away.
On screen he was paired with Kane in a number of segments that did nothing but hurt his character, and then just a couple of weeks after a successful defence at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view it transpired he was injured. At first it was thought it was not serious, but as the weeks went on he wasn’t getting any better and surgery then had to follow. He was stripped of the title which ultimately went to John Cena.
The planned main event of SummerSlam was Bryan defending the title against Lesnar, and that huge money match has now gone and seemingly any prospect of him returning before the end of this year is doubtful. Post-surgery the strength in one of his arms did not return as quickly as had hoped and in recent weeks there has been talk of him needing another surgery to correct the issue.
What is alarming for the long-term prospects of the former champion is the lack of discussion around his potential return in Wrestling newsletters and websites, no one seems to have any idea as to when he may be back. I get the impression this is not down to a Chris Jericho type situation where all parties are working to keep it a secret, and very much down to the fact that no one really does know.
As for his prospects on his return, he was never Vince McMahon’s pick to be the top performer in the company and as such I can’t see that he will reach such lofty heights again. I’m sure the crowd will be behind him on his return but it may be that the time for him has passed and with all signs pointing to a Roman Reigns mega push and title win at WrestleMania 31 in Santa Clara it is difficult to see where Bryan will fit in.
Daniel Bryan has been a standout, against the odds success in WWE and it is a huge shame that he wasn’t able to have a great run with the title as most hoped for coming out of WrestleMania. For now, the important thing is that his rehab starts to improve, he gets healthy and he gets back to performing at the high levels he has previously, but only when the time is right for him.
image via WWE