The Stomping Ground: The Future of Daniel Bryan
by Mike Gojira on December 22, 2011

The most consistent column on Inside Pulse is back, baby! Well it’s only been seven days but whatever.

So I guess some shenanigans went down last Sunday night at TLC, huh? I guess everyone was just as surprised as I was when Beth Phoenix defeated Kelly Kelly to retain her title. This week, I’d like to spend this column discussing that match.

Nah, I’m just shitting you.

So the IWC had its orgasm for the month of December after Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, and Zack Ryder walked out of the PPV as champions. It was definitely a feel-good moment, but as Andrew Wheeler always says, “marks make the kneejerk reactions while smart fans look at the big picture.” Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself right here. We made that very markish error the night Christian first won the World Heavyweight Championship in place of an injured (and retired) Edge. Two nights later (five if you believe in Santa Claus and kayfabe), Captain Charisma dropped the belt to Orton. One could argue this was done because the company never truly had faith in Christian’s ability to carry a brand on his own, and you’d probably be right.

Fast forward eight months and we’re at the same exact point. Mark Henry is injured, so he lost the title and Daniel Bryan wound up on top of the world. This brings up a number of questions so let’s try and answer them together. Don’t worry; I’ll hold your hand.

Why Now?

Why did the WWE decide to have Daniel Bryan cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase now instead of at Wrestlemania, as he implied? There are several factors to consider. First of all, there is the issue of an injured World Heavyweight Champion. Reportedly the WWE enjoyed Henry’s actions as WHC so the decision to take the belt off of him in such a fashion was a difficult one. He lost the gold to the Big Show and the ‘E decided to use that as an impetus to cash in Daniel Bryan’s title shot. But what about Big Show’s “Thank You” title run we were all expecting? Clearly there’s no interest in having Wight as the top dog for ANY length of time. With Orton lending a helping hand to Wade Barrett and Sheamus stuck in face limbo, the company must be planning on drawing things out with Show and Bryan to the Rumble. After that, the Elimination Chamber can feature a host of contenders without shoehorning anyone into a one-on-one feud.

Another possibility for Bryan’s successful cash-in could have a lot to do with giving the IWC a memorable moment, since the stars were aligned with Punk and Ryder as WWE Champion and United States Champion, respectively. Right place, right time.

Bryan’s detractors might argue that the WWE threw him into the title picture as an excuse to get the MitB briefcase gimmick out of the picture. To that I say: if the company did not have a vested interest in DB at this point, why not just take the briefcase off of him or have him lose when he cashes in? Edge took the briefcase off of Kennedy’s hands when Anderson was injured, remember? I suppose my opposition could counter that Bryan will be a lame duck champion a la Jack Swagger or Rey Mysterio, but it’s too soon to tell. This of course segues rather nicely into my next question.

How Can Daniel Bryan Avoid “Swagger Status”?

Let me get right to the point. Michael Cole consistently lambastes Bryan at every turn. He is a very small guy who has been jobbed out to everyone he faces, with the exception of guys like Heath Slater. How can the WWE turn Bryan into a success story? Easy. When he inevitably faces off with the Big Show, have him make that big son of a bitch tap out. Bryan needs to be treated like some submission god in order to truly get over with fans unfamiliar with his work. Michael Cole needs to change his tune or at least acknowledge Bryan’s talent. If the ‘E truly feels that Bryan is worthy of World Heavyweight Championship status, he needs to be treated as such. At the moment, he looks like a flash in the pan. I haven’t read the Smackdown spoilers so I have no idea how he’s being represented but I know I haven’t heard anything about a title change either (that’s a plus).

In summation, I think we should foster a “wait and see” attitude before we make any irrational decisions about Bryan’s run as champ.

Other Musings

Last week I asked you guys to respond to my list of the Biggest Hiccups of 2011. I appreciate those of you who took the time to vote, but I find it quite hysterical that many of our commenters lately have decided to become Grammar Nazis and seem to be ignoring the topics of our columns in order to focus on correcting the writing mechanics of my peers. Look, they can’t all sound as well-educated as yours truly, but cut them a little slack. I find myself catching their errors as well, but I don’t spend my free time sitting at my computer sending witty criticisms to be ignored by the writers. As a result, I’m extending the voting period to next week in the hope that some of you will decide to spend some of that well-earned down time doing something productive. Just click the link in red at the beginning of the paragraph and vote on which moment was your least-favorite in the comments section of that article. Or you could post it here. Whatever.

Mike Gojira’s Fave Five: Top Five “Feel-Good” Moments of 2011

1. CM Punk Walks Away with the WWE Championship (Money in the Bank, July 17, 2011)

2. CM Punk Drops a Pipe Bomb (Monday Night Raw, June 27, 2011)

3. Christian Wins the World Heavyweight Championship (Extreme Rules, May 1, 2011)

4. Cody Rhodes Dusts Off the Old School Intercontinental Championship (Hell in a Cell, October 2, 2011)

5. CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Zack Ryder: Champions (TLC, December 18, 2011)

I’ll see you again this weekend as I celebrate Christmas Eve with my Not-So-Live Smackdown Report. Happy Holidays to everyone!

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

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Mike Gojira

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  • Blair A. Douglas

    ! vote number one.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Mike: I will say this, and unfortunately I bet this is the case: They gave Daniel Bryan the Big Gold Belt for no other reason than to get his cash-in out of the way, to clear the path for Randy Orton, who they want to win the Royal Rumble this year.

  • Mike

    Personally, I think WWE is almost as high on DBD as the majority of the IWC is. They wouldn’t have given him the MITB briefcase or the World Title if they didn’t see his potential and ability to not only put on stellar matches but also to elevate the people around him.

    Let’s face it, almost everyone Bryan’s worked with since his arrival has come out of feuds with him looking like a million dollars. Miz, Ziggler, Sheamus, Cody Rhodes, even the cage match with Henry was a show-stealer.

    My only gripe with Bryan winning the strap is that so far, he has not been allowed to show his full potential – he is capable of doing so much more in the ring, on the mic, and has so many elements of his character he can use. I would have preferred to see Bryan win the strap in a 20-30 minute match, full of false finishes, intrigue and psychology, because until he is allowed to put on a match of that caliber in WWE, those unfamiliar with his work in the Indies (which is actually a sizable proportion of the WWE’s fanbase) will continue to wonder what the fuss is all about. He needs to be let off the leash, allowed to express himself the way he does best, if people are going to start seeing him as a credible champion.

    I can see Bryan surviving the challenge of the Big Show at the Royal Rumble, to lose the strap at Elimination Chamber – possibly to Wade Barrett. I can also see Michael Cole possibly being the one to cost Bryan the belt, leading to a Mania match and feud with everyone’s favorite announcer. God I hope I’m wrong on this! =(

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