The WWE finally pulled the trigger on making Daniel Bryan their WWE World Champion, but his booking since his surprising Money in the Bank victory in July has certainly been underwhelming. Instead of using that PPV win as momentum to elevate him into the main event scene, Bryan went on an extended losing streak that lasted the remainder of the summer. By mid-September, Bryan was a glorified jobber and his “cash in” of the MITB briefcase at Wrestlemania became about as threatening as being hit in the face with a cotton ball.
At December's TLC, Bryan cashed in the briefcase to beat the winded Big Show, who just won the belt from Mark Henry just moments ago. This event should have been the turning point where the WWE could do something drastic with his character, but they still have him being the nerdy and Rocky-esque underdog title holder who appears to be nothing more than a transitional champ. While the WWE’s booking of Bryan has been horrible to this point, here is a list of five things that could help him regain his much deserved legitimacy and build a much needed future superstar for the company.
# 1 Promos: Practice, Practice, Practice
He is getting a little better on the mic lately, but he has a long way to go. He needs to use his free time out of the gym to look in the mirror, practice working on some character traits and facial expressions. If he increases his promo cutting quality to even 75% to what it is now, he will be over like Dover. But do that he needs to…
# 2 ...Decide if he should be face or heel
Again, this is where the WWE screwed the pooch with his briefcase cash-in. They should have planned for him to cash it on Henry if he was going to remain face or Show if he was turning heel. Whoever he cashed it in on should have a made a hard stance on his character. He could have won the belt, celebrated and then jumped Show to re-injure his ankle. The next night he could have come out on RAW and said that the fans have been holding him back from being a champion because he can’t “talk” well on the mic, so he decided to go against his word of waiting until Wrestlemania and cash it in on the injured Show. He could have held up the belt and said “Look, when I don't listen to someone else besides you potato chip eating morons who don’t know a hip toss from a hippo and here is what I can do on my own!” That being said, he is shorter and not too physically menacing for the mainstream fan to take seriously, so maybe it would be a wise idea to…
# 3 ...Get him some backup or insurance policy
Right now, there is a genetic freak (no, not Scott Steiner) who is a bore as a face and has been going on a losing streak of his own since dropping the Intercontinental Championship last fall to Cody Rhodes. Yes, Ezekiel Jackson. He also is terrible at promos but he is a strong bull, who could serve as a bodyguard and muscle for the smaller statured Bryan. Zeke’s use of the tights to pin Drew McIntyre on a recent Smackdown is the most interesting thing he has done in months. Either Zeke or Drew, or both, are characters in limbo that could be more effective if they joined forces in some sort of stable. Bryan could say to both of them that he too was on a losing streak until he decided to do something for himself and they should ban together to end the current image of the WWE.
# 4 Make him a true "submission expert" or give him a new gimmick
Whether face or heel, if his character is to remain a submission expert, like a Chris Benoit or a Dean Malenko, he needs to start making big names tap clean. If people are not going to view him as a legitimate physical force due to his size, have him be resilient like Flair and pull off victories with roll ups (face) or outside interference (heel) after taking a huge beating. Right now, the WWE is riding the submission train with him, so let him Labell Lock a Randy Orton or an Alberto Del Rio and make him tap on a PPV.
# 5- Have a high profile match at this year's Wrestlemania and win
That is probably not going to happen but if the WWE keeps the belt on him until Wrestlemania, he needs to put on his usual Five-Star match and walk away victorious. It doesn’t matter if it is against Orton or Henry, he needs to beat them clean as a face or cheat as a heel. If he wins at ‘Mania, it will be a topic that he can mention in his future promos and establish legitimacy as a main event player.
Without doing fantasy booking, these are just some ideas to throw against the wall. It is gfood to see the WWE giving him a nice push, but the real concern is that they are just ending his MITB angle to push him back down into the midcard. Last week's Smackdown and this week's RAW portrayed him as a cocky, egotistical champ with a bit of a chicken-s*** heel quality. The WWE has started to implement "slow burns" to angles, so perhaps this a slow burn to Bryan going flat out heel. On the mic, his promos are lacking (but have been improving) and his matches are among the best to watch in the ring, but the Cenation and HHH caliber of marks will hold him down from greatness because Bryan is trying to learn the soap opera side of sports entertainment. The fact of the matter is that he is not a great “entertainer”, but an awesome “wrestler” as he has stated before in the past.
Need more proof on how great he is to watch in the ring when he is allowed to perform at his highest potential. Go to YouTube and type in “Bryan Danielson” with “ROH” or “Ring of Honor”, then enjoy. In the meantime, even though D-Bry is in Booker T’s Fave Five, the WWE needs for him to defeat some quality opponents and use some traits listed above to elevate this performer to the main event status where he rightfully belongs. His No Count-Out/No Disqualification match against Big Show for the championship on this week's Smackdown will hopefully tell us more on what road his character is traveling down as we approach the Royal Rumble.