Daniel Bryan enjoyed a bit of a reprieve Thursday on Smackdown after being dumped out eleventh in Sunday’s Royal Rumble battle royal main event, but one industry insider is warning fans not to get too attached to his comeback.
Bryan defeated Kane in a Casket Match at the end of Smackdown, effectively ending his long-running feud with the Undertaker’s brother.
Sunday’s elimination from the Royal Rumble battle royal caused a furor that effectively derailed the rest of the pay-per-view and made Roman Reigns a household name for all the wrong reasons.
In spite of being booked as the winning babyface, fans revolted against Reigns once Bryan was eliminated and at one point were even cheering for the Russian heel Rusev in Philadelphia of all places — the birthplace of the United States.
These developments are not the first time that fans have rallied around Daniel Bryan. After he was not even allowed in last year’s Royal Rumble match, the WWE Universe demanded him in the main event at WrestleMania and got their wish.
Bryan beat Triple H in a match at the beginning of the event, earning his way into the main event against Randy Orton and Batista. He ended up winning the title, but an injury sidelined him for several months.
Bryan returned after Survivor Series, but it appears that Vince McMahon continues to have little confidence in the undersized superstar.
Wade Keller of Pro Wrestling Torch, in a recent sit-down with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, said the Rumble booking just proves that McMahon continues to have reservations about Daniel Bryan as a main event player.
Asked whether having Bryan eliminated so early was a sign McMahon lacked confidence in his abilities, Keller referred back to an interview in which McMahon said there weren’t enough guys in the locker room “grabbing the brass rings” (aka showing the ambition and ability to become headliners).
“Daniel Bryan grabbed the brass ring 18 months ago, 24 months ago,” Keller retorted. “It [the elimination] is by definition a lack of confidence in Bryan.”
Keller acknowledged that Bryan “had a lot of baggage” physically and that he “probably won’t be able to do this in 10 years, he’ll be in his mid-forties,” but questioned the logic in pushing the Roman Reigns angle down the WWE Universe’s throat.
If you have a guy like Daniel Bryan who can make you more money in the next six months, Keller reasoned, and it will allow you to develop your future superstar (Reigns) at a more organic pace without hurting him, then “why wouldn’t you go with Bryan for the next six, nine, 18 months?” he said.
Do you think Vince McMahon and the WWE lack confidence in Daniel Bryan as a main event player? Is he destined to head back to the mid card? What do you think he’ll be doing at this year’s WrestleMania?