One of, if not the most popular decision the WWE made in conjunction with the brand split was appointing Daniel Bryan as the new General Manager of SmackDown Live. After all, it was SmackDown‘s declining ratings that ignited the brand extension and forced Vince McMahon and company to relocate the blue brand to Tuesday nights with a new, live format.
Adding Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon as the authoritative roles on SmackDown made it that much more of an attractive brand of television, as the two promised fresh match-ups and new opportunities. Originally, Shane was only scheduled to return for WrestleMania season, but his skyrocketing popularity extended his stay. And while the shine has worn off a bit since his shocking re-emergence in February, another marquee ‘Mania program will boost his stock right back up.
Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan was forced to retire from in-ring competition, ironically, just two weeks prior to Shane’s return to the WWE. Both of those segments happened on Monday Night RAW, but the two now rule on SmackDown, with Commissioner Shane appointing Bryan as his brand new General Manager the night before they made their selections in the brand extension draft.
As noted earlier, SmackDown was promising new opportunities, for both veteran and young superstars alike. Part of that opportunity has included the introduction of Talking Smack, SmackDown‘s weekly “post-game” show, hosted by Renee Young and, of course, Daniel Bryan. But it also features rotating guests, generally SmackDown superstars who were featured prominently in that week’s show.
Talking Smack has provided the WWE Universe with some heated discussions and memorable moments, making the show as much of appointment viewing as SmackDown itself. And most of, if not all of those moments have included Daniel Bryan right in the middle of them. Whether by design or natural volition, they have certainly resulted in compelling television. Which is why it was a little puzzling to some why they pushed the show back an hour to allow 205 Live to immediately follow SmackDown on Tuesday nights.
WWE officials have taken notice, and according to Cageside Seats, the creative staff will continue to book angles between Bryan and other SmackDown superstars indefinitely. WWE management has been impressed with Bryan’s ability to add layers to current storylines, so he’ll stay right in the thick of some significant feuds moving forward.
Of course, Daniel’s most notable angle since assuming the role as SmackDown GM has come with The Miz. The two pushed the limits and blurred the lines between a work and a shoot back in August on Talking Smack, and that boiled over into scripted storytelling. Originally, Vince McMahon wasn’t thrilled with that work-shoot segment because he doesn’t like teasing something that can’t be paid off. But even though Bryan isn’t able to wrestle, they’ve been able to script a protagonist/antagonist program that’s elevated The Miz in the process.
Daniel has admitted on several occasions on different platforms that even though he’d rather have someone like Cesaro than The Miz on SmackDown, you can’t deny that the brand split has reinvigorated the career of The Miz. In addition to the feud with Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan is largely responsible for that resurgence.
We’ve also seen in recent weeks that they are using a similar formula with Baron Corbin to help The Lone Wolf establish himself on SmackDown. WWE officials believe Bryan can help get other superstars get over so we should expect him to be involved in more going forward. Because it’s extremely unlikely that Daniel would ever turn heel in his GM role, it seems that only current heels will benefit from being booked with him in the capacity described.
Who else on the SmackDown roster could benefit from working alongside Daniel Bryan?
[Featured Image by WWE]