Daniel Bryan has been one of the best babyfaces in WWE for quite some time. Organically, Bryan rose above the “B plus player” status that was given to him by The Authority, and highjacked Raw en route to becoming a third competitor in the WrestleMania 30 match, originally supposed to be a singles match between Batista and Randy Orton. After defeating Triple H to qualify, he would win the triple threat match to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Unfortunately, due to concussion problems, Bryan would be forced to retire from in-ring competition.
Although WWE will not clear him to compete in the ring, Bryan is certain that he will be an active competitor again. He shared his thoughts on the matter while a guest of Edge & Christian’s E&C Pod of Awesomeness. Bryan stated that there is no reason why he cannot return to wrestling with all the current progress of his treatment. Understanding that he will no longer be the top name in the company, he projected that he could do 50-100 matches a year, or make appearances like Jerry Lawler or Terry Funk.
Admittedly, Bryan said that this waiting period to be cleared by WWE personnel has really “tested [his] patience,” and at 36, he feels as if the prime years of his career are lost. He recently told Sports Illustrated that if he does not wrestle by WrestleMania, he assumes that he will not be wrestling at all. However, his wife, Brie Bella, stated that he still has a desire to compete in the ring, which may put him at a crossroads with his relationship with WWE. As a result, these factors have led to speculation that Bryan may leave WWE after his contract to compete in the ring for another company.
With this, per the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, WWE could be intentionally turning Bryan heel as a result of knowing that their relationship may be ending soon. The reason behind the turn is to lessen Bryan’s stock for the independent scene and other circuits, due to the feeling that he would receive less fan support if the babyface edge was taken away from him. Whether this theory is true or not, Daniel Bryan will be one of the hottest free agents if he left WWE, and would certainly be on the radar of New Japan for a Wrestle Kingdom event, regardless of WWE’s decision to make him face or heel before he leaves.