Daniel Bryan’s WWE Championship Run Most Unfortunate Since Wrestlemania XXX

Daniel Bryan has had a tough go of it since winning the title at Wrestlemania 30.

Daniel Bryan has had a tough go of it since winning the title at Wrestlemania 30.

For nearly eight months, we watched one of the biggest underdog stories, perhaps both on screen and off, play out in front of our eyes. As time passed, we anxiously anticipated the seemingly inevitable, grew quizzical when the screwy finishes kept mounting up, spewed fire-like vitriol when it seemed the powers that be were going in another direction, and whipped ourselves into a gleeful frenzy when things got back on track in the final weeks.

Suffice it to say, the build to Daniel Bryan’s WWE World Heavyweight Championship win at Wrestlemania XXX was legendary. As was the moment he won it. Finally, our guy had reached the mountain top, and it was glorious. Sure, often times in life the chase is most thrilling than the catch, but the rewards of the title reign itself was something that was going to be epic as well.

To this point, tragedy and errors have befallen nearly every moment of this run since Wrestlemania. In fairness, most of what has transpired cannot be blamed on Bryan himself, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.

Right off the bat, Daniel Bryan gets married to Brie Bella and misses the second Raw after the big title win to go on his honeymoon. This is the one aspect out of all of these problems that could have been avoided. I am not trying to sound heartless; I understand how important the honeymoon is right after the wedding. And to ordinary people with ordinary jobs, by all means, go enjoy yourself. But Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella are not ordinary people with ordinary jobs. When it became known to them that he was going to have the most important moment of his career and become the face of the company, a company in which any time off could bury a star’s momentum, their plans for the honeymoon should have been postponed. And Brie, working in the same business, surely could have understood that.

When you become the most important person in the business, missing even a single Raw is a huge detriment and sets plans back more than just the one week; who knows what they could have done if he were there to build a story. Maybe we would have even avoided the feud he ended up having, but let’s not jump ahead. The fact of the matter is, aside from a birth or a death, that was the last possible time to take time off.

And of course, when he comes back for the following week, that’s when the tragic news hits that Bryan’s father suddenly passed away. How could you not feel absolutely horrible for him? You have to give him all of the respect in the world for even showing up to the building that night. But speaking strictly in terms pertaining to work here, the timing couldn’t have been worse, since it used up another Raw essentially without him. Yes, he came out for the opening segment and was brutally assaulted by Kane, which made perfect sense for why he didn’t appear the rest of the night, but had this real life tragedy not happened, he likely would have played a much bigger factor on this show, especially having already missed an entire episode prior to this.

If you’re counting, this is basically two of the first three Raws that Bryan missed right out of the gate from winning the title at Wrestlemania. As we all know, wrestling fans are as fickle as they come. When coming down from a high such as that night in New Orleans provided, something like this is like a freefall for people to hop off the bandwagon.

Then there is the storyline with Kane itself. If it would have been a one-off for Extreme Rules, this would have been absolutely fine. But that wasn’t the case, and not only has the story been cheesy, and Brie’s acting even worse, but most importantly, Bryan has looked super weak throughout this whole process. With all of that momentum from ‘Mania, this was the time to ramp up Bryan’s toughness from a ten to an 11. He proved his fighting spirit going for the gold, now we needed to see his ferocity with the belt(s) on him. In general, considering how over he was, this is when we needed to see his credibility be built in the badass, take no prisoners department. This is not to say he needed to be Steve Austin, but surely he needed to be someone we could believe that could put down all comers…someone who was truly the best.

As M2J stated on episode 90 of our Doing the Job podcast leading up to Extreme Rules, Daniel Bryan should have eviscerated Kane to really make a statement. Sure, he ultimately defeated him in the main event, but the show closed completely opposite of how Bryan needed to be booked: with Kane taking every shot Bryan had, plus going through a flaming table…and sitting up to close the show as his music played to an arena filled with red lighting. I completely get what WWE was doing, but they got it backwards. Instead of building up Daniel Bryan, they built up Kane. Can I get a Stone Cold “What?!” please?

Then, to double down on backwards storytelling, they continue the feud, and for God only knows what reason, make Bryan look even weaker by having him COWARDLY RUN AWAY from Kane. Of course, the story they are trying to convey is that his wife is in harm’s way because of the Devil’s favorite demon and he needs to get her out of there. But that makes him look bad in the process. The way this should have been booked was to have Bryan’s actions tell of the story of: “You want to assault my wife and I? I am the mother effing WWE World Heavyweight Champion so in order to defend both of those things, the two most important things to me, I am not going to run, but I am going to stand here, fight, and kick your big red ass straight back to hell.” Can you imagine the crowd reaction to this? And the shot of credibility that you give to your champion?! I am old enough now to not armchair book every little thing, but this one seemed painfully obvious to go with, and even if it didn’t, what played out was just as obvious to avoid. And again, Kane’s character is there to build Daniel Bryan, not make him look like a wimp who is lucky to scrape by.

That takes us to this past week’s Raw where Bryan came out to the ring and awkwardly told the fans that he needed neck surgery and had no idea when he would be back. Was this kayfabe or real? It seemed like no one knew until it was later confirmed online because of how out of completely left field it was. Yet another unfortunate break in this saga. As of this writing, the news was just released that he underwent successful surgery and that typical recovery time for this is 2-3 months, which would place his return right around Summerslam.

WWE released a statement that they will make an announcement on this upcoming Raw for the future of the title, but we would have to imagine that it will be stripped and likely vacated, and in all honesty, rightfully so if the champ has to miss that much time.

The concern here is that first impressions are everything. Not counting the few moments from Summerslam (nor his World Heavyweight Championship run from 2011-12 in which the title played second fiddle to the WWE Championship), this was Daniel Bryan’s first title run as “the man”. We can only hope that the sour taste that this left doesn’t stay in the mouths of the WWE higher ups, causing them to lose faith for another go ‘round sometime after he comes back healthy. We’ve all seen how the company can act in that regard.

But for now, if Daniel Bryan is to be stripped of the title, it seems only fitting considering how unfortunate the run with the gold was for the brief time that he had it.

This is how the WWE World Heavyweight Championship reign ends
Not with a bang, but with a whimper

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