Tuesday, June 17, 2014
What's next for Daniel Bryan (and WWE)?
The WWE Championship situation is in major flux right now. Daniel Bryan is no longer WWE World Champion after having been stripped of the title on last week's Monday Night RAW. The title is vacant and the main event of Money in the Bank will be for the WWE Championship. We have all the entrants in the main event: Cesaro, Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, and the just added Roman Reigns. Who's going to win it? I'll get to that in a minute. Bryan, meanwhile, will be out for the forseeable future as his recovery is not going as quickly as hoped. Bryan's injury has thrown a major monkey wrench into the WWE's plans for the year. I have no idea what the booking plans for the year were; I don't do the spoiler/rumor sites because I actually like being surprised by what comes on TV when it happens. Nitpicking and pre-hating on storylines and matches for six months ahead of time and putting a negative slant on how I see something before it even takes place just isn't my style. I strongly suggest you do that, too. It'll make life a lot more enjoyable. But anyway, we got six people in the big match: who's going to win? There are reasons to believe and not believe in all of them. If the winner is going to be a short term champion and drop the belt at Summerslam or shortly thereafter, then you could put it on any one of the six. If the winner is going to keep the belt for a little while, then that narrows the field. So what do I think? Here goes?
Alberto Del Rio - He's been rumored for some time to be heading back to Mexico when his contract this year. That alone disqualifies him if they plan on keeping the belt on the winner for a while. On the other hand, if the plan is to put it on a placeholder until Bryan gets back (or to transfer it to whoever else they have in mind), then it makes sense for him to get the win here. Del Rio looks like a plausible winner because he's won before and cashed in successfully. He also looks like cannon fodder because of his contract status and his relative invisibility as of late.
Randy Orton - Orton is part of Evolution and was the last title holder before Bryan; that makes him a plausible winner. He's also won Money in the Bank before and has successfully cashed in before. But having held the title so recently, and having won it last year work against him. Orton walking away as champ would look like a total rehash of last year, and if Bryan comes back to chase him for the title again....we just saw that movie. An Orton victory would be a sign that they're done with Bryan in the main event and it's someone else's turn to pursue the title.
Cesaro - Uhh......I got nothing. He's over with the fans, but I don't think the bookers know what they're going to do with him yet. Hotshotting a quick title reign would make zero sense; putting it on him for a longer reign would run smack into the specter of his stablemate Brock Lesnar hunkering for a shot at the champion. Of course, a win could set the stage for a Cesaro split from Paul Heyman and a confrontation with Lesnar. But I really don't see Cesaro main eventing Summerslam right now.
Sheamus - He's a plausible champion. He a good run as World Champ back in 2012. But he's US Chanp now, so that title would have to be vacated. And having Sheamus go over as champ right now might lead to a boo-fest to close the show. The fans, beyond internet snarkers like Sheamus well enough but they like some other guys more, including three guys in this match.
Roman Reigns - Everybody knows Reigns is going to be champ some time in the near future, the only question is when. He hasn't been set up with a pathway to a title win just yet, so it would be premature to just do it here. But if the booking committee is in panic mode, they could just go with it now.
Bray Wyatt - I think he's the favorite here. A heel champ at this time of year can work, especially to set up for Bryan's return or someone else's elevation. He's been in the ring with the franchise John Cena and showed out well, and there's nowhere left for him to go but the main event. Bray in the main event at Summerslam is totally feasible, and a clean sweep with his brothers winning the tag belts would be a huge, memorable event for a pay per view show. The only problem I see is that if you're going to put the belt on a monster heel like Bray you want to do it closer to Wrestlemania. Unless you're going to have him trade the belt with someone back and forth, keeping as champ from now until March 2015 is a pretty tall feat. Then again, CM Punk did hold the belt for over a year just recently.
John Cena - The old standby. He's a safe placeholder until you get things figured out. At the same time, putting the belt on him will rile up all the Cena-haters again. Of course, that's the same logic behind any decision with John. I wouldn't let that figure into my thinking if I were the booking committee. Why? Because the Cena-haters are gonna hate regardless. The WWE gets zero credit when they don't put him the main event or put the belt on him, but they get all the grief when they do. Cena went a year and a half without the title from 2011 to 2013, but the haters still whined when he got it back. He jobbed clean to Daniel Bryan and got zero love for it. So to hell with the haters. If having Cena go over in the main event is the best way to set up the next series of events, then go with it.
A lot of possibilities here, and if nothing else the Bryan injury has put some suspense into the upcoming show. It went from a 50/50 buy to a definite buy for me. We'll see what happens next.