By John Napolitano
Whether you are a staunch supporter of the “YES-man,” Daniel Bryan or not, there is no denying how disappointing his previous run with the WWE has been. After attaining greatness on the grand stage at WrestleMania XXX and representing the company as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion for about a month, Bryan was sidelined with a career-threatening injury. No more than seven months later, Daniel miraculously returned to Monday Night Raw to announce his entry into the 2015 Royal Rumble. When Bryan came up short in Philadelphia, in some of the sorriest booking I have ever witnessed, many fans were disappointed to see the WWE’s most over superstar screwed at the Rumble two years in a row.
As a consolation for not returning to the main event of WrestleMania in the San Francisco-Bay area, Daniel Bryan was given the Intercontinental Championship. Don’t get me wrong, the Intercontinental Championship is the perfect accolade for Bryan, as it cements him as the tireless workhorse we all know him to be. But in a case of tragic irony, about one month after his title victory at WrestleMania XXXI, Daniel Bryan was sidelined with yet another career-threatening injury. With no set return date in sight and the glaring possibility that yet another Daniel Bryan homecoming can be botched, I aim to analyze the best way to reintroduce the “G.O.A.T.” to the WWE Universe.
Simply announcing the return of Daniel Bryan a few weeks prior to that fated date would not do the four-time World Champion justice. He is far too popular and has contributed far too much the industry to be welcomed back in a ho-hum manner. Bryan’s career can ill afford another false start.
If and when Daniel Bryan is to come back, he must return in a pivotal moment when a babyface contender is needed to challenge a dastardly heel WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Imagine how lackluster Daniel Bryan’s return would be if he was thrown into yet another feud with Sheamus. If Bryan had never announced that he would be leaving due to injury this May, it would be totally appropriate that he work his way up through the mid-card and back to the main event picture; however, seeing as though he is back on hiatus, there is no time to spare next time around. Daniel Bryan must return to the top of the mountain.
Realistically, the number 30 spot in the Royal Rumble has Daniel Bryan’s name on it. It may not be the 2016 Royal Rumble or even the 2017 Rumble, but the third time has to be the charm for Daniel Bryan. Whenever and wherever Bryan should return, a win at the Royal Rumble could catapult him back to the main event of WrestleMania, where he won the hearts of millions just one year ago.
The “Coup de Raw”
Now let’s venture into the fantasy world. I devised an incredibly insane angle last year when Daniel Bryan first announced that he would be taking time off. This concept, in my opinion, is the perfect way to reintroduce Daniel Bryan to the WWE Universe. My idea starts with a series of abstract vignettes airing on WWE television. As weeks go by, the lights inside of the arena will go dark during the main event matches, and the commentary will be commandeered by a strange group of voices that warn, “We’re coming.” The lights will come back on, and all parties involved, from the superstars in the ring to the ringside announcers, will express extreme confusion. Further down the line, the lights will continue to flicker and go out as they have been all the while, but now a mysterious figure wearing a Guy Fawkes mask will appear in the middle of the ring, backstage, and even casually sitting in the crowd.
After the first masked man makes his presence known, so too will two more. Now it is clear that three men dawning Guy Fawkes masks have invaded Monday Night Raw. They aren’t attacking anyone or causing any physical harm, but it’s clear that they have an interest in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship; they continue to cost the champion matches and play serious mind games. At the culmination of the angle, the three men will rip off their masks and reveal themselves to be none other than AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and the leader of the “Coup,” Daniel Bryan. With this absurd amount of momentum, Daniel Bryan will go on to headline WrestleMania and once again win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
That of course is purely fantasy booking, but boy would I love to see it. Whichever way you want to slice it, Daniel Bryan is a once in a lifetime superstar, and he needs to return in once in a lifetime fashion. Whether it’s as the number 30 entrant in the Royal Rumble or the leader of the “Coup,” I cannot wait to see Daniel Bryan return to the squared-circle and captivate our hearts and minds all over again.