We know at this point that Daniel Bryan will be teaming with Shane McMahon to take on Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens at Wrestlemania on Sunday. While this match is a legitimate culmination to a story that saw its seeds sewn during the build and fallout to last year’s SummerSlam, we can all admit that this is not really what fans want to see as Daniel Bryan’s return match.
Yes, the match does feature four guys who can all be spot-machines. Yes, the match does feature three guys who made their names on the indies and then found moderate to great success in WWE. Yes, this match does feature Shane McMahon who is the de facto notation for the biggest Wrestlemania match non-title, non-Undertaker division. (Do you know how I know this is true – 2016 Shane wrestled Undertaker at Mania, 2017 Undertaker wrestled Roman Reigns and Shane wrestled AJ Styles, 2018 AJ Sytles is in the WWE title match and Shane is involved in a match with KO, Sami and Daniel. To pull a prediction from one of my other Wrestlemania week posts, one, if not all three of these guys will have a Universal or WWE title match at next year’s Mania.) So while I will admit that the Shane Wrestlemania match spot is not exactly where we wanted Daniel Bryan, it’s not a terrible place to restart his career – and it has been a positive spot for previous Shane opponents.
With all that being said, it’s time for us to look beyond this match and the story that it should bring to a conclusion and look towards where Daniel Bryan’s in-ring career will go next. First we will go with the OTTB guys predictions – mine, Cardo’s and Javon’s – and then I’ll share some thoughts from a few other wrestling fans that I know.
As a side note, I won’t be dropping any videos in this post. I want to leave this all to your imagination.
Daniel Bryan vs AJ Styles
This is a no-brainer. Daniel Bryan who as at the top of his game when he was forced into retirement against the current best wrestler on the planet in Styles is just an absolute no-brainer.
Daniel Bryan vs Seth Rollins
I am so here for this match. I’ll say this, Javon surprised me with this selection but a Bryan/Rollins match would be epic. Imagine if Bryan was around for Seth’s title run as a contender. Yes, more please.
Daniel Bryan vs AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura, SummerSlam 2018, WWE Championship
Ok, I was a bit unfair here (my article, my rules). But, with that aside, this is my personal dream match for Bryan in the short term. If WWE can tell a story about Bryan having never lost either of the last two titles he has held in WWE this can work. I actually don’t even care about the machinations, which is why this is on my list for my personal dream match for Bryan now that he is back.
Daniel Bryan vs Finn Balor
Daniel Bryan vs any of the indie guys that have risen to prominence through NXT and onto the main roster in the three years that he has been gone is a good look. This would be especially interesting given the Demon gimmick and how that would play into a possible feud. Good look by Cardo on this choice.
Daniel Bryan vs The Miz
I’m torn on this answer for two reasons. First, this is absolutely the correct answer. This is the feud we have all been waiting for since the first episode of Talking Smack where Daniel Bryan and The Miz got into it. Second, this is absolutely happening, which to me means that this might be a wasted pick (don’t tell Javon). But yes, many wrestling fans are definitely here for this.
Daniel Bryan vs Roman Reigns
Then there’s my choice, which maybe many wrestling fans aren’t here for, but I beg for you to hear me out. First, Daniel Bryan against a larger opponent is always a good look. However, guys like Brock and Braun scare me when it comes to Bryan’s long term health, so as much as people are probably interested in seeing those, I actually am not really here for either. Reigns on the other hand seems to be capable of putting on great matches with Bryan and also seems to be the kind of guy who can protect Daniel in the ring while still making the match work. Also, because some people still think Roman can’t wrestle, for a large segment of fans Bryan beating Reigns is feasible whereas the same might not be able to be said about Brock or Braun. The other thing about this potential feud is that the possibility of a legit and full Roman Reigns heel turn is best set on course via a feud with eternal babyface Daniel Bryan. If we take the potential thought of a Paul Heyman alignment with Reigns post Wrestlemania and have the newly improved on the mic going head to head with Heyman. We have Reigns taking the Brock route of talking less and kicking ass more. We have Roman succeeding over Bryan over and over again leading to that one moment of Bryan beating Roman for the Universal title at SummerSlam 2018 or Wrestlemania 35. In some ways this can write itself. I know it’s not the feud people might want, but it could damn sure be a money feud.
So I reached out to a few of the guys I know that watch wrestling as intently or almost as intently as Cardo, Javon and I do to get their thoughts on their most anticipated matches and feuds for freshly cleared Daniel Bryan. We’ll run through these quickly.
Andrew D. (No, not the Fridays with Andrew Andrew, he keeps calling wrestling rasslin’)
Match – Bryan vs Styles – it’s the safe choice
Feud – Bryan vs Miz – because this feud could legit extend back to Miz being Bryan’s pro on the old version of NXT
Match – Bryan vs Styles – had similar back and forth between Nak and AJ, but ultimately landed on AJ
Feud – Bryan vs Miz – this is legit a no-brainer
Jamaal (no last initial, but two a’s in Jamaal)
Match – Bryan vs Adam Cole – at this point I will say Jamaal rests somewhere between a legit contrarian or troll
Feud – Bryan vs Kota Ibushi – see comment above
Wrap This Up
As you read through the names above, you can clearly see that while there are some things that seem to be categorically agreed on (Miz/Bryan feud) there are still a laundry list of palatable options for Daniel Bryan. The single most important thing for fans is that we get to see a guy that we once thought would never wrestle in WWE again have an opportunity to compete against a lot of guys that he helped pave the way for. Don’t think for a second that guys like Daniel and Seth didn’t make it easier for Vince to open the doors to the Shinsuke’s, Finn’s and Styles’ of the world into WWE and into prominent positions on the card. So now Daniel gets to wrestle against the future he created. All I can say is, we’re here for the workrate.