Daniel Bryan’s latest storyline lacks substantial payoff

(Courtesy of WWE.com)
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Undoubtedly, one of the finest mic moments this year has been The Miz’s blowout at SmackDown Live GM Daniel Bryan on “Talking Smack.” From the heart and uncomfortably real, it has injected some much needed vigor and tenacity into The Miz’s in-ring work, and was a step forward in WWE’s realistic storytelling.

Some might suggest that the accusations of wrestling cowardice turned into nothing more than fodder for Dolph Ziggler to deploy against him, watered down simply to mean simply The Miz’s general behavior is a let-down. But by far the most worrying thing to come of it is the idea that WWE has written itself into a corner.

The subsequent taunting of Daniel Bryan’s inability to ever wrestle again, both in person and mockingly in the ring, has been delivered wonderfully well by The Miz, who is easily one of the best heels in WWE at the moment. But there is no desirable or satisfying potential payoff to all of this.

There are four potential options here.

The first is that Daniel Bryan returns to wrestle the Miz. In spite of Bryan’s protestations that WWE doctors are arguing against a wave of contrary evidence, the WWE has been quite insistent that he won’t wrestle for them ever again, so we can throw that out of the window from the offset.

The second is to let the whole thing fizzle out into nothing, a move that can only harbor resentment and frustration. At times, it has seemed that the WWE was going to go halfway with this option, watering it down and broadening it simply to mean that The Miz is simply a cowardly individual, but then we see Miz continuing to torment his general manager, teasing returns and interferences that have yet to happen.

A third option would be for Daniel Bryan to turn heel. This mightn’t seen obvious, but those who regularly watch “Talking Smack” will have observed that Daniel Bryan is becoming increasingly obnoxious and unlikable. He’s rude to Renee Young to the point where it transcends banter and becomes unpleasant, he openly buries heel talents, and he petulantly drags every conversation back around to the fact that he’s not allowed to wrestle. Again, if an in-ring return were viable, all of this would make sense. But it is becoming increasingly less so, and at some point Daniel Bryan’s constant passive aggression and no payoff is going to becoming wearing and tiresome. A heel turn would also mean a heel GM, and one of the most refreshing things about WWE since the brand extension has been the lack of “authority”-style heel managers, who invariably become the focus of programming, set about keeping fans from seeing the matches and stars they want to see, and generally give of the impression that creative thinks it’s still 1998.

And finally, there is the potential release of Daniel Bryan. This isn’t mere speculation; Bryan has almost certainly been ruffling feathers with his recent comments in interviews outside of the WWE. He has openly said that he doesn’t particularly enjoy being SmackDown’s GM, has considered asking for his own release from the company, and been quite hostile towards WWE medical personnel’s opinion, which is at odds with medical opinions he has received elsewhere. Losing Daniel Bryan would not only cheapen the GM role and kick off a carousel of endless new authority figures to get used to, it would also deprive WWE of one of the most over figures on the roster — the guy who represents the very shattering of glass ceilings that the company is supposedly trying to push more of.

Creative have written themselves into a corner with Daniel Bryan. Although it was one of the finest spectacles all year, one could almost wish that that promo from The Miz had never happened.

Daniel Bryan’s latest storyline lacks substantial payoff

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