From 2013 to 2015, Daniel Bryan was WWE’s biggest star. The “Yes Movement” was not only a WWE phenomenon but a worldwide one. From the Indy, scene to even general pop culture, Bryan for a while appeared to be the next great of the WWE.
Then, injury struck, and despite countless attempts to return to a WWE ring, Daniel Bryan officially retired from wrestling on February 8, 2016. While fans chanted “Yes” (somewhat ironically considering the situation), it was a sad day as WWE bid farewell to their biggest star.
Fast forward a few months and Daniel Bryan is still around with WWE. His contract is still long from expired, and wanting to gain on his popularity, the WWE give him an on-screen role: general manager of SmackDown. While it is far from the in-ring mastery that fans desire to see once again, it is the best that is going to happen. A sad Daniel Bryan, puts on a brave face as he comes to terms with his injury, and thus, his retirement.
However, recently, WWE have taken the popularity of Daniel Bryan and dragged it through the mud. Currently, Bryan’s once lovable character is being turned into the stereotypical, corrupt manager. This transition seemingly comes out of no-where…or does it?
Rather, there is actually real life motive behind this that far exceeds the story line of the WWE. Instead, this is all about damaging Bryan, who as of now is an asset that can quickly turn to a liability. With Bryan’s contract up in September, the WWE is greatly concerned that Bryan will leave the company to return to the Indy circut. With this, WWE risks losing viewers and Bryan die-hards, who’d rather support their hero than the WWE.
See, while the WWE doctors haven’t cleared Bryan to wrestle, personal doctors of Bryan have all agreed that he risks no further damage if he adjusts his wrestling style slightly. The WWE cannot risk injuring Bryan and receiving a lawsuit. For them, Bryan’s retirement is the only way they can avoid any financial punishments. And yet, the WWE are in the same predicament now.
So how does turning Bryan heel benefit the WWE? For many fans, they buy into whatever hype the WWE and the IWC throw at them. Often, a reputation of a wrestler can be solely shaped and shifted to suit WWE’s needs. Just as quickly as the WWE can build up Bryan as a main eventer, they can tear him down to the status of a villain.
Now, there will of course be fans who will support Bryan, and fans who can acknowledge that his on screen personality is a character. But for the casual fan, deciding whether to support the Indy circuit because of Daniel Bryan can rely on his character. If fans hate him, they’ll be glad to see him gone from the top-tier of professional wrestling. If he’s loved, they’ll be inclined to follow him wherever he performs. The WWE know this, and are doing everything in their power to stop any support for Bryan.
Unfortunately, the WWE’s pettiness will win. They have great control over the public opinions of fans. Vince McMahon has successfully fooled fans into forgetting that it was his company that lead to Chris Benoit having the brain damage he did, which resulted in the horrific crimes he committed. It was Vince McMahon who made fans turn against Bret Hart. It was Vince McMahon who made CM Punk an afterthought, despite the clear disrespect shown to Punk by the president of the WWE. And now, if Vince McMahon has it his way, Bryan will simply be another name that was booed out of the company.