Ladies and gentlemen. My name is Jason Jarman. And I am the advocate for all the reasons that Daniel Bryan should win the Royal Rumble. See what I did? I did, like, a Paul Heyman thing.
Daniel Bryan is the WWE superstar of the Network Era, no matter how much they want to tell us that it’s Roman Reigns. To no fault of his own, Roman Reigns has been booked like an idiot for the last six or so years until they finally figured out he’d be an awesome heel. But Daniel Bryan was the star that kicked off the Network Era. The guy who made us, the fans, think for a fleeting moment that WWE cared what we wanted in the slightest.
We watched in anticipation of his entrance in the 2014 Royal Rumble match. It didn’t happen. We tried to fool ourselves that it wasn’t going to be Roman Reigns winning the 2015 Royal Rumble match. Hoping against hope that WWE wanted to make us happy after all by having Bryan go all the way. Roman won, Bryan went out like a chump, #CancelWWENetwork.
But 2021 is a new year. And as we head into Royal Rumble 2021, hope springs eternal again. The pieces are all in place, and it’s just a matter of WWE putting them together. Now please realize, I’m going into this fully aware that WWE will probably break my heart again. However, if there was ever a time for Daniel Bryan to come out of the January classic pointing at the WrestleMania sign, it’s now.
Let’s dig in to all the reasons why Daniel Bryan should win the Royal Rumble.
If Not Now, When?
Time is running out. In all actuality, it probably already ran out. Years of putting in the work and going all out already caught up to Daniel Bryan. But the guy is the workhorse for WWE. Seriously, nobody on the roster has exemplified “do the work” more than DB. The guy is practically a hipster Cody Rhodes.
Now, being a hard worker alone isn’t why Daniel Bryan should win the Royal Rumble. After all, Vince McMahon and Triple H basically spat at the concept of hard work in their respective Stone Cold Podcast appearances in 2014 and 2015. Vince said the roster was full of entitled millennials who don’t want to work for anything, because he’s 108 years old and of course he said that. Triple H scoffed at the idea of someone “deserving” a push because everybody works hard, that doesn’t make you special. See, here’s the thing, tough.
In the eyes of WWE fans, it does make you special. That’s why we got behind Daniel Bryan in the first place. Hell, that was the building block that made him in the first place. John Cena hand-picked DB to be his opponent at SummerSlam 2013. And they made “some guys just don’t get to the top on hard work” the centerpiece of Triple H’s argument against Bryan going into WrestleMania XXX. By proxy, the argument for us wanting him to go to WrestleMania XXX. What better time to give the ultimate reward to a guy who puts in the work than in the twilight of his career.
Just being near the end isn’t why Daniel Bryan should win the Royal Rumble. This isn’t about rewarding Daniel Bryan. A lifetime of financial security, a family, and knowing he’s revered by his fans is probably reward enough. This is about rewarding us for believing in Daniel Bryan.
It Works For Both Brands – Raw
There’s a compelling story to be told on the ROAD TO WRESTLEMANIA (copyright Vince McMahon and those jeans he wore at Money In The Bank). No matter which title he challenges for, the story WWE is at the forefront of why Daniel Bryan should win the Royal Rumble.
We’ll start with the Raw brand. And with the current WWE Champion, Drew McIntyre. Now, in fairness, the argument for Raw falls apart pretty quickly if WWE goes with (shudder) Goldberg over McIntyre at Royal Rumble 2021. Please, by all the stars in the heavens and all the grains of dirt on Earth, please do not go that route. But if it’s Drew McIntyre heading to WrestleMania with the title, Bryan vs. McIntyre is perfect. Drew McIntyre was Electric Bento’s 2020 Wrestler of the Year for a reason. He carried the company through uncertain times and, more importantly, made us believe in the prestige of the WWE Championship again.
From a sheer PR standpoint, only Keith Lee can match Bryan in terms of someone the fans would accept dethroning the Scottish Superman. Drew McIntyre has been a feel-good champion. Who better to transition to than another feel-good champion? And even if Daniel Bryan doesn’t take the title, it’s an affirmation that Drew McIntyre is WWE’s guy going forward. At least, he’s their guy not named Roman Reigns. Beating Brock Lesnar in pretty dominating fashion at WrestleMania 36 was a pretty goo endorsement of Drew. They could further cement it with Daniel Bryan losing a hard-fought match clean.
I know we’ve talked before about “why have a guy win the Rumble if he’s not gonna win at Mania?” Yes, yes we have, and also shut up. Because this is different. There’s a point to this story where everybody comes out a winner. Either Drew makes legit his legacy as a new top guy by being the good sport he is in defeating the universally-loved Bryan. Or Daniel Bryan puts the cherry atop his career with another Cinderella WrestleMania moment.
But none of it can happen if WWE doesn’t realize that Daniel Bryan should win the Royal Rumble.
It Works For Both Brands – SmackDown
Oh man, think of the story potential in Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns. When I say Daniel Bryan should win the Royal Rumble, I’m saying I want this feud. Bryan vs. McIntyre would be great, don’t get me wrong. But Bryan vs. Reigns is where it’s at. There are so many ways this feud would be perfect.
We’ve got Roman Reigns now at the height of his “Tribal Chief” or “Head of the Table” gimmick. He’s completely turned against the roster and the fans, and here comes Daniel Bryan. The guy everybody wanted in 2015, and the guy at the heart of why WWE fans ultimately rejected him. And on the other side of the ring, there’s Daniel Bryan. A man who, when he looks at Roman, sees all the ways he’s been held back. All the missed opportunities, all in favor of the next big thing. This is where the feud gets fun. Because Daniel can play a seething, resentful character, and we would absolutely love him for it.
I’m not saying we turn Daniel Bryan heel. Far from it. His awareness of how awful Reigns has become – from a character standpoint – fully encompasses everything the fans have felt about Roman Reigns for years. It keeps things fresh and avoids a repeat of the “B-Plus player” angle they took with Bryan vs. Triple H in 2014. After all, we don’t need to revisit that well. Bryan and Kofi Kingston already redid it in almost-perfect fashion heading into WrestleMania 35 a couple years ago. And if the story potential isn’t enough to sway you to thinking Daniel Bryan should win the Royal Rumble? Think of the match.
Daniel Bryan is the best David-and-Goliath wrestler in the business. Sorry, Darby Allin. But he is. Nobody in all of pro wrestling sells better than Daniel Bryan, and an angry Roman Reigns looking to destroy DB and – again, by proxy – the fans has potential to make this match the best David-and-Goliath match of all time. Just look at how Daniel Bryan got thrown around the ring by Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series 2018. And for a brief instant, he still made us believe he could win! Actually, you don’t even have to look that deep.
These two already battled at Fastlane 2015, a month before WrestleMania 31. With Reigns’s shot at Brock Lesnar on the line. The match was designed to be Daniel Bryan endorsing Reigns in hopes that the fans would follow. We didn’t. No, we absolutely did not. But the match was awesome, and WWE could easily recapture this fire. The potential for Bryan vs. Reigns is all the reason you need for why Daniel Bryan should win the Royal Rumble.
But What If He Doesn’t?
But let’s bring this a little closer to earth. We’re talking about WWE, after all. The patron saints of looking gift horses in the mouth. I always thought it was St. Anthony, but no, it’s St. Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Even though Daniel Bryan should win the Royal Rumble, we all know it’s not a sure thing. Or even particularly likely.
It’s time for a Vince Russo SWERVE, BRO. We’re going to steer away, ever so slightly, from a conversation about why Daniel Bryan should win the Royal Rumble. And we’re gonna head toward how we get Daniel Bryan into the main event of WrestleMania. We’ve already covered how Bryan could be a perfect challenger for either the Universal Championship or the WWE Championship. But how can we get there if he doesn’t win the Royal Rumble? Enter the Miz. The guy who proved twice this year that the Money In The Bank briefcase can just get tossed around.
And we toss that briefcase to Daniel Bryan. Now we’re straying into straight fantasy booking territory. I feel pretty good about how I armchair booked the Fiend a few months back. Let’s say the Miz eliminates Daniel Bryan by some nefarious means or other in the Royal Rumble. I dunno, Miz is desperate to have both the briefcase and the Rumble win, ensuring himself of two chances to take a top title. Obviously, this makes Daniel Bryan more than a little upset. And it sets up a match at the February PPV between Miz and Bryan for the MITB briefcase.
This way, we can get to either of the dream title match scenarios we mentioned earlier, and we can wrap up Miz vs. Daniel Bryan. A feud that Miz sparked four-and-a-half years ago by throwing it in DB’s face that he couldn’t wrestle anymore. Miz talked up his “play it safe” style as the reason he’s still wrestling and Bryan wasn’t. Well, Bryan is wrestling now. And for some reason, WWE never tied that thread up into a nice bow. Now we can wrap up that story and pave the way to a new one that ends with Daniel Bryan in the main event of WrestleMania.
Of course, we don’t need to go that route. Because Daniel Bryan should win the Royal Rumble. The point is, WWE has lots of options. Good options, with the potential to tell great stories. Whether they take advantage of them is a tale that only time will tell.
Spoiler, they probably won’t. But man. Oh, man, imagine if they did.
All images courtesy of WWE.