Despite winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXX, it’s clear that the WWE has no interest in treating Daniel Bryan like the top star in the company.
This was never more evident after Monday Night Raw. Despite being the most over wrestler on the show, Bryan’s title match against Kane at Extreme Rules is being positioned as the third-most important match on the card.
They did a great angle to open the show, having Kane give Bryan three tombstone piledrivers, one on the floor, one on the steps and a final on the announcer’s table. As good as it was, this was only done as a means to resurrect Kane as a monster heel. The idea of setting up a hot match at WWE’s next “Special Event” was probably far from their minds.
By any measure, Kane vs. Bryan is a weak match. The angle itself had little to do with Bryan and more to do with the Big Red Monster; something needed to be done to give Kane an edge. Otherwise, nobody would believe he’s a threat to Bryan’s championship. In all likelihood, nobody believes this anyway.
The builds toward John Cena and Bray Wyatt in a cage and Evolution vs. the Shield have received far more air time than anything involving Bryan. It’s obvious the company is selling Extreme Rules based on those two contests. The WWE World Heavyweight Championship match is on the card just to be there.
Bryan isn’t quite an afterthought, but he’s treading a dangerous line. Some of this is circumstantial as Bryan missed last week’s show enjoying his honeymoon with Brie Bella. When Bryan returned home, he was notified that his father had passed away. Bryan insisted on working Raw, but it must have been extremely difficult for him. He was put on first so he could leave afterwards and presumably spend time with his family.
It will be interesting to see how long Bryan holds the heavyweight title. There aren’t any strong contenders at the moment, so he’ll probably keep the strap for at least a few months.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how many days he spends as champion or how many successful title defenses he has. If the company doesn’t position Bryan as their top guy, the fans won’t see him that way. It’s a roundabout way of telling the “WWE Universe” hey, we gave you what you wanted at WrestleMania, but don’t expect this guy to last as a main-eventer.
Bryan may have defeated Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton, but those men are the real headliners. Unless Bryan starts selling merchandise through the roof, don’t expect anything to change.
It’s both wrong and unfair, but them’s the breaks. Wrestling is and will always be a tough business.