Daniel Bryan has been away from the main event picture for nearly a year now, and it’s time for that to change.
Bryan and his tag team partner, Kane, are currently involved in one of the WWE’s biggest rivalries against The Shield, and it’s arguably the most entertaining angle currently on either Raw or SmackDown. But with a dying tag team division and a likely tag title switch coming soon, there’s no better time than now to catapult Bryan back into the World title picture.
Of course, Bryan deserves to be working at the top of the card now and for the long haul. He’s easily one of the—if not the—best in-ring performers in the WWE, and over the last year-plus, he’s really developed into one of the most entertaining all-around performers in the company, too.
But just about everyone can see that Bryan is a fantastic performer. What many continue to overlook, however, is one of the WWE’s biggest problems: Its clear lack of babyfaces.
The WWE almost always tends to be heel-heavy, but that’s more noticeable now than it has been at any point in recent memory.
John Cena is firmly entrenched as the WWE’s top babyface. After that, however, there’s a pretty substantial dropoff to the next tier of babyfaces, which features the likes of Sheamus, Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio—none of whom really measure up to Cena in terms of star power, merchandise sales or how they’re pushed.
After those four, it’s Kane and Bryan who tend to be pushed as two of the biggest babyfaces in the company. Unfortunately, though, they’ve both been stuck in a tag team division that only features a few teams that really get any type of a push. As a result, they’ve sort of been stuck in a spot on the card that certainly isn’t bad, but really isn’t good, either.
Because there’s really no one—other than perhaps The Shield and Team Rhodes Scholars (which seems to come and go)—for Team Hell No to feud with, Bryan has been forced into a spot where he’s kind of, sort of getting a push. Yet, at the same time, it feels like he’s being wasted as a tag team performer in a tag team division that barely exists.
That needs to change because the WWE undoubtedly needs more top babyfaces.
Since CM Punk turned heel last year, the company really hasn’t been able to successfully fill the void left by the departure of its No. 2 babyface. Now, Ryback—one of the fastest rising babyfaces we’ve seen in quite some time—is in the process of turning full-fledged heel.
That leaves the WWE in quite the pickle here.
The company has put the spotlight on so many part-time babyfaces recently (The Undertaker, The Rock, Triple H and Chris Jericho) that it now is stuck in a situation where it doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of main event caliber faces that it should.
The only faces who are currently positioned where they could be main event singles stars are Cena, Orton, Sheamus and Del Rio. Kane and Bryan could be, too, but not as long as they find themselves as part of the tag team division.
With the WWE clearly in desperate need of more than a few top faces, something has to be done about it. More heels may have to—like Del Rio and The Miz have done—turn face, and upper midcard babyfaces may have to get the rockets strapped to their backs and receive a stronger push that could elevate them up the card.
Those are all easier said than done. But elevating Bryan would just be easy.
A year after Bryan first skyrocketed to superstardom, he’s still one of the most popular babyfaces in the WWE, with crowd reactions that might be the second or third best in all of the WWE, behind only Cena and perhaps Orton. Combine that with his skills as a charismatic performer and a great in-ring wrestler, and Bryan screams “MAIN EVENTER.”
I totally understand that the WWE doesn’t want to risk breaking up Team Hell No, which has a great run that’s lasted for the better part of a year. But it can’t let fear stand in the way of reestablishing Bryan as a main eventer, which is exactly what he should be.
The tag team division doesn’t appear to be going anywhere—at least anywhere good—these days, so taking Bryan out of the equation isn’t going to do much damage. On the flip side, it’s going to reap major benefits for the WWE’s main event scene.
Bryan will give the WWE another time babyface that it so desperately needs, and we’ll get to watch arguably the best all-around performer in pro wrestling where he belongs: In the main event.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!