The ongoing rivalry between Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan is seen as one last stepping stone that will catapult Bryan to the WWE’s main-event scene for the long term.
While that may be true, the budding feud between the two isn’t only going to beneficial for Bryan. It’s going to help Bryan and Orton, but in two very different ways.
For Bryan, this developing rivalry with Orton is exactly what most seem to think it is.
Putting Bryan over Orton cleanly on Raw was a telltale sign that Bryan is ready to skyrocket up the card and perhaps win the WWE Championship at some point in the near future.
For more than a year now, Bryan has been arguably the WWE’s top performer, and not coincidentally, its most popular performer as well. Whether he’s been working as a heel or face, he’s consistently stolen the show with his performances on the mic, in the ring and even in backstage skits.
Bryan has shown the ability to be funny, serious, likable, dislikable, intense, angry, hateful, downtrodden and every other emotion in between, and along the way, that’s earned him a loyal fanbase that now goes bonkers no matter what he does.
Still, all of the success that Bryan has had over the course of the last year hasn’t taken him to the promised land. It hasn’t won him a WWE Championship or firmly entrenched him as a main eventer.
Bryan’s current feud with Orton is meant to do both of those things, and unless something unforeseen happens (like an injury or suspension), it probably will.
That, of course, will be great for Bryan. He’s more than earned his spot at the top of the card by being the WWE’s top overall performer since early 2012, and if it’s Orton that takes him there, then so be it.
But don’t let all of the hype surrounding Bryan fool you into thinking that his feud with Orton is meant only to put him over, because it’s going to do wonders for Orton, too.
Since his suspension early last year, Orton has had all kinds of trouble working his way back to a top spot. He’s sort of just floated around the borderline of the upper midcard without much direction or any sign of hope for the future.
That was until he started this feud with Bryan.
For the first time in at least a year, Orton is involved in an intense rivalry that actually looks like it’s going somewhere. Exactly where this is going is still to be determined, but regardless, Orton is getting some much-needed character development at the moment.
Instead of just walking around and aimlessly RKOing anyone insight, he’s now embroiled in a bitter rivalry with Bryan that has all sort of plot elements that are just waiting to explode into something spectacular.
Bryan’s relationship with Kane, Orton’s ongoing beef with both men, Orton’s desire to become champion again, and the respect that Bryan and Orton have shown for each other have all been interwoven into one big storyline that has been gripping to watch.
The expectation is that the rivalry between Orton and Bryan will lead to the long-awaited heel turn for Orton, which would benefit him tremendously.
It’s been three-plus years since we’ve seen a heel Orton, and considering that he was the WWE’s top heel from 2006 to 2009, it’s safe to say that he would instantly give the company the top heel that it could really use at the moment.
But even if this ongoing storyline with Bryan doesn’t lead to an Orton heel turn, it’s been really good for “The Viper” because it’s given him something substantial to do and has breathed new life into his character.
Orton isn’t just going through the motions these days like he tends to do.
He seems genuinely interested in this storyline, and as a result, he’s putting effort into everything that he does—his promos, his backstage segments, his matches, his facial expressions, his emotions, etc.
A motivated and inspired Orton makes the WWE a better place, and thanks to Bryan, that’s exactly what we’re getting right now.
Bryan is being pushed to the top of the card as a resulting of feuding with Orton, while “The Viper” is more interesting now than he has been at any point over the last couple of years.
With any feud, the goal is to have it benefit both guys. Bryan vs. Orton is doing that—regardless of who ends up coming out on top.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!