For those of you keeping up with world events, I decided to ignore the fact our UK Government is on the verge of implosion and distract myself from the comedy of our farcical Prime Minister by enjoying some good old WWE wrasslin’. It reminded me that sometimes, we WWE commentators can be right on the money in what we say. I for one, am rarely correct with any predictions (especially on the TJR Wrestling annual staff predictions), but last week I hit the nail right on the head.
‘Sometimes WWE can be ‘blink and you’ll miss it’, and I suppose that’s the whole reason people watch every Raw, Smackdown Live, PPV, NXT and other programming when they can.’ – The first line of my article last week.
If you’d have blinked this past week you would’ve missed Becky Lynch being busted open by a Nia Jax punch and then taken out of Survivor Series and also the crowning of a new Heavyweight Champion on Smackdown Live – Daniel Bryan. I’ve been writing on this great site for over two years now and I think that’s the first prediction I’ve ever got right. However contrived it may be, I’ll take it.
I’ve gone on a lot about the Women’s Division and my love for it, so won’t labor the point here, save that I’m hoping Becky vs Ronda is THE main event come Wrestlemania. And that Becky Lynch is awesome. Today I wanted to look at the title change on the blue brand, and what it could mean going forward.
It’s a given that many fans believe that AJ Styles was the true face of Smackdown Live this past year and the professionalism and pride he showed on a weekly basis with the title proved how respected he is in the wrestling community. True, the roster is thinner on Tuesday nights, but he’s kept the belt relevant, on screen and more importantly, defended it regularly. I, like many people, thought that Samoa Joe would capture the gold at some point, but I wasn’t upset by keeping Styles top of the tree. Perhaps recently a change was needed, not because Styles had grown stale, but more that the fans wanted things shaken up a little. That happened on Tuesday when a heelish Daniel Bryan seized an opportunity to once again become a top guy with gold around his waist thanks to a low blow and a knee to the face.
Now that Bryan has snatched the belt, where do we go from here? Ignoring the upcoming squash match against Brock Lesnar – because, let’s face it, Brock is going to destroy Bryan -past Survivor Series, what can be done? Well, there’s the obligatory rematch with AJ Styles in which I think Bryan will once again cheat to win to try and build more heel heat going forward. Once that’s over, then WWE will already be gearing up for 2019 and the road to Wrestlemania. I think Styles will be paired in a ‘dream match’ with someone from Raw as a one-off showpiece – Seth Rollins, perhaps? That means Bryan will have fresh challengers on the horizon.
This is where I draw a blank, because if WWE are pushing Daniel Bryan as a heel – a job I believe he can pull off with aplomb – then his options are somewhat limited. Shinsuke Nakamura is United States Champion and still hasn’t hit the heights many dreamed he would. Samoa Joe could be an option, but heel vs heel matches aren’t great draws and for the title at mania? No, I just don’t see Vince and the company pushing that. The same goes for a possible match with the Miz. So who’s left? Randy Orton? Nah. Rey Mysterio? Perhaps, but as popular as Rey is, is he a long-term possibility? How about Batista? Sure, I think many would buy that, especially as their roles would be reversed from their last Wrestlemania encounter over four years ago. Batista is loved by the WWE Universe and Bryan could play off that well. Then again, if Triple H recovers from his serious injury in time, which he probably will, I can’t see him passing up the chance to wrestle his old friend on the grandest stage of them all.
I’ll resist predicting anything that could happen, but if I went with my gut, then I think it’s going to be one of two things going forward: The push of an established star who has yet to hit main event level status and the office want to give them a chance to play the face in a feud (Big E for example). Or there’s a mini-shakeup on the horizon and an underused performer from Raw is brought over to Smackdown to challenge Bryan (Finn Balor etc.). I doubt we’ll see a NXT guy make the giant leap up in such a short space of time, but you never know. Whatever direction WWE go in, one thing is for sure; Daniel Bryan has once again caught fire and again caught our attention. I hope this can be the beginning of something really good for the next few months. WWE has been hitting the right notes of late, intentionally and unintentionally, and I think this could be the start of a good program, regardless of who takes on the champion come April.
I’ll hopefully be back next week if the UK hasn’t gone down the toilet by then and the riots haven’t fully kicked in. Sometimes I wonder what’s crazier; real life or professional wrestling. Until next time, dear readers.