For those that believe there were plans for a major angle featuring Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania XXX prior to Sunday night's Royal Rumble pay-per-view, you need to know what the plan was. The plan headed into the pay-per-view was for Bryan to work Sheamus in a redemption storyline. We first reported the news here and elaborated here but the gist was Shawn Michaels was not in the plans to work a match and they needed an opponent for Sheamus, so Daniel Bryan was the guy. The idea was Bryan would "seek redemption" over the worker that's beat him at Wrestlemania twice in the past three years. One of those defeats for the World Heavyweight Championship in 18-seconds.
While a program with an upper-midcard/main event level talent like Sheamus isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's not a match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship or challenging for "the streak" either. As of press time, those have been reserved for the Royal Rumblewinner Batista and part-time star Brock Lesnar respectively.
Royal Rumble is the launch pad for Wrestlemania, the self-proclaimed beginning of the Road to Wrestlemania. The workers that go over at the Rumble are the workers that go on to main event opportunities (and paydays) at Wrestlemania. Bray Wyatt? They want him in a program with John Cena, so he goes over. Orton, over. Batista, over. Daniel Bryan, well...
One source told me the plan was to open with Bray vs. Bryan and by the time Batista entered the Rumble match at 28, the "Yes!" chants would have died down considerably. They didn't want to book Bryan in the Rumble match because the thinking was there would be too much heat when he was eliminated. The plan was for Batista to return and go over for a main event opportunity at Wrestlemania. Yes, they still wanted to build Roman Reigns but the ultimate point was to set Batista up for a main event at the show in April.
Not only did the fans not forget but the crowd made WWE pay for it. Daniel Bryan chants hijacked the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match and turned Batista, who was supposed to be a babyface, into an all out heel. It got so bad he was flipping fans off after the match, mocking the Daniel Bryan chants. WWE was in damage control mode. They blew the pay-per-view by thinking they could serve fans a strong dose of what used to work and it backfired.
The fact that Bryan immediately mentioned the crowd reactions on Twitter, which is completely unlike anything Bryan would actually do, gives me hope a worked shoot angle is coming. Vince McMahon is a master promoter and will probably look to spin this hard. However, to assert this was the plan all along and the audience is getting worked to a new degree isn't just unfounded, it's flat out wrong.
I stated on Friday to not go into the pay-per-view expecting the miraculous Daniel Bryan swerve and that Batista was the clear favorite to win the Rumble match but that didn't stop what happened on Sunday night. Royal Rumble is meant to create excitement and momentum for Wrestlemania but instead of talking about Wrestlemania, everyone is talking about a major blown opportunity.
Have you ever heard the biblical adage that you reap what you sow? WWE has spent years pushing and pulling Daniel Bryan right back - times when it looked like the rocket push was coming, ended up in another unprotected job. What happened on Sunday was no different, except this time the fans didn't forget. Another "big four" pay-per-view job with Batista coming wasn't enough. The fans wanted Daniel Bryan and rest assure, WWE knows it. Will they alter from the planned Bryan/Sheamus match at Wrestlemania? We should find out soon enough.