The return of Daniel Bryan as an active competitor was officially announced last week on Smackdown. As I covered last week, Bryan was forced to retire due to concussions in February 2016. The last match he wrestled in a WWE ring was in April 2015, so it’s been nearly three years since he’s been in the ring as a wrestler. Last week, Bryan was given the clearance from WWE’s doctors after he underwent treatments to help his symptoms from concussions and WWE doctors gave him the green light to compete again.
Last week on Smackdown, Bryan delivered a heartfelt speech about how much he loves wrestling at the start of the show. In the main event, however, Bryan was viciously attacked by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. The reason Kevin and Sami attacked Bryan was due to their attack on Smackdown commissioner Shane McMahon the previous week. Their actions caused Bryan (the Smackdown general manager) to punish Sami and Kevin even though they are his friends.
This week on Smackdown, Bryan let us know what he will be doing at WrestleMania. Bryan said he’s going to team up with Shane McMahon, who legitimately spent a few days in the hospital this week due to diverticulitis (covered on WWE.com here), in a tag team match against Owens and Zayn, who are currently “fired” in the storyline. Bryan said that if Owens and Zayn win then they will get their jobs back, but if they lose they will remain fired.
Daniel Bryan wants payback??
WE GLADLY ACCEPT.
He just made the biggest mistake of his life.
If he thought what we did to him last week was bad, just wait & see what we will do to him after publicly firing us.#Wrestlemania will be the worst night of Shane & Daniel’s lives.
— Sami Zayn (@SamiZayn) March 28, 2018
Since we all know Kevin and Sami aren’t really fired, it would make sense for them to win. However, Bryan really shouldn’t lose his first match back after three years. I guess they could do it where Shane takes the pin for his team (since the McMahons always put people over at WrestleMania) and that way it protects Bryan. They could have Bryan get the upper hand after the match is over.
Another option is for Shane to turn heel, which leads to Bryan being fired as GM since he’s an active wrestler now, so Bryan has to deal with an evil McMahon, which is a storyline WWE loves to do. I could sit here for hours coming up with possible options. It can go a lot of ways.
One of the WrestleMania matches was changed on Smackdown this week because Rusev pinned Randy Orton in a tag match, so the US Title went from a 3-Way with Randy Orton defending the US Title against Bobby Roode and Jinder Mahal to a Fatal 4-Way with Rusev added to the match. I’m fine with that because Rusev is ready for a face turn and winning the US Title would help him.
Here’s a listing of the 13 official matches with the 14th and final match mentioned at the end. They’re kind of a big deal.
Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns
WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon vs. Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey
Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon vs. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens (If Zayn/Owens lose they remain fired, but if they win they get their jobs back.)
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Asuka
Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (c) vs. Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins
United States Championship: Randy Orton (c) vs. Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Rusev
Raw Tag Team Championships: Sheamus & Cesaro (c) vs. Braun Strowman and ???
Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Nia Jax
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos (c) vs. The Bludgeon Brothers vs. The New Day
Andre the Giant Men’s Battle Royal
WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal
Cruiserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali (Title is currently vacant)
The only thing missing from the lineup is John Cena vs. The Undertaker, which isn’t official yet, but it’s going to happen.
The #Undertaker only has one week left…
— WWE (@WWE) March 27, 2018
The build for Cena vs. The Undertaker has been weak. The story is that Cena has called out The Undertaker for the last three weeks; he’s even called him a coward for not responding and we don’t know for sure if The Undertaker will respond on next week’s Raw, which is the last one before WrestleMania.
It could be something where WWE waits until WrestleMania to have Undertaker officially answer the challenge. To me, that’s the wrong way to do it because they could have spent the last month having Cena and Undertaker talking about their legacies to try to get people fired up about the match. Instead, Cena has come off as a whiny, desperate man begging for this match while Undertaker comes across as a guy who doesn’t care anymore.
I understand that WWE is trying to slowly build to it to make people want to see the match, but I don’t think they have made the storyline as interesting as it could be. That doesn’t mean the fans will be dead for it at WrestleMania. I just think WWE’s creative has dropped the ball a bit with how they are presenting the match.
Speaking of The Undertaker, I’ll have a big column about him later in the week. If you’re a fan of his as well as his history at WrestleMania, you’re going to love it.