WWE: Turning Daniel Bryan face was a smart move for SmackDown

WWE SmackDown, Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns Photo: WWE.com
WWE SmackDown, Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns Photo: WWE.com /

Daniel Bryan’s potential face turn is arguably helping to save SmackDown’s main event scene, making it one of the better booking decisions from WWE lately.

Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns have formed quite the partnership on WWE Friday Night SmackDown.

Despite a recent history of heelish tactics, it seems like the company is all in on Bryan’s character change. After saving Roman Reigns from some beatdowns, Bryan’s cut fiery promos, hyped up the crowd, and even played the face in peril role during his tag matches.

All of it’s very reminiscent of the 2014 version of Daniel Bryan that became one of the most popular performers in recent WWE history. It’s not surprising in the least then to see Bryan excelling on SmackDown right now, but it is surprising that WWE has embraced this character change so strongly.

WWE invested quite a bit in building up Daniel Bryan as a heel. From the hemp championship belt to the loads of promo time set aside for Bryan to run down the audience’s wastefulness, WWE rightfully gave Bryan everything he needed to succeed as a villain.

Then, with a simple heel turn from Erick Rowan, it seems like all that’s starting to be forgotten.

Honestly, that’s great. Daniel Bryan genuinely appeared like a sympathetic character when expressing how betrayed he felt by Rowan. The turn, while somewhat abrupt, makes sense for the time-being.

It’s not like Bryan isn’t an exceptional heel either, more like WWE just doesn’t need a heel like him on SmackDown right now.

Brock Lesnar capturing the WWE Championship was arguably a blow for the weekly product. He’s just not present enough to warrant holding a title, despite how entertaining he can be. His frequent absences mean that the show is without its lead championship in a critical time for the brand.

To me, that sounds less than ideal at best. Friday Night SmackDown should have a full roster on hand each week for the foreseeable future as they continue to establish their presence on Fox.

What does that have to do with Daniel Bryan though, you might ask?

Well, this potential face run of Bryan’s is already operating like a fairly respectable placeholder for the main event slot so far. While WWE seemingly starts a slow burn to Kofi Kingston getting a rematch against Lesnar, the team of Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns can hold down the main event with big matches against the top heels on the brand.

Daniel Bryan versus Shinsuke Nakamura, in any format, is always going to be a must-see match and feud. It’s arguably the two best wrestlers in WWE squaring off against each other, simple as that.

It’s also a rivalry that wouldn’t have been possible if WWE hadn’t leaned into a face turn for Bryan.

Similarly, Bryan’s turn seems to have given WWE an easy way to set up Baron Corbin versus Roman Reigns. Although the storyline with The Rock would have still been there without Bryan, everything else has been heavily aided by the presence of the former WWE Champion.

Bryan running interference on Corbin, Nakamura, and Sami Zayn’s beatdown on SmackDown kept everyone looking strong, and conveniently set up an easy main event for later in the night.

That means WWE has more time to go back to the well for one-on-one matches between Corbin and Reigns, while also having a fairly good start to some Survivor Series teams if they choose to go that route next month.

All of that is facilitated by Daniel Bryan starting to become a face, at least for the moment. Let’s not forget that while embracing this character change, WWE hasn’t done anything to rule out a potential end to Bryan and Reigns’ partnership at any point.

Their handshake on SmackDown, while respectful, helped illustrate the still tenuous partnership between the two.

Basically, that makes this one of the smartest moves WWE has made recently. On a Brock Lesnar led brand, WWE has found a way to make his lack of appearances a bit easier to bear by working in a logical character change for an ever-popular superstar with tons of fan support.

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