The Wrestler of the Week award is designed to highlight a wrestler who made the most of his or her opportunities in a given week. While great matches or memorable promos certainly help a wrestler win Wrestler of the Week, the ultimate decision will also include consistency through the week and bonus points for pulling off a task with a higher degree of difficulty.
1/16/14 Wrestler of the Week – Daniel Bryan
The darling of 2013 in WWE got off to a good start in 2014 with one of the biggest pops he has ever received, but his climactic week was not without competition. Kofi Kingston showed off his resilient side with a very good win against Randy Orton on Raw and put together another strong effort on NXT to earn another pin against Curtis Axel. Despite Kingston’s resurgence, Bryan reached a much higher zenith when he got to the top of the cage to end Raw and led an otherwise lackluster crowd in one of the loudest “Yes” chants to date.
Although Bryan was not a key player on Smackdown, his presence there helped to make a fairly bland show seem somewhat more important. He and Bray Wyatt were absent from ringside when Luke Harper and Erick Rowan took on the Usos. The match did not last long before it turned into a brawl on the outside and both teams were counted out. As the Usos tried to leave, Bryan and Wyatt appeared on the ramp and chased them back to the ring where they were ambushed by the full group. Bryan posed menacingly with Wyatt in the ring and later collaborated with him on a backstage promo that was creepy and made Bryan seem like every bit the lunatic that Wyatt has shown himself to be in his time on the microphone.
Bryan’s bigger accomplishment came on Raw when he cut his partnership with the Wyatts surprisingly short. He teamed with Wyatt to open the show in another match against the Usos. Bryan wrestled a slower, more deliberate style to sell his heelish attitude and more unhinged persona. The Usos took control of the match and Harper and Rowan interfered on behalf of their Family members for a DQ. Bryan initially showed some anger but quickly submitted to his leader and allowed Wyatt to deliver Sister Abigail’s Kiss to him without resistance.
Due to the clumsy finish to the match, Brad Maddox created a rematch between the same teams for the Raw main event in a cage. Kane one-upped Maddox and suggested that he would lock the cage door shut and keep the key to prevent interference from the rest of the Wyatt Family. The match was very unique because four-man cage matches are something almost never seen in WWE, although the rules were rather confusing. The Usos put themselves in a position to escape the cage, and when Bryan and Wyatt tried to pull them back in, Bryan fell on Wyatt to knock them both back into the ring and allow the Usos to get to the floor and win the match. It briefly looked like Bryan would allow Wyatt to punish him for the loss again until he pulled away from Sister Abigail’s Kiss. Wyatt charged and Bryan, Bryan ducked, and he assaulted Wyatt with a flurry of kicks while Harper and Rowan looked on helplessly from outside the cage. Bryan removed his blue jumpsuit to show his normal ring attire while the fans went bananas for the return of the real Daniel Bryan. He finished Wyatt off with a running knee and climbed to the top of the cage to lead one of the best “Yes” chants so far.
Bryan’s membership in the Wyatt family seemed like it would be a longer program than only two weeks. Even so, it worked brilliantly to push Bryan even higher than he was over his wonderful run in the summer of 2013. It is more important to be entertaining than to service fan expectations. Given the tremendous entertainment value and payoff to Bryan’s attack on Wyatt, I would say that the angle played out brilliantly and Bryan executed his role to perfection.