Bryan can also be booked as being a dangerous submission star, similar to Bret Hart. Hart was not the biggest guy, but fans knew that he could theoretically still be the best wrestler in the company because he was booked as "The Excellence of Execution." Bryan really became a big star on the independent scene by using that same method, and if he were to be pushed more often as "Mr. Tap or Snap" then he could easily be looked at as a credible champion.
Another thing holding Bryan back is his current tag team situation with Kane. This is not a knock on Kane or team Hell-No, their segments together are usually one of the best parts of Raw, but it is time for Bryan to move on to bigger and better things. Hell-No is one of the biggest things the WWE has going for them, and it makes sense for them to be hesitant to break them up, but Bryan is probably worth a lot more to them as a main event singles start then he is as part of a tag team, it is just the way the world works.
When you really get down to it, it's obvious why Bryan really has not gotten the call yet, and this is because the WWE still can't see past his size. They would rather dump Sheamus, a much larger but much less charismatic and talented into the main event then they would Bryan. I think the WWE has made great strides in recent years of shedding their "Muscleheads come first" image, but the decision to push Sheamus and to degrade Bryan was a classic example of Vince having his head up his ass.
If you made a head to head assessment of Bryan and Sheamus, it is obvious who the better performer is. Bryan gets the edge in in-ring ability, charisma, age, merchandise sales, fan reactions and a host of other areas. Sheamus has the edge in one category and one category only: size. The good news is that the WWE's decision quickly and evidently backfired on them, as Sheamus's popularity took a big hit and Bryan's prominence with the fans rose even higher after their disaster of a match at Wrestlemania 28.
Will Bryan ever reach his full potential as a WWE superstar? My theory is that yes, he would have to eventually. It isn't like the WWE is unaware of Bryan's popularity, he gets plenty of TV times and is almost always in a fairly significant feud. The real issue is that the WWE seems way to cautious of giving him the ball and letting him run with it. He has gotten it a few times, mainly when he was the WHC, but it ended up with them taking the ball away from him and handing it to Sheamus, who fumbled it all over the place for almost a year. Ultimately, the WWE will probably realize that they can't keep just plugging the holes in their roster left by the full-time departures of many of their biggest stars, and Bryan will finally get his shot at the big time. Let's all hope he makes the most of it.
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