Daniel Bryan Wanted A Brand Split, And To Defend The IC Title Against Up-And-Comers Like Cesaro

John Cena defending the U.S. title most Mondays (until he got his face pulverized) against a variety of rising talent has been exciting, refreshing, and very much against Cena’s usual M.O. Despite his browbeating of Kevin Owens, Cena’s been a prizefighter for most of his career, so what prompted this change? Well, it seems the blueprint for Cena’s U.S. title run was mostly lifted from Daniel Bryan’s plans for the Intercontinental title.

Yes, even though Bryan didn’t look terribly happy leading up to WrestleMania, setting his sights on the IC title was actually his idea. In an interview on The Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast, Bryan said his plan was to reestablish the WWE bland split, by only defending the belt on Smackdown. Bryan felt the brand split was important to his success in WWE, and it could be used to get other new faces over, as well.

“One of the things I wanted to do when I came back from injury, was do something with the Intercontinental Championship. My big pitch for this was I want to be the Intercontinental Champion and I only want to be on Smackdown. I don’t want to be on RAW. I would never have gotten this opportunity if there wasn’t split brands, if there wasn’t two titles. If there was just the one main title, WWE would never, ever given me the opportunity.”

And who did Bryan want to defend the title against? Oh, names like Cesaro and Cody Rhodes. Y’know, the guys Cena has defended against.

“WWE are not going to put Cesaro in a WWE World Heavyweight Championship program with Seth Rollins. They would do that with Cesaro and me and the Intercontinental Championship and it might not be the main-event of pay-per-views, but if it carries Smackdown, if that’s the main story on Smackdown, it can show everybody […] people are capable of some of this kind of stuff. People like Cesaro, people like Cody Rhodes, people like Ryback. Give them these opportunities to carry a show like they carry a program and it would just be good for everybody, and, not only that, good for morale. I want everyone to be happy at work. I want us all to enjoy it and be like, ‘Hey, if I work hard and if I’m good and if I get good crowd reactions, I am going to get further.’ “

In the latest Wrestling Observer, Dave Meltzer confirms that Bryan’s original plans for the Intercontinental Championship were basically passed to John Cena, once Bryan went down with an injury. Of course, the Cena version of the storyline received a few tweaks – Cena defends the title on Raw instead of Smackdown, and of course Cena beats all his challengers clean in the middle in the end.

Anyways, it’s nice to know Bryan is, in an indirect way, still partially responsible for the most entertaining thing happening on WWE television, despite being on the shelf. Hey, WWE, while Bryan’s got some free time, maybe see if the guy has a few more bright ideas.

(Via Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast and Wrestling Observer)