Daniel Bryan Wins WWE Championship on SmackDown

Bryan turned heel on AJ Styles, kicking him with a low blow to win the championship ...

Daniel Bryan is the WWE Champion.

Daniel Bryan is the WWE Champion?

Daniel Bryan is the WWE Champion!

But wait … don’t get too excited. At least not yet. Bryan captured the WWE Championship on a momentous edition of SmackDown Live, just five days before the Survivor Series this Sunday on WWE Network. But Bryan captured the title, beating AJ Styles, with a low-blow kick. The announcers played up that Bryan looked “demonic” as he admired the title he won.

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Daniel Bryan is a heel!

I’m sure people will react negatively to Bryan’s heel turn. There’s no denying that WWE dropped the ball with Bryan’s return. He was quickly relegated to midcard matches and feuds and felt like an afterthought rather than a centerpiece on SmackDown.

In fact, that’s why Bryan’s heel turn is positive.

Bryan was stale. Through no fault of his own, Bryan was not only in the second tier of babyfaces on SmackDown Live, but he was also a complete afterthought. Most recently, he feuded with Miz over the summer — this was well done — and then had a mixed tag-team feud alongside his wife, Brie Bella, against Miz and Maryese.

So now Bryan will face Brock Lesnar in a champion vs. champion match at Survivor Series on Sunday. WWE has also cracked open the door for AJ Styles to interfere in the match, which would give them a way to protect both Lesnar and Bryan in a match where one of the champions needs to lose.

But aside from all that, this is a chance for Bryan to inject some new life into his character. It will be interesting to see WWE’s approach. Do they walk the line carefully, and keep Bryan close enough to babyface that they can switch him back should this not work? Or, do they go all-out nuclear with Bryan?

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They might have to turn the heat up high from the very beginning. If not, the fans who are used to cheering for Bryan might not stop.

If nothing else … WWE’s fall lineup just got a lot more interesting.