Daniel Bryan won the WWE Championship after hitting a “low blow” and a running knee on AJ Styles before Survivor Series, and he wants you to know that he isn’t here for the fans; he’s here for the planet.
Watching Daniel Bryan cut impassioned, delusional promos on the WWE Universe has been a joy to watch over the past month, and the dichotomy of a heel champion preaching the importance of taking care of the planet hasn’t been lost on many wrestling fans.
Bryan sees himself as a real-life comic book character, given that he attributed his new attitude to his time spent healing his injured brain inside a hyperbaric chamber. He is more driven than ever in his second stint with WWE, willing to go at any lengths to retain the WWE Championship.
But more importantly, the WrestleMania 30 hero is willing to go at any lengths to protect the environment and take everyone in the audience to task for their own “needless consumption”, whether it be automobile exhaust or red meat.
In the above video clip posted by WWE’s social media team on Twitter, Daniel Bryan bellowed at the fans in Baltimore at a SmackDown Live Event, asserting that he is the “Planet’s Champion” and not, like he was previously, semi-channeling The Rock as the “People’s Champion”.
Though the technical wizard is still highly respected by the WWE Universe and is as dangerous as ever as SmackDown Live’s Men’s Champion, he certainly isn’t beloved. Bryan has turned his back on the fanbase…but not because they stopped supporting him. No, he’s eschewed them for turning their backs on what matters most to him: Mother Earth.
Although Bryan seems like the kind of guy who wouldn’t want merch as a heel, much like Tommaso Ciampa (though even he finally added merch), we’ve seen heels have a couple of pieces of merchandise here and there. So I’d like to see Bryan get a “Planet’s Champion” shirt, partially because of the message it sends.
While vilifying others and shaming working-class people, instead of focusing on large corporations or partaking in environmental activism that is socially aware, is negative, spreading a message of loving the planet in an effort to stop Global Warming is a virtuous message indeed. It’s why some fans have wondered if Bryan is actually a heel, or if he’s just preying on our unwillingness to take accountability for our own, selfish actions.
A shirt like the “Planet’s Champion” would be an interesting paradox befitting of a wrestling genius as complex as Bryan, who would be a heel with a shirt that spreads an important message. A vegan who has always preached the importance of taking care of the Earth, Bryan would be engaging in a form of activism as a heel.
This, however, isn’t unique. Edge cut similar promos running down the harmful aspects of a hometown, just as Bryan spoke about Fresno’s huge carbon emissions. But perhaps the most interesting recent occurrence of heel activism is Nia Jax’s, as she would preach body positivity as a heel, with a theme song proclaiming that she’s “not like most girls” and merchandise that dubbed her a “Force of Greatness”. She inspired others as a heel by loving herself and her strength, putting her size to good use by dominating others in the women’s division before turning babyface and capturing the title.
WWE could have something intriguing here with Bryan’s “Planet’s Champion” schtick, even if that moniker stated in a promo doesn’t stick. Bryan has already come up with some more clever catchphrases, such as the simple-but-elegant “Fickle!”, but one centering around his stance on protecting the environment is intriguing enough to merchandise and push the envelope in a positive way that would get people buzzing.