The sudden shoulder injury of John Cena has caused WWE to rethink everything from Monday Night Raw to Royal Rumble to WrestleMania 32. It was rumored that Daniel Bryan had been cleared to wrestle by his doctors, but WWE simply isn't ready to put him back in action. Given his torrid history with the January PPV could the leader of the Yes! Movement make his return at the Royal Rumble?
For the last two years, WWE fans were upset with the use of Bryan at the Royal Rumble event. In 2014, at the peak of his popularity, the only spot Bryan had on the show was a losing effort in a non-title singles match to Bray Wyatt on the undercard. The WWE Universe was so upset that he wasn't a part of the match that they booed fan-favorite Rey Mysterio when he entered at #30, thus confirming that Bryan had been snubbed.
In 2015 he was put in the match, but his contribution was insignificant and the WWE Universe in attendance were very vocal about their disapproval. Could 2016 be the year that WWE does right by Bryan at the Royal Rumble? He is the next subject in a series of Royal Rumble Résumé articles in which we take a look at some of the biggest names in WWE, how they have fared at the Rumble in the past, and make predictions for how they will do this year. Prior subjects include John Cena, The Rock, Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker, Randy Orton, Triple H and The Big Show.
For each WWE superstar, we will take a look at both their experience in the Rumble Match and in other matches at the Rumble PPV.
Daniel Bryan's 'other' matches at Royal Rumble
Bryan has competed in three non-Rumble matches at the January PPV. In 2012 he successfully defended the World Heavyweight Championship against The Big Show and Mark Henry in a steel cage. In 2013, as one half of Team Hell No alongside Kane, he successfully defended the WWE Tag Team Championship against Team Rhodes Scholars. Then, in 2014, he put over Bray Wyatt in a singles match with no titles or stipulations.
A 2-1 record in which the two wins are title defenses isn't a bad omen for someone making a return at the Rumble, but Bryan certainly wouldn't be wasted on the undercard in 2016.
Royal Rumble Match entry number
Bryan has been in three Rumbles, but it's never gone very well for him. He drew #2 in 2010, #21 in 2014 and #10 in 2015.
His average entry number would be #11. However, if WWE is still concerned about Bryan's health – and if they make him a surprise entrant – don't expect Bryan to come out until very late.
Length of stay and elimination order
Although Bryan certainly has the build and stamina to put on a 60-minute performance in a 30-man battle royal, WWE has never given him that opportunity. His longest time in the Rumble Match was 20:55 in 2010. On average, he lasts just over 13 minutes.
Given such a short time in the ring it should come as no surprise that he's never even come close to being there at the end. Even when entering as late as #21 he was the 16th overall elimination. He averages #12, which was his elimination order in 2015.
With such limited success in the Rumble Match he hasn't been able to make a lot of major eliminations. He averages 1.5 eliminations per Rumble, with Kane being the only major player he's tossed. The others include such lower-card talent as Zack Ryder, The Great Khali (with a little help from Kane), Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel).
He was eliminated in 2011 by CM Punk and by Bray Wyatt in 2015, both of which had stand-out performances in their respective Rumbles. It took a combination of Cesaro and Kane to eliminate the Goatface in 2014.
Taking a look at this Rumble history, if Bryan participates this year, it will likely be in the Rumble Match as a late entrant. WWE will probably give the WWE Universe what they want and leave him in until the final four. I don't see him winning this year, but he could be a major contributor.
Royal Rumble 2016 will air live on the WWE Network on January 24.