As he’s done repeatedly over the course of his World Heavyweight Championship reign, Daniel Bryan once again found a way to walk out of a WWE arena with his title in hand Sunday night at WWE Elimination Chamber. In a sadistic stipulation where the odds of winning are 6-to-1 for each of the competitors involved and only get worse if competitors enter the Elimination Chamber sooner, the submission specialist overcame The Great Khali, Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett, Big Show and Santino Marella to retain his title and send him on a collision course with Royal Rumble winner Sheamus at WrestleMania XXVIII.
After the brutal Elimination Chamber Match ended, Sheamus — who is guaranteed the title opportunity of his choosing at The Show of Shows thanks to his Royal Rumble Match victory — arrived and delivered an emphatic message to Daniel Bryan. With a punishing maneuver that slammed the champion to the mat, Sheamus ended all speculation as to what title he has in his sights come WrestleMania.
And following the events of Feb. 17’s explosive SmackDown where the World Heavyweight Champion spit directly in The Great White’s face, a Sheamus-Bryan title match on The Grandest Stage of Them All possesses special intrigue.
But this rivalry has deeply seeded roots, as just one year ago The Celtic Warrior defeated Bryan to win the United States Championship. That bout proved crucial in Sheamus’ career, as not only did he claim the U.S. Title for the first time, but the win snapped a losing streak that dated back to King of the Ring months earlier. Further, before entering the match, Sheamus vowed that if he didn’t defeat the submission specialist, he would quit WWE.
That didn’t happen, and these days the two-time WWE Champion seems almost invincible and is focused once again on Daniel Bryan and a prize that has eluded him thus far in his career — the World Heavyweight Championship.
The events of the Feb. 17 episode of SmackDown played a crucial part in setting all this into motion. That night, Bryan’s forfeit “victory” over Randy Orton — who was unable to compete due to a concussion — led to a surprise announcement.
After Bryan demanded ring announcer Lilian Garcia to proclaim him the winner of the non-match against WWE’s Apex Predator, SmackDown General Manager Teddy Long entered the arena. To the great delight of the WWE Universe, Long scheduled Bryan to compete that night against none other than The Great White Sheamus.
A despondent Bryan did his best to avoid the Celtic Warrior, but when Bryan tried to escape the ring, satisfied with a count-out victory, Sheamus was there to thwart the champion’s oft-played tactic. Back inside the ring, however, Bryan dug deep into his bag of tricks, playing mind games on his opponent and exploiting The Great White’s white-hot temper. When literally backed into the corner, Bryan slapped Sheamus, clearly riling his opponent.
What happened next proved to be one of Bryan’s vilest moves to date. While seated on the top rope, Bryan spit in the face of The Great White, inciting Sheamus’ fury and leading to The Celtic Warrior’s disqualification. Officially, Bryan was able to add yet another victory to an already impressive list.
While a number of those victories have been controversial, Bryan’s record since cashing in Money in the Bank cannot be argued. He continually finds ways to win, successfully defending his title against all challengers over the course of his championship reign. But will Sheamus, one of the hottest Superstars on the roster and already possessing a big victory against Bryan, finally end that reign?
Last year, the scheduled U.S. Title rematch between Sheamus and Bryan was bumped from the WrestleMania pay-per-view and was witnessed only by the WWE Universe in attendance and those who purchased the home video. This year, the two will share the main event spotlight with the World Heavyweight Championship on the line. Find out who walks out of Miami as the champion April 1 at WrestleMania XXVIII, only on pay-per-view!