Has Daniel Bryan surpassed Miz's dark side?

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February 02, 2012

The WWE Universe has grown accustomed to larger-than-life Superstars with larger-than-life egos. Although some of those Superstars proved to be all bark and no bite, The Miz represents a perfect combination of arrogance and ability. On the opposite end of that spectrum is — or, perhaps more accurately, was — Daniel Bryan, a competitor who won over many fans after years of modestly paying his dues.

When Bryan claimed the World Heavyweight Championship at WWE TLC in 2011, the WWE Universe celebrated right along with the humble-but-confident Superstar. However, many of those cheers slowly converted to jeers as Bryan began partaking in excessive victory celebrations. Since his tenure in WWE was ushered in by none other than The Awesome One himself back in WWE NXT season one, his recent actions have WWE.com asking the following question: Has Daniel Bryan given in to the "Dark Side," and possibly even eclipsed the staggering ego of his former mentor, The Miz?

Bryan made his WWE debut on the inaugural season of WWE NXT in Feb. 2010, where he was paired off with Miz as his NXT Pro. That relationship didn’t exactly get off on the right foot, and the instant confrontation between the diametrically opposed competitors that night foreshadowed a turbulent future ahead.

In his introduction of the “Internet darling,” Miz said, “Compared to me, Bryan’s personality is as dry as the Mojave Desert.” He then sent the NXT Rookie out to the ring to show some flair. Halfway through Bryan’s introduction, however, The Awesome One stole the spotlight, making good on his promise to “slap some personality into [Bryan].”

“You may be a submission machine,” Miz chided, “but where’s your personality? Where’s your charisma? How are you going to become a star in the WWE?” Though Miz made a correlation between charisma and success, it was evident that, in Miz’s book, “charisma” was synonymous with “arrogance," something he asserted his protégé lacked.

Back then, Miz and Bryan could not have been more different. Bryan was the hard-working, head down, blue-collar guy, while Miz … well, Miz liked to talk. His WWE Title run may have proved he can back that talk up with in-ring ability, it’s impossible to refute The Awesome One’s inflated ego.

Months after Bryan was eliminated from NXT, he returned to demonstrate the stark contrast between The Awesome One’s outright egotism and his own quiet confidence. “Clearly,” the reserved Superstar told Miz, “I haven’t accomplished as much as you. Clearly, I’m not the WWE Superstar that you are. But I want you to know that I can beat you.”

Miz accepted Bryan’s challenge, and the "teacher" battled the "student" at Night of Champions with the United States Championship on the line. Ultimately, Bryan overcame his outspoken foe in an incredible bout, claiming his first title in WWE. The excitement on Bryan’s face was clear, yet his modest celebration after the match perfectly encapsulated the humble approach that had gotten him there.

Flash-forward to the 25th Anniversary of Royal Rumble. After successfully defending his World Heavyweight Championship against Big Show and Mark Henry, Bryan embarked on a lengthy, loud celebration to the adulation of no one besides himself, in a display that put some of even Miz’s most obnoxious moments to shame. Bryan taunted Big Show with the World Heavyweight Title in hand and paraded around the arena screaming, “World Heavyweight Champion!” (FULL STORY | PHOTOS).

Later that night, the larger-than-life submission specialist boldly proclaimed, “I am no longer an underdog.” (WATCH EXCLUSIVE) Evidently so. Though he may no longer be the same Daniel Bryan who debuted on WWE NXT two years ago. Perhaps he took more away from his time under Miz’s “tutelage” than anyone could have expected.

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