The Wrestling Genius: The Unlikely Rise of Daniel Bryan

In the history of the WWE you could see the mega stars before they became mega stars. You could tell The Rock was going to be great even when he was a goofy looking rookie. You knew there was something special about The Undertaker the second he debuted as the Deadman. You saw John Cena and said “well this guy is going to get pushed”. Even CM Punk always felt like he was going to be big, maybe not as big as he’s become but I always felt this guy has “it”.

Which brings me to WWE’s most unlikely mega star, Daniel Bryan. Bryan who is as gifted as anyone in the art of pro wrestling today was never suppose to be a star let alone a mega star. Bryan Danielson was suppose to remain an indy darling that never “made it”. He was suppose to be destined to play bingo halls, VFWs, and overseas. He was suppose to hear “you still got it” ten years from now when he’s a washed up indy star wrestling his fifth “retirement” match in St.Louis against some other washed up Indy star. He was never suppose to get signed by the WWE, and if he did he’d never  be brought up to the main roster.

Then one day he was signed by the WWE and “repackaged” as Daniel Bryan. He was the underdog on NXT with all the internet buzz but none of the support from creative on up. Then unexpectedly he was thrust into the spotlight with Nexus…for all of five minutes. The WWE fired him for doing something every wrestler that has ever wrestled as a heel has done, he choked someone. Well post-Benoit WWE can’t allow that, it was either that or once again creative just wanted a reason to get rid of a guy they didn’t like. Just like that our unlikely star was gone and we would never see him on TV again.

Only that wasn’t the case. That should have been it for Daniel Bryan, he should have spent 30 days at home and then back to the Indy scene as Bryan Danielson. Then something unexpected happened again, the WWE fans screamed to get him back. The WWE usually deaf to these kind of things could only stay deaf for so long. The chants rather than steadily dying out steadily grew louder and louder. Finally the WWE did the right thing…ok…ok…the right thing for business not the morally right thing but who cares. We internet fans got what we wanted. That was it though, he was going to be buried and eventually let go like so many other promising young talent.

Again, this story didn’t go like so many others. Somehow Daniel Bryan was given a shot after he won a Money In The Bank briefcase. Once again we all felt that this was a cruel joke by the WWE. We just knew this was them being Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown moment. Bryan would be the first to cash in and lose and the WWE powers that be would laugh at us and Bryan would once again be relegated to the sideline. So, imagine my surprise when he won the World Heavyweight Title. Not only did he win it, but he kept defending it. Sure, he was a heel but we didn’t care. This was our guy, the guy we internet fans had believed in for so long becoming a star. Then we had the carpet pulled out from underneath us in a matter of seconds. Sheamus took just seconds to shatter the idea that Bryan was becoming a star. It really was like Lucy pulling the football away.

That was it though, once again we all assumed Bryan was about to be buried. He would never become a star. Then the YES! chants changed everything. Something as simple as a single word changed the destiny of the WWE. Bryan finally had a t-shirt he could sell. The cynical fans out there scoff at the idea that to be a star you have to sell merchandise. Well sorry guys but that is how this business works in 2013. If you don’t have a marketable shirt you don’t have a chance at staying near the top. Bryan sold shirts and stayed relatively noticeable but not at the top level.

Eventually he teamed with Kane and the two of them made an unusual yet very successful tag team. It was clear that he and Kane had a great chemistry but it was also clear that Bryan wasn’t the boring guy he had first appeared to be when he entered WWE. He could actually be funny and intense sometimes all at once. Bryan turned his teaming with Kane into an opportunity to grow his brand. Now, one could argue there isn’t a wrestler on the roster that gets a bigger pop than Bryan does. The second he comes out he is bombarded with YES! chants. His facial hair has even become a “thing” getting it’s own t-shirt. Somehow this guy who was “too small, too boring, and too different” has become one of WWE’s biggest most bankable stars. Daniel Bryan is what happens when a great talent works hard and gets just enough breaks in this business. I’d like to believe that the WWE sees Bryan’s success and gives similar guys a chance, but from everything we’ve seen from them in the past chances are he’s an anomaly and we’ll continue to get more Cenas and Rybacks. So enjoy Bryan while we have him and really revel in the fact that he is where he is because he isn’t suppose to be there. One of the truly best stories I’ve ever seen in wrestling. /end mark mode

My Money in the Bank predictions:

The Shield over The Usos
Ryback over Jericho :(
AJ over Kaityln
Curtis Axel over The Miz
Alberto Del Rio over Ziggler
Raw MITB winner is: Daniel Bryan (come on like I’d pick anyone else after what I just wrote)
SD MITB winner is: Wade Barrett but I’m not confident in the pick
John Cena over Mark Henry with D-Bry cashing in and becoming new WWE champion

That’s all for me this week, thanks for reading. You can send me love, hate, or just shoot the breeze by email or by twitter @JaredGebhardt.

  • Ish

    Where the hell is something about his program with CM Punk and Kane??

    • Jared

      Both good points but I gotta cut something from the article or I’d never get it finished.

  • Rick Yuhnke

    I watched Bryan in ROH and knew he had it. He got a wrestling crowd of wrestling fans to cheer “The Final Countdown” like they were at a concert. I knew he had it.

    • Jared

      Yeah but did you honestly believe the WWE would let him have it. Its one thing to have “it” and another to get the opportunity, especially if you look like D-Bry does. Couldn’t be happier that he has become a huge star.