How WWE created its own monster in Daniel Bryan
Fairytales aren’t a part of real life, or at least that’s what we’re told. We’ve all heard about inspiring stories; stories about people living in trailer parks working their way to success, about artists performing on the roads before selling out the biggest arenas in the world. Fairytales do exist, and when people get to witness the rise of such a phenomenon – someone who not only devoted his/her life for their passion, but worked their way to the top, toiling for over a decade and half just to live their dream which may never happen, it immediately becomes a legend. People love a ‘feel good’ story, and although it doesn’t happen often, it can truly become a story for the ages.
Last year, we saw something magical happen in the WWE. A decade ago, there was a certain independent wrestler, working his way through the ranks, performing in backyard promotions and dreaming about making it big. Through the years, he earned a reputation of being one of the best technical wrestlers on the planet, and traveled around the world to hone his craft and skill. Although we had hundreds of wrestlers trying to get their big break in the independent circuit, this certain grappler was toiling to put amazing matches night after night. To the independent fans, he was the indy – darling. He was the American Dragon, Bryan Danielson.
After doing everything imaginable on the independent scene, he finally signed with the WWE in 2009. In the initial couple of years, he was stuck in the mid card, and when he won the World Heavyweight title couple of years ago, the fans thought Bryan had reached his potential. Even his most ardent fan wouldn’t have thought that the WWE would ever push Bryan like they had done with the Cenas and Ortons. And they were right – Bryan was never the WWE – type superstar. If anything, Bryan was someone who is catered to the hardcore wrestling fans. But last year was when the entire wrestling world witnessed how the WWE had created its biggest monster – a nightmare that still continues to haunt them, and its name is Daniel Bryan.
Batista was brought back last year with the vision of him facing his former partner, Randy Orton. But the fans had already chosen their main eventer for WrestleMania, and it wasn’t either Batista or Orton. With the fans started the “Yes Revolution”, for the first time in ages, Vince McMahon and the WWE were forced to change the WrestleMania main event. Instead, we got to witness the epilogue of Bryan’s fairytale journey to the top. Daniel Bryan was finally the undisputed face of the company.
They say that most of the smart businessmen do not make the same mistake twice. However in Vince McMahon’s case, that didn’t hold true. At this year’s Royal Rumble PPV, Daniel Bryan was once again the fans’ unanimous choice to win and once again headline WrestleMania, but with Bryan getting eliminated early in the match, the crowd turned on every other participant, including the eventual winner, Roman Reigns. It is now being reported that Vince McMahon and the WWE management are once again discussing about the possibility of doing a triple threat match with Bryan, Reigns and Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania this year.
Although WWE always talks about the fans having the real power, it wasn’t until Daniel Bryan’s situation that it ever materialized. When the fans demanded for Zack Ryder to get more air time, WWE used the opportunity to put over the feud between Kane and John Cena, ultimately leading to John Cena’s victory over The Rock at WrestleMania couple of years ago. Although WWE tried everything within its power to alter the course, Daniel Bryan has proved to be the proverbial thorn in their side which won’t leave, and until Bryan has the support of the fans around the world, he will be the undisputed face of the company, at least in the eyes of the fans.
WWE had the chance to give the fans what they wanted, so that they would savor the moment and then move on with the other characters. But it was WWE’s refusal to acknowledge the fans that resulted in them creating their biggest monster – something they will have to live with even this year. Is Daniel Bryan on his way to becoming the greatest superstar of this generation? Most of the fans would say yes, and very few can argue about that.