Daniel Bryan is the reason why I stayed watching wrestling.
Finding something you like can be tricky but staying with it can be even harder. Wrestling is no different as everything is built around personalities, from the people in the ring to the commentators and everyone else in between. If you don’t like them then you’re in trouble.
This is why one of my favourite periods of wrestling is the Commissioner Foley era; the whole tone of it, from Foley to Kurt Angle’s chicken suit to Christian’s dream of double gold, it just synced up with me perfectly. The whole thing culminated in WrestleMania X-7, still my favourite WrestleMania of all time.
The transition that followed to the Brand Separation and the Ruthless Aggression era didn’t click as much with me, which is part of the reason why I stopped watching.
Daniel Bryan has that same kind of Commissioner Foley flavour to him. It wasn’t clear at first; after the ridiculous match with Sheamus at WrestleMania XXVIII he moved into a great feud with then Champion CM Punk which also had a love triangle with AJ, which moved along to the 1000th Raw and their marriage which she pulled out of. Queue an angry Daniel Bryan being made to go into an anger management class, along with another WWE superstar who also had anger issues.
Words cannot express how funny I found this. This whole series of sketches of the two of them at therapy class is one of the high points of comedy, full stop. Seeing Kane, in full wrestling apparel, throwing his mood board into the bin and then making it explode into flame nearly ended in a me having a heart attack.
This was pure gold, and Bryan’s deadpan response to the whole thing just made it even better. Obviously, this would end up with the two of them in a tag team and even better with them winning the belts.
Queue the immortal phrase “I am the tag team champions.”
A sentence like that doesn’t come around too often. Its up there with a “Nice beaver” or a “Back off man, I’m a scientist”. And even better my son loved it; the joy and shouting back and forth with my son “No, I am the tag team champions” is hard to put into words. You could sense that he was building to something big at WrestleMania XXIX when, at the end of his match, the whole stadium started chanting Yes along with him.
The whole thing after that, from his match with Cena for the belt to the whole thing afterwards with The Authority as it built to his championship win at WrestleMania XXX was a great if bumpy road. The injury and everything that followed was desperately frustrating; he had made it to the top of the world but his body didn’t survive the journey. There is a gap where Bryan should be for that everyman character, Dean Ambrose has filled that gap to an extent but you always get the feeling that he’d be best as a heel.
But it was that initial run of Bryan’s after WrestleMania XXVIII that made me think, you know what? Wrestling is still amazing.