Is This The End Of Bryan Danielson?
Growing up in the Attitude Era is no easy task for a wrestling fan. A lot of people bitch about the product since then and complain and wish for the “good old days” of pro wrestling. It was easier wasn’t it? Wrestling was something you did with family and friends. No one told you “wrestling is fake” because no one cared. Wrestling was Rock catchphrases, sex jokes and beer drinking accompanied by middle fingers. Wrestling was a great place to be, but then something happened to this industry. WWE went public and a lot of people stopped watching. My friends stopped watching. My family stopped watching. Before long, I was the only one I knew who cared about it. Before long, those same t-shirts I had worn a year prior were the ridicule of my bullying, or I would be told to turn it inside out by teachers because it was inappropriate. The world demanded that I change and wrestling became something I did alone. By the time I was a full teenager, WWE was getting stale for me. Perhaps, I was finally growing out of “wrestling” and it was time to do other things, but then something happened to that kid. He found Indy wrestling and suddenly the wrestling world wasn’t stale anymore. It was fresh and there were so many wrestlers to learn from. I started developing a much deeper understanding of wrestling. Wrestling became something I was happy to do alone. Wrestling cemented itself in my life because I saw something no one else did. I was special in my own way. Instead, I grew up with wrestling and there was been one guy that was always there from the very beginning.
Bryan Danielson is one of my favorite wrestlers ever. He is one of the best technical wrestlers of all time. There is no denying either fact. As a short, goofy, weird kid with a deep love of pro wrestling, there was no one better. Amdrag was my guy. While WWE was pushing Randy Orton, John Cena and Batista, I was really watching Bryan Danielson win the ROH World Championship. I remember watching Chris Hero, Samoa Joe and Nigel McGuinness facing off with Amdrag. Danielson vs. McGuinness in England is still one of my favorite matches ever. That kid who watched sports entertainment with Cena got exposed to far deeper levels of storytelling with matches like that. I appreciated guys like Austin Aries, or CM Punk more than anything WWE had because it was gritty. It was more real and it was pure wrestling. It wasn’t fake. I still remember wanting Amdrag to take down Takeshi Morishima more than anything. Danielson was pivotal for me. He made me believe that I could. He was so different. I never imagined he’d do what he did in WWE.
We all know this part of the story. “Daniel Bryan” came in, choked Justin Roberts with his tie and got fired. What’s funny is I heard about him handing out ties at shows after that. That was hilarious. Daniel Bryan comes back at Summerslam 2010 and turns the tide on the Nexus. He wins the US Title against Miz. He becomes Mr. Money in the Bank and eventually wins the World Heavyweight Champion. That kid back in the mid 2000’s would have never imagined that Punk and Amdrag would be the WWE World Champions. That was unheard of. That was historic.
Fast forward to Wrestlemania 28 when he loses that title in 18 seconds. Anyone else would have lost all momentum, but an amazing thing happened. The fans got pissed. “Yes” is created. Before you know it, AJ Lee is a major star, Bryan is a mega heel and he’s feuding with Punk over the WWE Championship. The next few years move pretty fast. The counter culture of “No” is created which elevated Bryan to a much higher level and eventually, he is the hottest wrestler in the industry. He forms Team Friendship (Hell No) with Kane and brings the Tag Titles back to prestige. A few months later, Daniel Bryan is beating John Cena at Summerslam for the WWE Championship in the main event. Orton takes it away a few minutes later. What follows is a eight month story arc where the fans refused to give up on him. At the point of death, hell or high water, Daniel Bryan was getting to the top of the mountain. The fans would have rioted eventually if necessary, but there was no way Daniel Bryan wasn’t winning the Championship at Wrestlemania 30. Daniel Bryan got his moment. He climbed the mountain from the very bottom to the very very top. I felt like I was there the whole way. It felt like my moment too. This is what makes last night suck as hard as anything has ever has in wrestling for me.
Make no mistake, Bryan Danielson has had an epic career. Don’t let what happened last night change that, but I think this is it, don’t you? The sad part of the story is Amdrag does all that above and then his body can’t take anymore. Danielson’s neck gives out, but then he comes back a year later, does a few cool things, including winning the IC Title at Mania 31. Was that a step down? Yes, of course, but it was still a great moment. It seems Daniel Bryan is here to stay, but his neck gives out again and last night, he relinquishes the IC Title. It felt like good-bye. I truly believe that Bryan Danielson won’t wrestle again. If this is it, there are a few things I want to put down in writing:
I owe Bryan Danielson a lot. At a time when I could have given up wrestling, he was one of the guys that changed my mind. To me, Daniel Bryan is a guy, a true professional wrestler who refused to be anything less than the absolute best. It very well may have took every bit of potential and talent he had to get to the top of the mountain, but he did it. If he is truly done, take pride in the fact that he made it. In a weird way, it didn’t need to last. It is a great crime that there are a million things I’d still like to see Bryan Danielson do in this industry, but as far as careers go. How can anyone complain? I know I can’t because he was a guy who taught me what wrestling is really about. It is about passion, determination, stubbornness, perseverance and just good goddamn ability and understanding of what this crazy thing pro wrestling should be. Bryan Danielson may be remembered for throwing his arms in the air and chanting “Yes”, but not to me. For me, he is going to be remembered as the one guy in twenty five years of watching who taught me pride. If last night was truly it, I just want to say thank you to this incredible performer. Bryan Danielson was born to wrestle and in turn, we were born to watch him. I’m very proud of that.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.