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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: Appreciate Daniel Bryan's Summerslam Match
By The Doc
Jul 16, 2013 - 9:59:08 PM

The Snowman is a genius

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I have a patient whose husband will come in with her once in a blue moon. He was/is a big fan of Bret "The Hitman" Hart. Knowing that I am, too, he told me the other day that he thought of me when he was in his "man cave" rummaging through some old stuff and found an old action figure of Bret from the early nineties.

I asked him, "Do you still watch wrestling?"

He said, "No. I can't get into it anymore. I think wrestling is something that men like to watch when they first have their 'man cave' - that space in their own house that is completely theirs and they're looking for reasons to spend time in it. I saw Bret starting to wrestle the big time matches and I got hooked, but I can't watch anymore."

For him, Bret Hart was sole the reason that he watched wrestling. He sat in his space at home and tuned into the WWE so that he could see the Hitman fight to get to the top and stay at the top. He developed a connection to Bret, watched the WWE TV shows, and bought their PPVs for five years because of that connection. After "The Screwjob," he never watched again.

I found that conversation interesting. It was WWE vs. WCW that brought me back to wrestling after letting it go for awhile during high school. For me, it was The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan - a match between generational icons - that stamped my current level of fandom less than a year later. Yet, for this guy, it was a simple, personal, emotional investment in a character that made him a fan and - once that bond was severed - he was done with sports entertainment. I had a similar attachment to Bret, later with Shawn Michaels, and most recently with Edge. When you have that kind of fan relationship with a wrestler, their victories become your victories. Vicariously, you live your wildest wrestling dreams through them. Seeing them excel carries extra weight than it does to see others achieve their heights.

The conversation made me think of the attachment that many fans have to Daniel Bryan. While I cannot claim Bryan as a personal favorite whose career I have followed for years, the fact of the matter is that I am a fan of pro wrestling first and a fan of my favorites second at this stage of my life, but I remember what it was like to see Bret conquer the mountain, the boyhood dream come true for Shawn Michaels, and Edge cashing in the very first Money in the Bank contract. Bryan is about to face John Cena in the biggest match of his life at Summerslam and the reason is that emotional attachment that he has created with people, many of whom are readers of this very column. I am excited for him and I am excited for you guys for the very reasons that I found my conversation with my patient's husband so intriguing. This match is not going to be about a returning star coming back to provide us with a dream match. It is not about two rival promotions merging together to provide a situation never thought possible. Those sorts of emotional feelings transcends time, place, and person. They are completely different than the variety that Bryan vs. Cena will evoke from the fanbase. One could argue that there is no greater moment in wrestling than to see "your guy" win the WWE Championship. Daniel Bryan, to a growing number of fans, is "their guy." This is special.

Daniel Bryan has been chasing a fantasy for most of his life. Yes! He wanted to be WWE Champion and succeed in the biggest wrestling company that the world has to offer. Yes! Summerslam will be either his stepping stone or his launching pad to achieving sustained main-event status. Along the path to August 18th, Bryan has endured many trials and tribulations associated with a small, plain looking Washington native trying to make it big in a business that does not often see men like him as marketable enough to make it big. Yet, he had endured. He has made people care and picked up a lot of followers for his cause and, somehow, has managed to become the most popular superstar in the WWE right now. Yes! Summerslam's WWE Championship match will be nothing more than the fans having spoken what they want to see from the WWE and the WWE having little choice but to oblige. I think that it is absolutely outstanding for the entire business.

I have seen the various comparisons for Bryan. I have seen that maybe this situation is like that of persona non grata, Chris Benoit. NO! Benoit was a great wrestler, but his connection to the audience was born of respect to his wrestling ability. His push to the main-event was because of the respect he gained of his peers. Bryan is as good a technical wrestler as there has been in years, but wrestling alone is not what got him to the precipice of the WWE title at the expense of the Golden Boy. I have seen the comparison made to CM Punk from two years ago. NO! Punk came out of nowhere when he went from being on the door of wrestling irrelevancy to the clear cut #2 in the WWE behind only Cena. His "Pipe Bomb" was a right place, right time occurrence. Bryan's rise is not of the sort that stems from one incredible promo that lights the world on fire and forces the WWE to wake up and smell the roses. NO! D-Bry is the rare star that rises to the top because the people have told the WWE that he's what they want. Eddie Guerrero is an apt comparison. Steve Austin fits that profile. Bret Hart is of whom Bryan most reminds me.

Back in 1992, Bret Hart was very popular. In matches in the previous year with Mr. Perfect and Roddy Piper, the Hitman had shown in how capable of hands the main-event would be if Vince McMahon ever chose to give him an opportunity. At Summerslam, in front of 80 thousand screaming English fans, Vince sat with the best seat in the house and watched as Bret carried the way to one of the greatest matches in history. Even in loss, Bret was well on his way to being the WWE Champion and a talent who would venture in and out of the main-event consistently over the next five years.

I think Bryan can be the Bret Hart of this generation, using Summerslam 2013 in the same manner that Hart used Summerslam 1992: as the make-or-break moment in his career that gave the WWE no other choice but to acknowledge his skills and his connection to the audience. Win or lose at Summerslam against unquestionably the one main roster member who holds the credibility to ensure his long-term, headlining future, if Bryan produces the caliber of match that one would expect from a Bryan vs. Cena showdown, then the WWE Championship will be his. It may or may not be at Summerslam, but if Bryan produces to his potential, then it will no longer be a question of "if" but "when" will he win the WWE Championship.

I urge you to enjoy this ride, Daniel Bryan fans. Success at the top can be fleeting. I would love to this be the grand ascension of Bryan to a level close to CM Punk where we know that a major PPV match is likely to based on his character. Yet, if for whatever reason, that turns out not to be the case, I hope you can pause the cynicism, remove the critical glasses, and appreciate that "your guy" is about to wrestle "The Man" at Summerslam for the WWE Championship.



Check out tomorrow's radio show at 6PM. Topics include Summerslam, Money in the Bank, and Placing a "Ceiling" on current WWE up-and-comers Titus O'Neill, Kofi Kingston, AJ Lee, The Shield, and Brodus Clay.

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