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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: April 7, 2013 - The Story that Daniel Bryan and Beth Phoenix Called "My Worst Nightmare"
By The Doc
Dec 19, 2012 - 8:40:13 PM

April 7, 2013

Daniel Bryan’s life changed at last year’s Summerslam. He couldn’t even remember the specific date anymore; it had been suppressed into his subconscious. Being a lifelong wrestling fan before becoming a pro, he had once dated his significant moments to coincide with major wrestling events. He first made out with a girl, for instance, just a few days after Wrestlemania X. The trend continued - Summerslam 2012 will always be for him the night that the world that as he’d previously knew it ended. Beth Phoenix, with whom he had been in an intense romantic relationship for several weeks and with whom he had broken up after getting the sense that she was emotionally unstable and potentially capable of entangling him in a web of anger, dishonesty, and distrust, announced to him and the universe that she was pregnant.

“Worst nightmare.”

That was Daniel’s response during a candid interview in which Jim Ross asked the former World Champion about his situation with Beth Phoenix. The 19-minute sit down in late February covered the saga from Daniel’s perspective, dating back to his romance with the former Women’s Champion that turned ugly, he said, when he learned that the basis of their relationship had been deception and manipulation. The ultimate act of betrayal had been her secret (and successful) attempt to get pregnant. She had told him of her strict routine for birth control; as it would turn out, she was lying. His natural inclination had always been to give people the benefit of the doubt, so he surmised that her omission of the truth was due to the medication that she took for depression or that maybe it had something to do with her being a former addict and her not wanting to take drugs of any kind. When she would not admit to lying, though, Daniel knew that it didn’t matter what reason she had to do what she did – he simply couldn’t live with it.

When he failed to respond with the joy and excitement that Beth had desired and instead took the unpopular road by distancing himself from her despite knowledge of the baby, she reacted dramatically and often violently. Daniel’s reasoning was simple. He could not justify staying a part of her life. The mere sight of Beth or the sound of her voice would make his heart beat so hard in his chest that he had to lean into the wall to avoid hyperventilating. It killed him with unspeakable, deep rooted heartache that he could not see the baby in a manner even remotely positive…because of her. “You don’t save yourself from drowning by swimming deeper into the ocean,” he said about his decision to steer clear of Beth despite what it meant for the baby. Respecting her right to choose, he had vehemently suggested that she give the baby up for adoption and, though his idea had fallen on deaf ears, he had hoped that she would come to that conclusion on her own.

There was a movie that he had once watched with his dad called An Officer and a Gentlemen, starring Richard Gere. The film was, in part, about naval aviation prospects being targeted by the local young women as future husbands. One such buxom broad had desperately tried to “trap” an officer candidate by faking a pregnancy. She was looked at as a horrible human being. Even though Daniel’s story was real, the same calculating brand of female was playing the role of the antagonist in his life. Richard Gere’s character had told his friend, who was the one being trapped, that he had a responsibility to himself first. That didn’t seem to be a popular way of looking at things, but it sure did resonate with Daniel as he was answering JR’s questions.

A similar dialogue was established between Beth and J.R., giving her a chance to tell her side of the story. Asked to sum up the situation with Daniel, she chose nearly his exact words:

“My worst nightmare.”

To Beth, the pregnancy was a life line; a reason to move forward in a new direction. She wouldn’t admit to it, but prior to the baby, her life had, in fact, little to no direction at all. She was spinning her wheels and caught in a continuous cycle of mistakes. She had gotten through life on a hard head and a knack for getting what she wanted if she acted a certain way, but she was suffering from a serious case of identity crisis. She really didn’t have much of a sense of who she was and what she wanted. So, the baby was a good thing for her, as it gave her a sense of purpose and of self. She would be a “mother,” whether she was ready to be or not. Unfortunately for her, Daniel made it impossible to fully embrace by choosing not to be a part of the pregnancy.

She showed J.R. emails sent to her by Daniel. They had to be heavily edited to be shown on television. Cruel would be the best word to describe them. She could not fathom how the news that had changed her life forever for the better would invoke such horrible feelings out of her former beau. Ross quoted Daniel’s response to being asked about the emails, stating that “what I wrote came from a place of hurt, confusion, and dread – I was so hurt that she would lie, confused that what was happening was actually happening, and dreading a future that involved her and I tied together forever.” Beth began to squirm in her seat, her face turning a brighter shade of red and the steam almost noticeably rising off her head. When asked about the intentional “entrapment,” she flew off the hinges and unleashed a verbal tirade that forced the USA Network to cut the live feed. Such public outbursts were commonplace.

Dean Ambrose, Beth’s half brother, had voluntarily gotten involved. His rocky, up-and-down relationship with his sister was what Daniel later described as “complicated,” but he felt about the pregnancy the same way that she did – that it was an opportunity to change things. He liked the idea of being an “uncle,” using the baby as an excuse to get his own screwed up life together. So, he stepped in, played the big brother, and attempted to make Daniel “see the error of his ways.” It had the opposite of the desired effect, driving Daniel further away and making him even more assured of his decision. Ambrose had made him physically and emotionally pay for the choice, several times leaving him bruised and scarred.

It never once prompted Daniel to change his mind.

The way that Daniel saw it, any attempt that he could make toward asserting himself into that family would be entering the lion’s den wearing a meat necklace. No amount of threatening phone calls, attempts to scare him by nearly running him over with his car, or banging on his hotel room door could, at that point, change how he felt about the situation. He was intimidated by Ambrose, who he’d known to have a history of drug abuse and unpredictable behavior, but he was not about to let that influence how he felt about an impossible position.

The story should have ended there.

It never had a future beyond the decisions made by two people heading in different directions in their lives. Daniel would do his part, as he was legally responsible to do; Beth would do what she had to do. Daniel would have to live with the grief that came from knowing he had a child in the world that would grow up likely hating him, in part, naturally and, in part, because of the hateful rhetoric that his mother and her family would spew. He hoped that she would get her life together for the baby’s sake and that, perhaps, it would be a rallying cry for her whole family. At the same time, he would have to move on. His mother had given him a piece of advice a few months ago. Despondent in her own right, having watched the dreams that she had for her son dashed by a vociferous vixen, she had gathered herself long enough to call Daniel one night in support of his decision; she told him that he could not let “this whole thing” define his life. There was a song that she had sung to him when he was a kid called “Harden My Heart.” So, she told him to do just that, to swallow the tears, to live with the choice he had made, to learn from what happened, and to work toward becoming the best person that he could be.

Beth would have to live with her choices, too. She could not hide from the truth that she had blatantly bent forever. She would have to change. Though it would be better to become fit to be a mother before making the decision to bear and raise a child, she would have to bear a child and become fit to be a mother as she was raising one.

The story should have ended there…but it didn’t.

For reasons that have not been released due to patient privacy and out of respect for the parties involved, the baby was no longer a part of the equation.

For all intents and purposes, it should have been over between them. They would never have to speak again. Once the hurt subsided, they both could start the process of moving on to the next chapter of their lives. But she kept challenging him. She, no less, challenged him to the first intergender match in Wrestlemania history – no disqualifications.

Understand that Daniel became a very angry person over these last several months. That is the only reason why he agreed to the Wrestlemania match. He should have just walked away. But then, he saw Ambrose standing there with his icy stare; he looked at Beth and he thought of the night that they had dinner together a few weeks after she dropped the news on him about the pregnancy last fall and how she had made a public scene by shouting at him “I’m having your baby, Daniel!” He thought of the nights that he had hoped to end their relationship, but hadn’t, putting him in the position for that one fateful night where her conniving plan worked. He thought about Ambrose leaving the message on his answering machine, calling him a “heartless coward.” Daniel was incensed with unimaginable rage, suppressed beneath the surface of sorrow. He instantly morphed into a terrible sense of self judgment, compounded by his utter hatred for Beth, and his guttural loathing of Ambrose. In a moment of insularity, he accepted her challenge.

While she and her brother could not wait to get their hands on him, he was dreading the match. Being honest, he wished that there was an easy way out, but he understood that there wasn’t. His family and friends grew tired of him talking about it all the time, for although they were supportive, they also knew that he had to come to the realization that there was nothing he could do about it.

So, he went into reclusion. For the weeks leading up to New York/New Jersey, he chose solitude over training. It was a time of intense doubt. What could he gain from this match? What could he lose? What was the point? Was there a point?

And then it hit him…

At Wrestlemania, he wielded a pair of brass knuckles in his tights and quickly disposed of Ambrose. He thwarted Beth’s attacks long enough to take care of the brother that had driven his life, already in purgatory, straight to the depths of hell. The story wasn’t about him and never had anything to do with him. It felt good to push him aside where he belonged. This tale of treachery and detestation was about Daniel and Beth.

He stood there inches from her, this very moment having come to him in a dream. She waited for him to make his move, but he tossed the knuckles aside and put his guard down. She tried to punch him, but he caught her hand and locked her arm in an uncomfortable position. He wanted her to know that he could fight back. At that moment, he thought about his weeks in isolation. During that time, he had questioned a lot of things about himself and his faith; he wondered why he was put in this predicament; he tried to figure a lot of things out. What he was seeking was a definiteness of purpose born out of prayer and reflection. The decisions that he’d made had changed him from the person that he knew himself to be before. It was very important that, if nothing else, he reestablish his sense of self.

What he actually gained was clarity.

You see, all of the talking heads in the media, their friends, their families, and even Daniel and Beth, themselves, had assumed that, if they were compared to magnets, she was the north pole and he was the south; that they were polar opposites.

But they weren’t.

In fact, they were actually quite similar; they were both of the same polar charge. Maybe it was the likeness that had been what drew them together in the beginning. Yet, as you learn when you try to put two magnets together, north to north or south to south, they just don’t go together. They can’t go together. There was nothing that they could do about that.

Their situation was tragic to both of them. Tragic meaning catastrophic, cataclysmic, life shattering. For Daniel, what was tragic was the conception from deception. For Beth, what was tragic was the abandonment that followed it. There was no getting around that. She would always think what she thought; no matter what. So would he. He could fight it – he could fight her – but they would always end up right where they’d started.

She was more determined to fight and he knew that. So, when she grabbed the steel chair and advanced his way, he didn’t budge. She caught him with five chair shots that put him down on the mat with no intention of getting back up.

And then she tried to win; she went for the cover.

When Daniel kicked out, she seemed stunned.

In the back of his mind, he was thinking about putting her in the No Lock and ending it, seemingly achieving a very satisfying victory.

He thought of a comment that his former partner, Jack Swagger, had made about her. He had said that she must think that “she won the lottery.” Daniel didn’t feel that way; at least not anymore. He had concluded that what Beth had done in this whole thing was achieve a chance to be happy, no matter what means it took for her to attain it. Daniel, in refusing to accept his place in her life, was just doing the same thing in return – he was creating a chance for his own happiness, knowing that her being in his life wouldn’t allow for it.

As he reached his feet, he and Beth just looked at each other. She had a look of blind anger; he wore the look of apathy.

And then, like magnets discovering the inevitable, they started backing away. Daniel went through the crowd in one direction; wondering if Beth would follow his lead. She went in the other, dragging a still dazed Ambrose with her.

There was no winner in this situation.

There could never be a winner.

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