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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: Daniel Bryan's Renewed Push is Good for Everyone
By The Doc
Jun 4, 2013 - 12:34:02 PM

While I appreciate the entertainment side of Vince McMahon’s reclassified name for professional wrestling, I analyze it more from the sports perspective. When it comes to WWE prospects, I look at them like I do college football recruits: I do not really care what young 5-star freshmen did in high school and I, honestly, do not care what a popular new wrestler did in the independents. Some indy fans or wrestlers might take that the wrong way. I have all the respect in the world for pro-wrestlers and the hard work that they put in to "make it," regardless of their position on the North American hierarchy in the business. There is a difference, though, between having respect for someone and wanting to spend my free time watching or writing about him. Part of that attitude comes from not having enough time, anymore, to invest in high school football or independent wrestling. It also comes from preferring the big leagues to the minor leagues. I am an avid fan of sports talk radio, but I specifically enjoy listening to conversations of NCAA Div. 1 and NFL football and NBA pro basketball. I'm busy. I don't want to take time away from my family for West Texas State or the CFL. Sports are about natural selection in the individual mind; only the most interesting survive.

Daniel Bryan is about as interesting as it gets in the WWE.

He had a lot of indy hype around LOP when he came to the WWE. Whenever anyone told me about him, I would reply that I wanted to reserve any comments until I had seen what he could do on WWE TV. Thus, it might not surprise you that I could not have cared less when he was revealed to be the 7th member of "Team WWE" at Summerslam 2010. There was no mark out moment for me because I had seen nothing, yet, worthy of marking for. However, within three months of that event, I wrote a column admitting that everyone was dead on about Bryan, praising him up and down for his knack for taking very little time in the ring and producing at a very high level. His matches with The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, and Ted Dibiase in the fall were outstanding.

He reminded me of Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, and Chris Benoit. I know it is still taboo to mention persona non grata, but Benoit was the first name that popped into my mind when I watched Daniel Bryan. Benoit, every time he stepped in the ring in WCW, appeared to be working full throttle in order to earn more air time. Considering the heights that he reached in WCW and WWE, it seemed as Bryan was following that pattern.

Great wrestlers rarely make it to the top of the card, though, based solely on what they can do in the ring. So, it impressed me beyond imagination when Bryan unleashed the one thing that none of those indy fans that hyped him up prior to his WWE debut could honestly tell me that he did or did not have...and that was an engaging personality. When he won the World Heavyweight Championship and backed up his world-renowned wrestling ability with a very entertaining character, I was blown away. I clearly was not the only one. You can love, hate, or anything in between my attitude toward wrestling, in general, but via the stance that I take, I have learned to see what the WWE sees in order to shape my expectations. I have learned to think like they think, so as not to get overly excited by the signing of someone like Low Ki (who is awesome, but never had any discernible shot to make it in the WWE).

Daniel Bryan showed the WWE that he could be more than a workhorse. Subsequently, he was rewarded. Having him lose the World title in 18-seconds at Wrestlemania was a funny way of rewarding him, but it unquestionably worked out in his favor. Ever since that night, he has been one of the most popular stars in the WWE, garnering a reaction on par with CM Punk and John Cena. Everyone else is a distant third. He had a stellar year in 2012, competing for the WWE title after losing the World Championship and maintaining a consistent presence on TV as a member of Team Hell No through 2013's Wrestlemania season.

My question over the last year always came back to whether or not he would remain on the back burner. Would they ever reposition him to a spot on the card that fit his consistent reaction or would they keep him as a rare mid-carder that people legitimately seemed to care about? I would venture a guess that Wrestlemania 29 had a lot to do with the recent upswing in Bryan's push on TV, culminating in last night's featured spot that has seemingly the entire industry buzzing. I was there in New York/New Jersey and the only two people that earned a louder crowd response were Undertaker and CM Punk (and it was, again, not even close after those three).

Big picture? I think that the WWE desperately needs to renew Bryan's headlining status. He is very popular with the vocal male audience and internet crowd, the core of which seems to be jaded with the current product in 2013. To move Bryan back to the top would give those fans a renewed reason to tune into Raw.

It goes well beyond the fans, though. The WWE has created a disturbing trend with their hotshot booking that has what I call in regards to team sports, "the negative locker room affect." Sheamus was pushed in 2009 before he ever got over. The WWE apparently looked at a unique, larger athlete with a lot of skills and decided that they could make him a main-eventer and the fans would be made to care in response. They have done that numerous times over the course of the Wrestlemania Era. Fans hate it. Wrestlers do, too, I would imagine.

Using basketball as an example, can you imagine what kind of impact it would have on an NBA locker room if a guy that was missing the fundamental skills to be a contributing member of a team was given a ton of playing time solely based on his potential? Players want to win and a guy like that creates a black hole that sucks in losses. Now, imagine if they did it again with another player lacking fundamentals. If you're a really good player trying to earn more playing time and guys like THAT are getting minutes ahead of you, what would be your motivation to work hard? You would become jaded. You might even want to leave. Already established star players would see it as the team not caring about winning. They, too, would become irritated with the organization and, perhaps, phone it in or even seek employment with another team. There is a place for developing talent, but the general rule is that the fundamentals are necessary in order to see significant time on the court. Otherwise, the whole system of what it takes to build a great team is derailed.

In professional wrestling, a fundamental necessity is to get over with the people. The fans drive the ship, like it or not. People will pay to watch guys that they enjoy far more than they will guys that they do not. When Sheamus got pushed without getting over, what did that say to the locker room full of hungry talents, that maybe were not 6'6" and 265 pounds, who were busting their butts to elicit reactions? What did it say when Alberto Del Rio walked in off the street a year later and got pushed to a headlining spot at Wrestlemania, never got over, still got pushed, still never got over, and got further pushed again? As much as I enjoy the in-ring performances that both men have given in the last 3 years, I think that it is safe to state that neither man is really that over given his position. There is a big difference between the "Yay, you're that guy they're pushing" pop and "we f-'in love this guy!!!" Fundamentally, both Sheamus and Del Rio are missing a giant piece of the "successful wrestler" puzzle.

Conversely, if a guy works hard, puts the time in, and then gets the big push, what does that say to the locker room?

It matters not if it is Paul George or Roy Hibbert mastering the fundamentals and emerging as elite players for the Indiana Pacers of the NBA or CM Punk or Daniel Bryan getting VERY over with the fans and emerging as elite wrestlers for the WWE; when guys that work hard on their craft reap the rewards for it, then it makes everyone around them better. Nobody in the WWE over the last two years has worked harder to become a marketable commodity than Bryan.

Here's hoping that Bryan is headed back to the main-event before long because, frankly, that is where he belongs and it would benefit everyone if he did. Say, "YES!" to this one, Vin Man.


Had some issues with the first attempt, but we did it again. Here is the complete show:

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