Hustle Is Posting Right Now - Daniel Bryan's Excellent Adventure (Part Four - A Bold Proclamation)
Aug 4, 2013 - 11:46:23 AM
You rock, Maricel.
"The World's Greatest.."
I was thinking about writing this column a few days ago, but decided to hold off for a little while. Then, two things happened to make me think now is as good a time as any to go ahead and get this one taken care of.. first, the homie Sean Ross Sapp wrote a column for another site about Jose Aldo and his place in Mixed Martial Arts history, and then, I read an old WWE.com article looking at some of the best technical wrestlers in company history.
Raise your hand if you're ready for a controversial opinion. I'll wait.
Alright.. I see some hands raised over to the left. Some more in the back. A few of you down in front. That's enough for me. Here goes nothing..
Daniel Bryan is the greatest in-ring performer in WWE history.
Yes, I'm serious.
First, I do have to clarify that I'm talking pure skills alone. I'm not saying Bryan has more classic matches than anyone in WWE history. That would be a foolish thing to say. He hasn't been around anywhere near long enough to compete for that crown. However, with his in-ring skills, nobody tops him.
Not Bret "The Hitman" Hart.
Not Kurt Angle.
Not Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat.
Not Chris Benoit.
Not Dean Malenko.
Not The Dynamite Kid.
Not William Regal.
Not Eddie Guerrero.
Not "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig.
Not Bob Backlund.
When you look at what the man brings to the table, you see a variety that is rare in all of wrestling, but especially rare in WWE history. He doesn't have the amateur wrestling background of, say, Angle or Brock Lesnar, but he has more than made up for that through the years. He came into the business training under Shawn Michaels at the formerly-known-as Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy in San Antonio. Not a bad person to get started with. From there, he signed a WWE developmental deal and was sent to Memphis to work for Memphis Championship Wrestling (back before Florida was the key developmental territory for the company), where he would train under William Regal. Again, not a bad person to work with. After he was released from his developmental deal, he began his time with the indy scene, working with Ring Of Honor from the promotion's inception. On top of that, he also toured the United Kingdom, training with legendary Brit wrestler Robbie Brookside. Then, he spent a nice chunk of time in Japan, working for New Japan Pro Wrestling, and really, there aren't many better places to learn the actual art of pro wrestling than in Japan. Later stints in Japan, with Pro Wrestling NOAH, saw him working with more legends of the business, such as Mitsuharu Misawa and Jun Akiyama. He has even worked in Mexico, taking bits of the Lucha Libre style.
All of that is before he ever wrestled a single match as Daniel Bryan for WWE, mind you. He has wrestled all over the world, mastering numerous styles, soaking things up like a sponge, and adding to his already impressive arsenal. For the last few years, he has been learning to use more of a mainstream-friendly style (aka the infamous "WWE Style"), all while continuing to use what helped him get signed in the first place.
Oh, and I guess I have to add that, on top of 829 different wrestling styles he uses, Bryan is versed in jujutsu and other mixed martial art styles.
"He's taken bits from every single one of us, which makes him better than everybody else."
-William Regal, discussing all of the people Daniel Bryan has trained with and under, and how it makes him such a special performer.
When you look at what he can do in the ring, you can pretty much check off every box other than "lift up the Mark Henrys and Great Khalis of the world with ease" (although he has proven that he can hit various versions of a suplex on men that weigh over 300 pounds). If you need someone who can grapple on the mat, he can do it. If you need someone who is adept in submission wrestling, he's your guy. If you want someone who can take it to the air and fly, he can do that. If you're looking for a brawler, don't be fooled by his size, as he might be the toughest pound-for-pound in all of wrestling, unafraid to tangle with wrestlers that are twice his size. If you need solid strikes, he's the man to deliver them for you. If you're one of those people that count bumping ability as in-ring skills (some merely count offense), then there aren't many better at it than he is.
It matters not who you put the man in the ring with.. whether it's an upper echelon name like John Cena and CM Punk, a mid-level guy like The Miz and Wade Barrett, or a lower-tier guy like Drew McIntyre and Darren Young.. you're going to get quality. It can be someone small in stature or someone that is larger than life. It can be a veteran or someone relatively new to the business. It really doesn't matter. I watch Raw live on Skype with various members of the LoP Radio family, and something that we've been saying about Daniel Bryan is how little the company needs to worry about the guy. They can randomly select someone on the roster for him to face, give him some time to work with, and they know they're getting something good. They don't have to worry about whether or not he'll have "chemistry" with his opponent. They don't have to worry about whether or not what he does will get reactions from live audiences. To use a term I hear on Ronco infomercials and things of that sort, Daniel Bryan is the "set it and forget it" guy for the company.
Look, I love William Regal, and I've made it clear in previous columns that Eddie Guerrero is my second favorite wrestler of all-time, behind only Ric Flair, but I'm not afraid to say that Daniel Bryan has them beat in the ring. Someone like Guerrero can be compared to Bryan, without a doubt. Guerrero, of course, was well-trained in Lucha Libre, and also went on to pick up a lot of style in Japan before making a name for himself in North America. Eddie was tough-as-nails, too. However, Eddie was never the striker that DB is, and didn't have the same level of submission prowess. Regal? One of the best grapplers of all-time, but didn't have the well-rounded skill set to go with it. Dean Malenko? Another solid grappler, and one with good submission skills, but he wasn't the high-flier that Bryan is, nor were his strikes on par. Ricky Steamboat? Great technician, and could fly, but other than chops, he wasn't all that great at striking. Chris Benoit? He did have solid, believable strikes, and could work on the mat or in the air, but he didn't have the vast variety of styles to work with that Bryan has (although he had his fair share). The list goes on and on, really. If you take anyone in the history of the company and put him up against Daniel Bryan, I'm taking Bryan when it comes to overall skill set. I'm 100% confident in that.
Just for the sake of letting it sink in, I'm going to say it again..
Daniel Bryan is the greatest in-ring performer in WWE history.
Am I crazy for thinking so?
Writer's Note: Today is the day, ladies and gentlemen. Storytime With Uncle Hustle on LoP Radio. At 9pm EST, join me and gather 'round the campfire as I tell you all a story that will not be soon forgotten. You're going to remember this one, folks, I guarantee it. Not for the squeamish, faint of heart, or those uncomfortable with things that are.. different. To check the show out (live or archived for later use), click the following link..
Storytime With Uncle Hustle
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