If you scroll back to some of my ancient writings or listen to some old VOW tape, you’ll remember me being less than enthused every time Daniel Bryan was mentioned or discussed.
I wasn’t a fan.
I rarely am with “internet darlings”, as people want to call them. I think I hold some sort of unfair resentment toward them in the beginning, making it more difficult for them to win me over.
And it’s slightly contradicting, too. I’m a product of the internet wrestling community, so I should understand what all the hype and hoopla is about, right? I think I do, but at the same time, I’ve learned that the IWC is segmented and broken up into several types of fans.
I don’t care that those “in the business” want to categorize us together; we’re still different, with minds of our own.
One of the resounding qualities of a large percentage of “smart marks” is that they like “wrestlers”. Technicians. After all, the marquee says “wrestling”, damn it! It’s the old-school, Cornette way of thinking. I get it.
It’s one of the major differences I consistently have with fellow fans online. I put a star’s ability to talk and ENTERTAIN much higher on the importance scale than the number of wrestling holds they know. Wrasslin’ doesn’t fill arenas – star power does.
Good technical ability is great icing on the cake, but only AFTER the true value of a superstar is determined by whether or not he has the “IT” factor.
Upon entering the WWE, Daniel Bryan had all the qualities in the world, inside the ring. He was truly as good as everyone gave him credit for being, but I wasn’t buying it. Then again, I don’t buy “wrestling” as much as some.
His babyface gimmick wasn’t over. He was a throwback to a time in wrestling that today’s fans can’t relate to anymore – at least, not on any considerable level. And he couldn’t connect on the mic, despite ROH loyalists claiming he was the best talker that company had during his time there.
I remember constantly debating Bryan’s true worth with Justin LaBar. And although my tune has entirely changed regarding Daniel Bryan – I’m a HUGE fan – my arguments were still valid, dare I say right, back then.
Daniel Bryan, the wrestler, is STILL excellent. Daniel Bryan, the character, is NOW excellent. Only one of those facts makes ALL the difference in the world.
Bryan’s transition to a heel has been flawless. He’s hit a stride on all levels and found a gimmick fans can easily relate to. And when fans can relate to you, they care. And when fans care about you…well, you get it.
Give him all the credit, give him partial credit, give WWE Creative some or all of it – it doesn’t matter to me who or where it came from, just that it finally did.
Daniel Bryan is one of my favorites to watch each week now, but it still has nothing to do with his ROH background, his MMA training, or his reputation as one of the best “workers” in the business. I’ll roll all of that crap up and give his facial hair the same amount of credit.
A wrestler’s true value is mostly earned by making fans care. Some might say it’s only like that now, but it’s always been the case.
Daniel Bryan is NOW a star with star-like qualities. And as such, his incredible ability inside the ring will actually start to matter. It’s what will separate him from other stars.
But you’re naïve if you think it’s what got him to the dance.
Chris Cash can be followed on Twitter @RealityofChris and emailed at email@example.com. He’s a co-host of the Voice of Wrestling radio show with Nick Paglino, returning fulltime on Monday, June 11th, and VOW Reaction, aired live after every Monday Night Raw and WWE pay per view. Visit VOWLive.com for more.