Eric’s Blog: Defending my stance on Daniel Bryan

Portrait of a Man... Trying (Not Very Hard) to Not Laugh

If you’ve listened to our Royal Rumble review audio with me and Dusty, and if you’ve listened to Stunt Granny Audio #174 with Kevin and Jeremy, you’ve heard a handful of opinions on the character portrayed by Daniel Bryan, described by the Masked Man at as a wrestler who “has transitioned steadily — artfully, even — from a vanilla underdog hero into one of WWE’s most effective and intriguing villains.” I could attempt to poke holes in adverbs like “steadily” and adjectives like “effective” – when Bryan’s heel turn began, it was obvious to all but the 10-est of the 10-year-olds, and its effectiveness is yet to be determined thanks to a downward-trending Smackdown rating and no real opportunity to draw money.

But it’s the artfulness of Bryan’s heel turn that has me concerned, for a number of reasons. I attempted to explain them in the middle of a vitriolic hate parade called a Royal Rumble review, and, possibly lost in translation, Kevin took that as me “not getting it” (paraphrased), assuming I didn’t realize it was part of a heel turn.

Oh, my friend, I realized it, and Kevin and I have since hashed it out over instant messenger, but I wanted to expand on my thoughts here. To set the agenda, this is the World Heavyweight Champion we’re talking about, this is the former Bryan Danielson we’re talking about, and this is a duplicate attempt at a comedic heel character we’re talking about. It’s a concoction that could either blow up like anhydrous and a batch of meth ingredients, fizzle like baking soda and vinegar, or turn out mildly palatable like this watered-down vodka cranberry I’m drinking in the hotel restaurant as I write this.

Allow me to post here what I wrote to Kevin, and elaborate as necessary:

his celebration is meant to be overbearing
but I also have the stance that it’s getting in the way of taking him seriously
again, they have a world champ who wins on flukes
and a (former indy darling and) great wrestler who acts like a fucking dope
I understand the concept, but why they feel the need to do it to Bryan is a little confusing
other than he really is a fucking dope
So yes, his jumping up and down and screaming “YES! YES! YES!” as he squeaks past his larger opponents on technicalities is a purposeful attempt at giving a wrestler overbearing qualities in the scheme of turning him heel. But again, this is the World Heavyweight Champion here, a main-event (sometimes) position meant to be held in some distinction, and a title currently held by a man who can wrestle his ass off night in and night out. By comparison:
strangely, I could see Jack Swagger doing that with the US Title
but not Daniel Bryan and the World Hvt Title
historical example: Randy Savage was off kilter like Daniel Bryan (but in a little more maniacal way)
but you would have never seen him jumping around like a retard at the zoo with the WWF Title
My argument here is that this is a legitimate way to turn someone heel, but why does it need to be the World Heavyweight Champion and one-time Best In The World? Well, Kevin made two valid points in our conversation: One, this is likely an attack on Internet fans, which Vince McMahon feels the need to do now that he has no other business competition. Since he can’t make Billionaire Ted skits or bitch out the federal government for trumped-up trafficking charges or buy up/take over shriveling territories for pennies on the dollar, he needs to focus his attention on the skinny, pimply nerds he hates, and Bryan is the proxy. Two, it’s working, and Bryan is getting booed, to which I said:
can’t argue with a crowd reaction
and it’s a decent crowd reaction
if it were 20 percent sympathy boos and 80 percent crickets, then there would be more to criticize
Bryan is getting over in spite of the goofiness, and thanks in part to the goofiness
And all of this in spite of the fact that the far better-known and longer-tenured Chris Jericho recently returned and, until Monday, was playing the exact same character, an evilly smiling, smarmily pandering quasi face with an agenda just waiting to pull the wool over the fans’ eyes. So I guess it’s a credit to Daniel Bryan that he can take a misplaced gimmick like “smiling dope,” which, by the way, he is…
… and make the crowd dislike him. It may be enough to keep the undersized WWE superstar employed. Time will tell if this is a main-event-level gimmick, but my gut, and a dash of history, tells me it’s not.
%d bloggers like this: