Daniel Bryan seemed to be the only name you heard in the buildup leading to last year’s WrestleMania.
After having not watched pro wrestling of any kind since 2006 — and even then, watching very little — I decided that it was now or never if I was going to jump back into the product I’d loved so much in the days of the Attitude Era.
The WWE Network had just been announced, and it seemed insane that every pay-per-view would be free with a $9.99 per month subscription.
It used to be that I had to band together with buddies to buy the $40-$60 spectaculars. Of course, I was on board, but who the heck was Daniel Bryan, and why was I supposed to care?
(Who the heck were any of these guys, for that matter?)
After reacquainting myself by watching the 90-minute Raw replays on Hulu in the month leading up to WrestleMania 30, I decided Bryan was a guy worth pulling for.
The WWE had done an excellent job billing him as the underdog facing insurmountable odds; his theme music was cool; the “YES” chants were fun; and Triple H and Stephanie were deliciously appalling in their roles as oppressors.
WrestleMania 30 was one of the year’s best events, owing much to the Daniel Bryan storyline. Then he had to go off and get injured, and now we’re all once again in the position of asking why we should care after not seeing him compete for close to a year.
Well, the guys at r/squaredcircle have done a great job explaining the Daniel Bryan appeal, so without further ado, here are a few things you need to know if you’re in the position I was in last year and are wondering who the heck this guy is and why you should like him.
First, his in-ring work. For reference, reddit commenters recommend John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam 2013 as a testimony to his talent. The match is a classic. Bryan gets the nod over Cena, but then gets screwed by Triple H and Randy Orton, who captures the title from Bryan in a surprise attack moments after Bryan is crowned champion.
Secondly, there is Bryan’s longevity. He’s one of the few guys on the roster who earned his reputation long before the WWE ever took a chance on him. He’s also been a professional wrestler for more than a decade. He’s the very definition of a guy who paid his dues to get to where he is. Furthermore, his small size isn’t what the company typically looks for in a main event player, adding to the whole underdog mystique.
Finally, there’s the main event picture itself. Daniel Bryan came back at the perfect time. The main event picture is in disarray with a tired Cena still being pushed against the monster Brock Lesnar. While there is some indication that Lesnar will lose the title at Royal Rumble to Seth Rollins, a far more interesting main event for WrestleMania 31 would be the newly returned Bryan — the guy who never lost the belt in the first place — stepping into the ring with the Beast Incarnate.
While WWE may not go that way — we’ll know more Sunday night — it’s really the only WrestleMania-worthy main event the company can cobble together at present.
What about you, readers? What reasons would you give to wrestling newbies for getting behind Daniel Bryan?