Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Daniel Bryan vs John Cena at SummerSlam - Yes! Yes! Yes!
The July 15, 2013 edition of WWE Monday Night Raw was one of the top-to-bottom most enjoyable three-hour programs since they switched to 3 hours last summer. There were two big reasons for that. The first was because they were in front of a hot, enthusiastic crowd. New York is considered the "home market" for WWE and they were in the new Barclays center (home of the Brooklyn Nets) for only the second time, the first however for Monday Night Raw.
The second reason for the amazing show was due to Daniel Bryan finally getting the recognition that he deserves and getting to main event SummerSlam - the second biggest pay-per-view of the year - against John Cena, this generation's version of Hulk Hogan. The set-up was interesting. Cena was given the opportunity to pick his own challenger. He went with the man he felt deserved the match the most.
I've written a lot about why wrestlers like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk are amazing. Read my blog titled Best in the World that I wrote in February 2012 to get the full story about why those two being on top is amazing. Long story short, it's a victory for wrestling fans instead of sports entertainment fans. Daniel Bryan is a wrestler who became great at what WWE markets - sports entertainment. WWE in recent years has been blamed for creating only sports entertainers - people with good looks and catchphrases, but then they don't know what to do between the ropes.
One thing anybody can see past is being fake. If you're real, that will shine through and resonate with people. When CM Punk let that PIPE BOMB drop back in 2011, he went from a talented hand that people appreciated to being a real wrestler that people respected. People already knew that Daniel Bryan was an amazing wrestler. He earned peoples respect by showing that he can be an entertaining character - by becoming a total package.
The WWE Championship match at SummerSlam is a match between the people's champ in Bryan and the WWE's created hype man John Cena. Cena is talented. The fans turned on him years ago because he was being pushed to a level past his then-abilities. The reason he's still there is because the kids who buy all of his merchandise didn't turn their backs on him. And, he's marketable to a mainstream audience. In something that's a nice story, John Cena is the most requested celebrity in the history of the Make-A-Wish foundation, surpassing Michael Jordan a few years ago.
The fans have accepted Daniel Bryan into that top tier of WWE superstars. And, WWE is starting to listen. Last month, Bryan scored a victory over another of WWE's golden boy superstars, Randy Orton. It wasn't a fluke by any means - he made Orton tap out in the middle of the ring. Orton shook Bryan's hand after the match, giving his respect. To the casual fan and the kids, that is significant - Orton never loses. It's become an Internet joke about how many times Orton has defeated Wade Barret and Dolph Ziggler. Only the big stars beat Randy Orton.
And, only the big stars beat John Cena. Cena is at a point in his career where he doesn't need the WWE Championship to be the biggest star in the company. Fans like me will love Daniel Bryan even if he never wins the WWE Championship, but he needs it right now. If we want mainstream wrestling history to remember Daniel Bryan as the true superstar he needs to be, then he has to beat the biggest star in the company in the 2nd biggest match of the year.
Daniel Bryan losing would be like if WWE in 1998 said during WrestleMania 14, "Nah, let's keep the belt on Shawn Michaels. He's doing good enough with it." At WrestleMania 14, another talented wrestler was working his way up the ladder thanks to a mixture of talent and unbelievable fan support. Daniel Bryan is riding a similar wave of momentum that "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was leading up to his first WWE Championship victory at WM14.
I'm not saying Daniel Bryan can be as big a superstar as Austin. I'm saying that Daniel Bryan can be the mega star that WWE fans want him to be. The higher-ups in WWE need to pull the trigger and let us ride this wave of momentum with Daniel Bryan.
Below is a tribute video Ring of Honor released after Bryan Danielson signed with WWE and became Daniel Bryan in 2009. It shows how good he has been for years.