Daniel Bryan: Breaking Down What Makes the WWE Star so Good in the Ring
Daniel Bryan is the WWE equivalent of a five-tool player, a wrestler who does everything in the ring at an elite level.
His ability to entertain, his sense of humor and his endearing quality have helped make him one of the most popular Superstars in the company, but all of those skills are built on a strong foundation of great in-ring ability. Chris Jericho and CM Punk will fight at Payback to decide who the true "best in the world" is, but that title is just as apt for Bryan.
The World's Toughest Vegan is one of the company's best high-flyers, mat wrestlers, strikers and submission specialists. He adds to that an infectious energy and a daredevil approach to wrestling that has won him a growing number of fans.
Take his match against Dolph Ziggler on WWE Raw this part March for example.
Here Bryan exhibits fluid transitions from move to move. He tortures Ziggler by wrenching his limbs in creative holds.
Being unique and having a toolbox full of offense WWE fans aren't used to seeing is a part of his appeal.
Not many other stars use the surfboard hold and no one in the company does it as expertly as he does. He also folds Ziggler's arm under itself and stomps on his elbow. In one move, he takes Ziggler down by his leg in mid-air, moving right into another hold.
This level of originality makes his matches fresh.
It's as if Bryan is a chef offering rarely used products to a crowd worn out from eating the same old meat and potatoes.
Beyond just tossing out a number of new moves, Bryan also does each one with precision and great impact. Like Bret Hart before him, he is a master of every item in his arsenal.
The man affectionately known as The Flying Goat is not just a move machine though. As precise as he is, it's the emotion behind the moves in his matches that truly makes his work special.
That has been amplified in recent weeks as Bryan has been determined to prove that he is not the weak link of Team Hell No. His kicks have been stiffer. His breathing has been harder. He scurries around the ring like a cartoon character.
This is nothing new, though. Bryan has been nailing his opportunities for a long while now.
One of the best examples of his work has been his Extreme Rules 2012 match against Sheamus. In it, he turned the wrestling ring into a theater.
Watch how he snorts and snarls as he lines Sheamus up for a baseball slide and how demented he looks after he gets disqualified. His face becomes a showcase of emotions.
This is part of how Bryan manages to connect with his audience, as his emotional transparency is a reminder of his humanity. Too many wrestlers act like fighting robots. Bryan emotes with the same abandon with which he delivers his high-flying moves.
Whether the match is on TV or pay-per-view, it feels like Bryan is giving us his best effort each night.
That is clear with moves like the running corner dropkick or suicide dive because he seems to go full-force, holding nothing back.
Bryan's ability to put all these elements together in an electric package gives every match he's in the potential to be a classic.
Ryback had one of his best singles matches against Bryan on WWE SmackDown. Sheamus' best so far was in the ring with Bryan at Extreme Rules. Short of the five-star bouts he's had with John Cena, Punk's best WWE work was opposite Bryan at Over the Limit 2012.
A master storyteller, world-class athlete and highly likable guy, Bryan has phenomenal in-ring ability. While his popularity is at such a high level and his body is capable of all the stress he puts it through, WWE would be wise to give him a world title run in the near future.
Stick Bryan with any opponent on the roster, shine the spotlight on him and watch him compose a masterpiece.
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