Bryan Danielson: It's the End of the World as We Know It?

Paul AustinCorrespondent IJune 14, 2010

Six o'clock - TV hour. Don't get caught in foreign tower. Slash and burn,
return, listen to yourself churn. Lock him in uniform and book burning,
blood letting. Every motive escalate. Automotive incinerate. Light a candle,
light a motive. Step down, step down. Watch a heel crush, crush. Uh oh,
this means no fear—cavalier. Renegade and steer clear! A tournament,
a tournament, a tournament of lies. Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives
and I decline.

It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

Judging by some of the comments, and articles I've read over the last few days, I'd be forgiven for thinking that World Wrestling Entertainment's release of Bryan Danielson was an event foretold in Revelations, and that we were now facing an imminent apocalypse, and the end of the word as we know it. Are we? I strongly doubt it.

I'm probably going to get a lot of heat for this, but everyone else, and their mom, and their dog, and the cat from next door has had their say, so I thought it was time for an alternative view. One where the world didn't stop turning, and where things really aren't as bad as some people would have us believe.

Let me preface this by explaining, contrary to what many of his fans may feel by the end of this piece, that it isn't an attack on Bryan Danielson. As a wrestler, Bryan Danielson has immense natural talent, and I have a lot of respect for him, but I want to try and put a little perspective back on to things here.

Bryan Danielson, contrary to his rookie status on NXT, is no rookie—he's 29 years old now, and he's been active in the wrestling industry for 11 years. To try and put that in perspective it means that Danielson is only one year younger than Randy Orton, and has been wrestling for one year longer than John Cena.

Right from the start, from the moment that he started training under Shawn Michaels at the Texas Wrestling Academy it was clear that Danielson had talent, so much so that he became one of the youngest athletes in history to earn a WWE/F developmental deal, which was the beginning of a long-term relationship with the company.

Due to no fault of his own, Danielson was released from that first contract, but was given a second chance by the company in 2001, as enhancement talent, before being allowed to compete in longer matches (including a match against a then unknown John Cena). However, he ended up being released a second time.

From there, Danielson moved to the fledgling Ring of Honor promotion, where once again his obvious talents brought him to the fore, so much so that in 2005 he had further tryouts for a third attempt at a WWE career. But again things didn't work out for him, so he stayed with ROH, whilst also wrestling for various other independent promotions.

This set up continued until, on August 23, 2009, ROH announced that Danielson had signed a deal with WWE, and on January 4, 2010 Danielson made his latest debut as a WWE contracted wrestler, in a dark match prior to Raw.

After the match, Danielson and the WWE decided that he should go to Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), the WWE developmental territory, for further development where he stayed until he re-debuted, yet again, on the NXT show.

As someone signed on a full contract—rather than a development contract, as some of the other contestants were—Danielson received one of the biggest pushes early in the show. But as interest waned in him amongst regular viewers, the angle was abruptly canceled and he was repackaged and re-pushed.

Finally, on June 11, WWE announced via their official website that Danielson had been released from his contract.

I'm sure most here would have been aware of most of that, but I just wanted to establish the facts before I offered up my opinion.

You see the thing is, for all the hero worship that's been thrown at Danielson by a small section of the IWC, the truth of the matter is that, despite his obvious talents and abilities, this is the fourth time that Danielson has failed to make the cut at WWE and so far his greatest success, in a career longer than John Cena's, has been a spell at the third biggest promotion in North America.

That's a far from stellar career, but it does start to bring things into perspective.

In those 10 years of wrestling, for all his in-ring abilities, the two largest promotions have never seen fit to offer him the contract that his fans seem to think he merits, and that's for lack of opportunities.

Bryan Danielson has always wanted to perform at the highest level, as would anyone in his profession, which is why he's tried out repeatedly, but so far he's yet to secure his dreams. And to be fair, things were unlikely to change to much had he not been released.

Whilst a few Internet fans scream that this is the end of the WWE, to the majority of people what has happened is really not a huge event. But before I explain why I believe that, let's first clear up his actual release.

Providing everything is genuine and as reported, then Bryan Danielson was subjected to a negotiated release.

What that means is he wasn't fired, and he wasn't suspended, but that both sides sat down and decided his future was better served outside of the company. In other words this was a joint decision, and not some higher authority making the choice for him.

This is a significant point to note, as it's clear that Danielson, over the years, has repeatedly tried out for a major contract with the WWE, so he wouldn't have walked away if he felt the future was as rosy, as some of his fans felt it was.

It has been rumored that a strangulation incident played a part in his release. This may well be true, but as a negotiated release requires an agreement from both sides, it's clear that this incident in itself isn't the sole reason for his departure from the company and the timing of his exit somewhat confirms that.

Bearing those facts in mind, it's far more likely that the strangulation incident was merely a catalyst.

So what is likely to have happened?

Well, if we accept the strangulation story then it's likely that Danielson would have been taken aside to be disciplined, at which point he is likely to have raised his future in the company.

Now, at this point it's important for any readers to remove their rose-tinted glasses, and to try and see things from a neutral, and dispassionate perspective, because the thing is that future was not really looking as rosy as some of his fans think.

Whilst a small section of the Internet talked about future World Titles, within a matter of months, or even weeks, this was not the future that neither Danielson nor the WWE saw.

In reality, whilst Danielson has incredible wrestling abilities, despite a couple of healthy pushes on NXT and even the occasional cameo on the main brands, Danielson was not getting over greatly with the ordinary fans.

His popularity was mainly reserved to independent fans and members of the Internet wrestling community, and in fact he was even being dubbed "the darling of the Internet," because of the fact that this was where almost his entire fan base was, and that he'd made little impact beyond that.

To put things into perspective, the WWE commissioned a number of research polls on the NXT rookies, and less than 50 percent of the viewing public who were aware of him felt he merited a position as a WWE Superstar.

I should add, before too many fans burst blood vessels at hearing this news, that only a couple of NXT rookies scored higher than him. Given that the majority of WWE viewers don't watch NXT, then that score is perhaps not as bad as it sounds; but that said, neither was it a great poll for Danielson.

Bearing these facts in mind, the truth is that the immediate future for Danielson, had he not negotiated a release, would have probably consisted of various minor feuds, much as is the destiny for the NXT rookies that survive so that the WWE can further evaluate them and decide who to retain and who to release.

It's my contention that, faced with this immediate future, Bryan Danielson and the WWE felt that, with his natural in-ring abilities, rather than spend his time occasionally fighting someone like Yoshi Tatsu or Goldust on SmackDown or Superstars, he'd be better served returning to the independent circuit.

I'm sure that Bryan Danielson would like another attempt at the WWE one day, and I'm sure with his natural abilities, the WWE would like to give him that try, but once again, it's proven to be to hard a mountain for him to surmount on this occasion.

So is this the end of the world as we know it?

Not really. You see, beyond a small section of the Internet and a few independent wrestling fans, Bryan Danielson isn't a big star, and so to the majority of fans this won't make any difference and will probably slip by almost unnoticed.

The rumors of a certain world title, or of Danielson being co-leader of the NXT rookies, were never more than day dreams and wishes from certain sections of the IWC. So the WWE don't have to do anything to compensate for the loss of these things, as they were never scripted to happen anyway, meaning he'll probably be quietly dropped and most people won't even notice, with no need for WWE to say or do anything else.

There's no storyline to wrap up, no angles to drop, the world will keep spinning, and we'll all wake up tomorrow and slowly begin to forget this ever happened.

As for Danielson himself, he's not going to lose his talent overnight, and I'm sure he'd be welcomed back, with open arms, by ROH or one of a number of independent promotions. I'm sure he won't be short of work, and who knows, a year or two down the line, maybe he'll get another chance with the WWE.

I personally hope he does. I think he deserves it. But this time I hope that the IWC views his potential career path a little more realistically, rather than getting caught up in some over the top hero worship, hyperbole, and conspiracy theories.


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