Daniel Bryan: The Curious Case of the American Dragon in WWE

Tom Clark@tomclarkbrFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2010

Bryan Danielson. Since entering the newly formed Ring of Honor in 2002, The “American Dragon” has been a favorite of fans all over the world.

Hailed for his in ring ability and technical skill, Danielson has consistently been regarded by many as being one of the best wrestlers in the business.

Funny how one contract can change everything.

We all know the story surrounding the birth of “Daniel Bryan,” including his stint on NXT, and his sudden release after the infamous choking incident on Monday Night RAW.

While the majority of fans speculated as to whether or not he was really gone, the Nexus storyline grew without him and instead of becoming a star, Daniel Bryan became a footnote.

The truth is, we may never know all the details behind what happened, but one thing is certain: Nothing gets on WWE TV without Vince McMahon knowing about it.

Despite who may have been working one on one with Nexus members for the epic beat down, the fact is if it was not kosher for Bryan to choke ring announcer Justin Roberts, then it never would have happened.

So either Vince knew beforehand but did not think it was a big deal, or the people responsible for handling the spot did not communicate this particular part. For me, the latter is highly unlikely.

After all, it’s Vince’s show, his name on the line when something goes wrong, how much sense does it make that he would not be consulted on every detail long before the event takes place?

WWE needed a scapegoat, a fall guy for the outside pressure over the controversy, and Daniel Bryan was the guy. Bottom line.

When he returned, I for one was quite excited for him. I was thinking well, WWE creative did not exactly have an abundance of time to work up something good for him on his last run, but now things would be different. Now Bryan would be allowed to shine.

So far, I don’t know whether to be happy for the guy or embarrassed.

Happy, of course, because the guy is living his dream of working for the biggest pro wrestling promotion on the planet. He’s doing what he loves in front of millions on a worldwide stage. Is there any better life for a professional wrestler?

Then again I am a little embarrassed for him, mostly because on TV he looks more awkward than a 16-year-old comic-book nerd asking the prettiest girl in school to the prom. Trust me, being a comic-book nerd myself, I know that look.

At times, he even seems to be cracking a smile, especially during his backstage spot with Edge on the latest RAW. Of course, I am just a fan speculating on what I’m seeing, and I could be off base, but Daniel Bryan seems to be cast as the guy who is just not taking this very seriously.

Character is everything in this business. If you can’t get over with the fans, then no amount of push is going to help.

Bryan’s character is different, perhaps even still a work in progress. I get that. But I just keep getting the sense that the guy is uncomfortable when he’s on the air.

His televised matches so far also seem to be following suit.

Just when it appears that he’s getting into some real offense in a match, Bryan gets outsmarted by the guy he’s working.

I keep waiting for some of the unique technical display that he’s famous for, and in the end I all I get is a handful of moves and then the guy gets pinned.

We all know, it’s not always about winning and losing in this business. Sometimes that is just background noise for the evolution of a wrestler’s character.

Again, perhaps Daniel Bryan is a work in progress. But at some point Bryan needs to become a true WWE ring general.

Isn’t that the whole point behind a superstar getting a push, pay per view work, and a championship?

If Daniel Bryan does not look like a credible competitor in the ring, then he will not be taken seriously by the fans who are paying to see him perform. Thus, his star does not rise and he will be relegated to mid-card status.

It’s a fate suffered by many who came before him, and just does not seem right for a wrestler with the heart and skill that Daniel Bryan possesses.

Yes, it’s early. Bryan has not been in WWE long enough to either succeed or fail in every wrestler’s effort to be one of the best in the business. He has time. Or does he?

Casual fans love him, real fans respect him, and he has all the ability in the world to make it happen. But how long will this “feeling out” process continue on the air before fans begin to not care about Daniel Bryan?

The weird transformation of Michael Cole into a heel commentator and silly Ride of The Valkyries entrance music aside, there is real buzz from the wrestling community surrounding Bryan’s current push in WWE.

Everyone who’s followed his career agrees that Daniel Bryan has earned this and he belongs among the elite in that company.

Of course, getting pinned 24 hours after winning his first major championship does not help his cause, and the eccentricity of his character comes off a little odd at times. The question is, will any of that even make a difference for him?

If a wrestler has it, he has it. True talent and ability always comes to the forefront and can lift a wrestler to the very top of his profession, despite any obstacles that may be in his way.

Is this the case for Daniel Bryan? Will The American Dragon breathe fire in WWE, or will he fizzle out? Perhaps for Bryan Danielson, this is indeed The Final Countdown.

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