A Modest Response: Disco Inferno says Danielson Can’t Wrestle (yes, seriously)

Posted by Disco Inferno:

“i read a few weeks ago on one of the sites that the “best wrestler in the business” had a dark match with the wwe. so i rohvideos.comd this guy and checked him out. no offense to him, but i didn’t think he was the “best wrestler in the business” from what i saw. he was decent for the style that he worked, but unfortunately that style caters to a very small niche audience. here’s a few of the problems.

most people watch professional wrestling because it’s professional wrestling. i would profess that there is zero chance that you’re going to draw from the mma crowd by doing fake mma. i think most mma fans would be more entertained by the disco inferno vs. the honkytonk man, because at least they know they’re watching a pro wrestling match and not some hybrid ridiculous let’s do the mma moves and pretend that the moves hurt and insult my intelligence style. wrestling fans pop more for mr. socko and the people’s elbow than they would for a fake guillotine choke hold.

the guy needs a gimmick. i’m sorry, but you can’t sell a plain joe to fans that want sports entertainment.

also, for as good as everyone says this guy is, tna has at least ten guys better. evrybody puts over these roh matches like they’re the greatest thing ever, but if you put aj and christian cage against the motor city machine guns for 25 minutes, and told them that you needed at least four stars, i’d bet my life that it would be better than anything roh has ever put out. once guys like aj and the mcmg’s got out of roh, look how much better they got. there’s something to say about the art of selling, which isn’t really being taught to the up ‘n comers. it makes matches so much more dramatic. it’s what causes the fans to suspend the disbelief to a higher level, because now they become emotionally involved subconsciously when a wrestler can convey suffering and despair to them. i really should open a school someday and teach people how to work. i actually managed to make a pretty good name for myself by dancing around like some schmuck pretending to be john travolta for the past fifteen years. i think i know what i’m doing.”

I’m not going to touch Disco’s pathetic grammar, well known drug or gambling problems or even his career as a comedy wrestler save as they pertain to his own points about Danielson.

The first problem with Disco’s analysis is that he got his information from ROHvideos.com. Danielson doesn’t even have a full match on ROHvideos, so Disco is either lying about where he saw Bryan wrestle or he is making judgments about Danielson due to a number of clips. Naturally, since the clips would show nothing and invalidate everything that follows, let’s assume Disco’s seen a few matches, at least, and go from there.

Disco then goes on to state that people want only professional wrestling from pro-wrestling companies and that, therefore, there is no point in incorporating any MMA elements. This ignores several important factors. First and most important of these is that TNA, the company for which Disco is an agent, booked an MMA style Angle vs. Joe match to draw their biggest buy-rate since Joe vs. Angle 1. Now, perhaps Disco was a dissenting opinion who was ignored here, but the fact remains that this build and style was successful.

Secondly, this ignores the crossover audience. As anyone who has seen a UFC or other MMA show can attest, the biggest pops of the night often go to the wrestlers in attendance. It stands to reason, then, that Danielson’s mixed style might appeal to those who enjoy both. Many of my own friends are fans of both wrestling and MMA and greatly enjoy Danielson’s matches, further supporting this point. Pro-wrestling has always incorporated a myriad of styles, from martial arts to flying, brawling and technical wrestling. There’s no reason that some MMA moves can’t be incorporated into that and still be successful. After all, Joe’s choke and Undertaker’s gogoplata seem to be getting over just fine, don’t they?

The next point is that Danielson needs a gimmick to be over. Well, he has one, doesn’t he? The cocky, best wrestler in the world who takes you apart with technical skill is a fine gimmick. He’s a good promo who can easily take on a cowardly heel persona (see his Samoa Joe stuff from 2006 or his excellent WxW work) or become a great underdog babyface who represents the fan’s desire to see skill overcome power and evil (vs. Morishima or vs. Nigel). Perhaps this is too cerebral for Mr. Inferno, but pure, great wrestlers have gotten over any number of times in the past, from Chris Benoit’s recent run to Joe and AJ’s early TNA run or even Bret’s early WWE run. None of these guys had overly flashy gimmicks and all were more successful than the man who as he wrote this, admitted to playing John Travolta and dancing around a wrestling ring for his career. Were a gimmick needed, there is still no reason to assume Danielson couldn’t handle one. Anyone who has followed Danielson’s career knows he’s played several different characters, each of which is an evolution of the last. Making a gimmick work would just be turning up the volume to the nth degree on any of these.

That TNA has 10 guys better than Danielson is, quite simply laughable. Let’s analyze those in TNA even potentially better. First we have those on top. Joe, Booker T, Kurt Angle, Sting, AJ Styles, and Christian Cage make up the main event scene of TNA.

Booker has been, for years, a role player who can have a great match when an opponent elevates him to it. In ring, he’s good, but not great and can absolutely follow a star’s lead. The proof of that is in his WWE title run where, despite a great amount of time in the ring and developing angles, there were still an utter lack of amazing matches, even against top level opponents.

Kurt Angle was, at one point, almost certainly better than Bryan Danielson. His body and mind have both seemingly betrayed him since then and his matches have become a sad lack of logic leading into a finishing sequence which is mainly a ton of finishers and reversals. His great physical skill and timing used to carry him around this (at best) questionable psychology. With him visibly slowed down and unable to bump to the same capacity, there is no reason to believe he is on the level of Danielson at this point.

AJ Styles is a wonderful wrestler and in the class of Danielson. No argument there. Christian is, as well. Samoa Joe overcame a lackluster look through sheer wrestling skill, unique ability, and charisma. Even slowed down, he’s on the level. I’d not put any of these men above Danielson in skill, but they can at least have well-thought out arguments made on their behalf.

Sting is among the most over-rated superstars ever. On top for his entire career, he is distinctly lacking great performances against any but the best of his era, such as a motivated Muta and Ric Flair. Against anyone else, he is good, but the best that can be said of him is that he had great charisma and can be carried.

The level below the TNA main eventers features a mix mid-card lifers who are quite useful roleplayers, but lack any diversity or great in-ring skills and up and comers who aren’t quite there yet. Great examples of the former category include Abyss, Rhino, and Team 3-D who are very useful brawlers, but limited in any other way, while the latter category has Robert Roode, James Storm, and Matt Morgan.

Roode is a great talent. He is a big man, with a great look, who understands what it takes to be a real heel. Of course, since wrestling heel is his great talent, it is easy to compare his skill in that arena with that of Danielson who, despite fans badly wanting to cheer him, has fans ready to boo him out of the arena in both England and Germany with his heel actions. Roode’s greatest skill is being a hatable heel and Danielson is, simply, far superior at that. Storm is, in ring, a poor man’s Roode with less skill and more ability, so the same point holds true.

Matt Morgan has great potential, but has yet to show anything that would put him in Danielson’s class as of yet.

Underneath this level are a number of former ROH (or other independent) talents like the Machine Guns, Homicide, Jay Lethal, Chris Daniels, Sonjay Dutt, Kaz, and Petey Williams. Interestingly, no one in this group would even claim to be better than Danielson. Some of the best performances of the first four men on this list were as Danielson’s opponent, except for Lethal, who’s best was as Danielson’s partner. The best match of Sabin’s career as a singles wrestler to date is his singles match against Nakajima in all Japan which was absolutely great, but nowhere near Danielson’s matches against KENTA or Morishima and drew less reaction from the Japanese wrestling fans than those encounters.

The next point, that AJ, Christian and the Machine Guns could, if they wanted, blow away anything ROH ever did is laughable. I will happily concede that they could be every bit as good as the best ROH has put out because those four are truly exceptional workers, but to claim that they would blow away ROH’s best is to display the utmost ignorance. The best of ROH has received comparable ratings as some of the best of all time from every reputable wrestling journalist from Meltzer to Pulse’s own Scott Keith. Blowing that away would be quite a feat indeed unless, of course, Disco is saying that his proposed match would blow away Flair vs. Steamboat and the 1990s All Japan matches.

The Guns, and much former ROH talent, just as Disco states, have improved greatly since they left ROH. Of course, what isn’t mentioned, is that these wrestlers were in their early twenties when they were in and then left ROH. They could only reasonably be expected to improve at that age if they intended to work on their craft at all. Disco then implies a lack of selling is why these men improved so much. Let’s take a look at three former ROH talents, now thriving in TNA to see how comedic this statement is.

Alex Shelley has certainly improved his skill in the wrestling ring since he left ROH, however, selling is not where that improvement has come. His match against CM Punk from the Third Anniversary Celebration Part 2 to see that he could always sell. The match is built around Punk working Shelley’s neck with simple moves, while Shelley, using a more fancy arsenal, attacked Punk’s ribs. This is one of the more underrated matches in ROH history, but an excellent example of two men using selling to get their story and point across.

Samoa Joe might have improved since he left ROH, but it would be difficult to suggest how. His matches against CM Punk were heralded as classics before he ever arrived in TNA and the storytelling within each was absolutely stunning. Also before TNA were his great matches with Homicide ( target=new>Death before Dishonor 2 night 1), Low Ki (Glory by Honor) and, surprise, Bryan Danielson (Midnight Express Reunion), the last of which featured especially memorable selling.

Lastly, we have the man who has improved the most since his early days in ROH, Jay Lethal. Lethal is currently an amazing underdog babyface who takes wonderful beatings and makes excellent comebacks. Where did he first hone this character and skill? ROH where he was pitted against Samoa Joe, Low Ki and Homicide as an underdog regularly. His improvement could be seen at the start of 2006 in his best ROH match, a Tag Wars 2006 match where he faced Austin Aries and Roderick Strong, teaming with… Bryan Danielson.

Selling is often underemphasized in ROH, but those that TNA picked up were not the culprits behind that, nor is Mr. Danielson.

The last assertion that Disco makes is easily the most laughable. He complains about the way current wrestlers are trained and suggests he should open a training school to teach them correctly. Danielson was trained by Shawn Michaels and William Regal. So, training by the Disco Inferno or HBK and Regal? Which is more likely to make you into a better worker? You decide.

NOAH brass (Akiyama and Misawa), along with several major English companies, WxW and every Indy in America all pushed Danielson to the top. Guys that have come out in amazement at his skill include but are not limited to Foley, Lance Storm, Jim Ross, Regal (numerous times), Finlay, and Michaels. Someone else recently (last year) said if they could wrestle anyone out of WWE, it’d be him. I think Jericho, maybe Benoit… but by all means, let’s ignore that and take Disco inferno’s word. Pure wrestlers can’t get over modern day, so I must have just been ignoring AJ’s great early X-Division character (generic face who can wrestle) and Benoit’s entire role (awesome wrestler) for their careers. Oh, and if you’ve seen Danielson live, you’d know how he connects and gets awesome crowd responses via all the things major TV stars do like poses, signature spots, and facial expressions. This arguement is a waste of time and, unless someone can offer a startlingly logical reply, I’m done wasting time with it.

I’ll leave you all with Jim Ross’s quote about Bryan Danielson, after all, why should you take my word for it? Decide for yourselves, will you believe Disco’s poorly typed diatribe or one of the most respected talent scouts in the history of the wrestling business? Here’s Mr. Ross’s comments and I’ll see you all Friday for ROH Weekly.

“I watched ROH’s Bryan Danielson wrestle in Oakland and I told any one who would listen that the young man is a keeper. Great work ethic, unique skills, lots of character, and he wrestles like he is a ‘star’ which is not something all wrestlers can do. I wished Bryan good luck as I left the arena in Oakland Monday and he went back to speaking with Shawn Michaels which can’t be a bad thing for Bryan.”

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