The Reality of Wrestling: Daniel Bryan in The E

Sadly I didn’t get to my Misawa piece this weekend, so that will go on the back-burner with the roundtable coming next week. Luckily I was watching RAW last night and saw something that I figured I would’ve seen a lot sooner: Bryan Danielson, I mean Daniel Bryan, getting squashed by Sheamus in under a minute via knees to the head.

Oh yes, it was only a matter of time before Danielson would be doing that kind of a job and of course today people were having their say. Charlie Haas tweeted about and the meaningless forums were full of the usual chatter—“WWE sucks,” “Well nobody cares about some small Indy fed,” “[insert worthless/borderline racist comment having nothing to do with the topic]”–so I figured I would have my say as well.

The fact that it was Danielson and he jobbed last night the way he did is one thing, but because Danielson is the U.S. champ and just coming off a pretty good title defense—by coming off of I mean literally the night after—was a big reason I was scratching my head.

First things first, this isn’t because Danielson is small. For most people this would seem to be the immediate reaction and first conclusion to jump to in this situation; sure he’s young and talented and wrestled around the world, but he’s small and he’s in The E. However, I don’t believe that is the case here. True, The E has a history of showing that things are going to be harder and you’re going to have to be that much better than everyone else if you’re under 6’2”, but it isn’t as if people under that barrier haven’t been able to make an impact. People forget that Kurt Angle is only around six feet tall and look at everything he was able to do and all the major storylines he was involved in despite being in The E for only around six and a half years. Or Rey Mysterio, who easily has been the most pushed, best booked little guy that has ever been in The E; the fact that Mysterio hasn’t spent ninety percent of his time in the promotion doing two minute jobs for slow big men is a testament not only to his ability, but his appeal. Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero are two more fantastic examples of guys under six feet tall (Eddie was only around 5’8” or 5’9” while Benoit was around 5’10” or 5’11”) getting main-event pushes and matches, but the best example of a smaller guy being part of The E’s main-event circle for an extended period of time has to be Chris Jericho. Jericho has been in major feuds with The Rock, HHH, Kurt Angle, Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels (twice), Rey Mysterio, and John Cena all the while pulling his weight, and then some when needed, in the above mentioned feuds. To reiterate, Danielson/Sheamus wasn’t height or build related. Besides, if it was only about Sheamus destroying a small, talented guy they could’ve sent Evan Bourne out there and had Danielson team with Mark Henry later on the show. This was more about just getting Danielson on T.V. for the sake of getting him on T.V. and forget the how or why.

What this comes down to is the old saying (in regards to The E) “creative has nothing for you to do.” What that means is that you’re going to be jobbing and/or barely on T.V. for the foreseeable future, if not fired. And whether you’re jobbing or just being cannon fodder in some backstage or in-ring segment, it’s going to be short. Just look at what Matt Hardy has had to do before and after the MVP and Jeff Hardy feuds and you should have an idea what I mean.

As for why they have nothing for Danielson to do, it’s very simple: he’s on the wrong show. There, problem solved. RAW is the sports-entertainment and storyline/backstage dominated show while SmackDown features much more in-ring action on a regular basis than RAW. You could move Danielson to Friday’s on Syfy right now and everyone would be happy as Danielson would likely have more time and potentially more freedom to do his thing in the ring while RAW would be able to bring in Dolph Ziggler (I-C champ, the parallel to the U.S. belt in The E) and Vickie Guerrero to give Monday’s that much more bad acting and bad storyline material. As for Danielson’s belt: if The E is really going for unification in the near future, you could just have him job that belt in a similar fashion as his loss to Sheamus—a traditional E sendoff—and unify it on RAW. And I’ve already got Danielson’s first SmackDown storyline ready and it’s a win-win once again: have him team up with Mysterio against Alberto Del Rio, aka Dos Caras Jr. This was likely going to be what Christian would be doing, but since he just went under the knife that’s obviously out. So bring Daniel Bryan in as the LeBell Lock vs. an Armbar that E fans might actually buy into is something I’d be on board for.

The reality is The E can be crazy, nonsensical, over the top, and unpredictable with their booking of talent for one all-important reason: they can afford to. With that out there, there’s really no telling what’s going to happen to Daniel Bryan while he’s in The E. Sure, it’s easy right now to say that he would’ve been better off taking a year to learn Muay Thai or trying out MMA, but he hasn’t been in The E that long. This was an attitude very similar to many Internet fans during those years when all Benoit, Jericho, and Guerrero were doing was job (and this was after Jericho’s first big run), but then all three seemed to get their moment in the sun together for around a year and a half when all three were at the top of the main-event pool along with the usual suspects, and not below them. What Bryan has going for him is his talent and the fact that he was trained by Shawn Michaels. Yeah, his mic work is only above average on his best nights, but there’s nothing that says he can’t get better over time, especially since he’s in a promotion where mic work is valued higher than workrate. If Danielson’s sole problem is his mic work and The E sees him in their future plans, they’ll at least attempt to help him in that area. I’m not saying he’s going to be in main-events or get a big world title push or anything like that—last month’s roundtable stated as much—but things can change. If the youth movement is for real and if Vince is for real about making more smaller guys into bigger names, than Bryan would fit into that plan considering his talent alone. Not to mention how things can change simply because of people (Internet people) like me. Remember, Christian was supposed to be the one tormenting Jeff Hardy on SmackDown at the beginning of last year, but that was changed literally at the last minute because people like me saw it coming a mile away and wanted to let everybody know. While that kind of thing doesn’t happen too often, it does happen (see Wrestlemania every year) and it will happen again at some point. So I say enjoy the novelty, if nothing else, of seeing Bryan Danielson on WWE television because it might not be around all that long. But you never know.

PLUGS
It has nothing to do with wrestling, but check out the greatest golf photo ever.

Another good results and news source for Japanese pro wrestling is Puro Love. Note: I’ve linked this site before, but I will give this warning again: it’s in German, so have google translate handy.

And in the spirit of this week’s installment, here’s Ring of Honor’s website.

SEVEN MATCHES UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN

Mitsuharu Misawa, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, & Kenta Kobashi Vs. Jumbo Tsuruta, Masanobu Fuchi, & Akira Taue, AJPW, 3/24/1991

In the U.S., six-man tag’s stacked with main-event talent can become a bit repetitive or dull. This is not one of those six-man’s. This isn’t even the best six-man in the Misawa/Jumbo feud, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch and enjoy this one too.

GHC Title: Mitsuharu Misawa (c.) Vs. Kenta Kobashi, NOAH, 3/1/2003
Part 2
Part 3

A different kind of epic between the two. This was Meltzer’s and Tokyo Sports’ match of the year for ’03. A lot of people also have major issues with it. See for yourself and decide. The match is built around the fact that this was supposed to be their last singles match against each other (this was a time when both men retiring seemed rapidly approaching) and it does work on that level, just ask the crowd.

Jushin Liger Vs. Hayabusa, 4/16/1994

From the ’94 Super J-Cup tournament. Hayabusa was basically the more sloppy, hardcore version of Liger, and yet he was every bit as awesome as Liger in his prime. Lucky for us this was during that time and both men show off their stuff in a FIRST ROUND match. Now that’s a tourney when these two are in a first round match.

Tiger Mask Vs. Gran Hamada, NJPW, 11/5/1981

Old school junior wrestling from the man who made all things possible for smaller wrestlers in Japan, Satoru Sayama—the original Tiger Mask. Gran Hamada is one of those junior pioneers who doesn’t get his just credit for helping to revolutionize and popularize the division on a global scale as both men (Hamada more than Sayama) wrestled numerous times in Mexico and in the U.S. Hopefully this match is not just another example of the awesomeness that is Sayama as Tiger Mask, but an example of why Hamada is deserving of similar recognition.

Bob Sapp Vs. Manabu Nakanishi, 10/14/2002

Sapp’s New Japan debut. Believe it or not this match saved the Tokyo Dome show it was on of having an absolutely horrible (at the time) attendance number. This was during the time when Sapp’s name meant money in Japan for reasons I can’t fully comprehend. You be the judge.

No Ropes Barbed Wire Barricade Mat Electric Land Mine Double Hell Death Match : The Great Muta Vs. The Great Onita (Atsushi Onita), NJPW, 8/28/1999

This is the Muta alter-ego at its zenith. This match is literally all character and weapons. It’s a hardcore match with both men basically using Muta’s mannerisms on each other. If you want spectacle, blood, and all things hardcore, check it out. If you’re not a fan of that stuff, watch at your own risk.

Exploding Ring Exploding Cage Barbed Wire Match: Atsushi Onita Vs. Hayabusa, FMW, 5/5/1995

This was Onita’s first and most famous retirement match as it was in front of 50,000 at Kawasaki Stadium. To give you an idea of Onita’s fame in Japan and significance to hardcore wrestling, people call Mick Foley the American Onita, so there ya go. The point here was for Onita to pass the torch to Hayabusa as far as the ace of the promotion was. While I don’t think that happened in the match it did happen for a year before Onita came back.

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