I bought my tickets back on October 9th. Daniel Bryan had just failed to capture the WWE title at Battleground, but I knew he’d have another shot at the upcoming Hell in a Cell PPV. By the time Raw rolled up to Seattle on December 9th, I was confident we’d get a championship celebration for our home state wrestling god. After all the screwjobs and false starts, surely we’d get to greet Aberdeen’s favorite son with championship gold around his waist? Right? Riiiiight?
Well, since that happened, last night didn’t go down exactly like I envisioned. What happened might have been even better.
I’m not going to sit here and claim that Seattle just willed Daniel Bryan back into the title picture. WWE can go ahead and ignore all of this, pass it off as hometown cooking, and keep Bryan fighting the Wyatts until they need him somewhere else on the card. They’ve done it before, they can do it again.
But if anything, just for one raucous evening, I got to be a part of something truly organic and special. My ears are still ringing. I’ve been to Seahawks home games, seen Metallica live in San Francisco at the Fillmore. This absolutely destroyed any other live event I’ve ever been to. It was another classic moment in the journey of Daniel Bryan, and I got to be a tiny part of it.
And that’s really the point right? We can talk about bad booking, and burying and pushes and all that jazz. We want it all to make sense and look great in a promo package and tie up nice and neatly. Rarely does that happen But if we get moments like this, where Daniel Bryan is the best in the world and we let him know as loud as we can go, it sure makes up for it. If after months and months of wheel spinning, a 90 second all out brawl thrusts Bryan and CM Punk right back into an angle they never should’ve been left out of in the first place, and suddenly creative look like geniuses. And when John Cena cuts a killer promo, destroying Randy Orton and making everyone else look great, well that completes a trifecta and everybody wins. I don’t know how it played on television, but it was bliss in the arena. I’m still a bit woozy.
Woozy, but not delusional. I’m not confident that WWE can pull this off, or even that they want to. We’ve been teased and kicked in the dick so many times. But part of me wants to believe that this is all a wonderful grand plan, that they knew the Seattle crowd would give Bryan the ovation he needed to restart his Authority angle and planned it accordingly. Daniel Bryan’s hero’s journey to the WWE Championship relaunches, and everyone is happy.
And the entire point of doing the hero’s journey is, well, the journey itself. Making the man a legend. I argued that it was the right call to keep Bryan away from the belt because it didn’t add up who he’d feud with. He still needs a bit more seasoning before he can sell a title feud all by himself yet. The journey wasn’t over. The training, the stumbles, the discovery, all the bits and pieces that add up before the victory and resolution. More to go.
I haven’t been super happy with how things have gone, despite agreeing that Bryan shouldn’t be champ. The feud with the Wyatts has been great, but it doesn’t make any sense that after chasing the WWE title for months, suddenly Bryan wouldn’t mention a thing about it and just move on. Cena acknowledging that he should be fighting Bryan instead, and Shawn Michaels getting a running knee both went a long way in erasing months of storyline frustration. Maybe we’ll make to WrestleMania XXX and finish the journey after all.
And maybe we had a bit more road to travel because once it ends, it ends for good. Once he’s the man, we don’t get to cheer him like we did tonight anymore. Sure, he’ll get cheered, but it won’t be, “Daniel Bryan is a guy we love because wrestling is awesome and he’s awesome and why don’t you get it?!?”
Cheers like that come from a special place, a potent mixture of love, anger, spite, and, well, hope. I have no idea if they’ll ever pull the trigger and acknowledge Bryan is the best wrestler in the WWE. But while we wait, maybe forever in vain, there’s no harm in telling them what we already know – as loud as we can. In this world of the scripted spectacle, that’s the realest thing we got.