The wrestling career of Bryan “Daniel Bryan” Danielson has come to an end. Due to the rigors of wrestling, Danielson decided to walk away from something he gave over fifteen years of his life to in hopes of becoming one of the best wrestlers in the world. Before he was “Daniel Bryan” in WWE, independent pro wrestling fans knew him by his real name and voiced their belief that no one was better in the ring that “The American Dragon”. In the 45th ROHbot Report, I gave my thoughts on the potential success Danielson could achieve in WWE.
Let me first say congratulations to Danielson for making that huge leap to the #1 wrestling based company in the world. Yeah, I know WWE is “sports entertainment”, but until they get rid of that ring in the center of their profitable events, then it’s still a wrestling based company. Any way, I can’t deny the hope that I have for every ROH wrestler to make it to the big time known as “WWE”. No matter how great Ring of Honor is, to see the guys you’ve supported on a smaller scale for years show the world what they’ve been missing while you were bragging about it is a little bit of a personal victory for any fan.
“American Dragon” Bryan Danielson means a lot to any long time Ring of Honor fan. For those who don’t know, Danielson is one of the last links between the original incarnation of ROH and what we see today. The only people left on the roster that can claim that spot are The Briscoes. For me, Bryan Danielson is the Bret Hart of this generation. When I started regularly ordering Ring of Honor DVDs, Danielson gave me something that only Bret Hart had some ten years earlier: a great appreciation for the art of professional wrestling. Danielson isn’t known for his incredible promos (even though he doesn’t get the credit for his microphone work like he should), or his flashy moves. Bryan Danielson set a mark for himself as the man you buy DVDs to watch wrestle. You paid to see him wrestle like no one’s business, making matches you’d think would be good great, and having great matches become classics. As we moved through the first decade of the 2000s, Danielson’s ability to have excellent matches with anyone became his forte. I honestly don’t think anyone outside of the big two in the 90s can say they’ve had as many great matches with such a diverse set of wrestlers as Danielson. There’s a reason I call Danielson this generation’s Bret Hart, and I think his matches prove that. In the ring, there isn’t anyone close to Bryan Danielson right now. I don’t care what company or country you’re talking about, Bryan Danielson is “the best in the world”.
So that brings us to the looming question, “Will Danielson be able to prove his in-ring superiority in WWE?” A more important question is “Will Bryan have the opportunity to showcase his in-ring superiority in WWE?” I hate to say it, but I really don’t have any answers at this point. I mean; Danielson hasn’t even finished up his indie schedule. I don’t know if he’ll be sent to FCW for some WWE-izing of his wrestling repertoire (which he’s been doing himself over the past year in his matches), or if he’ll just be moved to the main roster after a few dark matches. What I do know is Danielson will have to be ready for the opportunity to give his best. Vince McMahon always says, “I give opportunities for success, not promises.” An argument can be made that people like Colt Cabana never got the opportunity. People like Chris Harris never got that opportunity (but an easier argument can be made that he brought that on himself). Opportunities aren’t just thrown out there for everyone. And why should they? Sometimes you have to sit back and wait before you press for a chance to prove your worth. Bret Hart did it, and look how that turned out. Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, The Rock, all of them took their time, and then broke loose when they saw the chance. Recently, a ROH alumnus CM Punk has done it in a major way. For goodness sakes, he’s about to feud with The Undertaker over the WWE World title. How many people can say that? Maybe Danielson will follow CM Punk’s footsteps in making a name for himself on a global level. Or maybe he’ll fall like Braden Walker after being given a generic name (as if “Bryan Danielson” isn’t pretty generic) and gaining a noticeable amount of weight.
Speaking of weight, what about Danielson’s size? Will that be a liability for him? Once again, I don’t have a real answer for that, but I must say that it will be a little bit of a problem for him. Danielson is only 5’8”, which will put him on the Evan Bourne side of the roster. You know, where all the less than 6’2” wrestlers sit. Like Kofi Kingston, Chris Jericho, and Rey Mysterio, and Shawn Michaels, and CM Punk. You know, those guys who aren’t doing much right now. Seriously, I do think Danielson’s size will play against him a little bit. His style works well with people around his size. While I know there is some exceptions in ROH when it comes to the size of people Danielson’s beaten, the majority of those opponents looked as if they could be beaten by Danielson. Think about it, would you really believe Kane could lose to Danielson in a fight? What about Mark Henry? But when you really sit back and think about it, there are only a few overly large men in WWE right now. While Danielson may be smaller than a majority of the roster, him beating Jericho, The Miz, Tyson Kidd, Dolph Ziggler, Kofi, Rey, Matt Hardy, Christian, even Edge wouldn’t look too unbelievable. Right now, WWE is looking more diverse than it has since beginning of the millennium; and Danielson could greatly add to that diversity.
Another advantage Danielson has coming in that most don’t is support. Bryan Danielson was trained by Shawn Michaels, and mentored by William Regal. Plus he’s a friend of WWE World champion CM Punk. Tell me that wouldn’t give you a little bit of clout. But I know Danielson won’t be relying on the words of others to give him his chance to shine. Danielson, if given the opportunity Vince has promised to so many others in the past, will be able to pull a CM Punk and become a good sized name in WWE. He might not duplicate Punk’s success, but I know it’ll be worthy of what we expect from the “American Dragon”. Or he might surpass Punk and prove that he is the Bret Hart of this generation.