All during WWE NXT Season 1, the main kayfabe talking point was that Daniel Bryan was an accomplished indie wrestler, but that he had no charisma whatsoever. He was dry as a desert, and that was the reason why the WWE waited so long to pick up on him. It was as huge a part of Michael Cole’s and even Matt Striker’s repertoires as anything else during that season, and it even led to the former Bryan Danielson coming to blows with Cole in what was one of the most memorable storylines of that first season of the developmental show. Not bad for a talking point that was proven patently false within the first 15 minutes of the premiere of the show.
This isn’t the first time that the WWE has used lies to try and get a storyline over. Remember when they tried telling everyone that Molly Holly and then Mickie James were both fat? Yeah, if they’re fat, then I’d hate to hear what they’d consider me. Still, it’s funny if that to see how much vigor Cole goes in character to demean Bryan’s mic skills when he’s proven wrong every time the American Dragon opens his mouth. I know Cole is playing a character – there was one moment on the show Bryan was eliminated where Cole broke kayfabe a bit and praised his promo – which only intensifies the stupidity of the thinking of the WWE. The power of suggestion can make people believe things that they wouldn’t necessarily do if they were left to their own druthers.
Take for example that initial promo on the NXT premiere. Bryan came out and cut a straightforward, well-delivered promo about being a submissions expert and demanding his opponents either “tap or snap” as in their bones in whatever submission hold Bryan was applying at the time. This was well-received by the crowd, who was cheering for Bryan pretty hard. Fast-forward to this past Monday on RAW. When Bryan predictably interrupted the Miz’s magazine cover unveiling, he got a really good pop. However, once he started cutting his promo, which was as good if not better than what the Miz was delivering on that occasion, the crowd kinda got quiet, almost like they were conditioned to believe Cole’s character, which was still hemming and hawing about how boring Bryan was on Monday. They perked up again when Bryan got Miz nearly into the LaBell Lock, and then popped louder when Bryan wrestled Alex Riley into the same hold. However, when much of how you’re pushed in the WWE has to do with what you say on the microphone first and what you do in the ring second, it’s not a good sign that people weren’t reacting all that much to what Bryan was saying.
The first rule of booking is that you accentuate the positives of your wrestlers, and that you only humiliate someone who’s over enough for it not to matter or who’s really not sticking around anyway. It’s clear that the WWE has plans for Bryan; why would they stick him in a program with Miz right after getting signed back to the company if they didn’t? They had plans for him from jump, seeing as he was the most heavily featured rookie on NXT until he was eliminated. Why even bring in the “boring” factor at all? It’s not something you use to get babyfaces over, not even if the only people spouting it were heels in the first place. Paul Heyman never used that kind of self-defeating booking in ECW, which was a huge reason why ECW was able to make stars out of guys who were otherwise bound for the scrap heap. It didn’t matter if Taz was a borderline midget; he was pushed in such a manner that people feared him, regardless of height.
Self-defeating booking gets no one over. You know who uses that crap now? TNA does. The best example of this came on last week’s Impact, when the Motor City Machine Guns had a face to face promo with London Brawling, the team of Desmond Wolfe and Brutus Magnus. During the segment, their valet, Chelsea, implied that Wolfe had a small penis. This was the team that was supposed to be challenging for the Tag Team Championships at the PPV (they were pulled at the last minute, but that was at the last minute). They had no prior exposure on television except for exceedingly cheesy segments where they went shopping at malls or some other bullcrap. So finally, they get their moment to build heat on TV, and what do Vince Russo and the “brilliant” TNA bookers do? They insult Wolfe’s manhood. Yeah, because THAT’S SMART.
What they’ve done with Bryan is not as bad in terms of severity even if its length is tiresome, but it’s something no company should do. That being said, the Dragon has been succeeding mightily at breaking through that talking point and becoming a major player in the WWE’s future. There’s no question that he has all the tools in and out of the ring to do it. All he needs is a chance to succeed, and you know what? I think he’s going to get it.
And now, Bryan Danielson, Daniel Bryan, the American Dragon has a United States Championship match at Night of Champions, this after coming back at the second biggest PPV of the year in a much-coveted position on Team WWE and immediately eliminating two of Team Nexus in dominating fashion. Folks, Daniel Bryan is here to stay. He has the tools to smack down the talking points, and if he’s given a few more months to build to the top, he will make everyone, even Michael Cole, forget about the lies told about him having no charisma.
Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.
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