Daniel Bryan – Goat Face or G.O.A.T. ? (Greatest of all time)
At the beginning of the 21st century, hardcore wrestling fans were introduced to Daniel Bryan (if they paid attention to the independent organizations.) Back then, he went by his “real” name, Bryan Danielson. Big time wrestling nerds (like myself of course) will also know him as the American Dragon, going back as far as 2000 or 2001. He did work for the WWE (then WWF) for a short time and was trained by William Regal. This did not last too long.
For most of the 2000s, DB had a long string of successes with independent federations, most notably Ring of Honor. Considering all of his experience, he enters 2013 a 14 year veteran at 32 years old. It’s pretty astounding that he started wrestling at 18 years of age. His initial trainers included the likes of Dean Malenko (until his school closed) and Shawn Michaels.
Anyone who has known DB’s skill, and watched WWE in 2009-2010, was likely disappointed with the path his career was taking. He served as a lackey with the somewhat short lived (although groundbreaking) Nexus stable. Many will remember the “tie incident” where Bryan was legitimately fired (or so most of us believe) for “choking” commentator Justin Roberts with his own tie. Myself, among many others, were incensed at this firing and saw it as ridiculous. WWE was merely attempting to protect its “non-violent” image and enforce its vague rules.
Personally, I was worried this incident would hamper Daniel Bryan’s wrestling career. I was pleasantly surprised when he showed up at Summerslam 2010 and played an interesting and somewhat unpredictable role. It’s pretty fair to say that many if not most fans were shocked to see him that night. From there his stock has only risen.
He went on to win his first singles championship at Night of Champions 2010, Money in the Bank in 2011, and finally, cashing in to win his first World Heavyweight Tile at TLC 2011. Although he lost his title in quick fashion at Wrestlemania 28, he had already established himself as a main event superstar.
Some would argue that his tag team faction has detracted from his status. I would disagree. Kane and Daniel Bryan have helped a still floundering tag division be at least somewhat endurable. Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan) have provided countless moments of comic relief between September 2012 and the present day.
Today, it is somewhat hard to say where Daniel Bryan is headed. The most obvious answer is up. It is clear that Vince, HHH, and the writing team are behind him. I believe his involvement with The Shield demonstrates this as well, especially considering how valuable The Shield is to WWE’s future (in my opinion of course).
My (somewhat questionable) prediction for the next 2-3 months is that they will use Daniel Bryan to finally make Randy Orton a heel again. I know myself and so many fans want Randy Orton to have a character change again and I think Daniel Bryan is the perfect candidate to help him with that. Both of them are established enough to have high level mid-card match, even without any championships involved.
For the very long term, I believe in 5-7 years, Daniel Bryan will wrap up his career as one of the top 10, maybe even five, perhaps even the greatest wrestler of all time. I know it sounds like a stretch. I already see him in the same league as Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. On top of that, I know he will still improve in the next 3-5 years. Maybe a future argument for him will be Goat Face or G.O.A.T.? (Greatest of All Time).