Monday, 7 July 2014

Underdog No More

Back in May when it first became apparent that Daniel Bryan was going to be taking a significant amount of time off due to injury I wrote about how he’d need to change his ring style when he returned (read that here). Since then it’s dawned on me that D-Bry’s wrestling isn’t the only change that should occur. The way he’s presented could do with some alteration too.

We all know Bryan works well as an underdog. It was part of his original appeal and was the reason that his WrestleMania XXX storyline worked so well. If Bryan was not presented as a man who had to overcome long odds to win his battle against The Authority would have been nowhere near as satisfying as it was.

But as effective as the approach is the Bryan being an underdog thing can only go on for so long. The WWE management crew’s instinct is always going to be to present a man of Bryan’s height as an underdog but they need to move beyond that. Continuing with it indefinitely would see it become familiar and boring, running the risk of harming ‘The Dazzler’s’ popularity and making him look out of his depth at the top. Luckily there’s an alternate approach that wouldn’t go against anything that’s been established about the Bryan character at this point.

The beard should remain untrimmed.
Bryan should be portrayed as a super-efficient tapout machine. Have him wrestle expendable guys that are bigger than him (Titus O’Neil, Goldust and even Mark Henry would fit the bill) on TV and beat them in two or three minute glorified squash matches with the Yes Lock or a new hold that can be presented as even more deadly (have Cole tell a story about how Bryan devised it while he was recuperating from the neck surgery). When wrestling on pay-per-view or on TV against more credible opponents Bryan’s size should become less of a factor and he could simply be portrayed as a great technical wrestler.

The only exception I want to see with this is Bryan v Lesnar. That match is so obviously begging for the underdog treatment that it would be foolish not to take it. Have Bryan take a pasting from Lesnar before sneaking in a quick small package win. Or, if he’s losing, have him take a pasting, mount a comeback, and then fall to a kimura lock applied in desperation, showing that Bryan was able to push Lesnar to the limit and that ‘The Beast’ only got the victory in a last ditch attempt himself.

Even then it would only work once. A Bryan Lesnar rematch would probably work best (or at least be most enjoyable) if the story were that Bryan had figured out a weakness of Lesnar’s and was focusing incredibly proficiently on exploiting it.

If Bryan comes back and enters the same WWE routine his popularity’s going to take a hit. It might not ruin him, but why allow any damage at all to be done to a man who’s become a success for the company? Better to avoid it and continue to play to Bryan’s strengths.

1 comment:

  1. very well said!

    I had been so tired of the whole storyline since summerslam not only because of how far they stretched it, repeated it and milked bryan's underdog status till its last second, but because I didn't even consider him to have any more underdog status after beating John Cena clean for the WWE title on Summerslam. that was it. he wasn't an underdog anymore SINCE THEN, to me.

    and so, I suffered through months and months of barely logical and poorly written stories that are based on almost nothing... only to have the sweet prize of resisting that torture end after one night only. (and not only because of the injure, as I didn't like whatever they were booking bryan into after mania even before his neck gave up on him.)

    and the result of this now is me absolutely resenting a lot of what bryan does nowadays even though I love the guy in real life, and it's causing me to feel very guilty over it.

    but God, wouldn't bryan actually going all out and being booked as an effective machine in fair situations not only be a breath of fresh air and fix all that, but also be this little ball of fury of a man's best role to play?! he was at his best when he had those hot tags where he goes in and jumps all over the place destroying all members of the shield, the wyatts or the authority. so, I totally agree with this solution.