Friday, May 16, 2014
Dial it Down Daniel
So Daniel Bryan has gotten neck surgery, and will be out for a little while. The WWE is reportedly going to heed the doctor's prognosis when they decide what to do with the WWE title he holds. If he's only going to be gone a short time, they'll keep the belt on him. If it's going to be longer they'll strip him and move on. No matter what happens, my advice to Daniel Bryan when it comes to his in ring work is.....tone it down. You got nothing left to prove about what you can do. You have achieved a level of popularity that few in the business have manged to reach. Don't jeopardize your long term health and your career going forward by being reckless and hurting yourself over and over. Bryan's injury is reportedly the result of several years of punishment and not some freak kind of thing. That's all the more reason to start dialing it back some now. The last thing Bryan (and the WWE for that matter) need is for Bryan to end up like the Dynamite Kid or Mick Foley or, god forbid, Chris Benoit. But that's a real possibility given his style and the reckless abandon with which he performs. And that's why I'm saying here that it's time for him to dial things back a little.
In my 30 years as a fan, I've seen many an exciting, high flying, risk taking wrestler come and go. They captivate you early on with their athleticism, their exciting repertoire, and their willingness to do crazy death defying stunts in the name of thrilling the crowd. Some go on to have long careers but many find themselves a shell of themselves 10 years later, an injury riddled shell of themselves only able to do a fraction of what they used to and ready for the glue factory way ahead of their time. Daniel Bryan's ring style is almost identical to Benoit's, who was modeled himself after Dynamite Kid. The suplexes, the diving headbutts, the crossface submission hold (once Benoit's finisher and now dubbed the yes lock for Bryan), along with a few moves to distinguish each from the other two. But the Kid ended up a near cripple after years of that work took its toll on his body, and Benoit suffered multiple concussions throughout his career that undoubtedly helped put him in the mental state that led him to end his own life.
But they're not the only ones for Bryan to look back to with a cautious eye. Shawn Micheals was another performer in that vein, and he spent five years on the shelf with a back injury that appeared career ending before he made a miraculous recovery. Mick Foley was the King of Extreme, taking chairshots, falling through tables, and torturing himself in all kinds of different ways for our amusement. And then one day, at the young age of 35 he was no longer fit for a full time career and was reduced to sporadic action for the next 12 years. Seeing him in action during his part timer years was sad; he was reduced to mostly doing more stunts because he couldn't do the actual wrestling part of matches anymore. While Bryan doesn't do flying leaps off the top of steel cages onto tables, or take full force chairshots to the head, he does take more than his share of risks.
I'm not saying he should turn into a Lou Thez-era mat wrestler. But it's time for him to figure out what moves he can put on the shelf and stick them there. As a fan I'd like to see 10 to 15 more years of work from Bryan, not 3 to 5. If he wants that then it's time for some tough choices. We didn't ask for Mick Foley to do all that crazy stuff, and we don't ask for Bryan to do all the things he does, either. He's talented enough to figure it out and entertain us just as well as he does now, and he doesn't owe us any more than he's already given us. Time to look out for number one, Daniel.