WWE Backlash Was Trash, Here’s what I thought.
If you missed last night’s Smackdown Live, Daniel Bryan main evented against Rusev, and lost clean in the middle, 1-2-3! After a pretty good match, it felt like a huge win for Rusev that he really needed after literally being put in a casket two weeks ago. In a way, it reminded me of a television version of his match with Bray Wyatt at the 2014 Royal Rumble where he lost to a guy that needed a big win that the audience was in to. While on the surface this is certainly shocking, because why would you have Daniel Bryan do a clean loss on TV with no build up? However, I’m going to ask you to disregard that for the sake of this column.
During the show WWE kept showing a video referencing a short-haired Daniel Bryan back in 2011, winning Money in the Bank in Chicago; ironically where it will take place this year. It looked like Daniel Bryan in his most primitive form and felt like it was two whole eras ago. Announcers pushed this as Daniel Bryan having the chance to restart the moment that foreshadowed his initial rise to superstardom. This was a red herring to me because the best thing about Daniel Bryan’s WWE career has always been his linear trajectory. He was always going into something new, and at the same time elevating peaking at Wrestlemania 30. Daniel Bryan’s ticket to the back to the top shouldn’t be one he already took 7 years ago.
I figured WWE would take the cheap way out and have Big Cass sabotage his qualifying match and continue his feud. I’m actually relieved they resisted that low hanging fruit, and focused on the competition between Rusev and Bryan, because 1, I’ve always wanted to see this match and 2, it was another example Daniel Bryan finding a way to bring the best out of his opponent, and finally Daniel Bryan is WRESTLING IN MEANINGFUL MATCHES WITHOUT HAVING LOST A STEP.
Sure, we saw him in a tag team match, a few TV matches that didn’t have finishes, a 76-minute appearance in a 50 Man Royal Rumble where he set the record and then a PPV match with the underwhelming Big Cass. However, this was the Daniel Bryan that got extended time in a standard outing who could display what he was best at.
I didn’t need to see Daniel Bryan in a ladder match with 7 other guys, in a high-risk scenario that The Miz, and potentially Sheamus could be booked for. Daniel Bryan losing a single match in the month of May wasn’t the end of the world that some are sure to prognosticate, or for those rushing to bang on Daniel Bryan fans, assume people will be ready to fight Vince McMahon over.
I made a funny idea of not beating Daniel Bryan for an entire year known on One Nation Radio a few weeks back, but that wasn’t exactly realistic for how WWE plans to handle him. For the longest time, I just wanted to see Daniel Bryan wrestle, and this isn’t nearly distracting enough for me to get upset over given the landscape, time of the year, and who he actually lost to.
Since we already have a babyface champion who gets cheered and is locked in formerly a dream feud turned dick kicking contest, Bryan can do his own thing in his own universe, and losses are allowed to be apart that. Now I’m not saying just anyone should be beating him, but I feel worlds better about Rusev defeating him than Big Cass, who is a stiff and had to be guided every step of the way during their match. When you can’t have a good match with Daniel Bryan, it’s time to reconsider.
Another gem from last night. Big Cass is supposed to grab Bryan's hand to stop him from locking in the Yes Lock. But he forgets to do it, so Bryan has to grab Cass' wrist and struggle with it himself like Martin Landau and the octopus in Ed Wood. pic.twitter.com/aYGSNmH6K3
— Andrew Rich (@AndrewTRich) May 7, 2018
If I haven’t convinced you yet, think of it like this. Daniel Bryan’s entire career has been a rollercoaster. From being eliminated on NXT, to being fired from WWE after the Nexus attack, winning the US Title, getting snubbed at Wrestlemania, winning MITB, cashing it in, getting buried at WM 28, his loss spawning an organic “We’re not gonna take this s*** anymore” movement, to challenging but coming up short in his championship pursuit, to Team Hell No becoming the modern Rock & Sock Connection, to proving he wasn’t the weak link, to FINALLY winning the world title by beating then SUPER JOHN CENA clean who hadn’t lost to anyone that way except The Rock in years, to LOSING the belt immediately, to authoring the greatest storyline most of us have ever seen, from post Summerslam 2013 to Wrestlemania 30, which SirSam will be chronicling in his series YES Relived. He lost it all due to injury, came back and got screwed out of multiple Royal Rumbles win that should have been his, put over a guy WWE chose over him in a classic, won a title at Wrestlemania, got injured and lost it all again, and got forced into a nearly 3 year “retirement” all while his fans never lost faith in him. I promise, losing to Rusev on Smackdown in a MITB qualifying match is nothing compared to where he’s been and not a sign of where he will be in the following year.
Daniel Bryan is back. Just try to remember what him being back feels like, losses and all.