YES Relived 9: What if Daniel Bryan had reigned as WWE Champion in 2013?

Daniel Bryan YES

G’day Lords of Pain, welcome back to YES Relived, the weekly series where we go back to relive one of pro wrestling’s greatest ever stories, the rise of Daniel Bryan and The Yes Movement. Starting at Summer Slam 2013 and going through to Wrestlemania 30 I will be rewatching, reviewing and analysing Daniel Bryan’s story on a week by week basis.

Last week Bryan was stripped of the WWE Championship and accused by The Authority of conspiring with the referee to organise a fast count at Night of Champions. This was too much for the rest of the locker room, ten of whom rose up and saved Bryan from a vicious Randy Orton attack.

This week, as well as continuing Bryan’s story and seeing the fallout of the uprising, in The Breakdown I will be asking the question, what if Daniel Bryan had been champion from Battleground to Wrestlemania? With hindsight it is clear him chasing created a very compelling story but at the time many in this community were hoping to see Bryan with gold around his waist. I’ll see if I can make an equally compelling story for Bryan and the Yes Movement as Champion. But enough intro let’s get stuck into what happened this week in YES Relived.

The Life of Bryan

Raw 23/9/2013

Welcome to Raw and to start tonight the ten wrestlers who rose up against the Authority last week: The Usos, Dolph Ziggler, RVD, The Prime Time Players, Justin Gabriel, Kofi Kingston, R-Truth and Zack Ryder are on the stage, ready to be addressed by Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.

The political force that is The Authority kicks into full gear and Stephanie and Triple H begin to reframe the actions of the ten men at the end of Raw last week as an attempt to get ahead themselves. However when The Authority says it is clear this wasn’t actually about Daniel Bryan but about them getting attention RVD, a guy who has never been one to play politics, steps up to the mic and interrupts with a classic, “Come on dude. We were clearly fighting for Daniel Bryan, you screwed him and you’d do the same to us. We were just fighting for what is right.”

In a utterly transparent attempt to about face and consolidate his power Triple H then says the guys they should be mad at are The Shield who have been taking their opportunities and beating them down. He says he wants to reward the uprising and puts them alongside Daniel Bryan in an 11 on 3 elimination tag match against The Shield for the main event.

Before the main event begins Bryan makes his first appearance of the night, mic in hand, to a succession of “YES!” and “DANIEL BRYAN!” chants. Bryan brings up the supposed conspiracy with Scott Armstrong, denying it and, simply says “you don’t need to organise a fast count when the other guy is knocked out.”

The Chicago crowd is lapping it up as Bryan says he is tired of Randy Orton hiding behind his boss’s skirt and at Battleground there will be no fast counts, no guests refs and no excuses. Bryan is on a roll now and launches into a killer monologue:

“When he wakes up from the beating this B-Plus Goat Faced Troll gives him. He is going to hear one word, etched over and over again in the back in his brain. It is going to be a word that will haunt him for the rest of his life. The word the entire arena will be chanting at Battleground and that word is this: YES! YES! YES! YES!”

After Bryan’s impassioned promo The Shield’s music hits and they make their way to the ring for the main event. Out of nowhere the trio are attacked by two hooded individuals who are revealed to be the Rhodes brothers, Goldust and Cody Rhodes.

Cody Rhodes & Goldust attack The Shield

Over the last month the Rhodes brothers lost their jobs at the hands of The Authority and their Father was attacked by The Shield on Smackdown. In an awesomely chaotic scene security pull Cody and Goldust away to the back. It is yet another example of the brilliant shared universe story telling I spoke about last week that really defined this period of TV. This is not the last time I’ll be touching on this subplot.

Daniel Bryam, The Usos, Dolph Ziggler, RVD, The Prime Time Players, Justin Gabriel, Kofi Kingston, R-Truth and Zack Ryder v The Shield (elimination tag match)

The Shield are outnumbered in this match so look to hit hard and fast early. Using that strategy they first isolate Dolph Ziggler and after working over him go straight for Rob Van Dam. The injured RVD takes the ring gamely but Ambrose is all over him, immediately throwing him injured shoulder first into the ring post and hiting him with a nasty Facebuster DDT.

RVD DDT

Much love for RVD, very few men take a DDT like that but unfortunately for Van Dam, Ambrose makes the cover and RVD is eliminated. As the also injured Kofi Kingston takes the ring Ambrose smells blood in the water and immediately pushes the pace with the same Facebuster DDT and Kofi Kingston is eliminated.

Titus O’Neil, Justin Gabriel and Zack Ryder are then also eliminated in succession by Reigns and this is turning into a capitulation for Bryan’s team. The eleven uprisers have now been whittled down to six and it looks like The Shield could run through the entire opposition team. Sensing a need to turn the tide, Daniel Bryan enters the ring and faces off against the man he bested twice last week.

This is such an awesome moment to bring Bryan in, the hero riding in through the and Bryan does not disappoint. With the crowd behind him Bryan is too fast for Reigns, dodging Reigns with a flip off the top turnbuckle, hitting a flying clothesline and his corner dropkicks. Bryan has swung things his side’s way and one of The Usos tags in, nailing Reigns with a Super Kick, the second Uso then comes off the top rope with a splash, makes the pin and Roman Reigns is eliminated.

The Usos Daniel Bryan eliminate Roman Reigns

Apparently this is the first time Reigns has been pinned in the WWE and Ambrose and Rollins look utterly shocked. Rollins steps into the ring after a word with Ambrose, without their usual difference maker they will need to use every ounce of ring intelligence they have.

Five on two and The Shield are immediately able to get back on the front foot as Rollins and Ambrose isolate Darren Young. The pair work him over and Rollins hits him with a cool flying knee off the ropes for the pinfall and Darren Young is eliminated.

Seth Rollins flying knee

The rally doesn’t last long though as Dolph Ziggler jumps in. A fresh Ziggler manages to work the tired Amborse out of his corner off the ropes catches him with a Zig Zag, goes for the pin and Dean Ambrose is eliminated. The Shield are down to one.

Sensing the desperation of his situation Rollins immediately jumps on Ziggler with ground and pound, methodically holds him down and throws a series of cautious glances at the remaining four wrestlers in Bryan’s corner.

Rollins manages one further flurry of offence and R-Truth is eliminated with a Curb Stomp but with four on one it is the end of the line for The Authority’s lackeys. Daniel Bryan once again takes over, directing the other three men on his team to surround the ring Shield style before they all jump in and attack Rollins.

The Shield Daniel Bryan Dolph Ziggler The Usos

The crowd is loving this but it is too much for Reigns and Ambrose who rush back in but are hit with dual Super Kicks and splashes over the ropes from The Usos.

The time has come again for our hero to step up again and Bryan seizes the moment, hitting Rollins with a Running Knee flipping The Architect head over heels. Bryan goes for the pin and Seth Rollins has been eliminated! Bryan’s team wins and Raw goes off the air with Michael Cole declaring the locker room has found a new leader.

Winner: Daniel Bryan, The Usos & Dolph Ziggler
Rating: 2.5 YES’s out of 5

That was a fun match, the momentum was completely with The Shield until Bryan inserted himself but even before Reigns was eliminated, the eleven on three advantage meant the result was never really in doubt.

Even though they were on the side of The Authority, the numbers advantage for Bryan’s team meant that I found myself cheering for The Shield at different times during the match. I honestly cannot imagine any other trio in modern WWE even entertaining a chance against eleven other wrestlers but the way the three complement each other shon through today even in defeat.

It was also a great match for Bryan. He was in the background for much of the match but was the one to turn the tide against Reigns and then directed the execution of The Shield at the end.

Bryan did not appear on Smackdown this week so straight into:

The Breakdown

A few weeks ago I spoke about the general sense of disappointment that started to take infect the IWC when Bryan won the WWE Championship with a fast count at Night of Champions. As evidenced on this very site, there was a feeling of the WWE playing the same card too many times, screwing over Bryan. With the benefit of hindsight it is clear that another rough night for our hero just made the long term story even better.

However looking back at it with hindsight is too easy so I thought I’d set myself a challenge to create a Daniel Bryan title run that maintained the magic of the Yes Movement from Night of Champions through to Wrestlemania 30.

I think the trick to this is going to make sure that even though Bryan is still champion he doesn’t ever feel like he has won completely, that there is always a bigger obstacle ahead. The magic of the Yes Movement was that Bryan’s run felt like it was rebellion from the norm so the crowd naturally bought into it. The danger of him running as champion is that he would simply become a John Cena or even worse Rey Mysterio like underdog that just gets beaten down constantly and flukes winning at PPV.

I’d be interested to see what you thought in the comments below or if you post your idea on the Columns Forum I’ll link to it in next week’s YES Relived.

Night of Champions: Daniel Bryan beats Randy Orton winning the WWE Championship

This is the kicking off point, Bryan beats the WWE Champion Randy Orton at Night of Champions cleanly to regain the WWE Title he lost with Orton’s cash in at Summer Slam. No fast count here, Bryan wins cleanly so the night after on Raw, in a similar manner to what actually happened, Stephanie and Triple H berate Orton and say he has lost his killer instinct. Orton responds with a vicious beating off another super star, sending them to hospital. In the main event he continues the vent and along with The Shield attacks Bryan. After beating him down he places Bryan’s neck in a chair but the same ten men charge out to save ‘their’ champion, setting up the uprising we saw last week.

In the lead up to the next championship match The Authority clamps down on the uprising putting Bryan’s allies in handicap matches and deliberately overlooking the injuries they are receiving. Bryan continues to fight for his side but the newly vicious Orton is able to get the better as Bryan’s troops are taken out.

Battleground: Daniel Bryan v Randy Orton is ruled no contest after interference from both sides of the locker room.

It is a back and forth match and as Bryan is starting to gain the upper hand in the championship match The Shield appear in the crowd and make their way to the ring. Before they can even get to the guardrail they are ambushed by Bryan’s injured but game allies, who were hiding in the crowd in hoodies. A mass brawl ensues in the crowd that spills down to the ringside. The Authority tries to restart the match but when they fail they call off the entire PPV. On Raw the next night they put the blame at the feet of Daniel Bryan, saying that because of his actions in leading this uprising they had to call off the telecast and their ‘sponsors’ and the TV networks are threatening to tear up their contracts. They say that Bryan’s actions have been catastrophic for business.

My idea with creating these two greater sides is to try and have Bryan stand for more than himself, he isn’t just the crowd’s champion, he is the locker room’s champion too. I also really enjoyed the shared universe aspect of this angle and wanted to keep it going.

After Bryan “damaged the international reputation of the WWE” The Authority declare Randy Orton will get a proper rematch but it will have no interference because Orton and Bryan will be locked in Hell in a Cell.

Hell in a Cell: Daniel Bryan beats Randy Orton by pinfall on top of the cell.

Even though Hell in a Cell is supposed to stop interference does it ever really? The Authority slips The Shield a key to the cell to help Orton secure the win but they are thwarted by Bryan’s side and fights break out all around the Cell. Things really escalated when Bryan running dropkicks Orton through the cell wall. Orton tries to escape the carnage, climbing onto the roof but Bryan follows him up. As the war rages below Bryan hits Orton with a flying knee and pins Orton on top of the cage for the win. Celebrating with a massive YES chant on top of the Cell.

The next night on Raw Orton is dispensed with by The Authority, they say he has lost his touch and for the moment he is done with Bryan. However Bryan’s war with The Authority continues though to Survivor Series with The Authority recruiting the Wyatt Family to help, this starts to turn the tide in The Authority’s favour.

Survivor Series: Team Shield & Wyatts: Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper defeat Team Bryan: Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes & The Big Show v (5 v 5 Elimination Tag Match) with Bray Wyatt pinning Daniel Bryan to win, Wyatt & Luke Harper are the Sole Survivors

This is Bryan’s first big setback as his team loses. Despite fighting side by side with his men he is overwhelmed by the teamwork of The Shield and force of The Wyatts. Bryan is pinned by Bray Wyatt to end the match setting up a TLC match for the young cult leader at the next PPV. You may remember that this was when the WWE and World Heavyweight were originally unified, hold tight we will get to that just a little later.

Over the next few weeks The Wyatts begin to receive favourable treatment from The Authority as a result of their superior showing at Survivor Series and Wyatt’s position as number 1 contender. The Authority stops really promoting The Shield as their personal security and leaves them out of the main events. This all leads to:

TLC: Daniel Bryan defeats Bray Wyatt in TLC match

Not only does Bryan reign supreme he does it with the help of…. The Shield.

When Rowan and Harper converge on Bryan later in the match, The Shield come through the crowd to seemingly join in the Bryan beat down as they have so often in the past. However they instead turn on The Wyatt’s and The Authority, take out Rowan and Harper, leaving Bryan clear to take down Wyatt, climb the ladder and secure the WWE Championship. This sets up the Wyatts v Shield feud to run from Rumble through to Elimination Chamber and also long term sets The Shield against The Authority for the post-Mania storyline. They would say they didn’t do this to help Bryan but because they could see the writing on the wall with The Authority.

Now having finished the locker room warfare sub-plot, in the run up to Mania The Authority will be putting Bryan up against a series of more and more imposing opponents they claim will be ‘better faces of the company’. This all starts the night after TLC on Raw where The Authority announces that a new year brings a new start for business and at The Royal Rumble they will be doing something that they are sure will be best for business, unifying the WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship pitting Bryan against John Cena.

While Cena will not be siding with The Authority, he will not hesitate to remind Bryan that he only scrapped past him at Summer Slam when he was injured, a fact The Authority surely remembered when they made this match. To put even more doubt in the faithful’s mind will be the return of Dave Batista who will instantly align himself with Triple H, reminding Hunter that he has a movie star ‘face’. Batista will also have a red herring face off with Cena, bringing up Cena and Batista’s past.

Going into Royal Rumble is when I want Bryan looking most like he isn’t going to win, the audience should think he is going to wind up losing to set up Cena v Batista and that will be only solidify more when Batista wins the Royal Rumble before the unification main event.

Royal Rumble: Daniel Bryan beats John Cena by submission to win the Unified WWE Heavyweight Championship

Once again Bryan manages to out work Cena, taking an improbable victory and handing Cena his first submission loss since the early 2000’s. With Wrestlemania coming up The Authority begins to get desperate to strip Bryan of the Championship, saying they simply cannot allow for him to be the face of the company at such an important anniversary show. They set up an Elimination Chamber Match against a number of people who would be ‘better for business’: John Cena, Randy Orton, The Big Show, Sheamus and a surprise entrant:

“It’s time to play The Game”

Elimination Chamber: Daniel Bryan beats Triple H by submission to win the Elimination Chamber.

The biggest thing you have to get rid of if you have Bryan coming into Wrestlemania 30 as champion is Bryan’s double duty at the show and that means missing out out on the Triple H match. To still have an interaction between the two though I have inserted him into the Elimination Chamber as The Authority’s Plan B. The structure of this match would have Bryan being forced to start out and Triple H leaving his pod last. This way Bryan still needs to beat Triple H to get to the Mania main event against the Royal Rumble winner Batista.

Wrestlemania 30: Daniel Bryan beats Batista by pinfall.

And there you have it, my attempt at booking Daniel Bryan and The Yes Movement as WWE Champion instead of chaser. I tried to segment out the different stories: firstly his feud with Orton devolving into locker room warfare and then his final challenges against a list of former ‘faces of the company’ John Cena at Royal Rumble, Triple H and Randy Orton at Elimination Chamber and Batista at Wrestlemania.

Let me know what you thought of my effort in the comments below or even better let me know how you would have booked it. In face you could even write your own column down in the Columns Forum and I’ll make sure to link to it in next week’s Yes Relived.

Thanks for reading YES Relived if you would like to talk some more wrestling feel free to follow me on Twitter @Sir_Samuel or you can have your say on the LOP Forums where you will find a great community full of knowledgeable and interesting wrestling fans.

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