Review – Daniel Bryan/Craig Tello – YES: My Improbable Journey To The Main Event Of WrestleMania
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
If anybody from World Wrestling Entertainment has had an up-and-down career in and out of the ring, it’s Daniel Bryan.
Elevated from “Indie Wrestler Comes To WWE” status in 2010 to an actual main event player in 2014, he went though a journey like none other.
His own “Cinderella Story” occurred between 2013 and WrestleMania XXX where he emerged an Undisputed Champion and married five days later to Brie Bella. It’s literally as perfect as one professional wrestler could dream of, especially one who didn’t fit the “corporate style” of what WWE traditionally spotlights.
How would this all translate in a book? With some help by WWE.com’s Craig Tello, we’d finally get that tell-all where Bryan describes his joyous upbringings and subsequent dream chase, with all the little things in-between.
Branded now as a New York Times bestseller, this 2015 autobiography provided a perfect perspective of his career to that point in time.
Let’s start with the basics – the design. One could look at the cover and automatically associate it with Bryan. The title’s aptly named after his 2012 catchphrase that originally became a heel tactic of “over-celebration” to rile up fans and worked instead towards the opposite, as hardcore fans who were familiar with him from his indy days used it to embrace him, despite several attempts by Bryan to undo that.
The colors are also appropriately maroon-and-white, which he has sported for the majority of his career, even back from his Ring Of Honor days with his ring jackets and simple trunks. Even as he adopted his “Yes!/No!” persona, he only got more involved with these colors.
The story also nicely goes back and forth between “present” – set for pre-WrestleMania XXX week filled with training and media appearances – and whatever point of his career he was up to. While it proves to be a faster read than other wrestling autobiographies (we’re looking at you, Bret Hart), you still get to know Bryan personally and professionally.
A good chunk early on covers his days in Shawn Michael’s Wrestling Academy and the close friendship with Brian Kendrick that developed, which still continues today. A real-life aspect of it was brought out during the 2016 Cruiserweight Classic when the two embraced in the ring.
From there, he describes his ROH days with no filter (this being a WWE book, you’d wonder how much he could get away with) and anybody in those hardcore crowds will appreciate his recalling of intense battles with Nigel McGuinness, Austin Aries, Roderick Strong and Takeshi Morishima, to name some.
The most interesting parts are his stories revolved around his original WWE days as an “NXT Rookie” when WWE experimented with the NXT concept as a “reality competition” show and revealed that a lot of it was in fact, unscripted. He was left in the dark about certain angles, which actually might’ve worked in his favor because he organically “got over” as he feuded with his “Pro” The Miz and Commentator Michael Cole simultaneously.
Many are already familiar with his first termination by way of a chokehold on Ring Announcer Justin Roberts (he coves it in his book too), so we won’t bore you with repetition. Some criticisms if any, was that they sort of skimmed the time he emerged as a fan favorite by way of the “Yes!” chants, but just enough’s described about his close relationship with Glenn Jacobs (aka Team Hell No partner Kane) to salvage it. You still got the sense that he was the guy the company would run with if there was no one else around, as he described.
We are dreamers and could only imagine how the book would’ve been had it been released in 2017, as the “Cinderella Story” came to crashing reality, as he vacated that WWE World Heavyweight Championship less than two months after he won it due to injury.
2015 saw an in-ring return for Bryan around Royal Rumble time, but for the second straight year, he was ignored for somebody fans didn’t want in the spotlight. Try as they did, they had Bryan come close to the WrestleMania 31 main event as he fought Roman Reigns at Fastlane for that spot, but came up short.
While he became WWE Intercontinental Champion at WrestleMania 31 in a multi-man ladder match, he faced the same fate as the year before and vacated the belt shortly after, his last in-ring match ever on a SmackDown before that.
Follow that with his infamous in-ring retirement speech in Feb. 2016 and you’d think Bryan would fade back into obscurity. That did change, when he was announced to be the new SmackDown Live General Manager and has since been on a prominent on-screen role, mostly known for his “feud” with Miz.
Will they ever write a sequel book about Bryan’s time after WMXXX? That to us, would be a more interesting story to tell. Chalk it up to fate or whatever you may wish, but there’s more to Bryan than just a classic “Cinderella Story.” The real struggle would be what to name a second Bryan book if it were to ever come out.
Fantasies aside, “YES” is everything you come to expect from a Bryan book that ends at WMXXX. It’s a happy ending and we know Bryan worked hard to get there. It masters enough credibility to hang with both the independent and casuals alike. In many ways, Bryan’s one of the few pro wrestlers to organically get over in the modern era and we hope his future’s as bright as this story’s end.
Posted on August 20, 2017, in Misc and tagged Austin Aries, Book Reviews, Bret Hart, Brian Kendrick, Craig Tello, Daniel Bryan, Fastlane, Justin Roberts, Kane, Michael Cole, New York Times Bestsellers, Nigel McGuinness, Reviews, Roderick Strong, ROH, Roman Reigns, Shawn Michaels, SmackDown Live, Takeshi Morishima, The Miz, WrestleMania 31, WrestleMania XXX, WWE.com, Yes. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.