Author Archives: Nicholas Jason Lopez

Review – Daniel Bryan/Craig Tello – YES: My Improbable Journey To The Main Event Of WrestleMania

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

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.

Notes In Observance – NJPW English 2/7/17: Gunning For Osaka

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post.

 

 

 

 

 

(Aired 2/7/17) 

The Breakdown 

– As if you didn’t already know, 2017 was off to a blazing start in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, as IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada outlasted Kenny Omega in that “Six-Star Classic” at Wrestle Kingdom 11 and successfully defended against Minoru Suzuki at the New Beginning In Sapporo. With all the ingredients set and one more show until The New Beginning In Osaka on Feb. 11, we had to hunker down and get through some filler and entertainment mostly by way of fancy tag team matches. The opening video was flashy (and Japanese!) but was right to the point about recent events.

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Notes In Observance – WWE Raw 2/6/17: Wild Samoans

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post.

 

 

 

 

 

(Aired 2/6/17)

Wild Samoans 

– One week after Samoa Joe’s riveting debut that involved a sideline beatdown of Seth Rollins, it was probably no secret that the angle would be the focus to open the show. It’s funny how the Rollins-Triple H storyline mulls along through the months, but with big happenings, it heats up. At this time, Rollins was likely to miss WrestleMania, which actually put more heat on Joe and rather than ignore that, they used it to their advantage. The opening video delved into all that, with sleek editing that actually brought meaning to Trips’ promo on Rollins last week and set up the moment well for Joe to attack. We’ll guess Joe will be branded as “The Destroyer” from hereon out. The key as always is the followup.

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Notes In Observance – NJPW English 2/5/17: The Paintaker

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts on television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post.

 

 

 

 

 

(Aired 2/5/17)

The Paintaker

– It’s 2017 and New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s all the rage these days, so we figured why not put them in the same review family? Granted, we can only cover the English commentary shows, but by the looks of 2017, there’s quite a few shows already. Where we last left off, we saw the sudden onset of the Suzuki-gun faction, with a fierce return not seen since the days of Nexus. A moment of silence please for that ill-fated group. For an exclamation point, they laid out IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, as the group’s leader, Minoru Suzuki, laid claim that every Title would soon be theirs. How nice. Now, no matter what they say in it, it’ll still be incredibly difficult to understand the video packages per se, but damn, their production skills are sleek AF and a little extra on the side. So flashy and easy to follow. Everything looks damn near epic. Plus, that voiceover guy? Forget about it. We’re hooked. Also liked the onscreen broadcast presentation graphics of all the matches for this show laid out, as it felt quite sports-like. To the first contest – Kushida/Hirai Kawato against El Desperado/Yoshinobu Kanemaru. Obviously, Kushida will stand out off the bat here, but this was a story all about Suzuki-gun’s return momentum and the Chaos representatives with a goal to shut that down immediately. Also oddly enough, Don Callis fits right in with Kevin Kelly on commentary, though he’s got a big chair in Steve Corino’s absence to fill. A lot of attention was paid to Kushida getting in Kanemaru’s face, conveying that it was purely about Championship gold. The heels began aggressively, with Kawato selling like a Champion, undergoing such punishment. They pulled out this cool spot where Kushida German suplexed one opponent while he held the other in a bridge. They certainly established Kawato’s fighting spirit well here. ED’s single-leg half crab was thwarted when he got to the ropes. Close near-falls towards the end on both sides. All you could ask for here. In the end, ED pinned Kawato with a move similar to a spinning blue thunder bomb. Good for an opener and to continue Suzuki-gun’s momentum. Post-match, they attacked the winners outside. Well, damn. 

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Notes In Observance – WCWC 2/4/17: Heavenly, But Not So Gentlemanly

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on recent television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post. 

 

 

 

 

 

(Aired 2/4/17)

Heavenly, But Not So Gentlemanly

– Caleb Konley came out, recently returned from whatever he worked on prior. Instead of being an honorary Wrecking Crew member, he remained a friendly associate. That’s fine, though. Konley shines better as a solo heel act in WCWC. His opponent was Damian Drake in an odd take on “Hero Vs. Villain.” That “story” will happen no matter who Drake’s opponent is, frankly. This was a confusing pairing if the plan wasn’t to put Konley over in spades. We actually wish we could get some advancement with the vague superhero characters in the Midnight Marvels. What if they ever became heels in a “Hero Becomes The Villain” type of thing? Some touch-and-go mat-based grappling dominated the pace early on. This was more competitive than it had any business being, which we had no problem with. Drake has strong potential as a midcarder down the road if they want to go that route. He pulled off an impressive spinning basement enziguiri. We got back into familiar territory as Konley took Drake’s momentum and swung into his side with a long-winded chop before he struck with the Cradle Shot to get the three count. In essence, Konley gets the win and Drake got to show some endurance, but it seems we type the same things every week. Will they finally be serious about a Drake push? What’s next for Konley to do here?

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Notes In Observance – TNA Impact Wrestling 2/2/17: Night Of Open Fight

Photo courtesy of Inside Pulse.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on recent television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post.

 

 

 

 

 

(Aired 2/2/17)

Night Of Open Fight 

– Welcome to the one night in TNA Wrestling where various employees can challenge (or “call out”) others for intense quarrels or whatnot. “Open Fight Night” still remains a cheesy take on “Open Mic Night” and whenever it’s uttered, it’s hard to not automatically think of 2012. Hulk Hogan, Bully Ray and Brooke Hogan much? Anyways, they combined OFN with the former “Feast Or Fired” in that the briefcase holders had the right to challenge for any belt of their choosing. Or most of them. We’ll get to that shortly. To start things off, we got some kooky close-ups of the case holders – Jeff Hardy, Trevor Lee, Eli Drake/Tyrus and The DCC. Talk about close-ups. This just looked plain bad.

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Notes In Observance – ROH Wrestling 2/1/17: Battle Of The Jays

Image provided courtesy of Ring Of Honor.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on recent television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post.

 

 

 

 

 

(Aired 2/1/17)

Battle Of The Jays 

– With Wrestle Kingdom 11 on the back burner (though it aired on Jan. 4 and they’re just giving us the Ring Of Honor followup now), we had a new ROH World Champion and his name was Adam Cole… bay bay. The opening video looked back at Cole’s match with Kyle O’Reilly at WK11 and had him cut a promo over match footage about how “he” effectively concluded the story. Finally, some updated stuff. We were spinning our wheels there.

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Notes In Observance – WWE NXT 2/1/17: End Of Graves

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on recent television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post.

 

 

 

 

 

(Aired 2/1/17)

End Of Graves 

– With NXT TakeOver: San Antonio officially done, it was time for another post-TakeOver edition. Ultimately, these are notorious with backstage reactions from winners and “dark” matches that were taped before the show, even though it’s supposed to be like they’re happening after TakeOver itself. Strange stuff, but in NXT, we’ll just roll with it and ask for more. There you go. The opening video wasn’t without its highlights, showcased in all of its epic slow-motion glory. To sum it up, Roderick Strong bested Andrade “Cien” Almas, Eric Young (and SAniTY) defeated Tye Dillinger, The Authors Of Pain added Championship gold under their perilous penmanship, Asuka remained on top after she defeated three other women and above all else, Bobby Roode was now NXT Champion and things were set to be more “Glorious.”

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Notes In Observance – WWE 205 Live 1/31/17: Gentleman Wrestle Factory

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on recent television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post.

 

 

 

 

 

(Aired 1/31/17)

Gentleman Wrestle Factory 

– In the land where the guys weigh 205 or less, we had a new king. Ever since Neville returned with a heel vengeance at Roadblock: End Of The Line, his newfound persona has taken the fledgling division and turned it upwards towards casual interest. His defeat over Rich Swann to become new WWE Cruiserweight Champion at Royal Rumble was inevitable and now we can finally get to see what the division will behold under this “Reign Of Tyranny.” The opening video discovered all of those facts and more.

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Notes In Observance – WWE SmackDown Live 1/31/17: Chamber Music

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on recent television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post.

 

 

 

 

 

(Aired 1/31/17)

Chamber Music 

– Given that the Royal Rumble was won by a SmackDown guy (that’s Randy Orton, The Wyatt Family-Friendly version in case you didn’t know), the opening video gladly reminded us of all that jazz. WWE took it upon themselves to quote various media outlets with the most generic sentences on planet Earth. We’ll give an example. “That was a Rumble!” – Forbes. No kidding. You’d also be crazy if they didn’t sprinkle in footage of the epic rematch between WWE World Heavyweight Champion John Cena and AJ Styles where history was made and such. However, the Rumble madness is over and thanks to WWE’s killer Pay-Per-View schedule, we’ve got Elimination Chamber in a mere two weeks.

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