Blog Archives

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 – 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.

Read the rest of this entry

Notes In Observance – WWE 205 Live 1/24/17: Hostilities Renewed

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 1/24/17)

Hostilities Renewed 

– The opening video replayed the last interaction between WWE Cruiserweight Champion Rich Swann and Neville from Raw. The Champ challenged Neville to come down and the heel tried to get away, but was briefly caught when Swann landed a suicide dive. Neville did squirm away, as this was all buildup to their Royal Rumble encounter.

Read the rest of this entry

Notes In Observance – WWE 205 Live 1/3/17: The Neville System

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 1/3/17)

The Neville System 

– The opening video highlighted last week’s WWE Cruiserweight Champion Rich Swann-Neville main event. Since his rabid heel turn, Neville has aggressively pursued the Title and christened himself the “King Of The Cruiserweights.” We got a more serious Swann, but he was outdone by the angered Neville. Nice production job as we heard the Brit’s promo soundbites from his cocky sit-down interview. Neville downed the Champ with an impactful superplex and assumed to be in line for a future shot.

Read the rest of this entry

Notes In Observance – WWE Raw 1/2/17: The Season Premiere

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 1/2/17)

The Season Premiere 

– The General Manager Mick Foley/WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens/Chris Jericho/Commissioner Stephanie McMahon opening in-ring segment was a “Raw” way to start the new year – 20-minute talking segment. Woot woot. Anyways, Foley sported shorter hair in a cut that didn’t look finished. We have to take him seriously now? He poked fun at his lack of ability to remember the city he was in, as he used it for a cheap laugh. Owens/Jericho made claims that Foley abused his power and criticized that Seth Rollins was rewarded for his deviant behavior. In turn, Foley booked the first episode of The Kevin Owens show as a talk show where Goldberg would be his first guest. Steph’s portion involved some brief disagreements with Foley, but she stood by him and subsequently booked Jericho to face WWE United States Champion Roman Reigns for the Title. She added that if Reigns was counted out or disqualified, he’d lose the belt. Afterwards, she brought up how “sick” she was that SmackDown Live beat them in the ratings last week (interesting) and booked Owens against Rollins, where the loser would be banned from ringside during the US Title match. Guess now it can be a “ratings war” since SD Live beat Raw for once, but wouldn’t that be something for Raw to stay away from? It’s as if they invited people to skip them and watch SD instead. Anyways, good hype for later segments and the Owens-Reigns WWE Universal Championship Royal Rumble match where Jericho would be hung in a shark cage.

Read the rest of this entry

Top 20 Of 2016

Graphic by Salwinder Singh.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

“It.” “Delete.” “Obsolete.” “The List.” “10.” “The Champ That Runs The Camp.” “Stupid Idiot.” “Glorious.” “Too Sweet.”

The list above describes a fiesta of phrases commonly found in pro wrestling jargon that made 2016 possibly its best year ever.

The one below describes select moments that help seal that argument and make us forget about things like The Titus Brand, The Cruiserweight Division, Raw’s Third Hour, WWE’s overloaded Pay-Per-View schedule, TNA’s X-Division and Matanza Cueto.

If you want to remember that bad stuff, check this out.

Read the rest of this entry

Worst 10 Of 2016

Graphics by Salwinder Singh.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

2016 was possibly professional wrestling’s most newsworthy year.

Whether it was “Broken” Matt Hardy, Chris Jericho’s transformation into a walking meme, Goldberg’s unexpected return or the Cruiserweight Classic, everywhere you looked, there was something to talk about.

For all those moments however, came some head shakers.

With the unenviable task to cover every single 2016 episode of Raw, SmackDown (even before it was “Live”), NXT, Impact Wrestling and Pay-Per-View/Live Specials (all 29), we’ve seen things that cannot be forgotten.

We’re here to bring them to light.

Read the rest of this entry

Notes In Observance – WWE 205 Live 12/20/16: Room For Only One King

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 12/20/16)

Room For Only One King

– As it should, the opening video recapped the Roadblock: End Of The Line WWE Cruiserweight Championship Triple-Threat where Champion Rich Swann survived Brian Kendrick and TJ Perkins, but wasn’t ready for Neville’s anger storm. In seconds, he went from humbled fan favorite to sinister villain and we loved it. They spliced in last night’s Raw angle that set the night’s tag team main event, as Neville boasted himself “The King Of The Cruiserweights” and gained a convenient friend in Kendrick as they beat the babyfaces down again.

Read the rest of this entry

Notes In Observance – WWE Raw 12/19/16: … Or Else

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

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 12/19/16)

… Or Else

– The WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens/Chris Jericho/General Manager Mick Foley opening in-ring segment mostly succeeded in setting up the night’s main event and even the Royal Rumble Universal Title match with a worthy twist, albeit one recently seen at NXT TakeOver: Toronto. This was just the Jeri-KO duo back in good graces, then we got some Jericho “List” comedy as he put Santa Claus on the list. The “Hug Of Jericho” bit was also funny. Foley served as the “holiday comedy authority guy” as he donned a ridiculous Christmas sweater and informed the heels of his Rumble plans, where Owens would defend against WWE United States Champion Roman Reigns again and this time, to prevent interference, Jericho would be suspended in the air in a shark cage. The fanny pack bit was chucklesome, as they put Jericho in the cage and actually suspended him above, with the idea that Foley “left the keys behind.” Some tough moments on the mic as Foley did the cheap pop, but named the wrong town. Jeri-KO get props for rescuing him and received good heel heat at the same time. If it wasn’t for the fact that they already announced the tag team main event where Jeri-KO would face Reigns/Rollins, we would’ve been interested to see Jericho hang above the ring for the whole show.

Read the rest of this entry

WWE Roadblock: End Of The Line Reaction

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

With Roadblock’s second 2016 installment, “End Of The Line” proved a fitting figurative and literal event name.

The amount of wrestling Pay-Per-Views in 2016 (mostly WWE) was borderline criminal and probably deserved a police chase anyway, so we were fine with sirens, caution tape and that annoying “Different Kind Of Dynamite” song.

Raw as a whole is an overexposed brand that leans on repetitive angles and drags them out to inhumane levels. We hoped headed in that Roadblock: EOTL would dissect some of the old and give us something new.

Read the rest of this entry