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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 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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WWE Royal Rumble 2017 Reaction

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

While January begins with a countdown from ten to one, wrestling fans most associate the month with the same countdown towards another festivity – the Royal Rumble.

Given the “Big Four” treatment, equivalent in 2017 to a NXT TakeOver event the day before, a two-hour pre-show and a five-and-a-half-hour Pay-Per-View, it was treated as a huge deal.

It probably also helped that it emanated from San Antonio’s Alamodome, with a house count of 52,020. It was practically WrestleMania without being it.

Given the Rumble’s star power of Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman, The Big Show, Goldberg and The Undertaker, there was an unpredictability headed in that severely lacked the previous few years.

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Notes In Observance – WWE SmackDown Live 1/24/17: Brother Vs. Brother

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)

Brother Vs. Brother 

– The General Manager Daniel Bryan/Miz/Maryse backstage segment was another perfect example of chemistry done right. For months, Miz had been at his boss’ head ever since he was criticized in that infamous Talking Smack promo. There was no better way to set up a Lumberjack Match than have Miz boldly claim he “paid all of the locker room’s salaries with star power.” Bryan, apple aside, was all wits, as he used Miz’s statements against him to give him a WWE Intercontinental Championship rematch, but under his rules to prevent outside interference. Welcome to the world of logic. None of that on Raw.

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Notes In Observance – WWE SmackDown Live 1/10/17: End Of Attitudes

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 1/10/17) 

End Of Attitudes 

– The opening video highlighted the latest developments in the WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose-Miz feud, that began when Miz “outed” Renee Young’s relationship with the Champ. Ambrose got revenge as he attacked Miz dressed as a security guard, although Young was slapped by Maryse backstage. The ultimate last laugh came when Ambrose outsmarted Miz to take his Title and that’s where things were now.

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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.

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Notes In Observance – WWE SmackDown Live 12/20/16: Straight Shooter

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 12/20/16)

Straight Shooter 

– The WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between Champion AJ Styles and James Ellsworth felt overdue, but this was probably their way to finally silence Ellsworth’s surprising push. The fans obviously would side with Styles here since Ellsworth isolated himself when he betrayed Dean Ambrose at TLC. The awkward heel-heel dynamic didn’t last, because Styles laid him out with a martial arts array of strikes. Bam, three-count. Now, post-match was where things bettered. It seemed they looked to get heat on Styles as he annihilated Ellsworth with attacks that used the ring frame, barricade and steel steps. Styles’ promo afterwards set up the main event, as he looked towards 2017, but Dolph Ziggler interrupted him to remind him he had a shot next week with him. The Ziggler-Styles exchange was solid, as Styles pushed that Ziggler was known for losing, while Ziggler mentioned that Styles needed four tries to defeat Ellsworth. Baron Corbin also fit here as he claimed he should’ve had the Title match and not Ziggler. Eventually, Corbin laid Ziggler out with the End Of Days.

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Notes In Observance – WWE SmackDown Live 12/13/16: Legendary Contendership

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 12/13/16)

Legendary Contendership 

– The General Manager Daniel Bryan/Commissioner Shane McMahon/James Ellsworth opening backstage segment was good and bad news. We saw Ellsworth “sick” and it left Bryan/Shane no choice but to postpone his World Title shot and search for a new #1 Contender. Ellsworth was also reprimanded for his interference in last week’s WWE Intercontinental Championship match.

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Notes In Observance – WWE SmackDown Live 12/6/16: Drunk Off Chin And Juice

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 12/6/16)

Drunk Off Chin And Juice 

– The opening video replayed James Ellsworth’s betrayal of Dean Ambrose, as he tipped over a ladder with him on it and caused him to land through two tables outside, which helped WWE World Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles retain. As we learned on the post-TLC Talking Smack, Ellsworth planned to challenge Styles for the belt and pawned off the idea of an angry Ambrose as an obstacle. The dynamic would be interesting this time since Ellsworth was on his own.

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WWE TLC 2016 Reaction

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

Two weeks after Survivor Series and two days after Ring Of Honor’s Final Battle, it was easy to view WWE’s TLC with Pay-Per-View fatigue.

Honestly, such is the story of 2016.

Thanks to the “Land Of Opportunity” mindset and the ability to make the most of the little things, the SmackDown Live brand took the TLC branding to a “new extreme,” if you will.

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