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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.

WWE NXT TakeOver: San Antonio Reaction

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

Even though it boasted the same static screen transitions and synth-powered alternative rock theme songs, there was something about this “TakeOver” that didn’t feel like “TakeOver.”

At least headed in.

With what could be considered a lackluster build to a card with throwaway bouts, it’s a testament to NXT and everything it stands for that even with “in-the-middle” shows like this compared to past TakeOvers, they can still spin yards of gold.

We also dug the ambition to continue the tradition of hard-fought contests, excellent teases and above all else, the element of surprise. While on a lesser level, we still got our “TakeOver” money’s worth.

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Notes In Observance – ROH Wrestling 1/18/17: Rebellious Mediocrity (Of Excellence)

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 1/18/17)

Rebellious Mediocrity (Of Excellence) 

– The Six-Man Tag between The Rebellion and Donovan Dijak/Jay White/Lio Rush was a clever followup to a previous angle where Dijak/White saved Rush when he upset Caprice Coleman in one-on-one action. Rush/White continue to impress with their athleticism. Dijak’s finally in a position where he’s free to do more in the ring as a babyface, not tied down to that senseless association with Prince Nana. Dijak easily tossed Coleman out of the ring, while it was noted that Rush wore kinesio tape to sell the left shoulder injury. Fast action on both ends as Rush avoided Rebellion’s onslaught to get a tag in to White. Rush delivered missile-like suicide dives on opposite ends of the ring. The babyface trio then did simultaneous dives to the outside on each side of the ring. Decent finish as we saw Rush hit a frog splash off Dijak’s shoulders (he’s tall so it works) followed by Dijak’s moonsault to pin Coleman. The post-match angle was more of the same, as Rebellion beat down White and teased the same to Coleman before they set him down gently (another tease for him to be recruited) before The Motor City Machine Guns came down to patrol.

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Notes In Observance – WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament – Part 2

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 1/15/17)

WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament – Part 2 

– The opening video replayed Night One’s spectacular happenings, as we went from Triple H’s epic intro to a brief run-through of the current competitors and how they came to be. To this point, we had Trent Seven, Joseph Conners, Mark Andrews, Wolfgang, Jordan Devlin, Pete Dunne, Sam Gradwell and Tyler Bates. It finished with Dunne’s sinister attack on Gradwell to end the show, as he rushed across the stage to deliver a forearm and hit the Bitter End on the ramp. Everything about this was great and the attention to detail to further establish Dunne as a renegade heel went over well. These final eight are about right too, with some great personalities here.

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Notes In Observance – WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament – Part 1

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 1/14/17)

WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament – Part 1 

– The opening video showcased WWE’s longtime relationship with England that brought us classic moments such as Bret Hart-British Bulldog from Wembley Stadium at SummerSlam 1992 among others. In recent years, WWE NXT “took over” London and that turned out well. Pushed with mid-tempo hype in the last couple of weeks, we learned how it all went down when it was announced that there’d be an official WWE United Kingdom Championship and subsequent tournament to crown the inaugural Champion. With 16 competitors announced, this would essentially be a British version of the Cruiserweight Classic. Safe to say, we were curious what the end result would be.

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Notes In Observance – ROH Wrestling 1/11/17: Droned In

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 1/11/17)

Droned In 

– Christopher Daniels’ hype video promo did a good job of showing his refocused goal of his “destiny to become Champion” in the midst of the Decade Of Excellence Tournament that he was a part of. He defeated Mark Briscoe last week to advance to the second round. He spoke about how he made a name for himself in 2002 and they wisely played back footage of those classic Murphy Rec Center days when he denied handshakes and broke the mold as the face of The Prophecy, despite never holding the ROH World Championship. They flashed back to now, to where he gives those handshakes and obeys the Code Of Honor, a presumed changed man. With this kind of package, we could tell this next push was set to be a serious one. It also helps to get more passionate promos like this one, because that’s what Daniels does best these days.

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Notes In Observance – ROH Wrestling 12/28/16: Reach For The Sky

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 12/28/16)

Reach For The Sky 

– The opening video replayed highlights from Ring Of Honor’s United Kingdom “Reach For The Sky” tour, with flips to go around. Given that this was ROH’s first time in the UK after a decade, it was good to see them highlight British Pro Wrestling’s best. More on that below. This was a “Best Of” episode, but was first-run material that featured Will Ospreay’s TV debut, as he fought three times in three nights.

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Notes In Observance – ROH Wrestling 12/21/16: An Honored Champion

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 12/21/16)

An Honored Champion 

– The opening video recapped Final Battle 2016, so an immediate sigh of relief came about, since this promised new television that wasn’t a glorified repeat. The package played up the event’s biggest occurrence (no, not Broken Matt Hardy’s onscreen appearance) in Kyle O’Reilly’s big victory as he defeated Adam Cole to win the ROH World Championship. After all, the guy did it as he laid in thumbtacks. That has to be a first somewhere.

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Notes In Observance – ROH Wrestling 12/14/16: Women Of Honor 2016

Image provided courtesy of Ring Of Honor.

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 12/14/16)

Women Of Honor 2016 

– The Deonna Purrazzo-Candice LeRae match began with a pre-taped sit-down Purrazzo promo from that put her over for her great reputation and pro wrestling obsession. LeRae’s pre-taped sit-down promo put herself over as cheerful yet strong. She was finally in Ring Of Honor after 15 years. After the “feel out” process, LeRae hit a nice suicide dive and then a double stomp on Purrazzo’s neck to gain momentum. LeRae continued with a few pumphandle German suplexes. Purrazzo countered with a Fujiwara armbar, before LeRae broke the hold at the ropes. LeRae had her own submission with an Octopus variation, but Purrazzo kicked out and locked in the armbar again to win. A fine match where both ladies worked hard. It would be cool if ROH got with the program and actually utilized a Women’s Division or at least made WOH a tournament.

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Notes In Observance – ROH Wrestling 12/7/16: By Honor, For Honor

Image provided courtesy of Ring Of Honor.

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 12/7/16)

By Honor, For Honor

– If anybody hoped for meaningful post-Final Battle television, look elsewhere. However, since already here, why not stay awhile? We’ll keep you comfortable. Anyways, the Cheeseburger/Will Ferrara-Tempura Boyz match was throwaway material, but some decent action involved. Joey “Diesel” Daddiego (The House Of Truth’s former J. Diesel) was on commentary and put over Ferrara/Cheeseburger as hard workers in the dojo. Daddiego used to come off like a mini-Batista, but now that he talked, he was like a hybrid of Taz and Nunzio. At least Cheeseburger continues to grow in popularity. That shouldn’t be hard. The guy’s freakin’ name’s Cheeseburger. Fast-paced action as you’d expect. TB hit a nice codebreaker/German suplex combo before they won with a superkick/package piledriver combo on Cheeseburger. TB seem cool, though we still don’t know much about them besides their tasty name. Cheeseburgers and Tempura. Yummy. The post-match angle with Prince Nana and Donovan Dijak continued the inevitable Nana/Dijak split, as the manager demanded his client to “get this wet” and make easy work of Ferrara. Dijak showed brief hesitation before he picked Ferrara up and slammed him down twice. That prompted Daddiego to leave the booth and confront Dijak, as he challenged him to a match. Sure, why not?

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