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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 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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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 – WWE NXT 1/25/17: Femme Fatale Four-Way

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 1/25/17)

Femme Fatale Four-Way 

– The Ember Moon-Liv Morgan match was set up last week as a friendly competition to see who’d “unofficially” face the NXT Women’s Champion coming out of NXT TakeOver: San Antonio. Moon was still undefeated, yet Morgan was the one to challenge her. The story was there at least. They exchanged some chain wrestling and rolled around in package pin attempts for a good 25 seconds. Morgan seemed to have improved a bit as she hit a huracanrana. Moon applied a crossface, though Morgan fought out of it with a pin attempt that took Moon’s momentum back. Morgan laid on a guillotine, but was taken and dumped over the top rope by Moon. A minute later, Moon Eclipsed Morgan to take the win. It’s obvious how Moon’s in a holding pattern until TO:SA, but it also helped Morgan here. She could use more of a gimmick than “tough Jersey girl.” It was enough to make us want more, but what we got was good. They shared sportsmanship after the bell to keep the friendship going.

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Notes In Observance – WWE NXT 1/18/17: The Glorious Shiba Inu

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)

The Glorious Shiba Inu 

– The opening video hyped the contact signing segment between NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura and Bobby Roode. It pretty much wrote itself. Hopefully they’d so something to make this feud personal.

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Notes In Observance – WWE NXT 12/21/16: Glorious Cien 10 Strong

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)

Glorious Cien 10 Strong 

– The Billie Kay-Daria Berenato match traced back from when Berenato sought revenge on the Aussie Mean Girls after they abandoned her in tag team action. It was decided that Kay would be the one to take the mixed martial arts/boxer fighter on. The story up to here made sense, so we wondered how they’d fare in the ring. Peyton Royce accompanied Kay to the ring, so that already invited shenanigans. A nice start as Berenato kicked Kay in the spine and made her a makeshift punching bag. Royce began to be a factor as she repeatedly pulled Kay out of the ring and attacked Berenato on the outside, out of the Referee’s view. That led to Kay’s big kick to earn her the win. Didn’t expect Kay to actually go over and we’re concerned about Berenato’s future. She has something interesting there as far as her gimmick and after being set up to lose, now she has lost again, albeit in dirty fashion. They haven’t done much to establish Berenato as an in-ring threat. AMG’s post-match promo was a clear call-out to NXT Women’s Champion Asuka, as they deemed themselves worthy competition. They were met with constant boos that bordered on “go-away heat,” which they should’ve played off of more. The “No one cares” chants had to hurt. That said, the way they’ve built up Kay/Royce is desirable, but how can they take Asuka on when they can’t even beat the likes of Ember Moon, Liv Morgan and Aliyah, two of which are glorified enhancement at this point?

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Notes In Observance – WWE NXT 12/14/16: Four To Play

WWE NXTBy 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)

Four To Play 

– The opening video recapped last week’s big rematch for the NXT Championship in Osaka, Japan between Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe. “The King Of Strong Style” had a loyal home country following and after a grueling contest, he got back his gold with a Kinshasa for the history books. We saw the hype that went down, as Joe immediately sought his rematch clause, so much so, that five days later in Melbourne, Australia, we’d see them duke it out again for the Title in a Steel Cage match. We assumed this would be the main event.

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Notes In Observance – WWE NXT 11/2/16: Bruised And Scarred

WWE NXTBy 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 11/2/16)

Bruised And Scarred 

– To our delight (on the surface), this episode completely revolved around the Quarterfinal Round of the Second Annual Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Tournament. For a nice touch, three of these four matches came from a live San Jose event for a unique experience. The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Tournament Quarterfinal match between Austin Aries/Roderick Strong and TM61 took a sucky situation with Aries’ broken eye bone injury (as he revealed in a promo where he took off sunglasses to reveal it while in street clothes and managed to get heat on himself as he unconvincingly tried to get over how bad he wanted to compete) and with NXT General Manager William Regal’s help, turned it into a Strong-Shane Thorne match to determine which team would advance. There was a good dynamic between the two, as Strong used speed and strength to dominate early on. Sick spot where he dropped Thorne in the corner from the top rope, a la WWE Raw Women’s Champion Charlotte and Sasha Banks at SummerSlam. Back and forth stuff, as Thorne hit a double foot stomp in the corner like Alberto Del Rio, which spawned “Si!” chants. Strong laid into Thorne with a swift array of maneuvers, but it only led to a near-fall. Strong also kicked out of the Falcon Arrow. The finish was well-done, as we saw Aries’ attempt to distract the Referee fail to get Strong the win, as Strong got rolled up in a quick pin shortly after to eliminate him/Aries from the tourney. This decision made sense, since we got to see Strong do his thing in the ring (will always be the best thing to do with him, still haven’t even gotten a promo yet) and TM61 has more to gain out of the Dusty Classic than Aries/Strong at this point.

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Notes In Observance – WWE NXT 10/19/16: Champion’s Address

WWE NXTBy 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 10/19/16)

Champion’s Address

– The opening video reminded us of the huge brawl to end last week’s show when NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura returned to cast vengeance upon Samoa Joe, who purposely sidelined him in an attempt to get back the NXT Championship. To the point where he annihilated various talent in demand of either Nakamura or the Title from NXT General Manager William Regal, Joe had this coming to him. A smart way to drag out television time.

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ROH Best In The World 2016 Reaction

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

Ring Of Honor has always been great at simple storytelling when it comes to tradition.

With a main event branded as “One Year In The Making,” ROH World Champion Jay Lethal and Jay Briscoe would meet again to settle a score as Briscoe finally redeemed his rematch ever since Lethal became the first to beat him in three years and uncrown his throne.

Easy as that.

There was also a pretty good undercard – Roderick Strong (who was knowingly leaving the company shortly) vs. Mark Briscoe in a “Battle For Respect,” as well as a ROH World Television Championship encounter between Champion Bobby Fish and Dalton Castle.

Going two years in the making, we’d also finally get that Steve Corino-BJ Whitmer match.

When it comes down to it, this show succeeded at giving fans a little bit of everything to whet their appetites. No standout matches, but consistent nevertheless.

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