I was given a tryout with Pro Wrestling Illustrated, probably the No. 1 wrestling magazine there is. I sent some work to the editor and he liked it enough to give me a chance at a freelance job.
He instructed me to write a story with a “timeless angle,” and told me to “fabricate quotes” being that the magazine is a monthly and this is only an exhibition which won’t be published. I came up with a feature on my current favorite wrestler, Daniel Bryan, a.k.a “The American Dragon” Bryan Danielson. I can really identify with him, and I think after reading this article, you’ll see why.
Please read and comment; let me know what you think of this story. If I get the job, then wonderful. If not, then I can at least say the editor of the best wrestling magazine in the world liked my work, gave me a chance, and I tried my best.
Daniel Bryan: From Mr. Indy to Mr. Money in the Bank
In 2009 you would have seen Daniel Bryan at an Indy show, walking to the ring to a thunderous ovation while Europe’s “The Final Countdown” blared through the venue speakers. He would climb the ropes as the music played, and sing the song with the dozens of fans in attendance.
On the Indy scene he wrestled under his real name, Bryan Danielson, and competed in some of the most intense matches in Ring of Honor history – none more intense than his battle with Austin Aries on Aug. 7, 2004. Aries bested Bryan in a two out of three falls match, but both combatants showcased almost unrealistic stamina, wrestling nonstop for 80 minutes.
Stamina wasn’t the only characteristic Bryan displayed on the independent circuit. He also showed off guts, courage, and the ability to never give up – even in the face of a potential career-ending injury.
The American Dragon didn’t quit on Aug. 25, 2007 when he sustained a detached retina in a ROH title match against Takeshi Morishima. His eye rolled into the back of his head and he needed surgery to fix it. He could have given up then, but that would have been too easy.
The 30 year-old veteran didn’t hang up his boots after he wrestled Nigel McGuinness (now TNA’s Desmond Wolfe) at ROH’s Domination pay-per-view on June 9, 2007. He was clotheslined and subsequently bludgeoned, and once again needed medical attention after the match.
For Bryan, a hospital trip wasn’t painful. In fact, he remembers it with fondness.
“I ended up having to go to the hospital,” he said. “It’s just amazing, you know? Going to the hospital with that was actually every bit as memorable as the match to me. The whole night was special.”
Perhaps it was special because despite the injury, Bryan made McGuinness tap out to his submission finisher, the “Cattle Mutilation” – a hold in which Bryan has his opponent laying on his stomach, then proceeds to hook both of his arms and bridge his own body, creating excruciating pressure on his opposition’s back.
It was matches and moves like these that put him on the map, and carried him to the ROH title, as well as several Indy championships.
But those Indy days seem like a lifetime ago.
Nowadays, you will spot Bryan on WWE Smackdown, marching proudly down the ramp every Friday night to Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.” He rarely uses Cattle Mutilation anymore; these days Bryan utilizes a crossface submission to win his matches known as the Lebell Lock, a hold fashioned by one of his idols, “Judo” Gene Lebell – the man who trained stars like Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee, and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.
Once a beloved superstar on the Indy scene, Bryan now claims to be an anti-superstar; a regular guy with a $10 haircut, plain red trunks, and red boots.
Yet, his guy-next-door persona hasn’t stopped him from achieving success.
From the time he began his WWE career, Bryan was booted off NXT, feuded with announcer Michael Cole, was fired because of a seemingly ridiculous reason, rehired, and topped it off by capturing the United States title from his NXT mentor, The Miz.
Most fans probably see his latest accomplishment as his biggest, however. On July 17 at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view in Chicago, Bryan participated in the Smackdown ladder match, the winner receiving a contract to fight the champion for the World title at any time – and the offer is good for a year.
The American Dragon scaled the ladder and snatched the briefcase holding the title match contract, beating the likes of Sin Cara, Wade Barrett, Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater, Kane, Sheamus, and Cody Rhodes.
Bryan was out to prove a point in that match.
“I wanted to go out and show that although I’m a technical wrestler I can still win a big match when it matters,” he remarked. “Not a lot of people expected me to win, but I did.”
Now that he has a guaranteed title match, Bryan can face the World champion any time he pleases. But he isn’t going to keep us guessing when he will cash it in. He already knows when it will be.
“I’m saving it for WrestleMania next year,” he boldly stated.
“I want that main event match and now I can have it. I shocked everyone by winning Money in the Bank, and I’ll shock everyone again when I win the World title at WrestleMania.”
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