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  1. #1
    Mediocrity at it's finest kingzak13's Avatar
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    May 2018

    (YLC RD3) Kingzak Presents: The Dark Heart of Daniel Bryan

    What’s up guys, Kingzak is back in action with another column. How the hell do you define an identity, somethings are obvious like certain characteristics, experiences, traits or even phrases can be part of an identity. But really an identity is so much more than just that, there’s something deeper, harder to describe there too.

    In wrestling, you can vary between having a very limited sort of identity and having one that is more intricately crafted. Usually it takes years in the business to build this identity into something to watch and something that can be considered a deep personality. There are plenty of identity based questions and topics that could be explored among the WWE superstars. Questions such as why does Roman Reigns do what he does? Are Dean Ambrose and Jon Moxley two sides of the same fractured mind? Why does Baron Corbin have no personality?

    All these questions and more tend to swirl around my head every now and then. However I have come to find one question keeps coming to the forefront since it pertains to one of my favourite wrestlers and one of the most popular wrestlers of the modern era, and who they really are.

    Daniel Bryan is without a doubt one of WWE’s most popular acts of the modern era, and one of the most talented wrestlers of all time. These days he is fighting the crusade to save the planet, using the platform of WWE Champion and then the SmackDown Tag Champion to help spread his message, and attempting to shame the audience into changing their ways. Before that, Bryan was the next big hero for the WWE and was beloved by pretty much everyone in the wrestling fandom. Which of these two drastically different personalities is the real Daniel Bryan?

    To answer this, we are going to go back to his pre-WWE days and work our way forward to establish who he is. Bryan’s time on the independent circuit can best be described as incredible. I wasn’t a wrestling fan at the time, however everything I have seen from that period has been ranging from good to great to amazing. He wrestled incredible matches and by the time he made his way to WWE he was already crowned as the best wrestler on the planet.

    Bryan’s beginning in WWE was definitely not something you would expect for the best wrestler on the planet. He was stuck on the talent show that was the original NXT, is this something that the best wrestler on the planet should have to do? Surely a great wrestler should just be allowed to do his thing, he shouldn’t have to waste time competing with the Darren Youngs and Michael Tarvers of the world.

    This format wasn’t designed to let Bryan thrive, and being stuck with The Miz definitely didn’t help. Bryan’s WWE career basically began working with either people that had no right being in the same ring as him, or people that were generally antagonistic towards him. Imagine starting your dream job and finding that everyone around is either a dick or incompetent, that is going to generate some rage inside you.

    And rage is very much what we got, after NXT 1 finished, we would then witness to The Nexus’ debut, and one of the most vicious assaults in WWE history. The eight men attacked anyone at ringside, however Bryan took things a step further. The rest of the group were content with a beatdown, while Bryan used a tie to choke one of the ring announcers. Even with the anger behind him, that is too far and to make matters slightly worse, it was an innocent ring announcer, not someone that had been antagonizing him the past couple months. This would lead to him being fired from the WWE, albeit temporarily.

    Bryan’s would promptly return to the WWE, however he didn’t show remorse for what he had done with The Nexus. Instead he sought revenge on the people that had driven him to that point, helping team WWE beat The Nexus at SummerSlam, and followed by going after The Miz. Bryan was cheered for these actions, but do note, at no point during any of this did he seek out fan adulation, he just did his thing and people cheered him, he didn’t care for the fans reaction.

    Bryan would continue to work his way up the rankings of the WWE through the next year, winning the Money in the Bank briefcase along the way. A few months later he would become romantically entangled with AJ Lee, and finally in December of 2011, Bryan cashed in the MITB briefcase to become World Heavyweight Champion. What’s interesting to note is that he had prior announced he would be cashing in at WrestleMania, but in the end he would cash in on someone he had formed a small alliance with in the form of the Big Show.

    Bryan immediately became obsessed with the title, it was his sign that he was officially the best; it was what he cherished most in the world, more than the bonds he had made the past year, and ultimately the overzealous Yes chants began there. Bryan made sure that people knew he was the best, and that is the truest form of Daniel Bryan I believe we were seeing there. He would do anything to be known as the best and even used his platform to promote his beliefs (albeit just the veganism this time)

    At this point you are probably thinking along the lines of “that’s all well and good, but how do you explain the yes movement and to a lesser extent Team Hell No”, well we are about to get to that. Bryan’s obsession with championship gold continued after his WHC run, as he immediately went for the WWE championship. Bryan was then forced into Team Hell No thanks to AJ and Doctor Shelby, and he ended up making his way to the tag titles, he didn’t want to be there though, he remained against the idea of the team even with the fans cheering him.

    Team Hell No’s finally became a team when they were attacked by The Shield, another case of Bryan not actually being a naturally good person, but just attacking for revenge, just like with his SummerSlam return back in 2010. Both this and his prior singles run can be summarised by less of a galant hero and more of a “take on all challengers” sort of vibe and those challengers just ended up being the bad guy in the eyes of the fans.

    Bryan had turned face by this point, however his action didn’t really change from what he was doing, he did start chanting along with the Yes chants instead of against it, and I have thought about it and this is the part where things get interesting. Bryan chanting along with the Yes chants was faked, allow me to explain. Wrestling has always awarded those with loud crowd reactions, and Bryan had those even though he didn’t like them. So if he went along with them, they could help propel him back into the world championship scene, and it did. Bryan didn’t care for the fans, it was all a façade.

    Shortly after this, the Yes Movement got into the full swing as Bryan was pushed towards the WWE Championship by the fans rallying behind him. However The Authority made sure to stand in his way, and the fact that he was being denied his dream drove him to the brink of insanity, while he may not have cared for the fans, his goal was just being kept from him and that can be incredibly damaging to the psyche, which is what would lead to the Wyatt feud.

    Bryan would eventually find his way back to the world title scene and with the fans behind him; he was able to capture the world title. This was his moment. He had worked his way here, manipulated the fans to get behind him and got to the pinnacle of wrestling, the world championship at WrestleMania. And now that they were eating out the palm of his hand, the sky was the limit. He could have pushed his agenda again; however his time at the top was cut short.

    Bryan’s return in 2015 was met with the same feverous reaction he had gotten used to prior, which to Bryan meant that he could be rocketed back to the world title any time. So he could bide his time, he made efforts to get back to the world title however luck didn’t fall in his favour, though with the fans still with him, it was only a matter of time till he would once again be at the top.

    However it was not to be, Bryan was soon forced into a temporary retirement due to multiple concussions. Bryan tried everything to try and heal so he could get back in the ring, and after three years without wrestling, Bryan would find himself cleared. He could finally get back to what he loved and finally get back the championship he never lost.

    But something was different, the fans cheered him just as heavily on his return, but as time went on, things went quieter and quieter. And ultimately despite some attempts to regain the fans with a Hell No reunion and a feud with prime antagonist The Miz, the fans weren’t behind him as much as they were before.

    So ultimately Bryan decided to say screw this and did whatever it took to get back his title, and became the Daniel Bryan we currently see before us. The current Daniel Bryan is the one he truly is, the hero of Yes-terday was just a façade to help him accomplish his goals. I know this is bit of a hard thing to think about, but the evidence is there. Bryan has never turned face by any specific actions, the fans just chanted for him and he just went with it.

    This is probably hard to take in, but if you look at it from the angle of him faking the fan appreciation, it all lines up perfectly. Ultimately, Daniel Bryan has spent his career hiding his true identity from us so as to obtain his goals. I will say though, this isn’t a reason to hate the man; wrestling has long been filled with manipulation and deception. So whether you think that Bryan is a hero driven to madness by the denial of his dream, or whether it was all a façade by an eco-conscious championship obsessed manipulator, it’s hard to deny the impact on wrestling and the enjoyment he has brought to us.

  2. #2
    LOP's mid carder for life DynamiteBillington's Avatar
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    May 2018
    An interesting conclusion - although I think you could possibly have spent more of the column focusing on the New Daniel Bryan. After the build up investigating how he got there, I think more detail about how the current DB is the most real would have been a significant part of the column.

  3. #3
    Part Timer Maverick's Avatar
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    May 2018
    Hipsterville By Sea, United Kingdom
    There are a few examples here Zack of some imprecise and lazy writing that you could polish, because I think if you could start to iron that stuff out you would instantly become a far smoother writer.

    To give you an example, the intro: "What’s up guys, Kingzak is back in action with another column. How the hell do you define an identity" - that kind of generic start instantly puts me off. The reader can see your user name when they click on the column. Is it necessary to tell them again? You would be better off diving right in. And as I said to everybody in the last round, these dictionary definitions of terms is a super clumsy way to go about a tournament topic. Finally, the rhetorical question makes you sound ignorant. I'd generally avoid these conversational tropes in formal writing.

    However, lack of polish aside, the take on the Daniel Bryan character arc was quite well thought out. The only thing I'd say is that you occasionally veered between kayfabe and shoot - e.g. mentioning pushes and turns when what you were really writing was in an "in universe" piece about how Bryan was always the "New Daniel Bryan" all along. If you're writing purely in universe - as Plan often does - then don't use industry terms, it kind of obscures the point you're trying to make.

    Overall though, you're improving as a writer through the tournament and that's pleasing to see.

  4. #4
    Author of 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die Samuel 'Plan's Avatar
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    May 2018
    I can't emphasise the point Mav made there at the end of his feedback enough - if you're committing to the fiction, you have to commit to it. You have to get rid of all the usual lexicon you find in wrestling columns and steep yourself in a world where "it's still real to me!" even if that can feel a little odd or self-conscious to begin with. When you do that, it's much easier to start getting passionate about the story or arc you're delving into, which I think is a major aspect of making columns of this sort work. They've got to feel impassioned, be infectious; otherwise, it's next to impossible to get wrestling fans, on the internet especially, to put aside their typical critical faculties that lean so eagerly towards 'smark.'

    I enjoyed your take on Bryan's arc, though, and would even be happy to read about it in greater depth in the future. These kinds of character extrapolations, especially for characters that have been growing for years, can benefit from multi-part explorations to afford the room to really dive into some of the gritty detail where the magic is most often found. But I would say that your discipline began to slip again. There were a few paragraphs early on that I thought demonstrated the same improvement you showed us all last round, but for the most part I felt like there were still too many punctuation errors and haphazard structuring (or lack thereof) going on. That, plus what Mav mentioned about some bad habits like unnecessarily reintroducing yourself or breaking off from your prose for needless rhetoric - instances like "you're probably thinking" and "allow me to explain" are superfluous and should at the very least be removed during proofing.

    You're definitely better now than you were at the start of the tournament, but there's still room for your discipline as a writer to develop technically. I hope you keep demonstrating the same improvement away from the tourney as you have during it, as you're at a stage in your tenure here that it becomes increasingly difficult to justify anything other. Nonetheless, good work throughout Zak and, even though this was flawed, I still rather enjoyed reading about your interpretation of a wrestling fiction.

  5. #5
    Mediocrity at it's finest kingzak13's Avatar
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    May 2018
    Feedback time

    @Dynamite: It quite possibly would have helped, there was a lot I wanted to take a look at and I ran out of space and time. Thanks for reading

    @Maverick: I personally like having an intro line, and when possible the outro line too, I feel it's kinda a part of my writers identity at this point.

    As far as the industry terms, I get your point, though it is a bit hard to do considering them being common words when otherwise discussing wrestling.

    @Plan: It definitely would feel odd to be in the still real sort of world, I was not in it for very long.

    As far as the slips in structure or punctuation, I'm putting that down to the time limit, didn't really get started on this till the Wednesday and didn't really have the chance to go back over in detail. That said, I get your point on rhetoric, so I'll make sure to cut back on it in the future.

    Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

    Well since I'm out of the tournament now, I guess I'll just offer one last massive thanks to both the judges and especially the mentors. Thanks for offering up your time for us lot, it was really appreciated.

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