Welcome to my regular blog series dedicated to justifying my wrestling fandom. Here I will tenuously relate the WWE universe to larger issues in the wide world of fandoms and maybe even that cold lonely place known as “reality”. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present to you: WRESTLING WITH SHAME. Read on for my current rant!
Daniel Bryan is a professional wrestler and former WWE Champion. There. The “who” part is answered. Easy. The hard part is why you, the non-wrestling fan, should care. You should care because Daniel Bryan is you. Metaphorically, of course. You are actually you and Daniel Bryan is actually Bryan Danielson, but that last part isn’t really relevant, so don’t worry about it. Daniel Bryan is metaphorically you because he simply wasn’t that special.
Daniel Bryan did not sound like a wrestler; he openly wept in front of a microphone while discussing Connor the Crusher, a 6 year old cancer patient. Daniel Bryan did not act like a wrestler; he has been known to describe himself as the toughest vegan on the planet despite being in an industry that pushed the prototypical alpha male. Daniel Bryan was not built like a wrestler; he looks vaguely like a goat and is 4 inches shorter and ten pounds (maybe 20 on a bad day) lighter than me.
Daniel Bryan, we were told, was not a wrestler who could be the face of the wrestling to the outside world. But he proved them wrong, and we proved them wrong. He out-worked his size, we out-cheered his competitors, and he out-thought his problems. We forced his way into main event stories, and he made believers out of skeptics. Daniel Bryan became the WWE Champion, main evented Wrestlemania, and became the touchstone good guy wrestler for a generation of fans.
You are Daniel Bryan. You do not have your future nicely laid out for you. The hand of god has not reached down from heaven on high and blessed you with a gift ensuring your future. The only assurance you have is, well, you. You, and you alone, are ultimately responsible for your life, your failures, and your successes. You have the ability to grab life and squeeze what you want out of it. It doesn’t matter if you boss says you’ll never succeed in business because you’re allowed to prove your boss wrong. You’re given the opportunity to push your mind, body, and spirit further than anyone, including yourself, thinks possible. So be Daniel Bryan and live your life to its fullest potential. Stop arguing with me and do it.
Daniel Bryan retired from professional wrestling Monday night. He’s suffered innumerable concussions and the doctors said his brain could no longer handle the damage professional wrestling inflicts on a body. It was a sad day for the collective wrestling fandom as soon as this tweet was posted and shared across our timelines:
In a retirement speech that lasted longer than the extra 15 minutes I set my PVR for, Daniel Bryan thanked the world for allowing him to be himself. In a rare display of broken kayfabe, all wrestlers appeared on stage – out of character – to help usher him into retirement. Every story line was broken because a great wrestler was thanked for being a great wrestler. The assembled crowd, in Bryan’s hometown of Seattle, was seen to be openly emotional. They were sad, grateful, and shocked all at once. Tears were shed in the arena and online as the community gathered to reminisce about the end of one of our favorite characters and while the grieving process is still ongoing the collective “we” have decided to be grateful for what Daniel Bryan gave us and thankful that he’s stopping before doing any more permanent damage to himself. As Bryan himself said, he’s getting older and he and his wife (diva Brie Bella) are thinking about starting a family.
So, in a spasm of fan-awareness, I’d like to apply the lessons of Daniel Bryan as outlined earlier in this post to each of us and to the entire universe of fandoms. Be thankful for the gifts our favourite franchises give us. The entertainment, the curiosity, the creativity, the conversation, the characters, the beginnings, middles, and ends. All of it. In a world where everything must be temporary, we should make the effort to enjoy the gift of right now. It hurts, yes, that Jon Snow is totally 100% <SPOILER> and never, and I mean EVER, coming <SPOILER> and that One Direction is on hiatus forever. But that doesn’t take away from the gifts they gave us. So even if the third Hunger Games movie was pointless, the video for Zayn’s new single is kind of gross, and the fact the next (or previous) generation simply will not understand why Harry Potter was so important to the 12 year old version of you, that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t enjoy losing yourself in the fanstasy world they provided.
Long live the fans and the heroes, each of us are needed and cannot exist without the other.
Johnathan T. Rico, esq.
Photo Sources: Featured Image