There’s no doubt about it; Daniel Bryan is the hottest wrestler in the world right now. Whenever he walks into an arena, the crowd goes wild and any talking is drowned out by the emphatic “YES!” chant. That chant (and the crowd behind him), along with his pure wrestling ability and shaggy beard among other things, has granted him the biggest push of his WWE career.
He beat the face of the company, John Cena, cleanly at SummerSlam and captured his first WWE Championship. Even though he lost it soon after, these accomplishments proved that management truly does have faith in him to be able to carry the company while Cena is out with a torn triceps.
All of this success has come with a lot of comparisons to past superstars such as Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin. While it is a huge compliment to Bryan for his name to be mentioned with those two legends, there are definitely problems with those comparisons.
With the comparison to Michaels, their overall wrestling talent and their ability to put on a good match with just about anyone is what links the two together. There are just two many differences for this likeness to be valid, however, as Michaels had far more athleticism than Bryan, and was built quite a bit differently. On top of this, Michaels was one of the best talkers in wrestling when he was active, while Bryan really hasn’t had a chance (outside of on MizTV with Cena) to go all out on the mic.
Now that the Michaels comparison is put to rest, let’s handle the Stone Cold issue. The reason these two are compared is because of the pops that Bryan gets when he walks down the ramp to the ring, and because there’s really no way that the WWE Universe could boo Bryan, he’s just way too over right now. It was like that with Austin too, as even when he was turned heel, fans still rooted for the Texas Rattlesnake. It is definitely true that Bryan is heavily cheered for, but it’s not on the level that Steve Austin was. People would pay the price of admission just for a shot to see him and yell “WHAT?” at him, and that’s just not the case for Bryan. Yes, he is very entertaining, but almost no one is in Stone Cold’s ballpark as far as popularity.
So if he’s not like either of these two, the people he’s most commonly compared to, then who would be a fair comparison? For me, that answer was pretty easy to figure out … Mick Foley.
If you think back to 1998, when the original Corporation was formed, it was Foley who was on the receiving end of the McMahon family’s cheating ways, as Vince McMahon called for the referee to ring the bell even though Foley had not tapped out. Thus, The Rock became the new WWF Champion. Out of this, Foley became a fan favorite, much like Bryan, and went on to feud with The Rock over the championship belt. It became clear after a little while, though, that these matches were just biding time so The Rock could face off with Stone Cold at Wrestlemania.
As we all know, Bryan will certainly be feuding with Randy Orton and the new Corporation over the belt, but again, like Foley, this is likely just to take up time until Cena is ready to return. It’s unfortunate for fans of Bryan, but it’s just too likely that McMahon will be able to turn down the loads of money that would be possible with another Cena/Orton feud.
I have all the respect in the world for Bryan, but he is just not on the level of the stars that many people compare him to. You really should just be enjoying what he brings to the table, but if you must make a comparison, at least make the correct one.
Even Mick agrees.
— Mick Foley (@realmickfoley) August 13, 2013
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