Create a Superstar: Daniel Bryan and The WWE Perspective
by, 11-01-2013 at 08:26 PM (1796 Views)
With all the talk these days about Daniel Bryan and if he should or shouldn't be champion, I thought it would be a good time to write a blog from (the presumed) corporate perspective. So let's get into it.
What makes a "top superstar?" To answer this we must first look at how wrestling has historically been viewed as a sport/form of entertainment. Traditionally, wrestling has been compared to two other forms of entertainment: Soap operas and the circus. The comparisons on a base level are understandable. Wrestling has always been filled with over-the-top drama and larger then life characters. Let's take the main event from Wrestlmania 4 as an example. Hulk Hogan, 6'8", 303lbs, a beacon of charism that can command a room and bring arenas to their feet. Randy Savage, 6'2", 237lbs, also a legendary speaker/showmen. The feud: Best friends (the mega powers) have their friendship ripped apart by jealously and contempt. The wild card: Savage's lovely manger, Ms. Elizabeth. The prize: the WWF title. So what do you have? Two absolutely jacked athletes, drama, a sexy female, and a grand prize. This is wrestling at its peek.
So let's backtrack a little. What makes a superstar a superstar? Well, there's 4 main ingredients and I'm going to list them off in order of importance (again, from a WWE perspective):
We'll use the Ultimate Warrior (circa 89) as an example.
1) Look/physique. Let's just say the steroid era did not miss this man. Also good height (6'2") and a sweet mullet.
2) Character/gimmick. In the Warrior's case, he is.... well.... the (A) Ultimate (B) Warrior. An outer worldly fighter that has come to earth to take on all challengers.
3) Promos. Rapid fire nonsense that was like nothing else at the time.
4) Ring work. Rapid fire nonsense that was like nothing else at the time.... And more then a bit dangerous.
So, let's rate the Warrior on all these categories. And again, this is Warrior circa 89, so we're going to rate him by those standards.
1) Look/physique: 10/10.
2) Character/gimmick: 10/10.
3) Promos: 8/10.
4) Ring work: 5/10.
The categories that matter the most, Warrior is amazing, and as for the other two, he's very good and meh.
Now, let's bring in Daniel Bryan....
Actually no, let's back track first.
Hardcore wrestling fans are the same as hardcore fans of any other type of entertainment. I mean that in the sense that they don't understand why stuff they want to happen doesn't happen.... all the time. For example, I'm a big movie fan. A lot of my friends are big movie fans. I watch around 50 movies a year in theaters. I watch everything from the smallest indie film to the largest blockbuster. And there are numerous times a year when I'll see a movie I love, and maybe the critics love, but it will make no money in the box office. Maybe it's due to marketing and it not getting enough exposure, but chances are it's just not what the public at large wants to see. I love the film Before Midnight. One of my top 5 films of the year so far. It sits at 98% on rotten tomatoes. It made, in total, about $20 mil worldwide (less then half of that was domestic gross). Now let's look at Grown Ups 2. A piece of hot garbage (IMO) that has a RT score of 7%. It's made, to date, $241 mil worldwide (more then half of that being domestic gross).
The point is this, well acted movies are like well wrestled matches, most people will find value in them, but only a small group of people will find those two things truly special. At the end of the day, most people just want fart jokes and explosions.
Back to Daniel Bryan (modern day).
1) Look/physique: In terms of body type, he keeps himself in great shape. The height (5'8") and ordinary man features hurt though. (7/10)
2) Character/gimmick: It's changed over time but the overarching theme is "he's a wrestler." Compared to that, the whole goat face/yes/no gags are actually a step in the right direction. (7/10)
3) Promos: Vastly improved from when he started in the company but there are too many times when his promos break down into shouty-80s-face-promos. He's also not great at reacting/playing off of others. (7/10).
4) Ring work: Untouchable in the WWE and one of the best in the world. (10/10).
The only category that you could call Daniel Bryan truly great is arguably the one with the least value.
Now I will say this, we are not in an era associated with strong gimmicks. We are also not in the big man/steroid era. We are in the era, though, where those kind of wrestlers/entertainers are a hot commodity. Despite what people may believe, Daniel Bryan has been able to at least crack that glass ceiling due in part to the fact that there's no one above him with the complete package.
Do I like Daniel Bryan? Yes. Do I root for him? All the time. But I understand that casual fans far out number guys like me who take the time to write about wrestling. And casual fans, the ones who turned the attitude era into a mega success, they want something and someone that's larger then life. Daniel Bryan may be a success story, he may be a star, and the WWE may be behind him 100%.... But I understand their reluctance to get behind him 110%.
Thank you for Reading. Feel free to leave praise, constructive feedback, or troll. If you're going to troll though, please have some style.
Song of the Day: Everlasting Light by The Black Keys
Wrestling Move of the Day: Northern Lights Suplex