Daniel Bryan Update

The following was reported by PWInsider:

“WWE officials were hoping to get Daniel Bryan back in the ring this month and have him defend the Intercontinental Title against King Barrett this Sunday at the Payback pay-per-view but as noted, they got MRI results back on May 8th and it was determined that Bryan would not be able to return any time soon, if ever again.

The situation has brought a lot of frustration within WWE. WWE officials want what’s best for Bryan but they obviously want him working for the company and want him on TV as they have a DVD and other products coming out that need to be promoted. There has been some talk that Bryan is now so injury-prone that maybe they could best use him in a non-wrestling position.

Since Monday’s RAW where he dropped the Intercontinental Title, the talk has been that Bryan is trying to figure out a way to get cleared. There’s been no word yet if Bryan will be getting the surgery that he was so reluctant to get before but people are wondering if that’s an option. Needless to say, a lot of people in the company really feel bad for Bryan right now.”


So, About Daniel Bryan…


What's Bryan's future? We're 3 weeks from Mania and there's nothing for him. Was Fast Lane the last time we see him in the Main Event? Kind of a sad ending.

​At this point I can't think of a single reason why they even bothered to bring him back.  They had literally NOTHING for him to do and all that's happened is he looks like a huge geek now and it destroyed Roman's heat.  It's probably gonna go down as an all-time bonehead move.  ​

Lukewarm 3:16 Reigns and Bryan

Sure, their brawl was nice, but Reigns (who couldn't pin Kane) and Bryan (who needed 14 minutes to pretty much take out Show before the DQ), respectively, spent the rest of their show smirking and selfie-ing like Tyler Breeze and acting like his (delusionally) smug heel character when paired with AJ.  Why should I cheer for either of these guys based on this build?

I was interested in Reigns-Lesnar after snow day and could have gotten behind Bryan getting his title back, but this shades of gray/stupid babyfaces fighting/stop-start booking has made me care less about Fast Lane.

"So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth."  Revelation 3:16

​I do feel like they're deliberately trolling everyone at this point with the "Everyone is sick of Reigns and Bryan against Kane and Big Show, so let's book them against more Kane and Big Show!" stuff.  I barely even understand what the story is supposed to be. Except that Big Show is really large and you have to see his frying pan hands in person to appreciate him.  I think we all understand that.  ​

Does Bryan “Need” to Win the Rumble?

Dear Scott,

Two long questions…

Although you recently said you think Roman Reigns will win the Rumble, how much do you agree with the notion that Daniel Bryan "needs" to win the Rumble (and win the title back at 'Mania) to be established as a top guy?  I can understand (many) fans wanting him to get his title back at 'Mania but think he's already popular enough that winning the Rumble wouldn't be as helpful to him in the crowd's eyes as someone like Reigns or Rollins or even Rusev, none of whom are generally viewed as main eventers.  And WWE reluctantly booking Bryan to win the Rumble isn't going to make corporate believe in him any more than 'Mania last year did.

Additionally, while Bryan winning back the title he never lost (even if it's not from the person who took it from him) is a good story, how much confidence do you have in WWE Creative telling that story given how badly they've booked the three biggest babyfaces in Bryan's absence: Cena (hero avenging Summerslam slaughter who gets into a #1 Contender's match by losing and is impotent when his allies are fired), Reigns (up-and-comer establishing himself by beating the big bad champ who is given Looney Tunes and fairy tale promos), and Ambrose (psychotic hellbent on revenge becoming a prop comic who loses to holograms and exploding TVs)?

I don't think he NEEDS to win it as far as his character or standing or whatever goes.  I think that WWE kind of owes it to the fanbase as an apology for last year and it would go a long way towards building goodwill.  Really, if he's booked in a strong Wrestlemania program (hint:  NOT KANE) with a direction that makes fans get invested in him again, he'll be OK.  Now, that being said, if they didn't want him winning the Rumble, he shouldn't be in it.  It's only going to hurt Reigns just by virtue of not being Daniel Bryan.  
Like, Bryan can be the guy to dethrone Rusev and that's an easy one to book and build sympathy and such.  The Brock match is of course the fireworks factory that we're unfortunately never going to arrive at, but that's another one that literally books itself.  It doesn't HAVE to be the story of "Bryan wins the Rumble and then gets the title", but it just happens that it's the only story they know how to book this time of year and the only one they really get behind.  

Daniel Bryan

Scott – now that it's been a year since the Daniel Bryan/crowd hijacking stuff I want to ask a couple of questions…….

1. Has anything like that ever happened in wrestling before?  If so, what/who was involved.

2.  Does the whole thing get enough credit for being a huge deal?  I mean correct me if I'm wrong – but didn't the audience basically change the entire direction of the company – at least from royal rumble to wrestlemania XXX?  That's pretty amazing to me.

3.  Do you think DB will have the same crowd support/momentum when he's back or has the moment passed?


​Finally, a fresh topic.
1. I'd say the closest analog was Hulk Hogan getting all those title shots in the AWA because Verne was basically forced into it by crowd reactions, but the dynamic there was totally different, as clearly Hogan was the future of the business and the AWA couldn't actually lock him down.  Other than that, it was such a unique situation with a perfect storm of factors like the Batista backlash that I doubt it will ever be duplicated again.  
2.  ​Well, no matter what happened we were always gonna get Brock Lesnar as champion by Summerslam and John Cena on top again, so I'd say "changed the direction of the company" is going a bit far.  
3.  Depends on how much Philly hates Roman Reigns, I guess.  

Bryan As Placeholder

From the Reigns thread:
Remember, this time last year everyone kept saying that Bryan was only a placeholder feud (even Scott) for Orton before Batista or Cena came in to save the day.There was NO WAY Bryan was going on to Wrestlemania to win the title. Nope, not at all. And there was NO WAY he was going to beat all three members of Evolution in one night to win the title on top of that.Nope, not happening
Is this REALLY still a thing?  Like, how many times do we need to have it verified that:
1)  Batista-Orton was the planned WM main event and;2)  Daniel Bryan was not in the long term plans of the company, especially considering his first post-win feud was with Kane
…before people accept it?  Yes, they might still change their mind and back into a different plan for WM this year that's Dolph or Ambrose or whoever, but that doesn't mean they suddenly had amazing long-term planning skills all along and were just fooling us dumb marks.  If it hadn't been for an extraordinary set of circumstances and the fanbase nearly staging a revolt against the entire direction of the promotion, it would not have happened.  Sheesh.

Dean Ambrose IS Daniel Bryan

So at HIAC 2013, Bryan main events, gets screwed and is thrown into an out of nowhere feud with Bray Wyatt for 3 months while Cena vs. Authority (Orton) dominated the main events until a surprising big man (Batista) returns to win Rumble and the crowd totally shit on it.
Fast forward a year, plucky Indy darling Dean is the obvious crowd favorite, main events HIAC, and instantly gets tossed down the card into meaningless feud with… Bray Wyatt while the main event storyline is Cena vs Authority and a surprising big man returns (Reigns) to win Rumble.
They're gonna run into the same damn problems as last year.   Do you see any way Dean pulls a Bryan or was that such a natural organic thing?  It just seems that Reigns is being forced on the fans and that usually gets a backlash.

​Well, Reigns does sell merch and people seem to like him so it's not likely going to be a case like with Batista.  Batista was transparently someone coming back for the part-time payday to promote his movie and fans were clearly resentful of that.  The issue with Reigns is that WWE just isn't very good at spotting who the top talent is going to be, especially at that stage in their career. They got Cena right (after nearly cutting him in 2002) but it took 3 years for him to get the big belt, and rightly so.  But for example, back in 2004 they decided that Randy Orton was gonna be their next big star and that went horribly wrong.  And now there's no competition for them to raid, so anyone who they don't deem to be a top prospect is just leaving the business rather than going somewhere else to develop into a star.  ​
So I'd say that Reigns COULD be a big star, but their track record doesn't say so and it's way early anyway.  

Don’t forget about Bryan

I know most people have Brock vs Reigns penciled in as the WM 31 main event. To me it would make more sense to have Bryan make his return by winning the Royal Rumble and facing Brock at WMania. Your thoughts?

​I wouldn't hold your breath on that one there, kemosabe.  ​

Fingerpokes of doom, HHH/Brock, and Danial Bryan

So with Summerslam coming, a scenario I have that could basically allow the WWE to FINALLY clear the deck and move forward as far as blowing off this never-ending Authority storyline and giving proper closure to it. 

At Summerslam, Brock Lesner beats John Cena for the belt and we get Fingerpoke of Doom 2.0 as Brock lays down for HHH, who pins him in an impromptu match at the end of the PPV. HHH declares himself champion, curses the fans, other wrestlers, and basically declares his egomania for the world to see as far as him declaring himself champion for life.

At which point, Danial Bryan returns and basically kills HHH and his plan to be champion but never defend the belt by using the same crap that was used to strip him of the belt to force HHH to defend the belt against him.

HHH only agrees to fight Bryan in a title match IF it's a "Loser Gets Fired" match, which allows for Bryan to not only beat HHH for the belt but remove him from TV as HHH is "fired" when he loses.

Cena can fight Brock Lesner meanwhile and they can get some mileage out of Brock effectively acknowledging that he's a piece of shit with no love for professional wrestling and refusing to fight Cena. Which gives Cena a plotline as he tries his best to get Lesner to fight him but Lesner refuses. Which segways in to the Rumble (where Brock and Cena finally are in the ring together) and ultimately Wrestlemania……

Bryan meanwhile can feud with Miz, since they have enough of a backstory storyline that they can waste a couple of months, perhaps with Steph sticking around and throwing herself behind Miz to try and avenge HHH's defeat/firing. Miz as a heel, especially a corporate heel, could do wonders for resurrecting his career and giving Bryan a decent, meaty storyline as far as Bryan's original arch enemy teaming up with the wife of his curent arch enemy to try and destroy him. And when Miz fails, they can have Steph move onto Sheamus (who fails) and finally, to Randy Orton to try and avenge HHH…..

Jesse Baker  

​Good thing you added the signature there because otherwise I never would have known.  ​

Let’s talk about….the return (?) of Daniel Bryan

Let’s talk about….the return (?) of Daniel Bryan
It was the loudest ovation I’ve ever heard.
Wrestlemania weekend was coming to its final act inside the
Smoothie King Center, and I’m sure that I have more than a little bias in my unabashed giddiness; after
more than 2 decades as a fan, I had finally made the pilgrimage to attend the
granddaddy of them all, and after a weekend of wrestling that had filled my
palate with nothing but the most delightful of tastes, after live ROH, Shimmer,
the Hall of Fame, and Wrestlemania 30, we had reached our final moment together
at Monday Night Raw. It was transcendent for me to be a part of something I had
watched for so many years, to gorge on wrestling all weekend without anyone
asking me why I ‘still watched that fake crap’; it was truly one of the finest moments
I’ve collectively had with any crowd for any reason.

But still, even keeping that in mind, this crowd was LOUD.
We knew who we wanted from the opening jump – the ‘Yes!’
chants that had permeated Bourbon Street all weekend were fired up 20 minutes
before showtime with no signs that this crowd was going to slow down at any
point. Perhaps it was the less cavernous confines of the smaller arena, perhaps
it was the fans that had said ‘hey, we can take that extra day off work before
we go home’, perhaps it was the high from getting exactly what we wanted the night
before, I don’t know; all I do know is that when Raw started and Justin Roberts
began to introduce “The NEW World Heavyweight Champion….”, we became a force
unrivaled in my life of attending live events.
And there he was, the man of the hour. Daniel Bryan stood
tall, and for a little while, it sure felt like everything was going to be
all right. There was no time to let him talk; to do so would force us to stop
showering him with the much-deserved affection for the moments he had given us
the previous night, and the moments he had given us on the road to that final
coronation. And so we cheered on, cheered through his promo, cheered when he
thanked us, cheered when he smiled, we just….cheered. It was the truest magic
of professional wrestling, that moment of connection between wrestler and fans.
Less than 3 months later, it was all gone. He promised to
return, promised us he wouldn’t let this be his legacy, he wouldn’t let this
beat him. He held out as long as he could, and he had given all that he could.
And we saluted him as he left, scanning every dirt sheet, looking for any clue
to his return, any chance that it couldn’t be true, that he would be back
sooner than later.
But should he?
I try not to pretend to know what these wrestlers are like
in real life. After Benoit, I promised myself that I never would – it just hurt
too goddamn much. When the facts of what had truly happened began to emerge,
what he had put himself through and what it had cost his family above all, I
began to truly question my fandom in ways I never have before, and I have yet
to resolve those questions.
I am torn about Daniel Bryan in ways that I never thought I
would be. I am torn about how much he should have to give for me, for any of
Let’s make one thing clear: Daniel Bryan will do what he
wants. If he wants to wrestle again, he will. He is a big boy who can make his
own choices, and if he decides to lace up the boots again, it’s between him and
his family. I somehow doubt that most of the online fans enter into the
equation for him. We honestly know very little at this point except what we can
reasonably ascertain; the fact that he is sidelined at the time that he
should be making more money than ever before means that what has happened is
far more serious than something as simple as ‘he’ll be back any day now’. After
watching enough wrestler shoot interviews, I am sure enough that no one would
turn down a run in the main event unless they truly had no other options.
Clearly, this injury is career-altering.
But I want Daniel Bryan to return, triumphantly, to regain
what was taken from him. Not just in the storyline sense, but in the sense that
I want to see him beat this thing, I want him to get the chance to decide on
his own terms when he wants to stop wrestling. I want him to get those moments
at the top that have been denied so many, I want him to continue to put on 4*-
5* matches with Reigns, Rollins, Ambrose, Cesaro, and more.
I want. I want. I. WANT.
Thinking about it in those terms made me feel like the most
selfish son of a bitch on the planet. Like a leech, someone who wants his
entertainment, consequences be damned to
whoever is providing it. Broken neck? Who cares, put some tape on it and work
through it. I need my wrestling, so fuck you, get out there and dance, monkey!
And then I got over myself for a few minutes; I’m just a guy
who wants to see his favorite performer of the last several years come back,
not a monster. How can I punish myself for that? How does that square with the
wrestlers as characters, not men; how can I reconcile with the person I
resolved to make myself post-Benoit? That’s what makes this so difficult – I want
Bryan to return so BADLY, to give me more great matches, to give me more great
moments. It reminds me, in some ways, of my friend Rhianna’s reaction after her
favorite, Edge, was forced to give up the ghost in the ring; no matter what
happened next, she was never going to be the same fan. She would always think
about how her favorite had his career cut shorter than it should have been.
Wrestling is one of the cruelest endeavors one can imagine
in so many ways, I cannot deny. These guys bust their asses day in, day out, to
try to make it to the top. Not even the main event per se, but the chance to
entertain all of us. Whenever I hear now about a wrestler who has health
problems, I go back to Bret Hart in ‘Wrestling with Shadows’, where he compares the life of wrestler to that of a circus animal, and we all know what
happens when that animal heads behind the barn when their use has dried up. The barbarism of that simple explanation makes it much clearer why Bret has nothing to do with wrestling these days….oh. Right. 
But we’re talking about Daniel Bryan.
Daniel Bryan, newlywed.
Daniel Bryan, one of the best wrestlers in the world.
I don’t know how I would feel about Bryan returning. I know
that I would be screaming along with the rest of the crowd when he made his
return. I would rush to Twitter, I would be glued to the screen to see what happened next. But the first time he took a flatback bump off a dropkick, the first
time he went up for that headbutt, I would cringe. And it’s not because I’m a
good person. It’s because, deep down, I would be afraid that his career would
be cut even shorter and deny me more matches, and that’s actually a hard admission
for me to make. It’s the acknowledgement of my love of the performer over the
man, and it’s admitting that I have the ability to divorce their well-being from
my entertainment. And I wonder why that is. I wonder why I can’t look back at
his WWE career and have that be enough, I wonder why I can’t look back at his ROH
career and have that be enough. I wonder why nothing can be enough for me. Why is it so hard to satisfied with what I already have from this man?
The answer, I suspect, is the fact that I will never set
foot in a ring, take a bump. I’m the observer, the critic, the fan; I sit in
the seats and judge with the dollars that put me inside the arena. They are
actors, after all, and when was the last time that you worried about an actor
in a film being injured beyond repair while doing a stunt? Wrestlers are merely
a resource, right? Just another moving part in the overall show, albeit the
most necessary one. And thinking of them as people is dangerous, because that’s when you put your heart on the line and risk it getting broken. Better to just think of them as merely a piece of the puzzle.
Yet, I think of Daniel Bryan.
I think of him, and what he has left to give.
I think of him, and what he might have left to lose.
I think of him, and what could await him in the future, good
or bad.
I think of him.
Or do I just think of myself?
Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter

Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuiness – The Complete Collection (Disc 1)

Because we’re all missing Daniel Bryan, I decided to watch and review this DVD. 

A lot of these matches were contested under “Pure Rules”. Here are
the rules:
1. Each wrestler has three
rope breaks to stop either a submission hold or pinfall.
2. There are no
closed-fists, only slaps and elbows are allowed to the face area. If a wrestler is seen using one, he will be warned. If a wrestler
is caught again, a rope-break will be taken away. The wrestler will lose the
match via disqualification if he is caught and has no rope-breaks.
3.There is a 20-count on
the floor instead of a 10-count

ROH World & ROH Pure
Championship Match: Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness, Weekend of Champions
Night 2, 4.29.06

They trade some holds, with neither man gaining a clear advantage.
Danielson grounds McGuinness with a side headlock. McGuinness fights back to
his feet, but Danielson stays in control. McGuinness delivers closed fist.
Sinclair does not see him use a closed fist. He, however, catches Danielson
retaliating, so he takes away a rope break from Danielson. Funny spot.
McGuinness is relentlessly going after Danielson’s arm, locking in a few
different submission holds. He smashes some elbows into Dragon’s head, forcing
Danielson to use another rope break. Dragon tries to fight back, but McGuinness
goes after the arm. Dragon fights back and goes for the Surfboard, but Nigel
fights it off. He decides just to stomp McGuinness’s knees into the mat.
McGuinness comes back by going to work on Danielson’s arm once more. He then
sends him packing to the floor. He tries to suplex Danielson back into the
ring, but Danielson reverses it with a release German Suplex. Danielson hits a
big lariat and then a running forearm in the corner. He hits a suplex and then
a diving headbutt for a two-count. He locks on the Crossface Chicken Wing,
forcing McGuinness uses his second rope break. Both exchange some hard slaps.
McGuinness then delivers the headstand mule kick. McGuinness hits the Tower of
London. Danielson uses his final rope break. Nigel goes for another Tower of London,
but Danielson reverses it with the Cattle Mutilation! McGuinness places his
foot on the bottom rope, using his third rope break.

They skirmish on the apron and McGuinness suplexes Danielson to
the floor! McGuinness tosses Danielson into the guardrail and then uses the
table as a weapon.  Danielson makes it just back into the ring before the
count of 20. McGuinness hits the Jawbreaker Lariat for a two-count, but
Danielson him rolls over into the Cattle Mutilation. McGuinness makes it to the
ropes, but that can’t save him. He slides to the floor to break the hold.
Danielson hits a suicide dive. Back on their feet, McGuinness charges, but
Danielson tosses him over the barricade. Danielson follows him out with the
springboard dive, but McGuinness gets a chair up in his face. McGuinness is
able to get back in the ring before the count and wins the match at
28:30. This awesome match had clever storytelling, hard-hitting moves, and
spot-on timing. The strategic game planning that encircled around the
“Pure Rules” appended some realism/psychology into this too.

ROH World Championship: Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness,
Generation Now, 7.29.06

This begins with
Danielson attacking Nigel’s leg. Nigel attempts to fight back, but Danielson
proceeds to work over the leg. Nigel fights back and goes to work on the arm.
Danielson recaptures the control and locks in the surfboard. Nigel fights back
and locks in an armbar that Danielson escapes with a bridge. Dragons slaps
Nigel in the face. He sends Nigel into the corner, but Nigel hits the headstand
into a kick move. He goes for the Tower of London, but Dragon reverses into a
cross face chicken wing. Nigel escapes. Danielson hits a suplex and heads up
top. He hits a missile dropkick. Nigel falls to the floor. Dragon then proceeds
to deliver a dive onto Nigel. Back in, Danielson hits a stiff European uppercut
off the second rope. He goes for Cattle Mutilation, but Nigel fights it off.
Nigel goes for another headstand, but Dragon kicks him in the face. Danielson
hits a suplex. He goes up top for the diving headbutt, but Nigel counters with
a knee right into his grill.

They go back and
forth with European uppercuts, ending with Nigel hitting a gigantic lariat for
a near fall. Nigel hits the Tower of London for another near fall. He puts in
his Arm Submission, but Danielson makes it to the ropes. Nigel takes a play out
of Danielson’s playbook and uses repeatedly elbows Dragon in the face. Dragon
reverses it and then shows Nigel how it is done. He locks in the cross-face
chicken wing. Nigel breaks out and they start trading stiff headbutts on their
feet. Danielson runs after Nigel and he tosses him over the ropes. Back in,
Nigel nails the rebound clothesline for a near fall. Danielson gets crotched on
the top rope and Nigel hits a demoralizing clothesline from the top rope.
Danielson goes to the floor where he crawls under the ring. He comes out the
other side and rolls Nigel up for the win at 24:25. This was just another
scientifically sound display from these two. It would have been a classic
if they weren’t both heels or if the crowd believed Nigel had a chance to win,
though. *** 1/2

Unification Match: Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness, Unified,

This is
the rubber unification match, and it is contested under Pure Rules. Nigel
McGuiness receives a huge pop from the hometown crowd. Before the bell rings, a
“Fuck ‘em up Nigel, fuck em up” chant breaks out. They lock up ferociously
while the crowd starts a  “Let’s Go Nigel/Let’s Go Dragon””. Danielson
slaps the taste out of Nigel’s mouth. They go back and forth with some chain
wrestling and then McGuinness slaps Dragon in the face, triggering a “You Got
Bitch Slapped” chant to break out. McGuinness attacks the arm, but Bryan fights
him off with a dropkick. Danielson goes after the Nigel’s arm and finds
creative ways to twist and turn it. He hits a butterfly suplex and locks in a
cross armbreaker. This makes McGuiness to use his first rope break. McGuinness
fights back by hitting his trademark “Kick to the Back/Elbow in the corner”
move. Danielson rallies back with a step-up enziguiri. He goes for the
surfboard to the crowds’ delight, but he just stomps on McGuinness’ legs
instead because he did not want to do a crowd-pleasing move. Brilliant.
Danielson deliver a superplex from the top-rope. Danielson goes back up and
hits the diving headbutt for a two-count. He then locks in Cattle Mutilation,
forcing McGuinness to use his second rope break. McGuinness rallies and then
hits the Tower of London. Danielson has to use the ropes to break up the pin
fall. His first one. Adding insult to injury, McGuinness locks in Cattle
Mutilation, triggering Danielson to use his second rope break. Outside,
Danielson reclaims control, tossing McGuinness into the ringside table.
Danielson holds McGuinness down with the table, looking for a count out
victory. McGuinness makes it back into the ring, though. They start exchanging
forearms and McGuinness deliver a huge Lariat for only two. McGuinness tries
the headstand in the corner, but Danielson dropkicks him and hits a roaring
forearm for a two count. Danielson locks in the Crossface Chicken Wing. He
wrestles him down to the mat with a body scissors. McGuinness makes it to the ropes,
but uses his last rope break.

Danielson delivers a
release German Suplex. He tries to hit the diving headbutt from the top rope,
but McGuinness counters it with a boot to the face. With both men on their
feet, they exchange some super stiff slaps to the face. Danielson wins the
mini-exchange and hits a flying forearm in the corner. McGuinness fights back
and places Danielson on the top rope. He goes to the second rope, and he turns
Bryan inside and out with a lariat. This forces Dragon to use his final rope
break. McGuinness goes up. Danielson decides to join him, but he is sent back
down from a headbutt. Danielson brushes it off and hits a dropkick. He goes up
top and locks in a  Crossface Chicken Wing on the top-rope. Awesome spot.
McGuinness battles out and hits the Tower of London, but it only gets two!
 Outside, they both try to smash each other’s head into the ring post.
Danielson pulls McGuinness’s arms into it several of times, causing his head to
smash against the ring post super hard. This spot was utterly gruesome, busting
McGuinness open the hard way. Danielson dropkicks McGuinness, sending him to
tumble over the barricade. Danielson goes back in and springboard dives onto
McGuinness. Awesome spot that creates a “Holy Shit” chant. At the count of 19,
Nigel makes it back into the ring. He hulks up and screams “COME ON, COME ON!”,
sending the crowd into a frenzy. Nigel creeps closer to Dragon, who pulls a Ric
Flair move by begging him not to attack him.

Both start viciously
headbutting each other. Danielson headbutts McGuinness into the middle of the
ropes, allowing him to launch back with a Jawbreaker Lariat! Nigel slowly rolls
over to pin Danielson. At the count of about two and about half, Dragon rolls
Nigel over and locks in Cattle Mutilation. Nigel gets to the ropes, but it
doesn’t matter because he is out of rope breaks. He fights out of the hold.
Dragon tries to lock it back in, but Nigel reverses it into a pin attempt. At
the count of two, Dragon kicks out and then elbows the hell out of Nigel’s
already wounded head! After repeated shots, Nigel is out conscious, so the
referee puts an end to this one at 26:23. 

This was an exquisite display
of fine art. Bryan did a good job of enacting a narcissistic heel
and dictating the pace based on crowd’s reactions. The portrayal of the
night, however, went to none other than Nigel McGuiness, who tremendously
played an empathetic babyface. Without question, the hulking
up/fighting spirit spot where Nigel cries “COME ON”, with pain and
intensity in his voice, is one of the most genuine and compassionate moments in
pro-wrestling history that I have ever seen. It made everyone in the crowd to
rally him on as loudly as possible. This was smartly wrestled match, too. They built and structured this entity
immaculately. In the midst of every transitional period, the strikes became
stiffer, the moves became more forceful, the intensity escalated, the urgency
and desperation continued to augment, and their total hatred for one
another amplified off the charts. This just kept building and layering until it
reached the frenetic summit. Incidentally, they played off their previous
bouts and the crowds’ expectations.They revolved this into an
entirely different direction just when the crowd thought they knew what
was coming next. On top of all of that, there were a lot of awesome
striking exchanges straight out of AJPW in the 1990s, a finishing sequence for
the ages, and a shrewdly booked finish that made Nigel still look like a
warrior, even in defeat. 2006’s MOTY and easily a top 5 match in ROH’s history.

MATCH #4: 2/3 Falls for
the ROH Championship: Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness, Epic Encounter II,

Nigel is aggressive in the early going, forcing Danielson to backs
off. They begin chain wrestling. Danielson puts on a headlock and threatens to
keep the hold on for the entire 60 minutes. He segues it into a headscissors
and then a chinlock. Nigel makes the comeback and targets Dragon’s shoulder.
Danielson fights back with a dropkick and hits a dive to the floor. Back, he
hits a missile dropkick. He uses the Thesz Press and locks in a crossface.
Nigel fights back with a lariat and then the headstand mule kick. Suddenly,
Danielson picks up a pin-fall with a small package. Danielson keeps stalling
the action after this. Nigel tries to fight back, Danielson goes right back to
the side headlock. Danielson dives to the floor, but Nigel gets a chair up.
Back in, Danielson hits Nigel with his own Tower of London finisher. Danielson
goes for the diving headbutt, but Nigel gets his knees up and puts on Cattle
Mutilation. Danielson reaches the ropes. 

Nigel goes for the Tower of London,
but Danielson counters it and puts in Cattle Mutilation. Nigel escapes and hits
the Tower of London for three.  It is now one to one. Nigel hits a big
lariat for two and puts on his New Arm Submission. There is only five minutes
left. Nigel tries everything to pick up a pin-fall, but time keeps ticking.
Danielson starts cranking Nigel in the face with elbows. With 30 seconds to go,
Nigel reverses the elbow and starts hitting his own. The bell rings, signifying
that the match is out on. 60:00 draw. Wow, what were they thinking?  This
had an excessive amount of stalling and downtime. There were, also, too many times
where the crowd was completely silent. This was also affected by
the fact that everyone knew it was going the distance. They just structured and
laid this out in an erroneous manner, which
was unfortunate because these two were thoroughly
capable of putting on a compelling 60-minute match. ** ½

Number One Contender
Match: Nigel McGuinness vs. Bryan Danielson, Domination, 6.9.07

The crowd is going insane before this even stars.
Both wrestlers shake hands and then begin mat wrestling. They chain-wrestle to
a few stalemates, as neither wrestler can gain the advantage. Nigel starts to
work over Dragon’s arm and shoulder. The battle lingers outside of the ring.
Danielson tips the timekeeper’s table onto Nigel’s head. Nigel comes back with
a rebound lariat sending Danielson over the guardrail into the crowd. Danielson
hits Nigel with a sick looking suplex on the guardrail. Back in, Danielson goes
to work on Nigels’ back by delivering a series of hard-hitting knees into it.
Nigel fights his way back up. Danielson greets him with a sequence of strikes
to the face, but Nigel drills him with a hard-hitting lariat. Nigel delivers a
smashing Superkick and lariat for a two-count. Nigel goes for the Tower of
London, but Danielson counters it. They have a breathtaking sequence of
reversals that concludes with Nigel delivering a powerbomb that only gets two.
Nigel locks in half Boston Crab, but Danielson makes it to the ropes. 

In the corner, Nigel goes for his trademark
headstand followed by a kick move, but Danielson runs at him and dropkicks him
in the face. Danielson hits a super back suplex for a two-count. He goes for
the Chicken Wing, but Nigel fights out of it. Nigel hits the Tower of London.
Both men are selling the effects of the match. They hit each other with some
brutal headbutts, with one of them busting Danielson open! Danielson tries to
clothesline Nigel, but Nigel ducks it and takes his head off with a lariat!
Nigel goes for the Jawbreaker Lariat, but Bryan blocks it. He follows it up
with a Dragon Suplex that only gets two! Dragon tries to segue it into Cattle
Mutilation, but McGuinness rolls Danielson onto his shoulders for a close two
count. Dragon rolls through and elbows him to oblivion. He puts in Cattle
Mutilation and they call for the bell, even though Nigel did not tap out @
24:31. Prazak said the ref called for the bell because Nigel passed

Finally, a match with realistic mat and chain wrestling that also didn’t feel
meaningless. There have been too many matches with laughably contrived chain
wrestling; the kind where it is excessively recognizable that they are working
together, and it usually has no bearings on the later courses of
the match. Both wrestlers had to work hard for each hold and maneuver they
locked in because the opposing wrestler was trying to defend or counter it. The
mat and chain stuff was comparable to some of classical technical matches seen
Britain in the 80s. There was no give to anything they did, either. The intensity was off the charts while every move, strike, or bump was done at full force. This had some
awesome back-and-forth, counter-for-counter exchanges, although this had too much gas in
the tank and the crowd was too into it for it to end so suddenly. Given five
more minutes and a good finish, this is their best match ever. **** ½

Nigel McGuinness &
KENTA vs. Bryan Danielson & Takeshi Morishima, Respect is Earned, 5.12.07

Danielson and KENTA start off by going back and forth for a few
minutes. Both tag in their partner. It breaks down with everyone hopping in the
ring. Todd Sinclair reestablishes order. Danielson and McGuinness are the legal
men. In the corner, Danielson and Morishima beat on Nigel. McGuinness makes a
comeback and makes the hot-tag to KENTA. He unburdens on Danielson and gets a
near fall with a missile dropkick. Danielson recuperates and tags to Morishima,
who hits a missile dropkick on KENTA. Morishima delivers a Boss Man Slam, but
KENTA comes back with a powerslam. Morishima hits McGuinness with a missile
dropkick. McGuinness no-sells it and hits a lariat for a two count. Morishima
fights back and hits a Back Drop Driver on McGuinness. KENTA breaks up the pin attempt.
Morishima goes back to the top rope. KENTA grabs his leg, which allows
McGuinness to hit the Tower of London. Danielson and KENTA are the legal men
and both try to hit their trademark moves and finishers. The fight goes to the
floor. McGuinness goes up top and hits a big dive onto Morrishima, leaving
Danielson and KENTA in the ring. Nigel goes in the ring and the referee does
not even kick him out for not being in legally. 

KENTA hits the GTS Danielson, but Morishima breaks it up. Nigel is
getting his injured arm taped up by the trainers. McGuinness hits a reckless
lariat on Morishima with his injured arm. KENTA nails a top-rope Falcon Arrow
on Danielson for two. Danielson locks in Cattle Mutilation on KENTA. KENTA
fights out and goes for Go 2 Sleep, but Danielson reverses it and puts on
Cattle Mutilation again. McGuinness tries to break it up, but Morishima stops
him from doing so. KENTA taps out at 24:50. This was a very good outing that had a lot of back and forth action and
striking exchanges. I was not a fan of the referee allowing the not legal wrestlers
into the ring. The whole point of establishing rules is so the heels can break
them in order to get heat. Anyways, this was ROH’s first PPV main event ever, so this was them giving
the new viewers a taste of what these four can do rather than the whole
enchilada. In terms of what the mainstream companies were doing at this time,
this entire PPV was a huge breath of fresh air. *** ½

Thumbs Way Up For Disc One

Daniel Bryan and WWE World Title Updates

The following is from today’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter:

Money in the Bank PPV Update

“The plan as of 6/9 was to go with two ladder matches on the show, one for the title, and the other for the briefcase that could be cashed in for one year as is usual for the show. With two Raw TV shows left until the PPV, there was no announcement made of such a second match. Given that Cesaro was originally one of the favorites to win the briefcase, and he’s instead in the title match, his being in the key match is interesting. What’s also notable is that my pick to win would have been Seth Rollins. It shoots the rocket for him after his turn, and he’s filled with obvious contenders in Cena, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, as well as Bryan. Rollins getting one of the final spots leaves Reigns and Ambrose with nothing for the PPV, since whether it’s a ladder match or some other type of match, the very obvious direction as the hottest program for the PPV would be Rollins vs. Reigns & Ambrose. With Orton in the ladder match that could lead to Rollins & HHH as a team, but all of this is speculation.”
Bryan’s Health Update

“Little is known about Bryan’s situation other than the bad news from last week that his right arm was actually getting weaker and not stronger since surgery, which was a bad sign.
The only thing we had heard was that they were still going with the idea that Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar would take place at SummerSlam in Los Angeles on 8/18. But that may not indicate anything because a week ago the idea was still that Bryan be working 6/29, but they were concerned and did formulate the ladder match back-up plan. At this point nobody has given an estimate return date for Bryan and because of that, the speculation has been running crazy as to what that means.”

All credit goes to Dave Meltzer and the “Wrestling Observer Newsletter.”