G’day Lords of Pain, welcome back to my new series reliving one of pro wrestling’s greatest ever stories, the rise of Daniel Bryan and The Yes Movement. Starting at Summer Slam 2013 and going through to Wrestlemania 30, I will be rewatching, reviewing and analysing Daniel Bryan’s story on a week by week basis.
Last week we got stuck into the weekly shows as Daniel Bryan began his quest to take back the WWE Championship he lost at the hands of Triple H and Randy Orton at Summer Slam. That quest saw him run into the brick wall of The Shield, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Even as Bryan seemed to gain a small victory over Wade Barrett in a steel cage an opportunistic Randy Orton took the upper hand on both Raw and Smackdown, laying out Bryan on both shows. In case you missed it you can check it out, gifs and all, here.
Things continue though and this week the story start to expand as the power of The Authority really starts to touch other wrestlers as it has Bryan. We will be keeping the focus on Bryan but expect to see some unlikely allies pop up from time to time as this regime seeks to solidify its power.
The Life of Bryan
We kick off Raw this week in a very similar fashion to how we ended it last week, with The Shield standing guard at the foot of the ramp asTriple H makes his entrance to the ring . The commentators mention that The Shield have done a deal with The Triple H and are now his personal security. In a nice bit of world building, the commentators talk about how The Big Show and Dolph Ziggler have become targets of The Authority and link it into what happened to Daniel Bryan last week.
Triple H takes the mic and immediately starts trotting out the now standard lines of how what he did at Summer Slam was best for business, not personal and how he is willing to be the bigger man if Bryan wants to play ball. In a great bit of blatant Authority propaganda Triple H then gives Randy Orton, the ‘new face of the company, credit for boosting ratings and creating the social media buzz last week.
Hunter then welcomes Orton to the ring and after Orton oh…. so….. slowly…… walks down the ramp, Triple H brings out a present for him, a new Cadillac Escalade. Orton is thankful but his happiness is cut short when, Daniel Bryan’s music hits and the man everyone came to see makes his entrance, standing on the stage eyeing off the new car. Bryan gets a huge Yes chant and Jerry Lawler sums up the situation perfectly on commentary with the line, “He may not be the face of the company but he is certainly the face these people know and love.”
As Bryan takes the mic, a smirk comes over his face and it seems we are going to get introduced to sarcastic Bryan tonight. With his tongue firmly in his cheek, Bryan congratulates Orton for all he has done to earn a car that is “certainly a bit nicer than my Honda Fiat”. Bryan thanks the crowd for putting their faith in him even though he isn’t the biggest or prettiest wrestler, “certainly not a pretty as twinkle toes Orton in there”.
After dealing with Orton, Bryan takes a more serious tone, turns his attention to Triple H, loads up his barells and starts shooting with some great one liners. He starts by thanking Triple H for, “proving to everyone that his view of what is best for business is every bit as narrow and misguided as Vince’s.” He then says Triple H used to be the rebel in a leather jacket who thumbed his nose at authority, now he is a sellout in a suit who thumbs his, “rather large nose” at the WWE Universe.
These lines go over extremely well with the crowd but not so much with Triple H who tells Bryan, because he is such a hard worker he can have three matches tonight and creates a gauntlet match with the three members of The Shield for the main event of the evening.
That isn’t all for Bryan tonight though as,much to the delight of the Phoenix crowd, just after Orton has finished his match with Christian Bryan appears on the Titantron in front of the new Escalade that Triple H bought The Viper. Smirky Bryan is still in full effect as he tells Orton that it is ‘a pretty car for such a pretty man’ and he asks the question, if he beats Orton at Night of Champions, would that make him the new face of the WWE?
Before Orton can answer in the ring, Bryan moves to the side of the camera shot to reveal a huge YES Spray painted across the bonnet of the car. As the crowd, led by Bryan, erupts into YES chants Bryan moves around Orton’s new car showing the damage he has done with a can of orange spray paint.
There are many versions of Bryan but Smirky Bryan has to be amongst the most fun.
Daniel Bryan v Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns (Gauntlet Match)
As we come to the main event of the night, the WWE roster, led my Hornswoggle of all people, walk out onto the stage. Triple H wants to make an example of Daniel Bryan and has told the roster that if they interfere they will be fired. As The Shield make their entrance Renee Young tries to get a hot take on the situation from The Big Show, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz but as conflicted as they look, all three refuse to speak out against The Authority
Bryan’s entrance is all business, he rouses the crowd into a YES chant but remains stony faced at the task ahead. As him and Rollins lock up to start the match he doesn’t waste any time feeling out his opponent. Knowing he has a long night ahead and wanting to try and get an early finish, Bryan goes immediately for a Surfboard submission, bending Rollins in half. After Rollins escapes Bryan tenaciously follows him with kicks and knees to Rollins stomach before taking the fight to the outside with a clothesline that sends them both over the ropes.
Bryan’s over eagerness to make an impact leads to the first swing in momentum as he goes to the outside and gives the other two Shield members the opportunity to loom up on either side, distracting Bryan long enough for Rollins to grab him and slam him into the barricade. against the ring and back against the barricade. Seth looks to press the advantage, throwing Bryan back in and then dragging Bryan to the corner for some stomps.
The back and forth nature of this match really starts to come into effect as Seth irish whips Bryan across the ring and Bryan hits a trademark backflip off the turnbuckle over the charging Rollins and gets some kicks in. Looking to take back control, Seth goes to the ring apron and attempts a springboard flying knee but with a smooth as butter counter, Bryan dodges and locks in a one legged Boston Crab.
Rollins screams in agony as he gets to the ropes but as soon as the break is made Bryan lets go and hits a baseball slide, kicking Seth to the outside and follows up with a full speed Suicide Dive, pushing Rollins over the announcers table.
These two are really ramping up the pace of this match and as they get back into the ring the momentum swings again and Seth hits Bryan with a buckle bomb. Rollins starts to slow things down and begins to show boat with trash talk; he knows time is on his side and that Bryan needs to think about his Shield brothers. It is this overconfidence that is ultimately Rollins downfall as he gives Bryan time to get back into the match and enter into the final sequence.
The pair trade pinfall attempts before Rollins picks up Bryan and places him on the corner turnbuckle to set up the Superplex into the Falcon Arrow, however he is too slow. Bryan crotches Rollins,slips down through Rollins’ legs, runs up behind him and hits a giant German Suplex off the top rope, flipping Rollins the full way over onto his face. Brock Lesnar may be the mayor of Suplex city but I can guarantee he hasn’t hit anything as good as that.
Bryan rises in the corner, gets a YES chant going and hits the flying knee in the center of the ring to get the three count and the first fall of the night!
Winner: Daniel Bryan by pinfall
Rating: 3.75 YES’s out of 5
There is no time for Bryan to celebrate though as Dean Ambrose immediately jumps on him, attacking with ground and pound before Rollins even has a chance to completely get out of the way. However in a scintillating moment that sends the crowd into an absolute frenzy, Bryan rides the wave of momentum from his win over Rollins and catches Ambrose in the Yes Lock.
The Shield’s pack mentality immediately kicks in and Reigns storms the ring, diving onto the mess of bodies, causing a DQ for the Bryan v Ambrose portion of the Gauntlet.
Winner: Daniel Bryan by DQ
No rating given
As Ambrose rolls away in pain and Reigns starts his part of the match by continuing the beatdown, Bryan catches Reigns in another Yes Lock! By now the crowd is oing berserk but after a moment of doubt for Reigns Ambrose recovers enough to save Roman, diving back into the mess of bodies causing a DQ and the end of the Gauntlet Match.
Winner: Daniel Bryan by DQ
No rating given
We are not finished on Raw though as even though Bryan may have won, he is not the one standing tall as The Shield keep laying into the downed man. As Triple H’s music hits, the COO enters and stares down a disgusted Big Show and Dolph Ziggler, almost daring them to get involved in the ring.
As The Shield hoist Bryan up for the Triple Powerbomb, Randy Orton’s music hits and he comes down too. Not wanting to miss any fun, Orton orders the Shield to hold up Bryan who is now out cold. Orton hits his defenceless rival with an RKO and this really fun episode of Raw comes to a close with Bryan once again beaten down at the hands of Randy Orton and The Shield.
I said at the start of the column that this week would see The Authority really expand its influence beyond Bryan and that influence really begins to take shape on this episode of Smackdown. After taking center stage on Raw and Smackdown since Summer Slam, this is the first show that Bryan doesn’t play the leading man in, instead Smackdown tonight will focus on The Big Show, who in the opening segment is forced to sit at ring side all night by Triple H but is not allowed to get involved in any of the matches or he will be fired.
Bryan doesn’t even make his first appearance until later in the night as The Miz, who is in a match with Randy Orton, gets overwhelmed by The Shield. As the camera flick back and forth to Big Show and the commentators wonder if the big man will crack and get involved, Bryan makes his entrance, charging from out the back, chair in hand to (I cannot believe I am writing this line) save The Miz.
In another chaotic scene Bryan hits the ring swinging at anything that moves, taking out Orton and Rollins as Ambrose and Reigns flee the ring and head up the ramp. The crowd explodes as Smackdown cuts to commercial with Bryan holding the ring, steel chair in hand.
The wind is taken out of their sails after the break though as Bryan receives a dressing down from Smackdown GM Vickie Guerro, who calls him a bully for what he did to Orton’s car on Raw and to Orton and The Shield tonight. The camera pans out to reveal Ryback who says he can’t stand bullies and says “see ya out there shrimp,” which apparently isn’t bullying and Ryback now has a main event match with Bryan.
Daniel Bryan v Ryback
It is main event time on Smackdown and Daniel Bryan is scheduled to face ‘The Big Guy’ Ryback. There was a time when this guy was quite popular but he is a long way from that against Bryan tonight as he comes out to a chorus of boos.
As the match starts out Bryan takes the early offence with a series of flying forearms and dropkicks but is eventually caught by Ryback who counters with a big slam. That intro sets out the pattern for this match, the powerful Ryback ragdolling Bryan around the ring with big irish whips, slams, stomps and strikes. For his part Bryan takes the beating like a champ, selling hard for The Big Guy and looking like he is in proper agony when Ryback lays it on.
After a few minutes of taking the beating Bryan manages to slip aside, dodging a charging Ryback and starts to gain the upper hand with a series of dropkicks that send Ryback to the outside. The Big Show is still sitting next to the commentary table and cheers on every bit of offence Bryan manages to get in. Just as Bryan is really starting to gain an upper hand Randy Orton appears and walks down the the ring, distracting Bryan long enough for Ryback to get his wind back and hit Bryan from behind.
A big Spinebuster and a stiff looking Meat Hook clothesline lead to a two count that Bryan just manages to make. After Ryback places Bryan on the top turnbuckle Bryan starts to fightback again with a series of headbutts that knock Ryback down to the canvas. Bryan follows this up with a missile dropkick that drops Ryback and suddenly the match is now in the smaller guy’s hands.
Bryan gets up and loads up for the Yes Kicks. In a really cool bit of character work ,Big Show emotionally thumps the commentary desk and yells out to Bryan as each kick lands. After the final big Yes Kick Bryan goes in for the kill and puts the Yes Lock onto The Big Guy but Orton hits the ring to break it up. Bryan, who by now is sick of these interruptions, forgets about Ryback, releasing his opponent and turns his attention to Orton, clamping him in the Yes Lock, causing the DQ but getting the satisfaction of finally really getting his hands on his tormentor.
Winner: Ryback by DQ
Rating: 2 YES’s out of 5
Even though Bryan has Orton in the Yes Lock, he doesn’t have much time to do damage as The Shield quickly hits the ring to back up the WWE Champion. As the all too familiar beatdown begins the camera cuts to a distraught Big Show who has truly seen enough for one night and is struggling to remain in the chair as he was ordered by Triple H. After some teasing, the giant rises with fire in his eyes. His great work showing his emotion throughout the night has clearly got to the audience, who let out a huge cheer when he gets to the ring and forces the heels to back up.
As is often the case in this story though, that joy is short lived as Triple H’s music hits and suddenly the fire is gone from Big Show’s eyes, replaced by fear. The COO of the company orders Show out of the ring and a conflicted Big Show eventually obliges. As The Shield beatdown begins again on Bryan, Triple H stares down Big Show and despite crowd chants of “knock him out,” with tears in his eyes The Big Show walks up the ramp, to the back.
The indignity isn’t over there though as the camera cuts back to the ring where the mugging by Orton and The Shield has left Bryan unconscious in the middle of the ring. As a final act of payback for Bryan wrecking Orton’s Escalade, the WWE Champion pulls out a can of spray paint and closes the show by spraying a big NO onto Bryan’s chest. Seriously though, that spray paint can’t be safe on skin.
A mixed week of story building that included two very different matches. On Raw there was the fantastic back and forth gauntlet that descended into pure chaos at the end. The Rollins portion of the match set a great pace and had a logical flow as Bryan tried to push things and get it over with quickly. Rollins overconfidence at having time and numbers on his side ultimately cost him in a spectacular finish with the huge German Suplex.
The two remaining falls went very quickly but after seeing how Bryan managed to beat Rollins in a fair fight for the first fall, it made complete sense that The Shield would throw the rules out the window and just go for the straight beatdown. Bryan’s fight amongst the chaos, securing the two Yes Locks was so good, it highlighted both his fighting spirit and tenacity and really pushed the crowd over the edge.
Then on Smackdown there was the pretty forgettable Ryback match, the first bland match of YES Relived. Going through this series week by week we are probably going to get a few of these kinds of matches that don’t really mean much in the whole story, it wasn’t bad at all but just wasn’t really that good either. With the Summer Slam Main Event, the Barrett Steel Cage and Gauntlet match we have had a pretty good run so it was bound to end some time.
One things I really did like this week was that broadening of the story, while I didn’t spend much time on other wrestlers the WWE are really building up The Authority as a group that affects the wrestlers at all levels of the company, not just Bryan in the main event.
But that wraps it up for this week, I’ll be back next Saturday with your next instalment of YES Relived where we will get to see this totalitarian regime expand even further as The Big Show is forced to fight Daniel Bryan.
Thanks for checking out Yes Relived, looking forward to seeing you next week for the next instalment in the rise of Daniel Bryan. If you would like to talk some more wrestling feel free to follow me on Twitter @Sir_Samuel or leave a comment below.
Better yet you could sign up for the now operational LOP Forums it is a great place for really in depth discussion that places like here or the comments doesn’t allow. As a starting point I might suggest checking out a column by 205Clive our current main page 205 Live reviewer: Daniel Bryan vs The Miz: Professional Wrestling vs Sports Entertainment