Friday, March 27, 2015

The 2014 TWB 100 Slow Release: #4

Photo Credit:
4. Daniel Bryan
Points: 6291
Ballots: 70
Highest Vote Received: 1st Place (Cewsh, Jesse Dlugosz, Luke Starr, Lee Spriggs, TJ Hawke)
Last Year's Placement: 1st Place

TH: Daniel Bryan was well on his way to defending his crown as top vote in the TWB 100 when he got bad news from his doctors. He had a neck injury that would have ended his career and possibly his life if he continued to wrestle without surgery, recovery, and rehabilitation. For his own sake, I'm glad he took the time off, but a selfish, shit-headed part of me that was thoroughly enjoying his output in the ring through Extreme Rules was disappointed. Bryan did in four months what some wrestlers fail to do in 40. Whether through his tremendous opener against Bray Wyatt at the Royal Rumble through his magnum opus at WrestleMania XXX against Triple H and in his ultimately last match, a garbage brawl against Kane that was entertaining against all odds (and featured Bryan driving a goddamn forklift). His candle burned brightest, and while it was out by the end of May, he still turned in a resume that ultimately netted him a top 10 vote on my ballot.

Dave Kincannon: Daniel Bryan’s 2014 boils down to about 5 months, which is probably a big part of why he’s not number one on this list. Those five months were so good, that he couldn’t help but be elevated. He had a bunch of great matches with the likes of Bray Wyatt, Cesaro, and Christian, and tag team matches against the Shield, and the Usos. But, of course, the highlight of his year was that magical night in April when he defeated three quarters of Evolution to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion. I said in my blurb for Triple H that his match with Bryan may be one of the best WrestleMania matches in the event’s history. I was being a bit coy, because it definitely is one of the best matches in WrestleMania history, and Daniel Bryan’s performance throughout that WrestleMania is one of the best performances in the event’s history.

Frank McCormick: Bryan only really had three or four months of wrestling in 2014. But what a few months they were! Through the sheer excellence of his game, he overcame McMahon stubbornness to headline WrestleMania XXX in not one, but TWO amazing matches. That he, sadly, succumbed to injury almost immediately and was forced to sit out the rest of the year does not take away from the sheer amazingness of his achievement.

Joshua Browns: Bryan's January - May of 2014 were as good a 5 months as anybody's ever had, and him missing the other seven months are really the only thing keeping him from the top of this list.

Brandon Spears: Daniel Bryan is still one of the best wrestlers in the world today, but 2014 was not a great year in-ring wise, and it's nothing to do with anything he could've controlled. He wrestled for at least a third of the year so he's guaranteed to finish high up on my list, but I don't think I'm speaking out of school when I say I'm more interested in seeing what he does in 2015.

Ryan Foster: I don’t think it’s highly controversial to claim that a quarter-year of Daniel Bryan is better than a full year of almost everyone else on the roster. Bryan’s adaptation to the WWE style has robbed him of a portion of his technical brilliance but not of his fire and sheer ring ability, which he displays in every match every time. Bryan’s historic WrestleMania performance alone qualifies him for a spot near the top of this last, and you can add to that his match with Bray Wyatt which was for me easily the best WWE match of 2014. We’ll never know what could have been for Bryan this year, but what was was still damn special.

Luke Starr: I mean, everyone’s kind of touched on this already, right? Sure, the leader of the YES! Movement missed a good chunk of time in 2014. Sure, his feud with “The Demon Kane” was pretty hit or miss as far as their series of post-WrestleMania matches is concerned. But moving from a star-making classic with Bray Wyatt at the Royal Rumble to turning WrestleMania 30 from “solid” into one of the best PPV events the WWE has ever produced is no small feat. It’s easy to talk about what D-Bry does in the ring with some hyperbole, but a closer look shows that the hype is real when evaluating his matches; what he did with Bray Wyatt, Triple H, Randy Orton, and Batista in the span of just a few months is on a Hulk Hogan/Steve Austin level of importance, and that’s before you get into what the man did on free TV in 2014.

Joey O: What is there left to say about D-Bry at this point? Even though he only was healthy and active for four months last year, he had the biggest night of his career at Wrestlemania, with two matches for the ages in the same show. No matter what happens with his career from here on out, no one can take that truly genuine WrestleMania Moment away from him. Here's to a healthy and safer 2015 for Bryan!

Nick Ahlhelm: He was so good and so loved and so awesome in the ring he forced WWE to put him not only into the WrestleMania XXX main event but to give him a win. No more needs to be said about why Daniel Bryan deserves such a high point in this list.

Bill DiFilippo: It says a lot about Daniel Bryan that he missed half of the year and had a kinda generic storyline (big evil bosses trying to hold down someone who isn’t “good enough”) and he’s still arguably the best wrestler on earth.

Niel Jacoby: Even though he spent half of the year injured and a quarter of it it feuding with Kane, from January to April Daniel Bryan put on some of the best matches of the year, from his match with Bray Wyatt at the Rumble to the Elimination Chamber, to his match with HHH and subsequent title triple threat at WrestleMania.

Erica Molinaro: Even though he was out for the majority of 2014, Daniel Bryan’s showing between January and April of last year was awesome. Between throwing off the influence of the Wyatt family and the stellar match at the Royal Rumble, his valiant fight against the odds to ultimately lose again at the Elimination Chamber, and his moments of ultimate triumph at WrestleMania 30, that four month run was a joy to watch. There are few people you can point to and guarantee that every match they are in has the potential to be something special. Bryan is at the top of that list.

Brandon Kyla: In truth, he really only wrestled during the first five months of 2014, but uh, lets just say he made 'em count.

Brad Canze: I feel like the only reason Daniel Bryan landed fourth on the final list is that he only worked until May of 2014. And we were all heartbroken and worried that he would never wrestle again. This is a guy who puts every ounce of effort, training, practice and knowledge into everything that he does, from a wristlock to a running knee strike. Daniel Bryan could literally wrestle a sack of bricks and make it entertaining. But enough insults about Batista. I'm happy that he's back wrestling, and I hope his 2015 shows us all that he's still the absolute cream of the crop he's been for years.

Martin Bentley: Although injury absence counts for a lot in polls like these, what Daniel Bryan managed to achieve in his short eligibility period was incredible. From making waves and worldwide news out of NOT WRESTLING IN A MATCH, to managing to get the WWE to change the plans for WrestleMania almost last-minute, to absolutely owning the build-up to said-WrestleMania, to competing in both of WrestleMania's best two matches, including getting the best match out of Triple H in many years. Sometimes it's not the time you get, but it's what you do with the time you get, and Daniel Bryan proves this more than anyone.

TJ Hawke: I'm not a week-to-week WWE fan; I seek out the big shows and the big matches. That's my way of saying I always value quality over quantity. That's why The Undertaker got high on my TWB100 2013 list, and it's why I voted Daniel Bryan #1 on my TWB100 2014 list. (To be fair, I did not watch a ton of wrestling from America and Canada in 2014. I'm not arrogant enough to claim that Bryan is the clear #1. He was just my #1.)

At the Royal Rumble, Bryan opened up the show by carrying Bray Wyatt to an excellent match that elevated Wyatt big time in terms of perception and credibility as a performer. Bryan then single-handily was responsible for making WrestleMania XXX one of the best Wrestlemanias of all time. He wrestled two matches for nearly an hour combined, and both of them were great. He got the best HHH match (free of smokes and mirrors that is) since at least 2008 (if not ever). He also managed to have the best match of Randy Orton's flat title reign and started the process of salvaging Batista's comeback. Before going on the injured list for the rest of the year, Bryan managed to do something that even John Cena couldn't do (in 2012): he got a good PPV main event out of Kane~!.

I went into such detail about Bryan's artistic accomplishments to stress how valuable I think his in-ring contributions were in 2014. He gave me more bang for my buck than any other wrestler did in 2014. That makes him my #1.

Monday, the most international entry comes in.