30 men. One opportunity. To headline on the greatest stage of them all, WrestleMania. Whether you love it or hate it, it’s hard not to get stuck in to the hype around Sunday’s Royal Rumble match. The unique nature of the match itself lends itself to some historic moments, and the unpredictably of former wrestlers making an appearance, stars returning from injury and general chaos caused by the 30 entrants is addictive viewing.
And there is one man we are on to come out on top in this grueling contest. The Paddy Power Blog team are firmly in the #YesMovement.
Daniel Bryan opened up as a 4/1 shot for Sunday’s Rumble, but a flood of support has seen his odds crash to 7/4. He isn’t your stereotypical WWE champion – at just 5ft 10in he is neither the biggest or the bulkiest in WWE, and his beard makes him look very hipster – but he has something that the people in charge of the WWE have to take notice of. Overwhelming fan support.
— Sloom | WWE (@Sloomzo) December 24, 2014
His rise to the top is fueled by this adoration from the WWE Universe, as well as his in-ring talent and under-dog mentality. While John Cena would appear a more-likely ‘People’s Champion’ for the business, Daniel Bryan has the fans on side, and the fans have a powerful voice when it comes to the decision-making in WWE. And who better to put up against the fan’s hero – the McMahon family themselves. The biggest villains in WWE making life difficult for the plucky underdog, with Bryan rising up against authority and fighting for the people. It is golden WWE material.
The Yes Movement kicked up another gear in the last 12 months, starting with the 2014 Royal Rumble match. With 29 entries down and still no sign of Daniel Bryan the crowd were on their feet in expectation as the clock counted down to number 30 (around 46 mins in the below video). Chants of Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! had been doing the rounds for the entire match. As the music hit though it was Rey Mysterio (typically a fan favourite) who sprinted down to the ring, to boos from the crowd. The atmosphere was flat and the feelings of the fans was clear. 10 minutes later Batista – supposedly a heroic character – was crowned Rumble winner to overwhelming booing from the sell-out crowd.
Twitter was a fiery pit of anger towards the event, while even WWE legend Mick Foley had a pop. 24 hours after the Rumble ended and the most ‘liked’ comment on WWE’s Facebook page was ‘Worst PPV ever’.
Does @WWE actually hate their own audience? I’ve never been so disgusted with a PPV.
— Mick Foley (@realmickfoley) January 27, 2014
Bryan came back in a big way, hyped up in a big way against the corporate machine which eventually led to his WrestleMania victory in April 2014. Batista tapped out, there was no evil twist, Bryan was crowned Champion. It arguably could have been seen as the end of the Bryan era – with Cena a better fit for a WWE Champion despite the fans mixed reception of him. But what happened next, has given Bryan’s journey another boost, and has given us reason that this is his Rumble.
A month after winning the title on the biggest stage of them all, Bryan had to give it up due to injury. For almost six months he was not seen on TV as he mourned the death of his father and had complicated neck surgery. Despite the success of the surgery Bryan still had no strength in his right arm, and there was rumours he would not be able to wrestle again.
However a long and complex rehabilitation program has worked and The Beard is back in the WWE ring. Does he still have the support of the fans who adored him previous, or is there a new superstar leading the brand? The answer was overwhelming in this promo on December 29.
Since returning from injury Bryan has won eight of his nine matches in the lead up to Sunday’s Rumble. It is a fantastic chance for his story to continue, and what a journey it would be, considering his injury, to have him headlining WrestleMania. This is the WWE’s chance to make amends for last year’s Rumble, and the chance to give the WWE Universe the winner they want. Bryan showed last year that he is more than capable of headlining the WWE’s showpiece, and he is perfect on the mic. Not only is Bryan a very capable in-ring performer, he is fantastically entertaining, and has the ability in his promo segments to get the fans right on side.
Could this be his moment? Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!