WrestleMania means many different things to many different people. For some, it is the one time a year that they tune in to “Professional Wrasslin” when it is “socially acceptable” to do so. For the more than casual fan, WrestleMania is akin to Christmas time as a kid. A time when we, as fans get to open the gifts that the WWE has been working on all year long. And, just like receiving gifts on Christmas morning, some gifts we prefer over others. There are some gifts we remember for a lifetime, others slip our mind as soon as we open them. Fortunately, WrestleMania has provided more of those lifetime memories than the type of gift we run to the mall to return the next day.
As a more than casual fan since 1997, I get that giddy “night before Christmas” feeling about WrestleMania. There have been so many great moments that have solidified me as a lifelong fan, yes even during this toned down PG era. It’s my belief that the superstars, not the TV rating determines the quality of the program. A few more swear words and toilet humor won’t improve the presentation of the show, I can assure you.
What exactly makes a “WrestleMania Moment”? How do we define when one is happening? The answer is simple, when a legend is born. Hulk Hogan body slamming Andre the Giant at WrestleMania 3, Shawn Michaels body splashing Razor Ramon at WrestleMania 10, Stone Cold defeating Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 14 with Mike Tyson, Stone Cold vs The Rock at WrestleMania 17, and more recently, John Cena defeating The Rock at WrestleMania 29. There are many more that aren’t listed here, but these are the ones that stand out in my mind. Obviously, the Undertaker’s Undefeated Streak goes without saying, and is a topic of which I could write pages on. The Undertakers Streak is something that will never be duplicated, nor should it. Yes, the outcomes are predetermined, but for WWE to have the Undertaker go 21-0 over some of the biggest legends in wrestling history year after year speaks volumes to not only the career of the Undertaker, but Mark Calloway the person. Enough of the streak, for now.
So this Sunday, the 30th WrestleMania emanates from the Superdome in New Orleans. It truly is the “Showcase of the Immortals”, a chance for every superstar on the card to make a name for themselves and etch their name into history. Often times, a legend being “born” can’t be scripted or planned. Often times, it happens organically, and there isn’t any bigger overachiever in WWE history that has organically connected with the WWE fans more than Daniel Bryan. In other words, Daniel Bryan wasn’t “supposed” to become this big of a star. His “Yes Movement” is the hottest thing in WWE right now. He has connected with the audience in a way that many performers can only dream of and it happened almost by mistake. Originally booked as a heel when he faced Sheamus at WrestleMania 28, this is where his “YES” movement was born. Clearly, Bryan had “it” and the fans began to realize how amazing he was inside the squared circle bell-to-bell. Fans respect a true athlete inside the ring, and it became clear that his skill set was superior to that of any performer on the roster. While he doesn’t have the typical superstar physique or even promo skills, his “Yes” gimmick and in –ring performances alone have skyrocketed Daniel Bryan to the top. Just imagine when he begins running on all cylinders.
While the “legends” of wrestling aren’t developed in a single moment or a single match, WrestleMania is the stage to have a moment of culmination, of absolution and conclusion. All of a performers years of hard work, sacrifice and tears are the foundation for that “WrestleMania Moment”, and this Sunday, I believe will be Daniel Bryan’s “moment”.
Here we go again, in 4 days, Daniel Bryan has the opportunity to cement his legacy, and really launch his career to another level if he can deliver on his performances. The opportunity to not only have a “WrestleMania Moment” that fans have been waiting on for months, but to possibly display the birth of a legend in the making.
Hopefully, 5 years from now we can all look back and point to WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans LA as the location where Daniel Bryan’s legacy and immortality was born.
So here we go again. It’s WrestleMania season. My favorite time of year.