LaBar: Bryan belongs in WWE Hall of Fame
I'm shocked not all fans believe Daniel Bryan is worthy of the WWE Hall of Fame.
Bryan retired last Monday with a farewell address after learning of increased health risks he could have if he continued.
There were mixed reactions from fans on his decision to call it quits at age 34. I figured one thing everyone can agree on is that we'll get another genuine speech from him whenever he goes into the WWE Hall of Fame.
This week, I've engaged fans on social media who are representing a school of thought suggesting Bryan is not HOF material.
The most obvious argument against Bryan joining the Hall of Fame is the length of time he was a star for WWE. The Hall of Fame has no official criteria or terms of how or when a performer is inducted. It's completely hand selected at the judgment of the powers that be in WWE, which ends and begins with Vince McMahon.
Bryan was in WWE for several years before his career began to take off in 2012, when he adopted an obnoxious attitude which was later complimented by the shouting of “Yes” and “No.” The year, 2012, was entertainment gold as he was paired with the most unlikely partner in Kane. Nobody predicted the heights of popularity as a tag team those two would rise to. It set in motion Bryan's biggest run of his career.
In 2013, we saw Bryan in the main event fighting John Cena and Randy Orton regularly. In 2014, after not being used in the Royal Rumble match to be considered for the main event of WrestleMania, Bryan's fans took over WWE programming every chance they got to voice their want for Bryan until it happened.
Bryan owned that road to WrestleMania and was the star of WrestleMania 30. If you can control and star in a WrestleMania, to me that makes you an automatic bid for a Hall of Fame class. The length of time he was a star isn't as important as the quality of that star power. I don't think anyone would doubt Bryan had it in him the whole time; it just took time for WWE to get out of their own way and embrace it.
I go through every WrestleMania in my head, and the rule holds for me. Yes, I think The Miz has already put the accomplishments on a resume to one day be in the Hall of Fame. He went from a wrestling-obsessed fan on an MTV reality show to being in the main event at WrestleMania 27 with John Cena and The Rock. That's incredible. Add in how disliked he was by some WWE veterans when he began. They made him get dressed in the hallway and he had to earn their respect. And the amount of representation of WWE he does on a monthly basis. It's an incredible story with HOF credentials.
I think about Sid Justice, aka Psycho Sid, and at first I said this might be the exception to my WrestleMania rule. I was thinking about him going into WrestleMania 13 as champion and losing the title to The Undertaker. Not a great match and constantly debated as the worst WrestleMania. But I remembered he had also been the closing act at WrestleMania 8 against Hulk Hogan. The fact he was in that spot and then five years later was able to return when WWE was in a different era to the WrestleMania main event is an impressive one. He was one of the better big men in the ring and the definition of a “character.” I think he is worthy of induction, assuming he shows up.
Bam Bam Bigelow is another who sticks out as needing to be inducted. He had a solid career spanning the late 1980s through the '90s before his death and is still credited as being one of the most athletic guys who hovered at the 400-pound mark. He was key in making what was a risky WrestleMania match be successful when he got in the ring with New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor and they closed the show. It was a solid build featuring several wrestlers on Bigelow's side and NFL players on Taylor's side. The match was lengthy and hard fought. It's a shame he's not around to make a speech, but I believe Bigelow is worthy of induction.
Take a look at the 31 WrestleMania's of the past, and I think you'll see the rule holds up and that the Hall of Fame has already inducted performers who have done less.
In a day and age where few wrestlers can satisfy the entire audience, Bryan did it. It seems standard there's a top babyface the company pushes for its mainstream appeal and to the younger audience. Then, there's a top babyface that's the people's choice, often times an underdog. Cena and CM Punk played those respected roles for several years. Bryan was the choice of the people and was unexpected but accepted face into the mainstream media with his beard and “Yes” chant.
Bryan is not only worthy of the Hall of Fame, but he should be the headliner of whatever class he's inducted into.