by Shanna Harris (@AbsoluteSmark)
The easy thing for humans to do to come to terms with something is to define it quickly and run with the meaning. I’m guilty of that, and many people I know are guilty of the same. In a business that leaves it fans wondering what the next thing is, that leaves room for wrestling’s doom: generalization. Taking things at face value and spreading the bad information without doing the due diligence needed to back up a statement or thought. The wrestling community likes to throw quick and easy definitions on everything we see on screen. As such, words like “buried” get tossed around easily without those saying it grasping what it truly means.
Ceasing the use of old school wrestling terms to define a new era of wrestling seems like it should be obvious, but buried is an easy word to throw out when you’re frustrated because your favorite character isn’t getting what you think they deserve. Daniel Bryan didn’t Yes lock anybody two matches in a row? Buried. Damien Sandow losing 9 out of the 10 matches he’s wrestled this year? Buried. Stone Cold Steve Austin won’t drink a beer with you on camera? Super Buried.
Buried, according to the pocket dictionary I consulted, means obscured from view. Completely and totally gone from our eyes and ears. Never spoken of or acknowledged. Or, in wrestling lore, going out for a match with no entrance. JTG’s been off TV for so long it’s become a running joke that he’s still on the roster. Until he appeared on an episode of NXT, I forgot Yoshi Tatsu still had a job. CM Punk….well, I won’t go there.
After Monday’s Raw, I took a good long look at my timeline for reactions to the physical and stomach turning beating of Daniel Bryan. Because let’s not kid ourselves. There was no blood or gore to be found anywhere in the segment, but HHH (with the assistance of Stephanie McMahon) delivered a heart wrenching segment. Our hero Daniel was handcuffed, chair shot, and beaten until he lay prone on the mat. There was no funny to be had anywhere in this segment. There was no bracing yourself from what was coming. If you couldn’t see the signs, you had no warning of what was to come. Your only escape was to turn off the TV and go to bed. But I’m sure nobody touched their dials on Monday.
Personally, I found myself doing anything I could to avoid looking at what was happening while it was happening. I was plugging podcast appearances, looking at my Twitter timeline, and attempting to ignore the sounds of Daniel Bryan in pain.
After the segment ended, there was one word I saw on a lot of timelines. Buried. Daniel Bryan is being buried because of this one segment. If this is what you think, I have to wonder if we were watching the same show. Despite the fact that I think the beating was a little bit overdone and went on for too long, I will say that Daniel Bryan at this point in his career is far from being buried. Allow me to explain why.
If you’d told me in 2012 that Daniel would go from being fired to being WWE’s “guy”, I would’ve slapped you for lying. But it’s absolutely true that Daniel is one of WWE’s top stars. Not saying he’s the biggest, but depending on how Wrestlemania ends, he could very well be catapulted to the top of the heap. A man who is being “buried” in the most literal definition of the word is not on WWE television interacting with the upper crust of WWE’s talent and real life management.
When you take a look at the beginning of Daniel’s career, you can only be amazed at we’ve gotten to this point. He started off as a baby faced NXT rookie being relentlessly mocked by Michael Cole, strangling announcer Justin Roberts with his own tie, being fired, and generally getting little to no respect from anyone around him. Since that time, he’s made chanting Yes! an international affair, was part of a fascinating 3 way love triangle storyline with AJ Lee and CM Punk, tag teamed with Kane and made him loveable in the process, made Dr Shelby a thing, wrestled incredible matches, won and lost championships and even pulled interesting television segments and matches out of John Cena. And look at where we are now. He’s been demolished by HHH in a heart wrenching moment in a television story. He’s buried, right? Incorrect.
WWE fans should take careful note of the definition of the word buried that I went over for you. With that word clearly defined, I hope you understand for good that Daniel Bryan is not being buried. The beating he took on Raw was another turn in an old school and lengthy WWE storyline with HHH where he’s repeatedly screwed by The Authority figures that do not want Daniel Bryan to be as big as he is. With all the shots he’s taken and all the times he’s been pounded into the ground, he’s still managed to get back up and keep fighting. And he’s done all this alone. Nobody has ridden his coattails. Or, should I say, they’ve ridden them and been dismissed.
Whether we like it or not, Daniel Bryan vs HHH is on for Wrestlemania. But if the HHH/Stephanie tandem beating of Daniel Bryan didn’t make you want to see Daniel Bryan ground HHH into ashes at Wrestlemania, you’re missing the point of the segment entirely.
Until Monday, Wrestlemania was looking fairly pedestrian and predictable. But in one segment, HHH and Co. have raised the stakes of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match. By inserting himself into the main event with Bryan, it’s thrown a bit of unpredictability into something that was fairly predictable on its own. As of now, It’s not so easy to confidently say that Daniel Bryan will attain the ultimate glory at Mania, but I can tell you the events of Monday’s Raw made me want to pay to see Daniel Bryan beat HHH until he can’t stand anymore. Furthermore, the fact that I feel anything when it comes to Daniel Bryan is a testament to the hard work put in to make him a sympathetic character. Because he is that at this point. He’s not a jobber being thrown into 8 man matches for no reason. He’s one man up against insurmountable odds. Did you read that? One man, Daniel Bryan (the guy) being thrown against other men (multiple men) for a chance at greatness. There’s only one other one man up against insurmountable odds on the roster right now, and that man is John Cena.
The fact that I, as a so called smart fan, am now randomly thinking “What if Daniel doesn’t win?” means that I want him to win the match more than anything else . HHH and Stephanie McMahon did their jobs on Monday, and I’m hoping that Daniel Bryan will be given the opportunity to finally revel in a clean victory over HHH against the forces that have held him at bay for as long as they have. Anything less would be a dramatic misstep that will cost Daniel and WWE much more than a viewership.
In closing, is Daniel Bryan being buried? I would say not. Buried people aren’t part of the biggest story, nor is that same man put in two matches on the biggest show of the year.
Put away your HHH shovel meme, and be thankful we made it this far. Wrestlemania is not far away, and together, we will all know who will be doing the burying.