Hello. My name is Kevin, and I am a wrestling fan. I’ve been a wrestling fan since I was a kid and my Dad was driving me to see shows, and staying despite a blizzard, so I could see the Ultimate Warrior (true story. My Dad was the best). I’ve been a wrestling fan since I was a teenager and using a shared fandom to create friendships that have and will last me a life time. I am now a thirty-four year old male and I’m still a kid inside watching Monday Night Raw every week. Yes my fandom has evolved as I’ve gotten older, and yes I know it’s more or less a male soap opera, but that doesn’t stop me from watching. Having lived through the glory years of wrestling (The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan) I now get to be like most internet wrestling fans and bitch about the product. Cause it’ll never be as good as it once was.
Wrestling gets this stigma of being fake and not a real sport, and I understand that line of thinking, even though I don’t agree with it. These men and women are athletes who put their bodies on the line over 300 days of the year to entertain their fans. Yes the outcome is predetermined but what these athletes are doing inside that ring, when done well, can be as exciting as any other sporting event.
If you watch wrestling enough you can find the blueprints to story lines, and know what direction the company is going in. Despite all that though it has this ability to draw you in and make you care. Whether it’s because their telling the stories you want to see or not telling them, a wrestling fan is filled with passion to see the best product possible. Last night wrestling fans all over lost part of the best possible product.
The retirement of Daniel Bryan, while not all that surprising, is still the saddest thing to happen to wrestling since the death of the Ultimate Warrior. Bryan was a refreshing face in a sea of repetitiveness. A man who had an entire fan base supporting him to the point where he changed the product. Fans had become frustrated with being force fed the same old characters and the same old story lines, and backed Daniel Bryan to the point where creative teams were forced to take notice. These fans hijacked show after show until their voices were heard, and Daniel Bryan rightfully became the focus of wrestling storylines. The Yes Movement was something to behold and was the first thing in awhile that made me excited about being a wrestling fan. Something that reminded me of the glory days. These fans, and I include myself among them, were some of the most passionate and loudest fans I’ve ever heard.
I don’t want to get into too much wrestling fandom jargon as I know that there are many of you who could probably care less, but I did want to talk about the loss of Daniel Bryan because I am a fan and I’m saddened to see him go. Last night I watched as Bryan gave a farwell speech that was filled with passion and feels. Even if you don’t watch wrestling or know nothing about it, I wonder if you could prevent yourself from getting choked up. One of the greatest things about Daniel Bryan was how genuine he was both in and outside of the ring, and his retirement speech is more of the same. While his retirement was forced due to medical conditions it was caused by the passion and physicality of his wrestling. For those of you who are fans know that to watch Daniel Bryan in the ring was something special. There was little doubt that you were getting the best this particular man could give every night. And his best was leagues better than anything else being presented.
Bryan’s speech was moving, touching, and defined a man who lead a movement. I will miss his presence in the squared circle, and how he helped reignite my wrestling fandom. Do I think he will go down as being one of the best of all time? Yes! Yes! Yes!
It’s not the full speech but the highlights. I dare you not to get the feels.