wrestling / Columns

I Trust Daniel Bryan

December 14, 2017 | Posted by Steve Cook
Daniel Bryan WWE TLC

The vendetta that Shane McMahon has towards Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn seemingly knows no bounds. Now, Shane has plenty of reasons to be mad at Kevin & Sami. There was the whole business with Owens beating up Shane’s father before Hell in a Cell. Not to mention the fact that Sami moved Kevin out of the way of Shane’s elbow drop from the top of the Cell. If people beat up my father and ruined my soft landing off the top of a cell, I’d be mad at them too.

Kevin & Sami have legitimate grievances with Shane, but nobody really listens to them because they’re annoying. There’s always that one employee in the workplace that’s never happy with anything. Nothing is good enough for them. They’re the ones that do all the work & get none of the credit. Everybody else is incompetent while they’re fantastic workers. Everybody else is out to get them because they’re jealous of their ability. We all know people like this. They’re infuriating to deal with, and it gets even worse when there’s two of them and they start wallowing in their misery together.

I don’t blame Shane for being unhappy with Sami or Kevin. I’m not sure their offenses rise to the level of termination though. Certainly not in WWE, where wrestlers have committed far greater atrocities against authority figures and maintained their employment status. Shane has decided not to fire Kevin & Sami outright due to these precedents, and is instead putting their continued employment on the line at Clash of Champions in a tag team match against Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura.

Sometimes, employees have grievances with their supervisors. When this happens, employees will often go around the supervisor they have a beef with & seek assistance from somebody else at a high level in the company. It was only a matter of time before Kevin & Sami would seek help from SmackDown Live’s General Manager, Daniel Bryan.

And sometimes when you seek help from another authority figure you want to make sure they’re in a good mood. Maybe you talk about how great they are at their job. Or, if you’re in WWE, you can wear their old t-shirt & rip off their old promo material.

I don’t fault Kevin or Sami for trying. Unfortunately for them, Daniel Bryan doesn’t seem like the kind of man that is prone to appeasing suck-ups. He has been a fair & balanced voice of reason in his time as SmackDown General Manager, which comes as no surprise to people that have followed his pro wrestling career. There have been occasions during Bryan’s career where he’s been vindictive, but they were always warranted. He has dealt with his fair share of corrupt authority figures during his time in WWE and doesn’t want to be like those horrible examples.

Bryan’s always been a fair man. Which is why it was strange to hear Byron Saxton make outrageous allegations about Bryan’s motives during Tuesday’s main event pitting Owens against Nakamura.

Let’s unpack what happened here.

1. The referee was knocked out by an inadvertent forearm from Kevin Owens. It looked a little blatant, to be honest, but I have no reason not to believe that Owens was aiming for Nakamura at the beginning of his strike.

2. Daniel Bryan left the broadcast position to assume the duty of referee. Traditionally, another referee should run to the ring when a referee is knocked out. Perhaps the other referees were preparing for 205 Live & weren’t watching the monitor in their locker room. I’m not sure what happened there. Bryan noticed quickly & went over to retrieve the referee shirt from the incapacitated official. I believe there’s a rule in the WWE Rulebook that referees have to wear a referee shirt of some type, so this was fine.

3. There was a brief pause after Bryan put the shirt on & Nakamura had Owens covered. From what I can tell, Bryan froze in the moment. He’s not accustomed to being a referee, and the referee has a much more difficult job than fans or wrestlers realize.

4. Afterwards, Bryan settled into the position. He was a bit lenient in allowing Sami Zayn & Randy Orton to enter the ring, but many referees will allow non-participants to enter the ring as long as they don’t place their hands on one of the combatants. They took each other out of the picture, so Bryan let it go.

5. Bryan made a fair count at the end of the match. This was enough for Saxton to declare outrage & point the finger of blame at SmackDown’s General Manager. Why, because he made a fair three count? Referees aren’t supposed to change their count based on who has the cover. Whether Owens or Nakamura is making the pin attempt, a referee’s count should be the same. Some are fast, some are slow, but the consistency is what matters.

Daniel Bryan did the right thing. Just because some disagree with the result doesn’t mean that he didn’t do the right thing. He’s given us no reason to believe that he won’t continue doing the right thing for the remainder of his tenure as SmackDown General Manager. Those like Byron Saxton that question him fail to take into account years of fairness & goodwill that he’s built up with the WWE Universe.

I’m not a big fan of guest referees in general. They tend to get in the way & cause problems instead of solve them. Shane McMahon has a history of poor officiating going back almost twenty years. Except for the fact that he’s Commissioner and can make himself a referee if he feels like it, there’s no good reason for him to don the stripes. Two guest referees seems especially excessive. But in this case it can be justified, as Kevin & Sami have their careers on the line and deserve a fair match. Shane probably won’t provide that on his own, but Daniel Bryan can work to make the playing field more level.

I mean, I guess there’s always a chance that he doesn’t. But we shouldn’t be like Byron Saxton and automatically assume the worst about people. Daniel Bryan has earned our trust & has done nothing to show that he won’t be fair at Clash of Champions.

Let’s be honest. If he isn’t, it’ll probably be Shane’s fault anyway.