This past Monday night, Daniel Bryan pulled on our heartstrings like a babyface tugs the tag rope waiting for a hot tag. The major announcement concerning his career was truly unpredictable, which is something that can rarely be said about segments on Raw these days. Reality and authenticity were the key ingredients in Bryan’s promo, which seems pretty ironic seeing as this is pro wrestling we’re talking about. But with 2014 coming to a close, there’s no denying that real-life events and authentic, emotional moments stood tallest in the wrestling world this year.
Wrestling fans went through a gauntlet match of emotions in 2014. At the start of the year, we were furious that despite our deafening defiance, the WWE brass simply had no plans of putting Daniel Bryan in the main event of Wrestlemania 30. Soon after, CM Punk abruptly left the company, leaving us feeling confused and at times, abandoned. When The Undertaker’s streak ended at Wrestlemania, we stared at our screens in shock, stuck in one of the most surreal moments of our fandom. Days later, the Ultimate Warrior passed away following a return to Raw that never seemed possible.
As difficult as it was to grapple with all of this, there were plenty of bright spots and resolutions along the way. Our voices were eventually heard, and we collectively exploded in elation as Daniel Bryan went on to win the WWE World Heavyweight Title in the main event of Wrestlemania 30. CM Punk finally provided us with the closure we had sought since his departure when he spoke out on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast. Though his passing was tragically untimely, the Ultimate Warrior’s Hall of Fame induction and poignant final promo showed us the beauty of both forgiveness and redemption. Okay, so the Undertaker’s streak ending still doesn’t sit well with us, but at least it provided the now classic “Shocked Undertaker Fan” meme.
Triumph, tragedy, bad booking decisions, brilliant booking decisions, and outpouring passion defined the year in wrestling that was 2014. Daniel Bryan’s promo on Monday night highlighted all of these traits, as he experienced them more than anyone this year. So when he returns to the ring for the 2015 Royal Rumble, you can protect your pride by calling it ‘marking out,’ but the reality is we’ll all be having a major case of the feels in that moment.
-Trevor Courneen, lifelong wrestling fan