Daniel Bryan w/ Craig Tello
St. Martin’s Press
The big problem with this book is the ghost-writer’s voice. He does a fine enough job when inside Daniel Bryan’s voice but ruins any of that good work by starting each chapter in his own voice, as tag-along journalist trying to capture the lead-up to Wrestlemania 30 – made all the more stupid by the fact that this event and its main event result is in the bag long before the book was even published.
It’s excruciating reading the feature-article-cum-diary scribing at the start of each chapter. And though it’s easy enough to move on from those to absorb the real story – the behind the scenes and “real” life of the wrestler born Bryan Danielson and his indie dream of working hard in the minor league (and of small stature) to put what seemed like an ill-fated WWE intro behind him and succeed on the biggest stage in pro-wrestling.
Bryan’s story is interesting because he achieved his goal through hard work and building an audience the old-fashioned way but with the new technology. The word of mouth around him spread like wild fire due to the internet – soon the big league had to take a chance with him; they couldn’t ignore the fan fervour any longer.
Okay, it’s very much a by-rote wrestler memoir in some sense. The writing is never great and often the storytelling gets bogged down in detail – we spend far too long hearing about match-planning and moves without getting the feeling of any real action. But it’s nice his indy-scene time (twice as long as his time in the ‘E) is given plenty of space.
There’s a nice feel to this though, in the context of it being a wrestler’s autobiography, where the WWE hasn’t breathed too heavily down his neck and ordered the extraction and rewriting; Bryan even gets to bitch a little about Vince and some of his frustrations around how he was being booked.
We get a pretty thorough unpacking of his time in the ring at the WWE and the time taken to find his voice and character. We move through NXT and the United States title to the Bella Twins and a forced love triangle – this is where he first properly meets Bri, his now wife. His tag team with Kane – Team Hell No was going to be called Team Friendship! That’s is Bryan had his way. Thank god – or, er quite the opposite – that he didn’t eh?
I enjoyed a lot of this – as it builds up to the “YES” Movement and the making of Bryan as World Champ following his WM30 win – because I wasn’t watching any wrestling at the time this all happened. So some of it – how it happened, the ways and whys – was new to me.
It’s not one of the must-read wrestling bios – doesn’t rate with the greats. But if you’re a fan then it’s one of the better ones from recent years. That’s about all you can ask for really.