I guess the old adage is true, friends: the candle that burns twice as bright, burns half as long.
This applies to Daniel Bryan, officially disrespected at every turn in WWE keyfabe, but to a point, entire cards were structured around him, with sometimes multiple set-up matches on the undercard and then the obligatory main events. He was overbooked by WWE, which thusly precipitated his subsequent injury and early retirement.
But I come here to praise Daniel Bryan, and not to bury him.
The height of besmirchment was his public treatment by the front office, and it leaves me hoping there was plenty of congratulating and handshakes and highfives given backstage. That much at least-a little professional recognition-would sooth my fanboy nerves.
Seth Rollins was bit by the success demon on the dark side of fandom. Hopefully he can return to further scrawl his name across the record books.
Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose are in the catbird seat now, in danger of being bitten by the overbooking bug, as undercards lack teeth, lack draw. But thankfully, WWE has diversified, despite relying briefly on the yawn heelstable of the League of Nations.
They have Brock and Rock to draw on from time to time, two wells that keep giving back to the WWE, while the Rock has lost no draw power, and Brock Lesnar has only increased his own personal cache, skyrocketing his own stock with stellar performances that test any opponent, bringing them to each to their limit.
And now AJ Styles is in the house, hitting the ground running at the Royal Rumble and hope rings anew throughout the WWE. Brock is making appearances, with a match scheduled at Wrestlemania. Ambrose and Reigns continue to impress, being two bullets for the WWE instead of just one.
But it is the up-the-ranking run of AJ Styles that is making me watch closer than ever. This is not just a gimmick; this is a bit of Daniel Bryan caught in a jar: a talented misfit, surviving, thriving on the merits of his work instead of crowdpop from clever catch phrases.