In 2013 and the first half of 2014, Daniel Bryan was the hottest thing in professional wrestling. It didn’t matter what was taking place in the ring, the fans would most often be chanting “Yes!” or “Daniel Bryan!”, regardless of whether he was involved or not. He became a phenomenon so big that the Seattle Seahawks celebrated their 2014 Super Bowl win with a “Yes!” chant of their own, as a tribute to their fellow Washington native. Fast forward four years and Becky Lynch has reached the heights of Daniel Bryan, in that she is so universally beloved by the audience that whoever is in the ring with her is a heel by default. There are striking similarities between the two and Becky Lynch’s WWE future might just bear an even closer resemblance to Daniel Bryan’s than we think.
Similarities Between Becky Lynch and Daniel Bryan
When the crowd learned that Daniel Bryan was being left out of the Royal Rumble 2014, they erupted with a chorus of boos. Even Rey Mysterio – beloved, pure babyface legend that he is – was booed out of the building when they saw it wasn’t Daniel Bryan “yes chanting” down the ramp, but Mysterio running to the ring. At Survivor Series 2018, Ronda Rousey received the “Mysterio treatment” from the audience simply because she had been feuding with (and scheduled to face) Becky Lynch. Becky wasn’t even on the Survivor Series card, but there were a number of instances throughout the night where matches received notable chants of “Becky”.
What made Daniel Bryan such a phenomenon was not just his astounding wrestling ability, but his ability to make you like him without even having to try. If you watch one Daniel Bryan interview, you can see that he’s a humble, down-to-earth guy who simply loves wrestling. Becky is very similar in this regard. She is certainly one of the top women’s wrestlers in the company; possessing an array of sound, technical manoeuvres; she possesses a solid grasp of the microphone and has the same natural likeability of Bryan. It’s almost like a rare aura that only a small percentage of wrestlers possess (Johnny Gargano could very well prove to be the next). What helped them both to their overwhelming levels of popularity was the feeling that they were being overlooked by management in favour of more marketable stars.
Daniel Bryan is – quite noticeably – smaller than the average wrestler. When he first arrived at NXT (back when it was more a reality TV show resembling America’s Got Talent than NXT in 2018), the commentators (or at least a heelish Michael Cole), The Miz and others addressed the fact – weekly – that Daniel Bryan was an “indie darling”; a talented professional-wrestler possessing non-existent charisma and personality, whilst also being small. Despite not having the size and being unable to change that fact, Daniel Bryan went on to prove that he does possess the charisma and personality he was accused of lacking. When he turned heel mid-2012, he got to show the other side of Daniel Bryan. The “No!” gimmick, the feud with Kane, segments with Dr. Shelby and the Team Hell No team proved that he could be more than just a wrestler – it proved to the doubters that he was not only a great pro-wrestler but a great sports entertainer. This, coupled with the months-long chase for the WWE Championship – cruelly taken away from him by Randy Orton at Summerslam 2013 – being overlooked in the Royal Rumble; being thrown into a Wyatt feud which was beneath him and becoming so popular that Vince McMahon had no choice but to launch him into the main event of Wrestlemania 31 – which he won – made him the bona fide star that he is today. It was the attempts to contain Daniel Bryan which made Daniel Bryan.
Lynch, like Bryan, has also been overlooked on a number of occasions – but this has done nothing but make her more popular with the WWE Universe. It is worth remembering that – until Hell in a Cell 2018 – Becky had not won a pay-per-view match in well over a year, but had somehow remained a crowd favourite. At Wrestlemania 34, Becky wasn’t involved in a high-profile feud but was instead thrown into a pre-show battle royal, which Naomi won. Despite the losing streaks and, frankly, bad booking, she persevered and overcame it all. The danger that the WWE writing staff now faces is that, if they are still planning for the Ronda Rousey/Charlotte match (now rematch) at Wrestlemania 35 as predicted, then they are going to need to be wary of how this affects Becky Lynch. If Becky loses the title at TLC next month and is demoted to a lesser feud, then fans – much like they were for Bryan in 2013/14 – will be vocal in their support of her. Ronda Rousey versus Charlotte may very well become the 2019 version of Batista versus Randy Orton, and it might just become another triple-threat match. Talent like that of Daniel Bryan and Becky Lynch can only be overlooked for so long. Anyone can be booked liked a star, but that star will never shine as bright as the light of a natural star.