Friday, November 13, 2015

Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes!

Earlier this year fan favorite, Daniel Bryan finally got his first fully featured WWE Home Video release, complete with a documentary and a hearty amount of extra matches. Prior to this all we had was a very bare bones Superstar Collection release that consisted of only 90 minutes of matches. You can finally replace that video with this beast of a collection that has a documentary and nearly eight hours of extra features (of which one hour are exclusive to BluRay). This being a WWE Home Video release, it gets the required catchphrase title treatment as you can find this in the video section and online shops as Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! (trailer)

WWE has been doing their best to keep Daniel Bryan still in fans’ minds while he is out on his latest injury sabbatical. Bryan has kept up with international promotional appearances, and aside from this home video, WWE also released an autobiography of him right around the same time Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! hit stores. I just finished reading it a few weeks ago and I found it to be a perfect supplementary piece to the documentary, as it goes into more detail on the chapters of Bryan’s career that are lightly touched on in a lot of places on the documentary.

Around Wrestlemania 31 at the beginning of this year WWE debuted their new WWE 24 mini-documentary series, a series of half hour quick career retrospectives with a theme attached to them. WWE 24’s debut episode was all about Daniel Bryan’s Wrestlemania XXX weekend experience where he won the WWE Title, and throughout Daniel’s weekend they splice in scenes that quickly chronicle his career and rise up the WWE ranks. I am referencing this because a lot of the interviews and footage in that half hour feature is reused for this home video feature that lasts just over an hour. This is admittedly a bit of a bummer, as a lot of the chapters of Bryan’s career they could have went into more detail, but are quickly only touched on or glossed over which is why I recommend you track down his autobiography for a more in depth account.

I am use to prior documentaries spending a decent amount of time about the featured wrestler’s childhood and family. Usually there are several minutes of interviews with family members and friends, where here all we get is just a couple minutes of only Bryan himself reflecting growing up before quickly transitioning into how he started training in the business. There is a couple of scenes showing footage of Bryan training in Shawn Michaels’ old wrestling promotion and thankfully they were able to work with Ring of Honor to allow them to show footage of some of Bryan’s work of his many years in that promotion to get across how Bryan spent many years on the indy scene honing his craft.

I am happy WWE dedicated some time to Bryan’s RoH days, but they could have done so much more. In CM Punk’s documentary from WWE they really went out of their way to show how much RoH was to Punk’s career and even gave a good nod to his feud with Samoa Joe in RoH while Joe was under contract with TNA when CM Punk’s documentary hit stores. I remember watching about a dozen RoH shows before Bryan signed with WWE, and he was usually one of their featured acts from the very beginning when he headlined their first show in February 2002. Bryan spent over a year as their champion and as ‘the man’ in RoH in a run he never quite had yet as ‘the man’ in WWE. Again this is all very briefly touched on, but the book goes into far more detail.

Naturally, the bio gets a little more in depth covering Bryan’s WWE days starting with when he made his televised debut on the first episode of the SyFy incarnation of NXT in February 2010. I will give props to Bryan for declaring his hatred of his time in NXT and getting his early termination for jumping the TVPG guidelines on the first Nexus invasion angle that the documentary covers in good detail. Up to this point and throughout other parts of the feature there are quite a few interview clips with John Cena and Seth Rollins referencing their respect for Bryan’s indy work and working with him. It was also amusing to see Miz say he never heard of Bryan before when he found out he was working with him in NXT, while Cena was very familiar with his indy work when he first worked with him way back in 2003.

I am glad Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! spent some time covering Bryan’s unfortunate early Wrestlemania appearances with Sheamus, as both Bryan and Sheamus recount how frustrated they were that their matches at Wrestlemania XXVII and XXVIII got the short end of the stick to give other matches more time. I share their frustrations because I was there at XXVIII and was unbelievably pissed off when the two were only allowed to have a 18 second match. The good to come out of that though was the “Yes Movement” taking off where fans started chanting “Yes” over and over throughout the show in rebellion and many shows thereafter that lead to Bryan breaking out into superstardom that the biography definitely makes sure to get right.

From there the bio goes to Bryan rehabbing his unfortunate shoulder injuries he has suffered through the past year and a half. The biography here gives a more positive perspective on Bryan getting healthy and overcoming his injuries and I am glad they strayed away from how Bryan talks about injuries in his book where he practically boasts about lying to doctors so he could work through injuries so he could not miss out on paydays.

Of course we get a scene dedicated to how Bryan met his true love in Brie Bella and how their relationship evolved. This all transitions into Bryan’s big Wrestlemania XXX weekend where it culminated with Bryan winning the WWE Championship on the biggest wrestling stage of the year, and topping it off with getting married to Brie and moving into their new home just days later to finish up the feature on a positive note. It is probably for the best that the bio ended on a positive not and did not go into the many injuries that have plagued Bryan’s career since.

The extra features do kind of touch on Bryan’s post-Wrestlemania XXX career. In a refreshing take on the extras of WWE Home Video compilations where it is usually match, match, match nonstop, here in Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! we get a quick interview snippet with Bryan and maybe another superstar involved setting up the match and talking about where Bryan was at this point in his career. They are great little resting points between matches to serve as a mental break and help set up the feud going into the next match getting covered, and I hope WWE does this more in future home video releases.

Including the BluRay exclusives, there are a total of 17 matches. Noteable matches include Bryan’s first WWE tryout match in February 2000 with him and Shooter Shultz against Lance Cade and Brian Kendrick. The match has no commentary and it was cool to see how these four guys in front of a WWE crowd started off with the expected silence of being a bunch of unknowns, but won the crowd over with their relentless action and highspots. Early big matches in Bryan’s career are featured here like his NXT debut match against Chris Jericho, winning the US title from Miz and cashing in the Money in the Bank to win his first World Title against Big Show.

I really liked how Bryan in the extras reflected on having good one-on-one matches with Big Show and Mark Henry on Smackdown and live events. If you buy this, please make sure to watch Bryan’s match against Big Show on a January 2012 edition of Smackdown. I was giddy at this match’s inclusion, not only was it a fine match where Bryan brought out the best in Big Show, but it also featured some amazing commentary from Mark Henry who put Michael Cole in his place when Cole was doing his run as the ultra annoying evil announcer. Bryan and Sheamus have more thoughts on their Wrestlemania memories I recommend checking out, especially for Daniel Bryan sharing a funny Great Khali story which helps set up Bryan’s awesome rematch against Sheamus at Extreme Rules 2012.

Only a little bit of time in the bio went to Bryan’s fun run as Team Hell No with Kane. I am glad they at least touched on it, and it is too bad the extras only feature one match from their run as champs and that was when they won the tag team titles from Kofi Kingston & R-Truth in a forgettable match when I remember Team Hell No being part of a few very intense and climatic tag matches against the Shield in the summer of 2013 that were a big part of Bryan reaching main event level status. If there is one reason to get the BluRay, it is because the BluRay exclusives feature several of the awesome anger management sketches with Bryan & Kane, including the classic ‘Hug it Out’ sketch I will never forget.

Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! did a solid by making sure to include Cena and Bryan’s awesome 2013 Summerslam main event match where Bryan won his first WWE Title and debuted his new running knee finisher. The match easily holds up on repeat viewing a couple years later, and Bryan has some good introspection here on why the match was not a hit on PPV in the pre-WWE Network era. I get having the Batista/Orton/Bryan triple threat that headlined Wrestlemania XXX on here because it had a couple really good moments in and after the match, but I would have preferred that they include his match with Triple H from earlier that same show which I recall being the match of the night.

The main extra features unfortunately conclude with Daniel Bryan putting over Roman Reigns at Fast Lane from earlier this year. Yeah, Bryan got a lot out of Reigns that night, and if Bryan insisted on having his match on this collection than more power to him, but I got a feeling he did not have a choice on the matter and I would have preferred them to finish off the collection with him winning the Intercontinental title in a awesome ladder match at Wrestlemania 31 instead. Aside from the anger management sketches, other BluRay exclusive highlights include the infamous match against John Cena on a 2003 episode of Velocity and a cage match when he was briefly part of the Wyatt Family when he teamed up with Bray against the Usos in early 2014. Rounding off the BluRay exclusives are 22 minutes of random Daniel Bryan stories that were nice little tidbits to indulge.

This blog is nearly double as long as I usually go, but there was a lot to cover and Daniel Bryan is one of my favorite wrestlers, so please pardon me for endlessly rambling on. If you were intimidated by the blog length (I do not blame you), and skipped right to the end for the final word then this is all you need to know: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! skimped out on the documentary a bit, as it really needed another half hour to give the full Daniel Bryan story, but what is there is still a solid Cliff Notes version of his career. The extras definitely make up for it with interviews setting up many must see matches and help fill in a few gaps and expand on others that the bio negated. If all you want to see is primarily the documentary, just watch the WWE 24 special on Daniel Bryan instead. If you want a slightly more uncut version and a really good collection of matches, than you cannot go wrong with Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes!

Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
Dusty Rhodes WWE Network Specials
For All Mankind
Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection
Its Good to Be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story
Ladies and Gentlemen My Name is Paul Heyman
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story
Memphis Heat
OMG Vol 2: Top 50 Incidents in WCW History
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
RoH Supercard of Honor VII
RoH Supercard of Honor VIII
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
Top 50 Superstars of All Time
Tough Enough: Million Dollar Season
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28
Wrestlemania 29
Wrestlemania 30
The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling Road Diaries Too
WWE Network Original Specials Summer 2015

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