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Who is better - Bryan Danielson/Daniel Bryan or Bret Hart?

Who is better - Bryan Danielson/Daniel Bryan or Bret Hart?  

34 members have voted

  1. 1. Who is better?

    • Bryan
      20
    • Bret
      14


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In term of importance, Bryan vs HHH was a super fun moment (a Mania Moment, there you have it) that capped off WWE finally giving in after months and months of being in denial. It was also the feud that taught them everything they do wrong today as far as booking babyface. Bryan vs Kofi was a fun moment that happened from nowhere and led to nowhere. Kofi got his "Mania Moment" and that's it. He sucked as champion, his status did not move an inch after he lost the belt. Sure, you can blame that on booking, but context plays a role in everything : context also heavily favorized Bryan in so many more ways like it's been said (a shitload of good to great workers to work with, a much more "good match" oriented environement). The change of perspective on guys coming from the indies is much more CM Punk than Bryan. Punk was pushed harder and much more straight-forward than Bryan and to this day, he still has way more aura in term of WWE canon than Bryan, whose comeback they have completely squandered.

Meanwhile, Bret vs Owen made Owen. And Bret vs Austin was probably the most important match of the last 30 years until Omega vs Jericho in NJ in term of influence (one made Austin, the other made AEW, to say it short and sweet). Again, context helped Bret in that back then, booking was actually good (at times excellent) and not rotten dumb, but on the other hand, Bret was fighting the fight of good work in a company where the idea of a main event even by 1995 was Diesel vs Sid and yet was booked in kiss-my-feet matches and had to fight evil dentists in the same era. 

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I'm probably a bigger Bret fan and am admittedly not super knowledgable about much of Bryan's work on the indies/Japan, but I'm still leaning towards Bryan here.

To me, its a tough comparison because of the major differences in era, but I'll give Bryan the edge because of the duration of his career and the heel reinvention in 2018/2019. 

In other categories, it is really close. Someone mentioned that Bret didn't have the same caliber of opponent that Bryan has had and I'm not sure how true that is. First, I think its fair to say that the base level of talent and skill has gone up since the 80s and 90s. Second, if we're just talking WWE, yes, Bret Hart didn't have the luxury of having extended programs with a Sheamus or CM Punk, but its not like Daniel Bryan didn't also have some really good matches against The Miz, Kane (yeah, I'll say it - their Extreme Rules match was fun), Mark Henry, Bray Wyatt, and even Big Cass. Bryan has had the luxury of working with some of the best ever, but its not like he's had nothing but GOAT opponents.

Would Bret have put on amazing matches against Lesnar, Styles, Cena, Reigns, and Kofi? Probably...but that's hypothetical. Plus, I think the idea of Bret having to "carry" so many other "lesser" workers is a bit inflated. Diesel had natural presence and power and carried his end of the match. Ditto for Taker. Bam Bam Bigelow could go. Bulldog had skill, power, and experience. Lawler and Piper knew how to make fans care. Yes, Bret also had plenty of TV matches against absolute stiffs, but what was the expectation there? Maybe a 5-minute match to throw on a random episode of Action Zone? For the most part, when Bret had to put on a great PPV match, his opponent was someone that could either keep up with him physically and technically - Perfect, Owen, Bulldog, Shawn, or Austin - or someone who was a strong enough persona that the juxtaposition of size/style played to Bret's strengths anyway (Diesel, Taker, Bigelow, Lawler). So I just don't buy the narrative that Bret had to make lemonade out of lemons all the time. Off the top of my head, I feel like Bret's worst "big" matches were against Yankem, Razor Ramon, and IRS and, unsurprisingly, these three guys are probably on the Mount Rushmore of Shit Matches. (I love Scott Hall's mic skills and swag, but yeah, not a great resume.)

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The promos Bryan cut in his heel turn are some of the worst I have heard in all my years of watching professional wrestling. That may because I am old, but you cannot compare Bret's phenomenal heel turn and promos in 1997 to Bryan's heel turn. Bryan doesn't strike me as a great promo, or a great actor for that matter. His heel work in ROH never struck me as good. He tries hard, that's for sure, but it's an act. When Bret turned heel there was always an element of real life frustrations boiling to the surface. It was a worked shoot era, admittedly, but I would take Bret over Danielson any day when it comes to acting. 

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4 hours ago, El-P said:

In term of importance, Bryan vs HHH was a super fun moment (a Mania Moment, there you have it) that capped off WWE finally giving in after months and months of being in denial. It was also the feud that taught them everything they do wrong today as far as booking babyface. Bryan vs Kofi was a fun moment that happened from nowhere and led to nowhere. Kofi got his "Mania Moment" and that's it. He sucked as champion, his status did not move an inch after he lost the belt. Sure, you can blame that on booking, but context plays a role in everything : context also heavily favorized Bryan in so many more ways like it's been said (a shitload of good to great workers to work with, a much more "good match" oriented environement). The change of perspective on guys coming from the indies is much more CM Punk than Bryan. Punk was pushed harder and much more straight-forward than Bryan and to this day, he still has way more aura in term of WWE canon than Bryan, whose comeback they have completely squandered.

Meanwhile, Bret vs Owen made Owen. And Bret vs Austin was probably the most important match of the last 30 years until Omega vs Jericho in NJ in term of influence (one made Austin, the other made AEW, to say it short and sweet). Again, context helped Bret in that back then, booking was actually good (at times excellent) and not rotten dumb, but on the other hand, Bret was fighting the fight of good work in a company where the idea of a main event even by 1995 was Diesel vs Sid and yet was booked in kiss-my-feet matches and had to fight evil dentists in the same era. 

Find it really weird that Bret v. Owen 'made' Owen while Kofi's elevation led to nowhere. Owen remained a tag team wrestler with occasional forays to the main event after the feud was over. That is exactly the same status as Kofi. At least Kofi got to be world champ. Owen never did. Owen spent the last couple of years of his life putting over Triple H at every single opportunity despite having so much sympathy from Montreal. He ended it as a joke heel character.

I think it's completely wrong to say Punk has more aura than Bryan. Maybe he did in 2016, but not even close to true now. We have discussed here how the UFC run and his subsequent actions hurt his aura bad. 

12 minutes ago, ohtani's jacket said:

The promos Bryan cut in his heel turn are some of the worst I have heard in all my years of watching professional wrestling. That may because I am old, but you cannot compare Bret's phenomenal heel turn and promos in 1997 to Bryan's heel turn. Bryan doesn't strike me as a great promo, or a great actor for that matter. His heel work in ROH never struck me as good. He tries hard, that's for sure, but it's an act. When Bret turned heel there was always an element of real life frustrations boiling to the surface. It was a worked shoot era, admittedly, but I would take Bret over Danielson any day when it comes to acting. 

Oh man, I absolutely positively cannot be on board with thinking Eco-friendly World Champ Bryan promos were anything but gold. Fickle wrestling fans smh

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9 hours ago, ohtani's jacket said:

The Bret/Owen cage match is a brilliant masterpiece. I have no idea why people misunderstand it. 

Allow me to agree, I've always really enjoyed it. I'd stipulate that WWE doesn't put on great steel cage matches all that often, but when they do succeed they are outstanding, like this one was. Since I'm an older fan I'd rate Hart over Bryan because I have way more emotional investment and familiarity with Bret's career, but there's no doubt that Bryan is a fantastic worker and has been for a long time.

Most days of the week if you ask me what is the best match in WWE company history, I'll say Bret vs. Owen at WM X; Hart vs. Austin at WM 13 would be way up there too. That goes a long way with me.

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16 minutes ago, MoS said:

Find it really weird that Bret v. Owen 'made' Owen while Kofi's elevation led to nowhere. Owen remained a tag team wrestler with occasional forays to the main event after the feud was over. That is exactly the same status as Kofi. At least Kofi got to be world champ. Owen never did. Owen spent the last couple of years of his life putting over Triple H at every single opportunity despite having so much sympathy from Montreal. He ended it as a joke heel character.

Owen was a JTTS before the Bret angle. After that point, he won King of the Ring, was basically featured in the biggest and most memorable feud of the year 1994, then yeah he did not became a main event guy but he sure was a name that was always featured somewhere. Then as part of the Hart Foundation in 1997 he was put up against Steve Austin, who was basically already the N°1 guy in the company despite not being pushed as such yet. He got screwed by HHH after Montreal but what else is new ?

Kofi's status as part of New Day was much much higher than Owen (New Foundation, High Energy anyone ?). Him getting the title at Mania meant what in the long run ? Nothing. He went back to the exact same spot, whereas Owen was basically a non-factor (and would have stayed there) that became a "star" and fixture of the product for years.

In the grand scheme of things, Owen's career in WWE is much more memorable than Kofi's, who apart from that great match at Mania (which was Bryan working his magic, let's be real) is basically the guy who does the funky spot at the Royal Rumble (which has been fun at first and then became a bit dumb and redondant). 

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I think after due consideration that I am willing to concede that Bret had more memorable feuds than Bryan. I don't think that's an indictment of Bryan as much as that of modern WWE booking, which is schizophrenic, inconsistent, constantly second guessing, stop-start with no long-term planning. That means that any story involving two wrestlers is basically impossible to be memorable in modern WWE. Regardless, if you think Bret was better because he had more memorable feuds, then fair enough - your wrestling, your criteria. 

However, I think it would be wrong to say that Bryan hasn't had memorable storylines or angles or moments or matches. With Bryan, it's weird because even though he might not have had a lot of career opponents, his individual arc is extremely memorable because it basically became a proxy contest between fans and management, as well as an exercise in discovering that he was far more than an indie workrate guy, and thus, allowing other indie guys to ascend to the main event. The Authority stuff, the yes movement, the no movement, Team Hell-No, Eco-friendly Vegan World Champion, his WWE run is littered with memorable angles and stories. There's a real depth of resume, ever since he first won the world title and started shouting Yes, almost 10 years ago. He made Kane interesting!!

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For me, the Bret/Owen cage match works more as a thought experiment ("If wrestling were real and you had to win a match by escaping a cage, what would it look like?") than a wrestling match. If anything, it should have put the nail in the coffin of escape-the-cage matches because it laid bare the inherent silliness of the concept.

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12 minutes ago, MoS said:

He made Kane interesting!!

No. No one can. Ever. Not in this universe nor in any alternate universe.

Talking about shit booking, first feud Daniel Bryan worked as the Babyface World Champ was him running away from Kane who was threatening his wife. So yeah, he wasn't helped at all by the booking, to say the fucking least.

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I saw Bret/Shawn in a cage in December '93

1 hour ago, MoS said:

The Authority stuff, the yes movement, the no movement, Team Hell-No, Eco-friendly Vegan World Champion, his WWE run is littered with memorable angles and stories. There's a real depth of resume, ever since he first won the world title and started shouting Yes, almost 10 years ago. He made Kane interesting!!

On this basis alone I give the edge to Bryan. Bret's angles in the 90's mostly sucked, outside of what he did from 96 until he left. The Owen feud was hot and memorable to a degree, but weighed down by family drama that even felt a little phony to me as a kid. The stuff with Lawler had it's moments but was largely placating Bret from the top spot. 

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As long as we're bringing up booking, I'm noticing nobody is even bothering to mention Bret's WCW run...

I think that's another point to Bryan. He's been able to be a highlight of the WWE for about 10 years despite the show being, as a whole, nearly as bad or equally as bad as WCW was in 98'-99'.

Meanwhile, in 98'-99', Bret didn't add much to his resume. When you look at the list of opponents, there are the makings of some good matches in 98' - Flair, Hennig, Savage, Malenko, Finlay, DDP...Is there any match from WCW not against Benoit that has really ever been considered top tier for the Hitman? 

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3 minutes ago, DMJ said:

Is there any match from WCW not against Benoit that has really ever been considered top tier for the Hitman? 

No, but Savage & Flair were way past their prime, Hennig was completely washed up. And he had good matches against all of them. The DDP stuff probably was the best. Malenko & Finlay are overrated (yes, I said it) and not at all on his level on the totem pole, so the matches would not have been competitive anyway. And really now, Bret was also past his prime and most of all not motivated one bit because of the booking. I do love the jaded, snarky style promo Bret was doing at the time though.

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3 hours ago, flyonthewall2983 said:

I saw Bret/Shawn in a cage in December '93

Is there footage of this? I am assuming it was a house show match, unless my memory is completely betraying me

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Both of these guys are in my top 10, but I'd go Bryan by a hair.

3 hours ago, DMJ said:

As long as we're bringing up booking, I'm noticing nobody is even bothering to mention Bret's WCW run...

I think that's another point to Bryan. He's been able to be a highlight of the WWE for about 10 years despite the show being, as a whole, nearly as bad or equally as bad as WCW was in 98'-99'.

Meanwhile, in 98'-99', Bret didn't add much to his resume. When you look at the list of opponents, there are the makings of some good matches in 98' - Flair, Hennig, Savage, Malenko, Finlay, DDP...Is there any match from WCW not against Benoit that has really ever been considered top tier for the Hitman? 

None of these are top tier, but I enjoy the Flair, Savage, DDP, and Hennig matches. I also enjoyed the Goldberg match, and think his match with Booker T is probably Booker's best match.

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32 minutes ago, MoS said:

Is there footage of this? I am assuming it was a house show match, unless my memory is completely betraying me

I think there's footage of this, announced by Gorilla Mansoon and Raven, no less.

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16 hours ago, MoS said:

Bret Hart v. Shawn Michaels - a feud or a rivalry? 

To me, this is the epitome of Bryan vs. Roman - at least so far. Definitely a rivalry, not a feud, as you define it. WrestleMania can and probably will change that though, assuming that's the match. I would argue that Bret vs. Shawn was definitely much more of a feud than Bryan-Reigns has been, at least so far.

16 hours ago, MoS said:

As far as hating Wyatt; it's not as if I am a big fan either. But their match at Royal Rumble 2014 was excellent; far better than any Bret-Diesel match. Wyatt family v. Bryan had some really strong matches. I have absolutely no use for the Fiend, but Bryan had the only decent match of the Fiend's run. 

I'm not saying the Bryan-Wyatt matches were shit or anything - of course not - but I think you are severely underrating the Bret-Diesel matches, which I remember being fun and smartly constructed. I assume that has to do with a dislike of Diesel more than anything to do with Bret, but Nash actually had on his working boots in his WWE run and didn't really became Big Lazy until WCW.

16 hours ago, MoS said:

Your point about Bret making fans care about workrate is also incorrect imo. Bret and Shawn were pushed to the top when the steroid scandal hit and Vince needed a small non-roiding guy as champ. There was no surging momentum in favour of Bret which led to Vince changing his entire wrestling philosophy. There's the famous story of Bret being told he was going to become world champ; he actually thought he was getting fired when Vince started talking to him. It's not as if the Bret run was so successful that it permanently changed the WWE mentality. Business remained bad until the rise of Steve Austin, and the Attitude Era was the exact opposite of fans "caring about match quality." That mentality remained the same throughout the 2000s, when Vince had the famous edict that anyone hired by developmental had to be 6'4" and 250 pounds. 

 You know who changed that mentality though? Bryan, and to an extent CM Punk. Fans dragged Vince kicking and screaming into giving Bryan the main event at WM. In fact, since the rise of Bryan as a main eventer, we have basically, withvery few exceptions, have had workrate guys as champs. WWE became a workrate territory in the late 00s and 2010s, and once again, it was Punk and Bryan at the helm. I would also give Rey credit, but Rey always seemed like the exception to the rule to me. Since then, we have seen champs like Finn Balor, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, etc, and I would argue that none of them would have sustained main event pushes had it not been for Bryan. 

WWE is always going to revert back to a big man monster formula as long as Vince is alive. Any deviations from that - even this current long one - is never anything more than an aberration. However, Bret and Shawn absolutely did re-educate fans into appreciating their style vs. the Hogan/Warrior style. Saying there were extenuating circumstances (such as the steroid trial, which I also pointed out) doesn't change that fact, especially since there were also extenuating circumstances leading to Bryan's push (the fans completely and brutally turning on Batista's Royal Rumble win and a stale Batista-Orton main event). There will always be extenuating circumstances whenever Vince breaks out of his big man bubble. I guarantee you, if there weren't two brands, Roman (who is a "big man" compared to the rest of the current roster) would be the only champ, and AJ, Owens, etc. would not have had sustained runs. If Omos (AJ's bodyguard) is magically a decent worker, he'll be pushed to the moon. Plus, Bryan came in a time where fans were more "educated" about working styles, which also helped him, AJ, etc. That began in the WWF with Bret and Shawn. Every wrestler you named owes their WWE careers to Bret and Shawn.

16 hours ago, MoS said:

As far as tag teams better than the Hart Foundation, I would rank the Bulldogs, Strikeforce, the Rockers, the Brainbusters and Demolition above them. If we stretch it a bit further, the LOD were also better. Hart Foundation are really overrated - they were perfectly good, but at no point were they great. 

Even though I would rank Hart Foundation higher than you, I can't disagree about the quality of those other teams. I do think Strike Force and The Brainbusters had a lot less longevity though (in the WWF). LOD was pretty much over-the-hill by the time they arrived, and their run basically began when the Hart Foundation's was ending (there is a bit of overlap, and the two had a match on - I believe - Coliseum Video that was a total Bret carry-job because Hawk was high). 

15 hours ago, MoS said:

I apologise for my tone and for calling your post ignorant. I cannot in good faith call someone's post ignorant while forgetting the Bret-Own feud, that was really stupid of me lol. I take that back

No apology necessary. I forgot about the feud too, so I guess you can call me ignorant. :wacko:

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One thing I noticed when it comes to discussing people from different eras, is that it tends to have subtext of "X was part of my childhood/initial experience with wrestling so that makes him better and I will not harbor any discussion otherwise".

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27 minutes ago, C.S. said:

I assume that has to do with a dislike of Diesel more than anything to do with Bret, but Nash actually had on his working boots in his WWE run and didn't really became Big Lazy until WCW.

I think both of us have made our points but yeah I just wanted to touch on this, cuz I feel it might require a clarification. Yes, this is based on my dislike of Diesel. Also, I am sure my posts in this thread have made me sound as if I don't rate Bret. I actually think very highly of him. I just feel he is a clear step below the all-time tier, and I feel Bryan is on that level. But that doesn't mean I think Bret was not great; he absolutely was, and he was the best WWF worker of the 90s. If anything, it's Shawn whom I dislike and who I think is terribly overrated, at least as far as his singles work is concerned. 

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23 minutes ago, MoS said:

I think both of us have made our points but yeah I just wanted to touch on this, cuz I feel it might require a clarification. Yes, this is based on my dislike of Diesel. Also, I am sure my posts in this thread have made me sound as if I don't rate Bret. I actually think very highly of him. I just feel he is a clear step below the all-time tier, and I feel Bryan is on that level. But that doesn't mean I think Bret was not great; he absolutely was, and he was the best WWF worker of the 90s. If anything, it's Shawn whom I dislike and who I think is terribly overrated, at least as far as his singles work is concerned. 

Ditto about my feelings toward Bryan, who I consider the best wrestler of his generation, but Bret is an all-timer for me. I also agree that Bret > Shawn in just about every metric. 

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From my blog...

UnCenSored 98' Review
"Bret Hart 
takes on Curt Hennig next. While this pales in comparison to their matches at SummerSlam 91' and the first King of the Ring PPV, its still worth watching for fans of either guy...I particularly like Rude's consistent involvement and Hart's resiliency and focus - this is Bret doing the Bret of 92'-96' in front of a 1998 crowd that had moved on from that type of storytelling, which makes it an interesting watch, even if it isn't the best bout of the night. Above-average based on their chemistry alone, but certainly a step down in terms of heat from what Bret had done with Austin, Michaels, and Undertaker in the WWE a half-year earlier. (3.5/5)"

Souled Out 98' Review

"In his in-ring debut for WCW, Bret Hart take on Ric Flair next. Promoted as a dream match but not delivering on the hype, this is a match with a bunch of great ideas but an unfortunately stilted pace. At this point, Flair is at least 4-5 years removed from the end of the his peak and it shows in every labored sequence. Hart, meanwhile, comes into this match off a run in WWE where, like Flair to some degree, his bread-and-butter was his character more than his ring work...The perennial underdog who bested Flair in 92' didn't exist anymore, but, in WCW, Hart was not a full-fledged heel either (as he had been in WWE). It makes for a match that should be wrought with emotion (and the build certainly was) come off as less remarkable, the live crowd not nearly as engrossed in the action as they likely would've been had Hart been more sympathetic or Flair had been booked as a stronger figure in the months before this feud. Now, other writers have taken a different view of the match - including Dave Meltzer (who gave it 3.75 stars in the Observer - but I wasn't taken aback by anything aside from the closing 3-4 minutes (the match goes a lengthy 18). (3/5)"

Slamboree 98' Review

"... Bret Hart vs. Randy Savage with Roddy Piper as special guest referee. The storyline coming into this match is that, weeks prior, Hart helped secure Hulk Hogan the WCW World Championship on Nitro (joining nWo Hollywood in the process). Much more of a back-and-forth brawl than one might've predicted, Savage's offense has whittled away into jabs at this point, but when Hart does take control, he goes straight for Macho's knee in order to weaken him for the Sharpshooter. Compared to what he'd been doing in WCW previously as a face, seeing him back to working heel is surprisingly good - Hart had mastered the art in 97' ...he's far more engaging than he was as a face against Curt Hennig and Flair. Hart hits a delicious piledriver and than makes a cocky cover before arguing with Hot Rod and the fans for a minute. Workers of today would be wise to watch Hart work as a villain - he does an excellent job of getting across the idea that, at any point, he can win this match, but is too distracted by the fans, by Piper, by his own arrogant attitude that he makes mistakes leading to brief Savage comebacks. Bret locks in the Sharpshooter, but Savage somehow reverses it as Elizabeth shows up. Piper tells her to get out of the ring.... Low blow from Hart and then a ref bump, the match devolving into new levels of overbooking. Hogan shows up and the fix is in, Savage tapping to the Sharpshooter. (3/5)"

 

 

Looking back at my own reviews, these do seem to contradict what I initially wrote about Bret not having good performances in WCW. If anything, these point to him being the best part of some very overbooked, ill-conceived storylines!

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On 1/1/2021 at 4:34 PM, C.S. said:

Bryan has a ton of great rasslin' matches, but name his one defining career opponent. You can't. (And I don't mean what he did in bingo halls in front of 200 people.)

I won't comment on the rest of the discussion between MoS and yourself, but this is a vapid and shallow argument when weighing the strengths of a performer. It's a bad argument when discussing quality actors or musicians, so why is it acceptable when discussing pro wrestlers who, themselves, are performers?

It's also highly ignorant of how much the pro wrestling landscape has changed in the last 20 years, and how much of a hand Bryan directly had in that.

Indies weren't a thing outside of some washed up has-beens and never-weres during Bret's peak, nor was he ever in a position where he wasn't granted access to a larger audience. His father was the top promoter in Canada, one whose connections to Vince Sr. got his sons a look when Vince Jr. was making his national expansion and needed talent. I won't say Bret was handed anything, but he damn sure wasn't living out of his car and risking life and limb every weekend just to get gas money.

Bryan's quality of work helped legitimize ROH and that, in turn, legitimized independent wrestling as a whole. From this scene we get a surplus of gaijin talent for Gedo to book in NJPW, and then we get AEW from that. Personal opinions on the product quality aside, the building blocks for AEW having an audience begins with the Elite having a huge presence in ROH, the company that Bryan put on the map.

So, since we're not looking at purely the quality of work (where Bryan has shown more versatility with a wider variety of opponents of greater variation in size and style, mind you), this means we're taking the meta-narrative into account...and Bryan wins again for his direct influence on how the very business has been run for the past decade.

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14 hours ago, MoS said:

Oh man, I absolutely positively cannot be on board with thinking Eco-friendly World Champ Bryan promos were anything but gold. Fickle wrestling fans smh

Maybe they're supposed to be bad. Perhaps it's some kind of meta thing. Give me Bret swearing on TV any day of the week.

 

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12 hours ago, El-P said:

No, but Savage & Flair were way past their prime, Hennig was completely washed up. And he had good matches against all of them. The DDP stuff probably was the best. Malenko & Finlay are overrated (yes, I said it) and not at all on his level on the totem pole, so the matches would not have been competitive anyway. And really now, Bret was also past his prime and most of all not motivated one bit because of the booking. I do love the jaded, snarky style promo Bret was doing at the time though.

Who are you to doubt Malenko and Finlay? C'mon now. Not that I'd expect Bret to have good matches with them.

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