Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Daniel Bryan: The YES Phenomenon

Daniel Bryan’s ascension through the ranks of WWE hit a metaphorical brick wall when Sheamus’ Brogue Kick brought a dramatic end to his title reign just 18 seconds into their WrestleMania showdown.

Stripped of his World Heavyweight Title in a matter of seconds, the devastated former champion lay motionless and silent in the center of the ring. Months of overconfidence, months of flat-out harassing his opponents, months of obnoxiously reinforcing his status as a superior Superstar came crashing down as Bryan received his due comeuppance at the hands of The Great White.

And yet, the very next night on Raw in Miami, Fla., the WWE Universe responded in an unexpected fashion. 

On a show that featured the shocking return of Brock Lesnar to a WWE ring, perhaps the more intriguing story was the emergence of a strange homage of sorts to the classic "What?" chants of yesterday. Instead of that iconic question first posed by WWE Hall of Famer "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, however, was the familiar, obnoxious mantra of the submission specialist.

In unison, the arena exploded into a chorus of "YES! YES! YES!" chants that lasted throughout the show, without Bryan actually competing.

But why?

If there’s truth to the saying that actions speak louder than words, then those chants should have been “NO! NO! NO!” after Bryan coughed it up on The Grandest Stage of Them All just one night earlier. In the following weeks on SmackDown, the former World Heavyweight Champion would go on to dump former girlfriend AJ in less than classy fashion and slap WWE Hall of Famer "Rowdy" Roddy Piper.

Yet despite these nefarious actions, the "YES!" phenomenon has continued in arenas the world over, including at venues all across WWE’s recent European tour and especially rampant during Raw SuperShow in London on April 16.

In the meantime, the chant has begun to creep into other entertainment media. Reports have emerged documenting "YES!" chants at major sporting events, including at a Miami Heat basketball game and a New York Mets baseball game. The proliferation of the strange battle cry across the WWE Universe and beyond since that Monday night in Miami has led many to question what might be behind this apparent backing of the former World Heavyweight Champion, and just how long it might continue.

To steal a phrase, then, is that "the bottom line" on the matter? Has "YES!" now officially replaced "WHAT?" around the WWE Universe?  And if so, for how far will the strange occurrence spread?

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin himself has weighed in on the matter. On Twitter, the icon of the Attitude Era replied to a simple question from a fan: "Yes or What?"

Austin’s response was surprising, to say the least:  "haven't you heard? It's YES!"

The New YES Shirt
Another fan asked for clarification from the legendary Texas Rattlesnake: "'Yes' is replacing 'what?'"

Emphatically, Austin replied: "YES! YES! YES!"

"I think [Austin] was probably just placating fans," Bryan responded to the Texas Rattlesnake in typicial fashion during an exclusive interview with The submission specialist then went on to explain why he thinks the "YES!" phenomenon has taken off as much as it has. "There’s a percentage of the WWE Universe that likes things they’re not supposed to like, and they’re responsible for the 'YES!' chants."

Intentionally or not, Bryan’s words spell out the essence of rebellion, which only draws "YES!" closer to its "Stone Cold" predecessor.

The New YES Shirt

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