A major event took place in wrestling this week. We all know what it is. It has been all over the internet, television, social media, and it seems like a one day event has turned into a week of tribute and outpouring support for a hard working wrestler.
I am sure you know who I am referring to. This is a guy who is great in and out of the ring, someone who performs to his best potential no matter the gimmick or opponent.
This man, is Titus O’Neil.
Following a retirement ceremony for Bryan “Daniel Bryan” Danielson, Titus O’Neil slipped up, “was having a good time” as announcers would say he does in the ring, inadvertently doing something you just never do.
Cross the boss.
Sure, the small part of video captured and shown sees O’Neil appearing to grab or tug at the arm of Vince McMahon in some sort of playful, harmless fashion. Those words used by many websites. Vince did not like it, deemed it unprofessional conduct, and as we all know, Titus got whammied bigtime with a suspension which may keep him out of WrestleMania. Not like he was going to do much anyway there except participate in another Battle Royal. Which is a shame since he should be moving onto bigger things.
I have read a lot of online columns, those gash-dahrned twitter posts slamming WWE for suspending Titus. Many chose the low road of using “Black History Month” while other chose the easier and obvious “If it were Randy Orton having another wellness violation, he would have another WWE title reign.” Many pointed out this was after RAW went off the air and only shown on the WWE Network. Many pointed out this was harmless and no one even noticed it had happened. Titus is huge on outreach in schools and Make-A-Wish. He’s been awarded as Father of the year by Parenting organizations. So why be so hard on a guy, who the announce team always describes as “a guy who has fun” when this is clearly what he has been doing and embracing?
Simple. You overstep a boundary, and there are consequences. This is not something like being sent home because you dressed too casually on “casual Friday” or because you forgot your press pass. I am just playing devil’s advocate here. I love Titus O’Neil, if anyone has been reading, you know I love him as much as I do Wade Barrett, and feels that Titus could be WWE Champion one day. Right now, he is in the dog house. It is Vince McMahon. If it were another wrestler, Daniel Bryan, maybe even Triple H, no one would have said squat. But he grabbed Vince. McMahon. The CEO. The boss. Even if once before Vince did the whole “Millions of Dollars” dance, or just a few weeks ago did the New Day gyration, or even danced with R-Truth…
… Oh, so Vince McMahon also appears to break ranks and have some fun too. Here is where it is hard for anyone to see the clear lines, because they have become so blurred. Did Titus do something regrettable? Yes. Did he do something completely from left field? No. Did he do something deemed unprofessional? Yes. Was is harmful or out-of-character for either one? No.
I am sure this had to be a tough decision, and WWE probably knew there would be a lot of backlash because of Black History Month, or that it wasn’t John Cena or Randy Orton, or Titus is one of the top outreach wrestlers in the company, or that Titus overall doesn’t make any major waves in the back and is a good worker in and out of the ring. From what I gather, this was a move to set a tone for all wrestlers to remember boundaries and not to take a step too far over them.
It is unfortunate, but the suspension seems justified, perhaps WWE will revisit the length and allow Titus to participate at WrestleMania.
Now, as for Bryan “Daniel Bryan” Danielson, I have said this before, so I apologize for being a broken record, but the guy made a smart move, addressing the true nature of his injuries and the consequences of years of being beaten up. I for one hope his message, like Edge, JBL, Santino, and others who retired early to save their bodies from turning into wrecks, is a message taken to heart by all wrestlers. It is fun to perform in the ring, but you have to pace yourself, watch the risks, watch your health, because all it takes is one-too-many bad falls, and you can go from bad to worse rather fast.
Danielson, since his years in Ring of Honor have been years of unbeatable, incomparable, amazing artwork in the squared circle. His pinnacle years in WWE were none like the company had ever seen. Someone so beloved by fans, to hijack multiple events chanting his name, to stop shows, to even at one point, much to WWE’s disdain to admit, changing the outcome at a WrestleMania to give the fans what they wanted in fear of a true boycott of the product.
The Yes! Movement was undeniably a turning point for WWE to acknowledge and embrace the power of their dubbed “WWE Universe.” A little guy like Bryan could become WWE World Champion. CM Punk could do it, Seth Rollins can do it. Sure, we can go back to Rey Mysterio and say even years ago the little guy could do it. Eddie Guerrero. Bryan brought something special, something novel to the television.
My wife told me her favorite time of watching him was pairing up with Kane as Team Hell No. It was hilarious, and even more so how long they lasted as a team. Multiple times thought they would break up and feud, but they stuck with it and rolled right along.
Daniel Bryan, Bryan Danielson is one-of-a-kind. So is CM Punk. So is Damien Sandow. So is Chris Jericho. The reason why I say this is because we have just lost a novelty in the wrestling industry. Bryan, the Yes! Movement, the era is over, but I bet the Yes! chants will continue to live on as powerful as the What? chants we continue to hear.
Bryan spoke of gratitude and appreciation for everything he got to do. He never took it for granted, and that is an important message to not just wrestlers, athletes, but to everyone. Do not take your talents and ability for granted, because one day, whether you expect it or not, it will be gone. It will be over. Bryan has a new path ahead of him.
All the best, and best of luck.