The idea for this column has been bouncing around my head for the better part of the last 3+ weeks. It really got started when current ROH World Champion Cody during his match at the Liverpool event used the ‘YES’ mannerisms and ROH tweeted about him “sending a message” to the American Dragon. It did not take long for Daniel Bryan aka The American Dragon aka Bryan Danielson to quote the tweet and reply “Interesting…” That tweet generated over 10,000 likes. Armchair bookers and long-time ROH faithful among many others likely sat with their glowing phone screens before them mesmerized with the idea of a Cody-Bryan match up. Beyond that what would it look like for the Return of the Dragon to Ring of Honor?
Before I can get there and address that, let me share the evening of September 12, 2017. I am settling in to watch SmackDown Live! and my 9 year old daughter joins me. When Kevin Owens is interrupted by Daniel Bryan and he makes his way to the ring, she asks: “Was he a wrestler?” I am dumbfounded on one hand and also not. I certainly don’t make my kids watch all of the wrestling I do and I rarely get into the ROH archives to the point where she would really see a great Bryan Danielson match. She doesn’t know I was there when Morishima clobbered Danielson so bad that he had his retina detached. She can’t feel how raw the emotion was in the Manhattan Center. That is just one example. She is, like many, part of a significant group of people/wrestling fans who have never experienced the “true” Bryan Danielson.
If the future provides the opportunity and based on the teased tweet and other rumblings you may read or hear, Bryan Danielson will return to the wrestling ring. He will have zero problem finding work or demand for him to appear. He will have every opportunity, should he desire, stake his claim again to being the very best in the world! Ring of Honor would be a serious destination for some of his return and beyond an inevitable pay-off of the match with Cody, there are so many other great options as well. Now I could continue this piece with my own fantasy booking or dreams yet I do not think that would address the total value of a Ring of Honor-Bryan Danielson partnership.
Go back to my first paragraph. 10,000 likes of a single tweet. Add now 4 million followers on Twitter. Bryan Danielson would provide an added visibility to ROH Wrestling that would almost allow Sinclair Broadcasting the opportunity to print money with his added value. I didn’t search every single ROH talent prior to writing this however those I did come across did not come within 25% of the eyes that are on The Dragon. Cody and The Young Bucks combined represent over just 1 million followers and you could argue those are the 2 biggest regular ROH talents.
Merchandising. I think and have for a while this is an area ROH could do way better in their merchandising efforts. I have to remember in saying that also that they are not the traditional pro wrestling company. Despite this, I believe there would be increased merchandising opportunity from t-shirts to autographed items and more with the name and image of The American Dragon. The Young Bucks are perfect examples and the simple fact that ROH has not taken even a small page from their book demonstrates the room for growth and opportunity.
Lastly for now, my final point on what Bryan Danielson would mean if a return to ROH became reality has to do with expansion. With respect to the current talent in the company, Bryan Danielson would be a first-ballot Hall of Fame caliber talent that returns and through that opens even more doors. New sponsors, he marketing opportunities, new markets to run as Sinclair grows. Couple it with the current relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling. Think of that. Did you have to stop yourself from salivating over the prospects there? I sure did. Both in-ring and out of ring, Bryan Danielson making an unbelievable, and perhaps at one time unfathomable, return to his first home promotion would provide a seemingly bountiful array of opportunities only unlocked with The Return of the Dragon.
As always, hit me up on Twitter @ThomasABobo and share your feedback or find me at the ROHforum.site to continue the conversation. I will be in Chicago for Global Wars and Kenny Omega’s United States ROH return and perhaps at the Soaring Eagle Cup in late October. See you at the shows.