WWE's Daniel Bryan has overcome one obstacle after another to do what he loves.
1. Even if you're not a wrestling fan and you're one of those super annoying people that like to scream out, "IT'S FAKE" anytime someone mentions the WWE, you should still appreciate Daniel Bryan's story.
There was a reason why Twitter was completely taken over Tuesday afternoon by the news that Bryan has been medically cleared to wrestle again after being out of action for two years with a serious neck injury: Every wrestling fan loves Daniel Bryan.
They don't love him in the way they loved, say, The Rock or Stone Cold. Those icons were loved more for the way they entertained the WWE Universe than anything. Bryan is loved because of his fight and perseverance and underdog story. Bryan doesn't "look" like the typical WWE superstar who normally soars to popularity and he's had to overcome one obstacle after another over the years. On top of that, in "real life," he seems like one of the nicest wrestlers ever. All of this adds up to every single fan pulling for Bryan.
Here's a timeline of Bryan's story over the past five years:
• Late 2013: The WWE Universe, unhappy with storylines that would have Bryan out of the main event picture at WrestleMania, literally start taking over episodes of Monday Night Raw with the "YES Movement."
• Early 2014: Vince McMahon and WWE writers are basically forced to put Bryan in the main event of WrestleMania on April 6 and have him win the match because of fan reaction to Bryan.
• April 6, 2014: Bryan wrestles in two matches at WrestleMania XXX, defeating HHH and then Randy Orton and Batista in the main event to win the WWE title.
• April 21, 2014: Bryan's father passes away.
• May 12, 2014: After suffering a neck injury, Bryan announces he would have to undergo surgery.
• June 9, 2014: After a 64-day reign as champion, the title is taken off of Bryan on Monday Night Raw because of his injury.
• Jan 15, 2015: Bryan returns to in-ring action at the Royal Rumble.
• March 29, 2015: Bryan wins the Intercontinental title at WrestleMania 31.
• May 11, 2015: Concussion-related injuries force Bryan to give up the Intercontinental title on Raw.
• February 8, 2016: Bryan announces his retirement due to medical reasons.
This brings us to yesterday, when the WWE announced that Bryan has been medically cleared, two years after his retirement. To say the scene at last night's SmackDown Live, when Bryan came out to address the crowd, was emotional, would be a strong understatement. That's what happens when someone so likeable never gives up and fights for his dream.
It's expected that Bryan will return to in-ring action at WrestleMania on April 8.
2. A quick update on yesterday's Traina Thoughts in which I wrote that Alex Rodriguez serving as a Yankees advisor while also calling Sunday night baseball games for ESPN presents a conflict of interest. An ESPN spokesperson reached to say, that as the network has done in the past with Magic Johnson, David Ross, etc, it will be transparent with viewers" in regards to Rodriguez's ties with New York.
3. Vince Carter mocking Blake Griffin last night was savage and sensational. So very sensational.
4. My colleague, Kenny Ducey, is approximately 1000% correct here. I give TNT credit for trying the "players only" gimmick, because, it's sports, so why not have fun. But you can't have game-winning calls like this with zero play-by-play.
5. Keep those sticks down!
6. If you're on the East Coast and home today because of a Nor'easter, you might want to check out this thread and go down the YouTube rabbit hole of covers.
OK Twitter, settle a bet.— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) March 19, 2018
What cover song is better than the original?
7. RANDOM WRESTLING VIDEO OF THE DAY: I was all serious and heavy with the Daniel Bryan stuff at the top of this column, so let's remember a much lighter moment from his career. Amazing he was still able to get Brie Bella after this.
The best of the Internet, plus musings by SI.com writer, Jimmy Traina. Get the link to a new Traina's Thoughts each day by following on Twitter and liking on Facebook. Catch up on previous editions of Traina Thoughts. And check Jimmy Traina's weekly podcast, "Off The Board," on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher.
IN CLOSING: New podcast episode coming tomorrow afternoon with James Andrew Miller.