We've heard about a lot of complaints over the years from season ticket holders for the Islanders. Some have been quite valid, like why should I part with my hard earned money again to watch this team? But others are rather interesting, and if this report from IslesBlog is true, it takes the cake. It seems as though some season ticket holders are complaining about the Yes! chants breaking out after goals.
Sports is filled with cross-over chants and songs that morph across leagues and international borders. (Canadiens fans stole "Ole, Ole Ole Ole!" from soccer. "Seven Nation Army" was used a lot in Europe virtually the minute it was released. Gary Glitter's "History of Rock n Roll Part II" was adopted by teams in virtually every North American league, etc.) The "Yes!" chant -- which has been incorporated this season thanks largely to the gang in Section 329 -- comes via the world of wrestling.
Since the Yes! chants originated largely in the WWE (or WWF for those old timers like me), the story behind it is not that well known. They were started by Daniel Bryan, who was inspired by MMA fighter Diego Sanchez, who was inspired by Tony Robbins. Before we get into the Yes! Chant, let's go into Daniel Bryan's history.
A Humble Beginning
Daniel Bryan, or real name and indie wrestling name Bryan Danielson, was a wrestling fan who started training at Shawn Michaels' wrestling school after graduating high school. He was impressive enough (and given Michaels' ties to the WWE) that he was signed to a developmental deal. Daniel worked and trained in one of the WWE developmental territories and worked some matches for the main roster on secondary shows until he was released.
Bryan then traveled to Japan, wrestling in some of the prominent feds there. His rising status led to him coming back to North America to main event the first event ever held for Ring Of Honor. Since then he's been considered one of the founding fathers of Ring Of Honor and was one of their top stars for his stay there until signing again with the WWE.
Along with the rise of Ring of Honor, Bryan quickly became one of the darlings of the indie wrestling scene, including on the internet. Before he signed with the WWE he was considered one of the top wrestlers in North America.
Signing with WWE wasn't seen as a slam dunk at the time, despite a lot of WWE stars campaigning for it at the time. But there were worries about Daniel Bryan. While he was technically one of the best wrestlers, a lot of detractors didn't think he had "the look" or the ability on the mic to get over (i.e.: be popular with the fans) in the WWE. After being promoted from the WWE's developmental territory he largely floated around the middle of the roster.
This changed though when Bryan won the "Money in the Bank" briefcase, which allows the holder to get a championship shot at any time of their choosing. He used it to win the World Heavyweight Championship (at the time the #2 title in the company). His exuberant celebration endeared him to fans despite the fact that he was a bad guy. At the same time, he had begun yelling Yes! Yes! Yes! to celebrate his victories. As Bryan became more popular, more of the crowd began joining in the chant.
This all came to a large crash at Wrestlemania XVIII.
The Crowd Revolts, Votes Yes! Yes! Yes!
Bryan was scheduled in a match with Sheamus (a large Gaelic wrestler). Vince McMahon, owner of WWE, has a long obsession with larger-than-life characters and wasn't high on Bryan. Bryan was scheduled to lose the match, but because the opening segment ran long the match was cut short. Sheamus won the match in a record 18 seconds.
This was a blessing in disguise though for Bryan, as it just made him even more beloved by fans. On the Monday Night Raw the following night the crowd constantly chanted Yes! Yes! Yes! (and Bryan gave an excellent speech after the show) at just about every opportunity. Bryan's popularity continued to rise in the coming months, despite this the WWE still didn't see him as a possible face of the company. He meandered around, despite a short reign as WWE Champion.
This year though has led to Bryan and his chant reaching all new heights. In January the annual Royal Rumble event was held, the winner of which main events that years Wrestlemania in a title match. The rumor was that Bryan would win the Rumble and go into a feud for the title. When the music for the final entrant played and it wasn't Bryan, the crowd was about as angry as a wrestling crowd gets.
In the months leading up to WM 30 the storyline became that Triple H was purposely keeping down Bryan Daniel to keep him from becoming the face of the company. Triple H is married to Stephanie McMahon, daughter of Vince McMahon (in storyline and reality). Eventually Bryan forced Triple H to give him a match at WM 30, the winner of which would be in a three way match for the world title.
An Underdog Made Good
Against all odds, Bryan won both matches at WM 30, thus winning the world title. The place went absolutely nuts following his win. The celebration at the Raw immediately after WM 30 was just as loud, including chants like "you deserve it." Unfortunately Bryan got hurt not too long after winning the title and is still out, but the popularity of the Yes! chant has continued to spread.
That's why it's funny that some Islander fans are so against the chant. Bryan Daniel is the ultimate underdog story: A guy who persevered in something he loved and got to the top. The WWE actively tried (before it became part of the storyline) to make him just another one of the guys in the middle of the pack. But the crowds at WWE shows loved him so much they openly revolted in a way that hasn't happened before.
Being an Islanders for for 20 years now, I can't see what's not to love about the Yes! chants. There are very few bigger underdogs in sports today than the Islanders. On top of that, the Isles are one of hockey media's favorite punching bags. Now fans have adapted this chant to the Coliseum -- organically, not through it being foisted upon them by the arena events crew, though they adopted it to promote on the scoreboard too. With the Islanders this season looking to be an impact team, embracing the Yes! chant is just another thing to love about their story.