YES! YES! YES!
That’s not enough excitement…
Daniel Bryan will return to in-ring action, and we couldn’t be happier! After his emotional retirement from in-ring action about 2 years ago – something @KevNissanka to this day refuses to watch – most of us thought Daniel Bryan would never wrestle in the WWE again.
It was a very sad realization, despite the fact that Daniel Bryan already had a fantastic career, both inside and outside of WWE. We could still imagine countless dream matches against some amazing talent that recently have joined the WWE and we had some unresolved feuds we’d love to see finished.
That’s why it’s so damn satisfying to now be able to see those dream matches and memorable moments hopefully come to fruition. In order to celebrate Daniel Bryan as he makes his return tonight at Smackdown Live, we’ll go through his most memorable moments and matches. Then we’ll follow up tomorrow with an article about what we want from Daniel Bryan’s future WWE career! We can’t wait for the future, but first we’ll celebrate the past and reminisce about why we love Daniel Bryan!
Seattle Won’t Shut Up About Daniel Bryan
I don’t think there’s a single moment that better typifies Daniel Bryan’s WWE career than this clip.
WWE, who had abandoned Daniel Bryan’s quest for the WWE Championship, were setting up yet another match between Vince McMahon favorites: John Cena and Randy Orton. Not only was it a match between two of the biggest names the WWE could think of, it was also the merger of the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship.
But Daniel Bryan’s homestate Seattle, Washington crowd were having none of it. They came here for one reason and one reason only and that was to see Daniel Bryan. Despite attempts by HBK and Mark Henry to end the Yes Movement takeover, the Seattle crowd just wouldn’t shut up and completely took over WWE’s planned segment.
Credit to Michael Cole and JBL for once, who did a fantastic job of relaying the incredible atmosphere. “There’s nothing like the WWE and this is why”, truer words have never been spoken by JBL.
2 Out of 3 Falls Match vs Sheamus (Extreme Rules 2012)
I don’t blame you if you don’t remember this match, as it might be the most underrated match in WWE history. Following up their disappointing, but what turned out to be crucial 18 seconds match at WrestleMania 28, Daniel Bryan and Sheamus put up an absolute wrestling clinic at the following Extreme Rules PPV.
I’m not a huge Sheamus fan at all, even less so back then, when he was a generic babyface Irish Cena. To his credit, he showed what an underappreciated worker he is and put on his best match of his career. It’s weird how many superstars have some of their best matches against Daniel Bryan, right?
2 Out of 3 Falls matches are my favorite matches, with a faster pace and more story elements to work with. DB and Sheamus made the absolute most of it, with Bryan working Sheamus’ injured shoulder and pulling out all the stops trying to reclaim his World Heavyweight Championship. Go and watch it on the WWE Network after SmackDown Live tonight.
His Original Return
Just listen to that generic entrance music!
It didn’t get as much fanfare as tonight’s return surely will get, but I was going bonkers back then in 2010. Daniel Bryan had gone through NXT, but not the NXT you know and love today. NXT back then was a series of arbitrary challenges, obstacles courses and awful heel Michael Cole commentary.
Only 2 good things came out of the original NXT season. The Nexus, the newly formed faction in the summer of 2010 took the WWE by storm with a never before seen Takeover (ironically) of Monday Night Raw. They took out WWE superstars, the commentary team, announcer tables, both Spanish and American and destroyed the premises. Oh.. and Daniel Bryan choking ring announcer Justin Roberts with his tie.
Daniel Bryan was let go of because of this and the Nexus carried on without him and this was the first time we saw Bryan back on WWE television.
The other good thing to come out of NXT Season 1, was the ever-lasting feud between Daniel Bryan and his mentor The Miz. It’s such a perfect dynamic between the 2, with an ultra-talented but shunned Daniel Bryan who had to work for years in the indie circuit to get a chance in the WWE and a not quite as talented The Miz, who got his chance with the company after appearing on several reality TV shows.
Their feud has continued to this day and it has brought out the best in both of them. This moment at SummerSlam 2010 served as yet another chapter in The Miz vs Daniel Bryan feud and long may it continue!
His Best Match and Starting His WWE Defining Feud at SummerSlam 2013
After tearing up the tag team division with long-time nemesis and anger management class partner Kane, Daniel Bryan was red hot. The WWE had to capitalize on his momentous success at some point and they finally decided to pull the trigger at SummerSlam 2013.
John Cena – in his awful RTIME=NOW shirt – had chosen Daniel Bryan as the worthy contender for his WWE Championship. This was back when a clean John Cena loss was unheard of and he was the unquestioned face of the WWE. With a triceps tear however, Cena was set to be out for a couple of months and gave the WWE every reason to put the title on Daniel Bryan.
Cena fought through a monstrous and likely incredibly painful elbow and helped put Daniel Bryan over in a major way. Not only did Daniel Bryan defeat John Cena clean, with his very first use of his running knee finisher, but the two put up an instant classic with anything you’d want from a wrestling match including a vicious back and forth exchange of grueling slaps.
The jubilation following Bryan’s historic win was cut short however. Triple H, the special guest referee for the match, Pedigree’d Daniel Bryan and had Randy Orton come out to cash in his Money in The Bank briefcase and end Daniel Bryan’s first WWE Championship reign then and there. It was the first time we saw the current “Best for Business” heel Triple H in action and set up the Daniel Bryan vs Authority storyline that eventually came to fruition, but more on that later…
Daniel Bryan Leaves The Wyatt Family
Remember how freakin’ awesome Bray Wyatt used to be? The WWE certainly dropped the ball on him.
The WWE almost dropped the ball on Daniel Bryan as well. This memorable moment was in January, only 3 months before WrestleMania, where the main event was already planned to go on without Daniel Bryan involved. It was an incredible lack of awareness on the part of the WWE, who still couldn’t recognize Daniel Bryan as a main event caliber wrestler, despite him CLEARLY being the most over superstar on the roster.
If the Seattle crowd takeover 1 month prior wasn’t warning enough, the pure excitement and joy when Daniel Bryan took on the Wyatt Family should have been too loud to ignore. Not a single person in attendance that day was left seated and they all made their voices heard. Everyone wanted Daniel Bryan; the “Yes Movement” was out in full force.
Sadly, the WWE kept ignoring the pleas from the crowd and didn’t even put Daniel Bryan in the Royal Rumble match 2 weeks later. While he did have yet another classic with Bray Wyatt at the event – Wyatt’s best match of his career – everyone wanted Daniel Bryan to come out at #30 and claim his spot in the main event of WrestleMania 30. Unfortunately, that spot was still earmarked for the returning Batista.
Daniel Bryan Finally Gets his Due at WrestleMania 30
The WWE continued to show that they didn’t want to include Daniel Bryan in the main event at WrestleMania, but the WWE Universe, in true John Cena fashion, never gave up. Batista may have returned as a babyface, but fans completely rejected another part-timer taking the spot of a full-time hard working favorite. The year before, at WrestleMania 29, the WWE took the Championship off of 434 day Champion CM Punk to create their “Once in a Lifetime” matchup between The Rock and John Cena for the 2nd time.
CM Punk played a pivotal role in changing the WrestleMania 30 plans, when he walked out of the WWE after the 2014 Royal Rumble. It sent an already furious crowd into a frenzy, and Triple H’s scheduled Mania opponent was no longer with the company.
Angry WWE fans in Chicago planned a hijacking of RAW, but the only notable things that happened was The Usos winning their first of many Tag Team titles in their awesome career so far and the Chicago crowd chanting for Roman Reigns… Yes, really. Oh, and a lot of CM Punk chants, which naturally dominated WWE arenas for a way too long time afterwards.
Luckily, the WWE higher ups had already been in a hasty meeting after realizing their mistakes following the disappointing ending to the Elimination Chamber PPV.
— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) February 24, 2014
They still managed to make fun of the WWE Universe however, by booking an actual RAW hijacking the week after they were in Chicago. The “Occupy RAW” segment, set up 2 new matches for WrestleMania 30. The first was Daniel Bryan in a grudge match against Triple H. If he’d win that match, he’d also be included in the main event of WrestleMania 30, in a triple threat vs Randy Orton and Batista.
His match against Triple H was the Match of the Night in terms of pure quality, but the best moment was the main event where Daniel Bryan finally captured the WWE Championship, for real this time, and cemented his place on top of the WWE totempole, where he f**king belongs!
Welcome back Daniel Bryan, we have sorely missed you and we absolutely love to have you back!