Highlights of Daniel Bryan’s WWE career
The news of Daniel Bryan’s retirement has hit his fans hard. The hard working WWE Superstar has always entertained and engaged fans on a level that few managed in the squared circle. Luckily for Daniel Bryan fans, there are plenty of moments to look back fondly upon from his time in WWE (There are lots from before that too, but we’re sticking with the WWE ones for now!). So join us as we take a look back through memory lane and pick out Daniel Bryan’s best moments.
His NXT debut against Chris Jericho
Back when Bryan Danielson first rolled into WWE – he found himself involved in the first season of NXT. He was given The Miz as his pro and his first match was against Chris Jericho in what proved to be a fairly memorable first round out for the indie sensation.
His Promo when he was eliminated from NXT
In fairness there were quite a few promos Daniel Bryan cut when he was eliminated from NXT which were show-stealing – but the one above you can tell was cut from pure passion. Here was a man who was on the cusp of breaking out and WWE turned that frustration into a storyline for the NXT Rookie.
When he debuted as part of the Nexus (and got fired the same night!)
It was a case of “burn bright, burn short” for Daniel Bryan as he was involved in the Nexus invasion angle. He got some mighty strong offence in against Cena but overstepped the mark when he decided to make creative use of a tie around Matt Striker’s neck. WWE had to release him to satisfy sponsor’s bloodlust – but his actions helped to set the Nexus on a glorious path.
Daniel Bryan returns at Summerslam to face the Nexus
Fan pressure eventually led to WWE bringing Bryan back on board – eventually returning at the Summerslam 2010 event as the surprise entrant on John Cena’s team. It was a huge moment for Daniel Bryan as the WWE Universe went wild for his return. He even managed to bag two eliminations himself before being dumped out of the match – not bad.
Daniel Bryan captures the United States Championship
Soon Bryan found himself in a feud with his former NXT mentor The Mis. They’d feud over the United States Championship for a little while (Getting involved with John Morrison along the way) before Bryan finally captured the Championship – his first WWE gold – at the 2010 Night of Champions event.
Daniel Bryan wins Money in the Bank 2011
2011 didn’t start out so hot for Bryan but by the time Money in the Bank rolled around, he found himself competing for the World Heavyweight Championship briefcase. Not many expected him to win heading in to the event – so it was a magnificent moment for his fans when he captured the briefcase and guaranteed his rising star was set to go supernova.
Daniel Bryan cashes in his Money in the Bank
Bryan would endure a pretty miserable rest of 2011 – with a series of questionable booking decisions leading him from the main event picture. This all changed at the TLC 2011 event when Bryan took advantage of the weakened champion Big Show and cashed in his Money in the Bank contract – cementing his place at the top of the Smackdown roster.
Bryan loses at Wrestlemania XXVIII in 18 seconds
From winning the World Heavyweight Championship – Bryan went on to become a heel and align himself with AJ Lee. Their on screen romance provided many of the laughs from Smackdown at this time – with Bryan almost losing the Championship to Santino Morella at the Elimination Chamber event. Sadly it would be at Wrestlemania where Bryan would lose the first match of the show to Sheamus in just 18 seconds. The fans were pissed and spend a good portion of the rest of the show chanting the superstars name (and the next night on Raw)>
AJ Lee and Bryan’s wedding on Raw 1000
Bryan found himself wandering in early 2012 – with very little going on for him storywise. He had a few decent matches with CM Punk but never really threatened to claim the WWE Championship. Eventually he found himself sucked into a storyline with AJ Lee which involved the pair getting married on Raw 1000. It didn’t work out, as AJ Lee chose the GM position over her to-be-husband. Poor Bryan.
Bryan attends anger management class with Kane
What started as a really poor series of sketches very quickly turned into a huge success for WWE in the form of Kane and Daniel Bryan. The unlikely duo teamed up and were involved a series of skits where their anger issues were addressed. This didn’t work and so the two eventually went on to form their own tag team partnership.
Bryan and Kane win the Tag Team Championships
Eventually WWE realised they were onto something good with the Kane/Bryan team and pushed them to the Tag Team Championships. Easily the best of Raw when they were on; the duo had many fallings out and squabbles over the belts – but in the end made for very entertaining television.
Bryan takes on the McMahon’s…. and wins!
Bryan found himself entering 2013 with momentum and by the time Summerslam rolled around – won his way to the number one contendership for the World Heavyweight Championship. Vince McMahon hated the idea of Bryan winning the championship but the match went ahead anyway – with Cena losing to Bryan.
….Only to be screwed within minutes by the rise of the Authority
In one of WWE’s most shocking moments – Triple H turned on Daniel Bryan and cost him his newly won WWE World Heavyweight Championship. It was a moment that stunned fans and kicked Bryan off the top of the mountain just as quick as he’d risen there. He lost the rematch at Night of Champions the following month and seemed to lose his way for the rest of 2013.
That time he didn’t get into the Royal Rumble and fans anger spilled over
In a career defining move – Daniel Bryan was left out of the Royal Rumble 2014. Fans were pissed and the reaction at the event led to some awkward moments for WWE and their writers – who found themselves under intense scrutiny.
When he turned his back on the Wyatt family
Between Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania, Bryan found himself in a feud with the Wyatt family. No one wanted it and his fans certainly didn’t enjoy it. But the culmination of that feud was arguably one of the greatest moments in WWE Raw history, when the entire Raw crowd stood and cheered for Bryan. Showing the WWE bookers that they still believed in their man – even if the bookers didn’t.
When he finally won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (for realsies)
Once done with Wyatt family, Bryan was slid back into the world title picture. This led to some amazing scenes but non-more-so than the Wrestlemania main event where Bryan captured the Championship in arguably WWE’s most genuine moment of joy for the fans in recent years. It was a beautiful moment and one that many fans point to as their defining Wrestlemania moment.
Bryan wins the Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania 31
After being forced to relinquish the WWE World Heavyweight Championship – Bryan spent much of 2014 injured. His return was met with huge excitement and at Wrestlemania – WWE gave Bryan the Intercontinental Championship. It would be Bryan’s last WWE championship (He’d never defend it).