10 Biggest Moments Of Daniel Bryan’s WWE Career
Prior to Monday Night Raw on February 8th, Daniel Bryan announced his retirement from in-ring competition in the WWE. At the end of the Program, Bryan would come out to the crowd for the last time as a singles competitor for WWE, give a better explanation as to why he couldn’t compete any longer, and walked up the ramp for the last time as an active wrestler on the roster.
For many, this is a sad day where another wrestler is taken out of action almost abruptly and way too soon. This is the same thing that happened when Edge retired following his victory at WrestleMania 27.
To commemorate his career, WWE showed several videos recapping epic moments in his career with the hashtag “Thank You Bryan.” And so, to commemorate his career, this article will take a look at some of the biggest moments of Daniel Bryan’s career as a member of the WWE roster.
Any big moment from 2010 to 2015 will be examined and showcased to remember the career of the YES! Man.
- The Nexus debut
In 2010, several WWE rookies made their debut by attacking John Cena, commentators, and several WWE personal to make an epic statement. Among them were current roster members Heath Slater, Darren Young, Wade Barrett, and Daniel Bryan. Bryan made himself stand out by choking ring announcer Justin Roberts with his own tie. This segment helped to add intensity to the segment and make The Nexus look like an actual threat the likes of which hadn’t been seen in wrestling since the NWO in WCW.
Unfortunately, this moment ranks low on the list for several different reasons. For one, while he did contribute to the segment, he wasn’t the main focus. Also, this segment would result in his termination from the company for a brief period so it was ironically a cool moment that lead to a terrible moment for Bryan and his fans.
- Winning the United States Championship from The Miz
This moment is ironic now more so than ever. Before Bryan was being seen as a breakout star, he was The Miz’s rookie from NXT.
Following his return at SummerSlam, the WWE immediately gave Bryan a match for the United States Championship. As the weeks went on, both superstars interfered in each other’s matches until their clash at the Night of Champions PPV. After having his arm targeted by Miz for most of the match, Bryan fought back and eventually won the United States Championship via a submission victory from the LeBell Lock, later renamed the “Yes!” Lock.
It was this moment where Daniel Bryan was being shown as one of WWE’s fastest rising midcarders. And who knew it would be the one of his stepping stones to becoming a world champion.
- Returning as a member of Team Cena
This was another big moment in the career of Bryan and it definitely righted the wrong that occurred when he was fired.
Following the beat down by The Nexus, John Cena began organizing a team to fight back for WWE. He recruited a variety of superstars including the recently returned Bret Hart, Edge, Chris Jericho, and other notable WWE superstars. The final slot, originally meant to be The Great Khali, was being teased that The Miz was replacing him, but the decision would not be revealed until SummerSlam.
Following the entrance of Team Nexus and most of the members of Team WWE, John Cena pulled a swerve by inviting The Miz to the ring, only to replace him with Daniel Bryan.
This was the second moment in the WWE that Bryan was being shown in a strong position and looked like he was being groomed for greatness. While all the other Nexus members and affiliates ultimately didn’t rise to the top following this storyline, Daniel Bryan was one of the few people that did.
- His fans hijacking the Championship Ascension Segment
Perhaps the greatest thing about this moment is how little he had to do with it.
After winning several Slammy Awards during the night, the WWE ended the PPV with the title unification ceremony where both John Cena as the World Heavyweight Champion and Randy Orton as the WWE Champion would come together to surrender their titles to make way for the new title; the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. And as Randy Orton and John Cena attempted to talk, the crowd decided that Daniel Bryan should be the focus. The chants continued to grow in volume and were so noticeable that Cena had to incorporate Bryan into his promo to ensure the crowd would become a bit more controllable.
It’s very rare that a wrestler’s presence would be so captivating that it would engulf the entire arena, but that crowd was one of the more vocal crowds that the WWE would encounter on the road to WrestleMania.
It’s worth noting that the WWE was being held in Seattle, Washington; the home state of Daniel Bryan. However, even local crowd support typically isn’t this strong unless you’re from a well-known wrestling area like Chicago, Texas (that isn’t Corpus Christi), Philadelphia, etc. Daniel Bryan and his fans stole the show and Bryan didn’t have to start a thing.
- Match against CM Punk at Over the Limit
Of all the wrestling matches that took place in 2012, this match one of those match of the year candidates for both WWE and wrestling period. At this point in the WWE, CM Punk was one of the hottest acts in all of wrestling and Bryan was on the cusp of starting to breakout as a true main eventer.
Following the end of his feud with Sheamus and the fantastic match they had at Extreme Rules, Daniel Bryan almost immediately became the number one contender for the WWE Championship resulting in a confrontation with CM Punk at the Over the Limit PPV.
This match was great and made both wrestlers look like the best in the company. Their similarity in style, quickness, and veteran instincts made this match one of the few classics that WWE would have in the year 2012.
Aside from taking a backseat to a highly predictable match between John Laurinaitus and John Cena, this match was a prime example of two great wrestlers going out and putting on a great match together.
- Six-Man TLC match in 2012
When WWE announced that CM Punk would be forced to miss the 2012 TLC PPV due to injury, it resulted in a few questions as to who Ryback would face at the time and where the Shield would factor into things. Thankfully, someone had the brilliant idea to put The Shield, Team Hell No! and Ryback in a Six-Man Tornado Tag TLC Match; a match that would receive rave reviews from everyone.
The match was one of the best and more interesting matches to have taken place at TLC in quite some time, it also made the careers of both Ryback and The Shield by giving them a high profile match on their resume. It mostly helped The Shield to look dominate by defeating two former world champions and a fast rising star in Ryback at the time. Bryan wasn’t the main focus in this match either, but played a much bigger role in it than he did in the debut of Nexus. This was simply Bryan doing what he does best; wrestling
- The Hijack Raw Segment
Ultimately, this segment would’ve been better if it took place in Chicago; the city that was planning a boycott in support of CM Punk and had rowdier fans. However, this was still a great segment to watch and booked very well.
Following his loss via interference at the Elimination Chamber, Daniel Bryan professed his anger towards The Authority and invited several fans to the ring to help him hijack the show. By the time RAW got back from the commercial break, Daniel Bryan had the entire ring area filled with fans with Bryan t-shirts on.
The exchange that would follow between Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Bryan would write all the wrongs of the 2014 Royal Rumble by giving Bryan a genuine opportunity at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship while simultaneously giving Bryan the chance to get his revenge on Triple H for all he had done since SummerSlam.
This made for great TV and gave all the fans of Daniel Bryan something to be invested in for WrestleMania. This moment meant that the WWE could no longer ignore Bryan’s popularity and were giving what both he and the fans wanted.
- Winning his first WWE Championship from John Cena
This was a personal favorite of mine as it truly represented when Daniel Bryan truly crossed over from an upper midcarder to a main event player.
John Cena, who had been on a roll ever since he defeated The Rock at WrestleMania, was given the opportunity to name his next opponent at SummerSlam for the WWE Championship in the main event. After several minutes naming other potential opponents, Cena named Bryan as his next opponent.
The build to the PPV was well paced and culminated with one of the best MizTV segments in history as well as one of the best promos Bryan had ever cut during his time as a WWE superstar. Bryan claimed himself to be the genuine article of a wrestler who got his chance through hard work while Cena was the entertainer who was chosen by the machine and highly favored over the years. After a great PPV with high-profile and entertaining matches, Cena and Bryan had a match so great that it was named Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Match of the Year. The match started off very technical on both ends and eventually evolved into a brawl that saw Cena and Bryan trade momentum and moves back and forth until Bryan won with the debut of the Running Knee Finisher.
At this point, it was clear that while John Cena was going away, the WWE were willing to take a chance with Daniel Bryan and see if he would be the next breakout star. Despite this moment leading to a Randy Orton Money in the Bank cash-in and the rise of the Authority, it was still a great moment and helped make the 2013 SummerSlam PPV a great event.
- Turning on The Wyatt Family
After losing to Randy Orton at the Hell in a Cell PPV, Daniel Bryan was immediately shifted into a feud with the recently debuted Wyatt Family. He enlisted Punk to help him fight against them, but that was short-lived as Punk would have to deal with The Shield by himself. And after weeks of mind games, interference, and attacks, Daniel Bryan joined the Wyatt Family.
After this, Bryan traded in his traditional attire for clothes fitting of a Wyatt Family member. The storyline, while interesting, was ultimately cut short due to videos of colleges going viral doing the “YES!” chant and WWE wanting to do their best to capitalize off of it.
Following a cage match with Bray Wyatt and The Usos, Bray attempted to further anger the crowd by having Bryan take the Sister Abigail once again, but Bryan refused. After this refusal, he proceeded to viciously attack Bray Wyatt to the extreme delight of the crowd. He even managed to block interference from both Erick Rowan and Luke Harper. Following the beating, Bryan backed into the corned and slowly began the “YES!” chant to which the audience immediately synced in with. Following a series of some of the loudest “YES!” chants that ever existed in such a small arena, Daniel Bryan hit Wyatt with the running knee and the crowd went crazy.
This pop was so deafening and so strong, that it could only be compared to some of the greatest ovations in history like Cena returning to win the Royal Rumble, Brock Lesnar returning in 2012, or anything involving Stone Cold in the late 90s. If there was any doubt as to how big of a draw Daniel Bryan was, the answer was shown here.
Teaming with Kane & The Undertaker against The Shield
Handing the Shield their first clean loss
The 2/3 Falls Match with Sheamus at Extreme Rules
Winning the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 31
- WrestleMania 30
Anytime you can start and close a WrestleMania, you can tell you’re doing something right considering the only other person in WWE history to do this was the Legend Bret “The Hitman” Hart. After weeks and weeks of pleading and vocal objection, the WWE finally decided to give in to the demands of the fans and give Bryan his moments at WrestleMania 30.
The PPV officially started with Daniel Bryan fighting Triple H where the winner would earn a place in the main event for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The match turned out to be another technical showcase with Triple H showing more than he typically would in a given match. The match was a nice back and forth effort that came to a head when Bryan hit Triple H with a running knee for the victory. This meant that Bryan now had a chance to finally regain the WWE title.
Following the other matches and events taking place on the Grandest Stage of Them All, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, and Batista all came out to compete for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event. The match never completely swung Bryan’s way and he was almost taken out via an Evolution reunion and a new combo never seen before with Batista hitting the Batista Bomb and Randy Orton catching Bryan in the Batista Bomb with the RKO. This would take Bryan out of action temporarily, but ultimately wouldn’t keep Bryan down for long. After fighting back every step of the way, Bryan finally proved himself yet again by beating both Batista and Randy Orton to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
With Connor Mason Michalek at his side, Daniel Bryan got to finally enjoy a genuine moment as the champion with no sneaky betrayals and no losing the title the next night. This was a genuine moment and proof that the WWE was no longer the “just the land of the giants.” Bryan got to enjoy something that even his friend, CM Punk didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy. Bryan got to main event WrestleMania and win.
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