His entire angle after being eliminated from NXT. Let's go through it:
1. His "Who is Daniel Bryan?" promo after he's eliminated from NXT, wherein he makes it clear that Daniel Bryan =/= Bryan Danielson. (The name change was forgotten by the subsequent episode, but what the hell.)
You can also see Matt Striker grinning like a Cheshire Cat whilst Bryan is talking, starting from when Bryan starts building towards the end of the promo.
2. And then the following week, the most brilliant Worked Shoot in recent history — punking out The Miz (with William Regal and CM Punk - who, in WWE kayfabe, have no history with Daniel Bryan except for NXT - both enthusiastically agreeing with Bryan behind Miz's back) and slapping around Michael Cole like he owed him money, all while disassembling the politicking in theWWE and their blatant ignorance of non-WWE promotions. The camera work is notable during that brawl, as well. Other than it airing at all (the first and best sign of a Worked Shoot), tell me that didn't look real.
3. And then the next week, Bryan follows that up by faking an apology to Michael Cole for the previous week's attack, instead apologizing for him being the worst announcer in wrestling today. Cole rips on Bryan with an (uncharacteristically) good promo, saying that Bryan had "tapped out" of NXT because he had "no heart". This earned Cole another attack (with Bryan escaping security's grasp so he could tackle Cole into the ringside barricade), and as security led Bryan past the WWE "Pros", The Miz started to run his mouth at Bryan - so Bryan fired back with a swift right, dropping Miz like a bad habit. In the end, Bryan had punked out both Miz and Cole for the second week in a row.
4. And did it again the next week on Raw, beating The Miz clean in a match. When Miz tries to go for a post-match beatdown, dragging Bryan over to the announcer's desk and making Bryan apologize to Michael Cole, Bryan turns around and throws Miz right over the table, right into Cole.
WWE Raw, May 3, 2010: His match against Batista in a beat-the-clock challenge. It's some of the best 5 minutes you will find in all wrestling. Batista did his fair share too.
WWE Raw, June 7 2010: The NXT Riot. All eight Season 1 NXT rookies laid waste to the entire show during a CM Punk vs. John Cena main event, including beating up commentators, the timekeeper, and even Justin Roberts (whom Bryan was personally choking out with his own tie). After trashing the ringside area, they would proceed to gang attack Cena, brutalizing him with multiple finishers, including Bryan actually kicking John Cena's fucking head in. He preceded this kick by yelling "YOU ARE NOT BETTER THAN ME!!!" several times and then spit in Cena's face.
WWE SummerSlam, August 15 2010: The show's main event is a seven-on-seven elimination match between a team of WWE all-stars and The Nexus, and Team WWE has a one-man deficit. Earlier in the show, The Miz accepted Cena's offer of joining Team WWE; later, he comes out during the Team WWE entrances and looks to be the final man for the team. Cena stops him as he makes his entrance, however, and informs Miz that he took too long deciding whether or not to join the team, and that he'd found someone else in that time. Daniel Bryan comes out, and the cheers of millions of nerds causes the internet to explode. And in what was both his WWE return match and his WWE PPV debut (in the main event of the second biggest show of the year, no less!), "AmDrag" made sure to leave his mark - in this case, by completely owning both Darren Young and Heath Slater in about a minute each, and making it all the way to the final four.
What made this a particularly surprising moment was that almost nobody expected this; Bryan's initial firing had taken place only a few months beforehand, and the general consensus was that he'd maybe be back in late 2010 or worse (if he came back at all). The fact that none of the dirtsheets or news sites picked up on it makes it even more incredible. It would have been the perfect surprise... if WWE.com had not been updated with a story on Bryan's return a few minutes before the main event took place. He'd even done indy shows for CHIKARA, Pro Wrestling Guerilla, Dragon Gate USA and other promotions during the time between his firing and his return.
That .com article doesn't really matter, though, unless you were on .com in those few minutes.
How big was Danielson's return to WWE? After he came back, "Bryan Danielson" was the #1 trending topic on Twitter worldwide.
Not to mention the fact that he was one of the first three professional wrestlers to have his own personal Moment of Awesome page. The other members of this prestigious group? The Undertaker and, Ric Flair. That's the level of awesome Danielson maintains.
WWE Hell in a Cell, October 3 2010: Daniel Bryan would retain his US title against The Miz and John Morrison in a Triple Threat Submissions Count Anywhere match. Following the win, Michael Cole would be forced to admit that Bryan was the better man that night.
WWE Bragging Rights, October 24 2010: Bryan stole the show with Dolph Ziggler in the opening match, winning his Smackdown vs Raw contest and being the ONLY Raw superstar to win their Smackdown vs Raw contest that night. He then went on to beat Ziggler the next night on Raw, and kicked his head in on Smackdown to pin him for a third time that week!
And just to add icing to the cake, that Bragging Rights match is considered by WWE to be one of the top two matches of 2010. The other? The Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania. It seems WWE finally realizes that they've got gold with Daniel Bryan Danielson, which might be why they gave him a pair of infatuated escorts in The Bella Twins later in the year.
On the January 25 episode of NXT Season 4, Bryan was in a Pro vs Pro match with Ted DiBiase Jr.. In the middle of the match, fellow pro R-Truth started a call-and-response Daniel Bryan chant. The response was deafening. The chants would only continue through the match.
He brought The Big Show to his knees during the Draft Battle Royal of 2011.
His promo against Cody Rhodes, where he calls out Cody's narcissistic "The World is Ugly" attitude, claiming that his father Dusty Rhodes, despite not being an attractive man, was a much better person than he would ever be and refused to accept that fact.
Winning the goddamn Smackdown Money in the Bank! And people thought he wouldn't go anywhere in WWE!
His promo after winning Money in the Bank did a lot to help his reputation on the mic. He excoriated Michael Cole (again), played to the crowd, and delivered the kind of promo Main Event guys are supposed to deliver. Then he beat the crap out of Heath Slater.
He's still a Badass; unlike all the other Money in the Bank winners that cashed in when the champions had defended their titles (but were totally exhausted from it), he stated that his Money in the Bank contract would be cashed in on Wrestlemania 28's main event. Now, it's a seven month race to see who's gonna have it by April 1st, 2012 and to see who's gonna get his fucking head kicked in.
Or not, as Bryan is champ, and seems to be heading for a Show/Henry feud
After he gets knocked by a jealous Wade Barrett, he catches him in the Lebell Lock while laying down.
His match against Alberto Del Rio also counts. Two of the rising stars of the WWE going head to head...that was amazing!
If I'm not mistaken, didn't he just get an incredible match out of Mark Henry, of all people? And even gave his own against the World's Strongest Man? That's pretty damn awesome.
WWE TLC. The Big Show defeats Mark Henry in a pretty good Chairs match. Mark Henry DDTs Big Show onto Chairs. Daniel Bryan comes out and cashes his Money In the Bank Briefcase to win. The pop was deafening. And then he went to the camera, looked into it, and said "Thank you to everybody that has supported me these past twelve years." Michael Cole is dumbfounded, and Show... has a look on his face as if he was surprised, but impressed. A fitting milestone to one that basically founded one of WWE's biggest feeder organizations, though not as much as WCW, ECW or OVW.
The Raw following TLC saw CM Punk, Zack Ryder and Bryan Danielson in the same ring, basically saying what no one thought possible, had actually happened. They would later in their six man tag match enter through the crowd, which was all kinds of awesome!
Managed to retain his title three weeks in a row, when facing The Big Show and Mark Henry in rematches. The first time he managed to get a disqualification when he got Henry to shove him in front of the referee when he was facing Big Show, the second week, against Big Show again, the match went to a non contest as Big Show ran in to AJ Lee. The third week, he and Mark Henry was in a lumberjack match where Bryan managed to get the lumberjacks so riled up that they stormed the ring and beat both him and Henry, before all hell broke lose and they pretty much started fighting each other.
Make that a month for he survives the Steel Cage match.
January 30, 2012. Champion vs Champion match. Yes, World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan faces WWE Champion CM Punk.
April 2, 2012 edition of Monday Night Raw. Despite being squashed in 18 seconds by Sheamus at the opening match of Wrestlemania XXVIII, that event has made Daniel Bryan more over with the audience now than ever before. While the cameras were off, Daniel Bryan broke his heel character and thanked for the crowd for their undying support and constant cheering of "YES!" which he said most likely got him a new shirt. The audience deafened the arena with "YES!" chants and followed along with Bryan as he began the cheer before leaving.
And that lasted for most of the entire Raw broadcast itself prior to that, where fans were either chanting "YES!" or Bryan's name during most of the show, despite the fact that Bryan himself only appeared for one small segment.
Bryan, along with Sheamus, finally getting their time in the sun with an instant-classic, show-stealing 2-out-of-3 falls at Extreme Rules 2012.
May 25, 2012 edition of Smackdown. Bryan sneak attacks Kane and hits him with twenty-six steel chair shots in a row.
Sept 21, 2012 edition of Smackdown. Bryan and his equally reluctant tag team partner Kane are on the same page for once. They then proceeded to destroy the Tag Team division and Damien Sandow. He hits them with 26 chair shots.
WrestleMania 29. Dolph Ziggler starts the match by kissing AJ Lee, clearly rubbing Bryan's face in the loss from last year. How does the American Dragon respond? By kicking Ziggler's head off! An awesome parallel to last year's joke of a match and how does the match end? Daniel Bryan FINALLY hits the Diving Headbutt on Ziggler and picks up the win! On a broader note, everyone in the match was amped up. No comedy routine from Team Hell No.
April 8th, 2013 edition of Raw. Daniel Bryan gets to help Kane and the Undertaker fight off the Shield. And he gets to pose with the Brothers of Destruction as they leave the ramp. For one night, and possibly more, Daniel Bryan has become the Third Brother of Destruction...who would've thought?
May 31st, 2013 edition of Smackdown. Danielson and Kane come to the rescue of Orton, who is being attacked by The Shield. During this attack, both Orton and Kane get taken out. Danielson proceeds to uneash a onesided curbstomp to all three members of The Shield, powering through each one of them, delivering a flurry of kicks, dropkicks, and so forth before laying every member of them out alone. The show ended with Danielson standing tall in ring with Orton and Kane, his music playing, crowd loving it.
June 6th, 2013: Bryan not only did double duty, taking on the Shield in six-man tag and Ryback one-on-one, but he dominated all four men, dropping them with suplexes, dropkicks, and vicious stiff forearms. He took Ryback, the man who destroyed John Cena at Extreme Rules, to his physical limit, including a top-rope headbutt from two-thirds the length of the ring. Even when it looked like Ryback had stopped him cold with a powerbomb, he freakin' traps him in the NO! Lock...and the crowd explodes.
June 10, 2013: Bryan and Seth Rollins from the Shield get a one-on-one match (Rollins's second on the main roster, as Kane had defeated Rollins on the May 31st SmackDown). WWE gives the two former Ring Of Honor stars about fifteen or twenty minutes... and the result is nothing short of epic.
June 14, 2013: Bryan becomes the very first man to pin a loss on The Shield in six-man tag action, tapping out Seth Rollins in the NO! Lock after a mid-air RKO from Randy Orton...with the crowd going ballistic for him during and after the match. WEAK LINK MY ASS.
June 24, 2013: Daniel Bryan faces Randy Orton in a Street Fight, with chairs, tables and a Singaporecane getting used. At one point, Bryan had Orton in the NO! Lock, but Orton was able to get to the Singapore Cane and hit Bryan enough times to break the hold. At the end, Bryan had Orton in the NO! Lock again, with Orton again using the Singapore cane, but Bryan grabbed the cane, and still holding Orton in the NO! Lock, placed the cane where his hands would go, with Lawler saying that Bryan was going to rip Orton's shoulder out, with Orton clearly in pain until he had no choice but to tap out. As Bryan led the crowd in the "YES!" chant, Orton interrupted, shook Bryan's hand, and left. The show ended with the crowd continuing the "YES!" chant.
July 8, 2013: "The Summer of the Beard" rolls right along with highlights at the beginning and end of the RAW broadcast. The first being Bryan getting into a brutal bout with Sheamus not at all unlike their Extreme Rules match from last year, this time though surprising the Irishman by powering out of the Cloverleaf with ALL 265 lbs of Sheamus bearing down on him and small packaging Sheamus for 3! The next would be following the Orton/Punk main event, with Bryan laying out both men and climbing the ladder to take down the briefcase as a confident sign of his victory at MITB this Sunday. Again, crowd going nuts with YES! chants as this happens.
Money In The Bank, July 14, 2013: While Curtis Axel did ultimately screw him out of a victory, Bryan was a downright BEAST in the match. Nailing Orton with a running dropkick into a ladder, suicide diving onto Punk on a pile of ladders and springing up without a scratch, and subverting Sheamus' usual "drive a small guy through a ladder" spot, kicking the Irishman off the turnbuckle and causing him to crash through a bridged ladder on the outside.
The spot with Sheamus could essentially be a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment since Sheamus received a heavy bruise on his leg and a torn labrum that will take him out for 6 months. Full payback for 18 Seconds?
July 15, 2013: John Cena picked Daniel Bryan as his opponent for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam. Only one word could be heard throughout Brooklyn, chanted by EVERY...SINGLE...MEMBER in the audience: YES!!!
July 22, 2013: Put in a gauntlet match by Raw GM Brad Maddox, Bryan first faced Jack Swagger, taking him down in a short, but physical match by tapping him out with the YES! Lock. Next, he'd face the other half of the "Real Americans" Antonio Cesaro. What would ensue was the most physically brutal match I've ever seen on Raw between Bryan and Cesaro. Cesaro at one point laced into Bryan with 20 European uppercuts in a row followed by a clothesline that flipped Bryan for a 360 and nearly took his head off. How did Bryan respond? By trapping Cesaro in an Indian Deathlock and pounding him repeatedly with vicious forearms. Bryan pulled off the win with an amazing counter of Cesaro's mid-air uppercut into a small package for the three count. And while he was essentially spent for his 3rd match with Ryback, Bryan persevered, countering a Thesz Press into a Single-Leg Crab, nailing a top-rope dropkick that floored the big man, and countering the Meathook clothesline with a knee straight into Ryback's face that nearly knocked him out.
The real crowner? While Cena ultimately played hero and drove Ryback away after the big man powerbombed Bryan through a table, Bryan fought back up from 30+ minutes of wrestling and being driven through a table to get back in the ring and receive a standing ovation from the crowd with his music playing to close out the show. If one counts the subsequent dark match (a six-man tag) then although he had a rest break after the televised main event, Bryan wrestled for even longer live!
August 18, 2013: Bryan beats Cena clean for the WWE championship at SummerSlam '13 in a show-stopping match...Sadly, the moment doesn't last as HHH, who was serving as guest referee, Pedigrees Bryan and allows Orton to cash in and take the title. Still, for that one moment, Bryan was on top of the wrestling world.
How does D-Bry get the win?With a BUSAIKU KNEE!
Notably, it was a win without any shenanigans, i.e. Cena releasing the STFU to stop Johnny Ace from calling the match against CM Punk then returning to get GTS'd at MITB 2011. Who last got such a win over Cena? The Rock.
August 26, 2013: Although it was but the first segment in a gauntlet match against the Shield, Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins would tear it up in the main event of RAW for an extended (for WWE TV) duration AGAIN, culminating in a top rope German suplex (with Rollins rotating so much that he landed on his face!) and a Busaiku Knee!
September 9, 2013: Bryan finally getting one-up on Randy Orton. Despite a grueling contest with Dean Ambrose, taking a post-match Shield beating AND a RKO, he found the strength to get back up and drill Orton with the same Busaiku knee he won the WWE Championship with in the first place, hoisting said championship over a prone Orton. This happens in no small part thanks to The Big Show, who stalled Orton long enough for Bryan to recover.
September 15, 2013: Night of Champions PPV. While it's likely Corporate H will find a way to reverse the decision due to the semi-groggy ref making a fast count, it's nonetheless an awesome sight to see Bryan regain the WWE Championship clean over Randy Orton, highlights including a Spider Suplex, followed by a diving headbutt two-thirds of the way across the ring.
October 28, 2013: After Shawn Michaels gives a rather paltry "Triple H is my friend above all else" excuse for his actions at Hell in the Cell, Bryan's invited out to accept his handshake of apology. After refusing it the first time, Shawn tells him the kick was meant as a finishing lesson: Don't trust ANYONE in the business of professional wrestling, whether it be friend, family, or spouse. After refusing the handshake a second time, HBK snaps and calls out Bryan for being a "self-righteous little puke" and demands that he show respect shake the hand of a real "A-plus player" in Shawn. Bryan does...and shows what a quick learner he is by locking The Showstopper in the YES! Lock and making the Hall of Famer tap!
The kicker out of all of this? The crowd was completely on Bryan's side throughout the segment. Getting everyone on your side against, arguably, one of the most admired, respected performers in pro wrestling is an awesome moment in itself.
December 9, 2013: The night of the Slammy Awards, pillar to post, was Daniel Bryan's night. Dispatching of Fandango, taking home the "Beard of the Year" award, the "Crowd Participation" award and the "Superstar of the Year" award (beating out John Cena), and his home state fans chanting so vociferously for him it made Bryan corpse and halted an obviously-seething Triple H mid-promo during the "Championship Ascension" ceremony. On top of that, Mark Henry jokingly raising his hand and getting the rub of rubs from John Cena, who all but stated that he should be facing Bryan at TLC, but has no problem giving him the (fair) rematch Bryan deserves when Cena wins. Oh, and taking down the Heartbreak Kidagain, this time with the Busaiku Knee. He then deflects an RKO and pushes Orton into Stephanie... ladies and gentlemen, your Spanner in the Works.
December 16, 2013: Putting on another Match-of-the-Year candidate with WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton, whom Bryan dominated for the last 5 minutes before Orton took the low road out with a low blow. The ending doesn't even take away from the latest installment of awesome matches between the two, and it furthers the point Cole and company discussed during the match; Orton just cannot beat Daniel Bryan in a straight-up one-on-one scenario without any outside interference or distractions.note This would be subtly reinforced with their February 3rd, 2014 match where Bryan intercepted Kane's interference attempt, dove onto both Kane and Orton, then took out Kane and beat Orton clean anyway.
January 13, 2014: After losing to the Usos by DQ, Bryan accepts responsibility for the screw-up and takes the "Sister Abigail" from Wyatt. Bryan & Bray are then given a second chance at the Usos, this time in a locked steel cage. Bray relishes the chance since society and "The Machine" have kept men like him and Bryan caged for far too long, and Bryan seemingly agrees. Fast forward to the end of the cage match, where, as all four men were climbing, Bryan was knocked down and "unintentionally" crotches Bray on the ropes, allowing the Usos to escape the cage, taking out Rowan and Harper in the process. Again, Bryan seemingly accepts the blame for the loss and prepares to accept "Sister Abigial"...only to slip out and the crowd starts to rouse. We then see the dawning comprehension on Bray's face that it's him and Bryan, alone at last, inside a locked cage, something Bryan's wanted more than even the WWE Title. Rather than go Oh, Crap!, he eggs on Bryan, thinking he won't go back to those who "enabled" him. When Bryan won't go for the shot, Wyatt calls him a coward and charges him. Bryan...sidesteps and nails a trifecta of shotgun dropkicks, laces into Wyatt with a Buzzsaw kick, Bryan then strips off his Wyatt uniform with his DB wrestling tights underneathnote suggesting that it had been on throughout his appearances with the Wyatts, throws the jumpsuit at Bray's prone body, rams him into the cage and knocks off Rowan and Harper! And then...with the ENTIRE crowd chanting "YES!" in complete unison◊...NAILS BRAY WYATT WITH THE MOTHERFUCKIN' BUSAIKU KNEE AND THE CROWD FREAKING EXPLODES!!! He finally mounts the cage, leading the crowd in what's been the BIGGEST "YES!" chant of his career... So far.
It's the fact that the crowd erupted after Daniel broke out of Wyatt's hold. There was literally no stopping them after that - and that is because of Daniel's insane popularity.
According to reports, DBD suffered a concussion during the cage match and doesn't even remember most of it. The man suffers a freaking concussion and still pulls off the final spot of the night flawlessly. That is dedication to one's craft if I've ever seen it.
The next week, Bryan cut a promo and explained that his reasoning for joining the Wyatts was all a big Batman Gambit to lie in wait for the chance to strike back at Bray.
Even better as said promo got a larger positive reaction from fans than even the return of Batista to WWE.
Royal Rumble, January 26 2014: Even though he lost, the first match of the PPV was Daniel Bryan vs. BrayWyatt in a match of the year contender. As the Royal Rumble reached the final few entrants, fans in the arena began clamoring for Daniel Bryan, and began booing as each of the final three entrants came out - In fact, at the final entrant's music hit, there was a brief pause as the crowd realized what had happened & immediately turned on the 30th entrant, perennial babyface Rey Mysterio aka "The Ultimate Underdog", before outright revolting once CM Punk was eliminated, with the crowd turning on both the returning Sheamus & Batista & firmly cheering for Roman Reigns, before alternating between booing eventual winner Batista & chanting "No! No! No!" as the show went off the air. As much as it must have sucked for Batista to be booed off the show, it really shows just how much the crowd has grown to love Bryan. It's like the more the WWE tries to keep him out of the Title picture the more fans support him.
On a less sympathetic note, Batista getting booed and the reports of him apparently flipping out on the Royal Rumble audience when the cameras were off could be considered an awesome karmic moment. Back in 2011, when Bryan won the WHC at TLC , Batista caught flak for expressing disbelief on Twitter that he could be a main event title holder (possibly due to his non-bodybuilder look). A little over two years later, the fans (seemingly both the "internet" base that took offend to the comments, and the "casual" base that might have preferred someone that looked like Batista years ago) clearly showed which person they wanted to see main eventing or competing for the main title, chanting for "DANIEL BRYAN" instead of "BATISTA".
You know it's bad if Rey Mysterio is getting booed at.
And Bryan did it this time despite outside interference, this time from Corporate Kane, dropkicking the "Director of Operations" just as he reached the apron and tripping the man into the ringside steel steps.
A more subtle one that isn't tied to any single event, but one of the biggest Internet Wrestling Community fan distastes about a non-champion John Cena was a history of main eventing over the current WWE Champion. However, ever since Summerslam 2013, Cena moved more into the midcard, not least because he went to chase after and eventually win the World Heavyweight Championship — more of a midcard belt — and it's been Bryan who actually tended to be opening and closing out RAW and/or Smackdown, meaning that throughout the second half of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, Daniel Bryan has been regularly main eventing over John Cena.
Let's not forget the fact that Bryan has consistently gotten the crowd on his side more often than the supposed "Face" of WWE in John Cena, who's had the mixed reaction for years now, which again speaks volumes on his popularity right now.
February 7th, 2014: he pulls a La Mistica on Antonio Cesaro.
March 10th, 2014: The entire "Occupy Raw" movement. After the whole situation with The Authority & their refusal to give him a match at Mania, Bryan manages to fight back by taking control of the ring. However, instead of just saying that he won't let the show go on, he has the entire ring & surrounding area filled with "Yes Movement" fans. This proceeds to cause a Villainous Breakdown for both HHH & Stephanie as it becomes harder and harder to reign in control of this and impossible for the show to continue until they give into his demands. Bryan not only secures a match at WrestleMania for himself against Triple H, he forces Hunter to make it a #1 contender match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. If Bryan wins, he is entered into WrestleMania's main event and has a chance to win the title against Orton & Batista. He then proceeded to close the show by defeating both Orton & Batista in a tag team match with Big Show as his partner...by AGAIN pinning the champion Orton after connecting with the "Knee +."
April 1st, 2014: The Randy Orton vs. Batista NO-DQ match is going on as planned, with Triple H and Stephanie on commentary...when Trips seemingly cuts off for no reason and the crowd suddenly wakes up. We pan over to the announce table and...HOLY CRAP, DANIEL BRYAN IS BEATING THE PISS OUT OF TRIPLE H!!! Orton tries to cut Bryan off at the pass, only to get speared by Batista, who ends up on the wrong end of Bryan's "Knee +"...and then Bryan steamrolls Triple H with a suicide dive to the outside! He beats him over the barricade, throughout the ringside area, over steel steps and then absolutely mauls Triple H with a kendo stick, sending him scurrying up the ramp to Stephanie! Ladies and gentleman, the "Yes Movement" is not dead...far from it...IT'S ALIVE AND KICKING THE AUTHORITY'S ASS!
It's even better in context: Triple H previously laid out Bryan as retribution for Bryan outsmarting him and securing a chance for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship shot at Wrestlemania 30 (via the #OccupyRAW incident), but presumably thought so lowly of Bryan otherwise that Triple H gave Bryan more time to recover, under the assumption that he'd sail through Bryan at Wrestlemania and then face a real challenge against his former Evolution partners Orton and Batista. Triple H therefore booked them both in a No DQ match just under a week before Wrestlemania in hopes of them softening each other up... only for Bryan to waylay Triple H after Batista and Orton have done their damage to each other... which leaves Bryan and not Triple H the no-longer-injured one by Wrestlemania 30!
April 6th, 2014, WrestleMania 30: Daniel Bryan overcame Triple H in a grueling 26-minute match, surviving not only the assault on his left shoulder, but kicking out of a Pedigree! After surprising Hunter with the "Knee Plus" for the big three count, Stephanie and Triple H lay him out with a steel chair shot to the bad shoulder, leaving Bryan a one-armed man for the Triple Threat match. Despite many warnings by trainers, Bryan goes out to compete and almost narrows in on a victory before The Authority rears its ugly head. Batista hits Bryan with the Batista Bomb, Scott Armstrong (The crooked ref from Night of Champions 2013) comes in and it looks like the screwjob is in... only for Bryan to kick out! Armstrong then gets kicked in the head by Bryan and stumbles to the outside, where Triple H & Stephanie pick him up & promptly get crashed into by Bryan with a Suicide Dive that takes down all three of them. After realising what happened & that his wife is down, Triple H goes under the ring for his sledgehammer, only for Bryan to take it from him & drill him in the head, removing the Authority from the match. Orton and Batista, however, recover and seemingly eliminate Bryan with a tandem Batista Bomb-RKO through an announce table. Bryan's escorted out on stretcher, pretty much out of it... Only to force his way off the stretcher & back to the ring as it was head down the entrance way. Several minutes later, Batista nails Orton with the Batista Bomb but before he can capitalize, winds up getting with hit with the "Knee Plus" which Bryan transitions into the Yes Lock, and Batista winds up tapping. Daniel Bryan becomes the new WWE World Heavyweight champion on the biggest stage in WWE history, and there's no Money in the Bank contracts or fast counts to take it away from him. YES! YES! YES!
He wrestled for more than 50 minutes when typical matches are lucky to get 15-20. On top of that, when you factor in the entrances, video package, backstage vignette, and the post-match, over an hour of WrestleMania XXX was devoted to Daniel Bryan - the show's only 4 hours long.
That moment when Bryan peels off the neck brace and gets off the stretcher is up there with Mick Foley climbing off the stretcher at King Of The Ring 1998 as one of the great spine-tingling moments in WWE history.
Listen to the crowd again as Batista taps. The rise in volume and cheers is chilling.
Possibly the ONLY man who was able to get the crowd back into it after The Undertaker lost.
WWE RAW, April 7, 2014: The opening video package for Daniel Bryan's rise to the top starting from his Indie Days and ending with him holding the championship belts at Wrestlemania XXX, all set to the beautiful "Monster" by Imagine Dragons.
When he arrives for his opening message, the whole crowd is chanting, "YOU DESERVE IT!". Yes he does.
He ends up hitting Triple H again with a Solid Knee Plus.
And then having to endure the most tear-jerking of Mood Whiplash after finding out that his father passed away. He insisted on doing RAW for us regardless, went out with Manly Tears in his eyes, took his lumps from Kane and then immediately took his bags and his wife and flew home to Washington. Takes a real man and performer to do what he did in the face of overwhelming tragedy.
Extreme Rules 2014: He had a kickass match with Kane, that wouldn't have looked out of place during the Attitude Era. The highlight of the match? Kane set a table on fire, tried to chokeslam Bryan through it. Bryan reversed the chokeslam, and pushed Kane onto the flaming table, back first. When Kane got back into the ring, Bryan hit him with the Knee+, and pinned him for the win.
July 24, 2014- Preventing an actual burglary of his house when he caught two thieves trying to flee after being spotted. Bryan was able to snag one of the thieves and keep him detained by applying a rear-naked choke on the unlucky perp until the cops arrived at his house minutes later. Even while off the job due to recovering from neck surgery, the American Dragon can still kick ass.
December 29, 2014. In the last RAW of the year, after so many months of being on the shelf due to injury, he comes out, talking about the highs of the year, as well as the lows. It was sounding like he was going to have to retire until he said one simple word: NO! He then announced that he'll be at the 2015 Royal Rumble, leaving the crowd in a YES chant!
March 29, 2015. Wrestlemania 31. While not two matches including the main event, Daniel Bryan once again starts the show in the Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship, the only championship he has not claimed yet. The match itself had several amazing spots to say the least culminating to a Knee Plus to Barrett, and a beating Ziggler with consecutive headbutts against each other at the top of the ladder. This lead to not only Bryan's first run as Intercontinental Champion, but upon claiming the IC title, he secures his place as not only a Triple Crown champion, but as a Grand Slam champion under the new format (replacing the old European Championship with the United States Championship).
Even his farewell speech at the end of RAW on 2/8/16, despite the sadness of it. Not only was having the last segment on the show to speak his peace awesome but the awesomeness comes from gauging the crowd's reactions. When he speaks, the crowd is silent. They're hanging on to his every word—no chants, no background din of the crowd, just pure, rapt attention. Even in his last days as a professional wrestler, he was over in ways others could only dream of.
He won the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Technical Wrestler award so many times, they later renamed it after him, following his retirement.
His feud with The Miz, and his ability to manage to get the last laugh in despite being unable to wrestle, has proven him as a master of the long con. After Bryan called the Miz a coward on Talking Smack and the Miz went off on him, the latter went out of his way to deliberately give the former a hard time — from mocking him in the ring with his old taunts and moves to demanding contract renegotiations — twice — and taking glee in the idea of retiring one of Smackdown's other stars at No Mercy. But then, Ziggler won, and the Miz actually turned down an offer to have his contractually-obligated rematch on the 10/25/16 episode of Smackdown. When Bryan made an appearance on Miz TV the following week, more taunting followed — and Bryan utterly destroyed him without laying a single hand on him. First, he revealed that the Miz wasn't on Team Smackdown for Survivor Series. Then he revealed that he and Shane McMahon had considered him, but rejected it due to being a coward. Only this time Bryan had proof to back it up — his refusal to take Ziggler's offer at the Intercontinental Championship the previous week. He then proceeded to bring Ziggler out so that he could issue an open challenge for the IC title — first to the Smackdown roster, then to the Raw roster at Survivor Series. So, not only did the Miz turn his boss against him and lose the IC title, but his own opportunistic ways got him screwed over thanks to Bryan picking up on them and using them to deny the Miz of everything he cares about. And the Miz has no one to blame but himself. Daniel Bryan, you Magnificent Bastard.
1/3/2017, Talking Smack. The Miz showed up after losing the Intercontinental title to Dean Ambrose earlier in the night, clearly looking to complain. He complained that Ambrose had done nothing to earn a title shot, that Ambrose's girlfriend, Renee Young, had inserted herself into the feud (when the Miz had actually dragged her into the feud), and how the ref didn't disqualify him when Maryse slapped Ambrose during the match. Bryan fired back with a short Hannibal Lecture that sent the Miz into a frothing Villainous Breakdown:
Daniel Bryan: See, and this is the problem. This whole time, you've been saying people don't deserve these title opportunities, these people don't deserve these title opportunities. Well, guess what? The reason why you don't want them to get opportunities is because these people are better than you. Like Dean Ambrose proved tonight.
6/20/2017, Daniel's first night back as Smackdown's General Manager since the birth of his daughter. As he's addressing the situation that happened during the Women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match two nights prior, James Ellsworth insults him and his newborn daughter. It takes a single second for Daniel to go from shocked to full-on Papa Wolf mode.
Daniel Bryan: James, shut up! If you talk about my baby girl one more time, I will punch you in the face so fast, you won't be able to breathe, and I will fire you!