In 2009 at Open The Ultimate Gate, when it was thought Bryan Danielson was going to become 'exclusive property' of WWE, Danielson dedicated his time to asking the fans to stop chanting best in the world at him on the grounds he doubted his future matches in WWE would be worthy of them, on doubts he was even having the best match at the majority of the most recent shows he had wrestled on, ensured the fans the best wrestlers in the world would continue to show up the independent circuit, thanked them for their support and urged that they continue to support independent wrestling promotions.
How did Miami react to Bryan's 18-second WrestleMania 28 loss? By chanting his name and YES! throughout the rest of the first hour and for nearly every segment and match on the following RAW. Daniel Bryan thanked the crowd after the show and joked that they convinced WWE to make a YES! shirt. By week's end, WWE had indeed released a shirt that read YES! YES! YES!
Even if it'll probably turn out to be some kind of ploy, it's hard to deny D-Bry proposing to AJ on the Raw after Money In The Bank was pretty damn sweet. See it here.
DBD recently visited Connor, a child with brain cancer, and let the little guy put him in the No Lock. In the fine tradition of WWE Make-A-Wish visits, this one really struck this troper as adorable, because DBD is still in his full arrogant semi-heel character, tapping out to a 7 year-old.
When WWE returned to Pittsburgh some months later, Bryan made a point to seek out his young friend who was in the crowd that night.
At Wrestlemania XXX, Connor was in the front row as Bryan won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. One of the first things that Bryan does after winning the belts is climb out of the ring and give Connor a hug while thanking him for all of his support and urging him to keep fighting.
And finally, one year after Connor's tragic passing only days after watching his hero win the big one, Daniel Bryan himself posthumously inducted Connor into the WWE Hall of Fame as the first ever recipient of the Warrior Award along with Warrior's widow.
When Daniel Bryan won the WWE Championship from John Cena, he did via pinfall rather than submission. The move that he used to keep Cena down long enough for the 3-count? A jumping variant of the Knee Trembler, the finisher of his mentor William Regal and a trademark move of Japanese wrestler KENTA, with whom Bryan is good friends (and who uses the YES Lock in tribute to Bryan).
Also, according to NoDQ.com, after Summerslam went off the air fans started chanting "NO!" and "BULLSHIT" in response to Bryan losing the title. That really says something about the popularity of a wrestler when losing the title makes the crowd turn on Randy Orton.
On the December 9th episode of Raw, Bryan is down in the ring with about twenty other former WWE Champions and World Heavyweight Champions to be a part of the ascension ceremony to build up towards the TLC 2013 match between John Cena and Randy Orton for the Undisputed Championship. Triple H is about to begin his speech to build up the PPV's main event, when the crowd starts chanting for Daniel Bryan, who, bear in mind, is in the ring as a background character with no involvement in the current segment. The crowd cheers for him so loudly that the segment is completely disrupted and Triple H has to stay quiet with visible annoyance until the crowd dies down, which doesn't happen for several minutes (he knows full well he can't tell the crowd to quiet down; that's just asking for trouble ). This ring has people like CM Punk, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Triple H, Mick Foley, Big Show, and Rey Mysterio, a who's who of wrestling greats both past and present, and the crowd only has eyes for Daniel Bryan. The other part to this scene is Daniel Bryan's reaction. He gets the biggest smile on his face and starts laughing. He looked like he was having the time of his life up there. Even some of the people standing in the ring seem to be enjoying it. Mark Henry is shown smiling and even raises Bryan's hand, and The Miz briefly starts laughing, despite the fact that he had very recently turned heel (although the turn was in the midst of being aborted).
Cena would proceed to improvise part of his promo into acknowledging Bryan's accomplishments, including the fact that Bryan beat him fairly and promising him a rematch should he win at TLC, which only made the crowd cheer for Bryan even more.
Worth noting is that the show took place on one of WWE's rare trips to Seattle, which is a stone's throw away from Bryan's billed hometown. He has also earlier in the show got a Cheap Pop by cheering on the Seattle Seahawks, who were at the time in the playoffs during their best season in franchise history. A rabid fanbase proceeded to make Seahawks-related chants for the next half hour and the end result was a perfect storm where Bryan's popularity somehow peaked from massively over to cult-like devotion for the remainder of the show.
It's just the general reaction of the people in the ring that sells it. Most of the champions, from Miz to Mick Foley to CM Punk to Booker T to The Great Kali can't help but smile at the appreciation for Daniel. Big Show starts to smile, but by the YES chants he loses it and starts laughing. Early on when the chants start, you can see Mysterio show respect to Bryan, as if to say "Nice job, buddy. You just hijacked Raw. I hope you appreciate this." Mark Henry, a veteran of WWE, raising Bryan's hand was a massive sign of respect. For a very brief instance, you can see Stephanie McMahon crack a grin.
Even thought it was obviously a work, it was still difficult not to be smiling when dozens of Daniel Bryan's fans swarmed the ring on March 10th and refuse to leave until Daniel Bryan gets the chance at the Wrestlemania main event he deserves. The sheer amount of support Bryan received over the past four years is staggering.
After finally prevailing over the Authority at Wrestlemania 30 and winning the WWE World Heavyweight championship back, Bryan's sister and niece come out to the ring to celebrate with him.
On the second part of Bryan's appearance of Chris Jericho's Talk is Jericho podcast, Bryan said that his niece doesn't really understand the scale of WrestleMania or the WWE Universe's support of her Uncle, and referred to the celebration as "Uncle Bryan's party with his friends" & was completely nonplussed about the arena cheering for him and wearing his t-shirts, with her reaction being along the lines of "Well, of course everyone cheers for him & wears his t-shirt. He's my Uncle Bryan, who else are they going to cheer for?"
On the 4/7/2014 Raw, while doing a promo after winning the championship at Wrestlemania, the crowd began a "You deserve it" chant.
After being out over seven months with a neck injury, Bryan came out on the December 29th, 2014 Raw to make an announcement about his career. It looked like it was about to be a Tear Jerker moment with him announcing his retirement, but instead he announced he was returning to compete in the 2015 Royal Rumble.
The "Thank You, Daniel" chants after Bryan was forced to relinquish the Intercontinental Championship due to injury, which saved the whole segment from being a massiveTear Jerker.
His retirement speech on February 8, 2016 edition of RAW. Oh God, his retirement speech. It doubles as a Tear Jerker — a massive one, reducing grown men to tears. He said that he's felt all the emotions over the spectrum — but that morning, all he felt was gratitude. Gratitude because he got to do what he loved for sixteen years. Gratitude, because the fans gave him so much. Gratitude, because of all this, he got to meet the love of his life. Bryan's career might have ended sooner than him and his fans would've liked, but he still had so much to be proud of, and went out with his head held high. And in spite of everything, he still got his Happily Ever After.
What solidifies this is that he got to retire and announce his retirement in Washington with all of his family and the entire locker room including Vince, Triple H and Stephanie, and of course, Brie, sending him off one last time with a massive Yes chant.
In a way, the fact that Michael Cole, who spent a good amount of Bryan's early career slamming the guy, capped off the episode after his speech praising Bryan and announcing further vignettes of his career is heartwarming in itself.
Cole: I love you, kid.
The moment he announced his retirement on Twitter, his Twitter Feed exploded with both gratitude and disbelief but being supportive of his career. Among fans, coworkers, other wrestlers and close friends, everyone showed all the support they could for the famed career of Daniel Bryan.
In terms of coworkers, perhaps the most heartwarming ones came from wrestlers like Roman Reignsnote Whose feud with Bryan was one of Bryan's last, Rusevnote whose tweet went something like "He is American... But I like him." and then-US Champion Kallistonote Who addressed it as "From the Lucha Dragon to the American Dragon..." And those are just a few from his fellow entertainers.
One of note, and probably the most significant, was from Triple H finally calling him an A+ player, and while this was outside of kayfabe, for him to acknowledge him as such was something very special.
Hell, CM Punk went ahead and simply tweeted a gif of him and Bryan shaking hands right before one of their ROH matches together. That's how much he respected Bryan, to be willing to acknowledge wrestling again for one more moment just to honor him.
In response to popular demand, The Wrestling Observer Newsletter renamed its "Best Technical Wrestler" award (which Bryan had won nine years in a row from 2005-2013, more than anyone else in history) the "Bryan Danielson Award" to mark the retirement of one of the best in-ring performers in wrestling history.