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Wrestling / Bryan Danielson

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The American Dragon.
"When I got depressed, I wasn't just grateful, I decided to fight! And when I got angry about not being able to be in this ring, I wasn't just grateful, I decided to fight! And there was a time where I wanted to quit and instead of walking out, [Brie] got in my ear and said, 'You don't walk out.' She said, 'You fight because you need to fight for your dreams. Fight for your dreams.' Fight for your dreams and if you fight for your dreams, your dreams will fight for you!"


Bryan Lloyd Danielson (born May 22, 1981) is a professional wrestler who wrestled for several independent promotions throughout the 2000s and had prominent runs in many, such as Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling, All Pro Wresting, National Wrestling Alliance members such as NWA Mid-South and Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerilla, Dragon Gate USA, Full Impact Pro and most notably Ring of Honor, where he is considered one of the three founding fathers alongside Low Ki and Christopher Daniels.


He's also worked for national promotions in Pro Wrestling NOAH and New Japan Pro-Wrestling, toured Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, The UK and served as the Heavyweight Champion of the German westside Xtreme wrestling promotion. He signed with WWE in 2009, eventually appearing on WWE's NXT promotion as Daniel Bryan. He is a WWE Triple Crown and Grand Slam Champion, being a one-time Intercontinental Champion, a one-time World Heavyweight Champion, a one-time United States Champion, had a 245-day stint as one-half of the WWE Tag Team Champions alongside Kane as Team Hell No, and is a three-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion, winning it for first time by cleanly beating John Cena before having the belt taken from him by Randy Orton and Triple H.


At Night of Champions 2013, he defeated Orton for his second WWE Championship, but was stripped of the title by Triple H on the following night's Raw due to a fast count. After spending the rest of 2013 and early 2014 chasing the title, he finally won it a third time in the main event of WrestleMania XXX, beating both Randy Orton and Batista in a Triple Threat match. Unfortunately, a neck injury the following month forced him to relinquish the title a second time in June 2014.


He is frequently regarded by wrestling critics as one of the best overall professional wrestlers in the world today, having won The Wrestling Observer Newsletter's "Best Technical Wrestler" and "Most Outstanding Wrestler" awards several times (to the point that, following his retirement, the "Best Technical Wrestler" award was renamed the "Bryan Danielson Award"). He was trained by a who's who of wrestling, including certified legend Shawn Michaels; former WWE Intercontinental Champion William Regal once said that the greatest accomplishment of his career was having a hand in his training.

Sadly, due to injuries, Bryan announced his in-ring retirement on February 8, 2016.


However, he later returned to WWE as the General Manager of WWE SmackDown and commentator for Cruiserweight Classic.


And before WrestleMania 2018, WWE announced that Bryan was cleared to wrestle again.


He then became a 4-time WWE Champion... via low blow, turning on the fans in favor of his dreams.


His WWE contract expired in May 2021, making him a free agent, with rumors of a move to AEW rampant by late July.


At the end of AEW's All Out 2021 PPV, immediately after Adam Cole had already shockingly debuted to side with his old friends in The Elite in a heel beatdown, Danielson even more shockingly upstaged him by coming out to even the odds, becoming All Elite.


"These tropes have till five, ref! YES! YES! YES!":

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  • Aborted Arc: The AEW World Title Eliminator Tournament in the build to Full Gear 2021 was disrupted when Jon Moxley took a hiatus from wrestling in order to attend an alcohol treatment program. Before his departure, the story of this Tournament Arc revolved around Moxley displaying a level of brutality not seen from him before in AEW, squashing 10 and leaving him in a bloody mess that appeared to signal an incoming Face–Heel Turn. He would've likely dealt with Orange Cassidy in a similar way before facing Bryan Danielson in the finals; Miro took his place in the tournament, filling a similar role as a ruthless heel.
  • The Ace: Bryan is considered one of the best technical wrestlers in the wrestling industry, both in and out of kayfabe. Proven by his WrestleMania 34 performance where, despite not having wrestled in 3 years, he performs like he'd never left the ring. He's been called one of the greatest wrestlers in the world since his days in Ring of Honor, back when it was a fledgling company, and he was one of its "Founding Fathers" circa 2002, when he wasn't even 25 yet. There's a reason why The Wrestling Observer Newsletter renamed their "Best Technical Wrestler" award in his name after his (first) retirement, primarily because he won it every single year from 2005 to 2013. Only three other men have earned the distinction of having an award named after them: Lou Thesz, Ric Flair, and Bruiser Brody, legends and innovators and progenitors of wrestling styles across history... and Bryan is in that elite group.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: When he came out to confront Adam Page, the newly-crowned AEW World Champion to whom Danielson was the first challenger, Danielson snarkily admitted that he was a bit surprised and disappointed that it wasn't Kenny Omega he was going to challenge for the beltnote . Page quipped that not only had he beaten Kenny, he'd done it in under 30 minutes, and Danielson couldn't keep from chuckling at that one.
  • Allegedly Dateless:
    • Michael Cole insisting he'd never had a date. However, since he's Michael Cole and Bryan is WWE's current Chick Magnet, it's pretty much a given that he was just being obnoxious.
    • The Bellas got into it, they even made a contest out of being his "first"note . In fact, his 2010 storyline with the Bellas led to Bryan beginning a relationship in Real Life with Brie Bella in 2011, later getting engaged in 2013 and marrying each other in 2014. It was later revealed that he had apparently been dating Gail Kim for months; he just hung with the Bella's because he felt sorry for them.
  • Amazon Chaser: In a segment, Daniel Bryan said he got turned on by watching Gail Kim apply submission holds.
  • Amicable Exes: A non-romantic example between Bryan Danielson and WWE. Unlike a lot of the wrestlers who have left (or been fired from) WWE and have gone to other companies, Danielson claims he had a very hard time making the decision to leave after his contract expired, as while he wanted to do things he simply wouldn't be able to do if he stayed (e.g work in Japan), he genuinely believed WWE had treated him well and he loved working there, talking effusively about how close he was with Vince McMahon and how he still has an excellent relationship with the company. As a result, he's probably the only former WWE star to have signed with AEW who might ever be able to some day in turn leave AEW and return to WWE in good standing.
  • Animal Motifs:
    • Dragons. One of his red barons is "The American Dragon", at least outside of WWEnote .
    • Inside WWE, he's been associated with goats due to heels making derogatory comments about his beard. And, of course, there's the positive connotation.note 
  • Animal Wrongs Group: His identity during his second WWE heel run was that of a deranged environmentalist who shamed the audience for doing environmentally-unfriendly things, called himself the Planet's Champion and at one stage replaced his leather and metal championship belt with one made of wood and hemp from a naturally-fallen oak.
  • Anti-Climax: At the aptly named ROH Hell Freezes Over 2006 event, the three way anything goes match between Danielson, Homicide and Roderick Strong didn't last five minutes. Bryan now being champion of both FIP and ROH had an impact for sure, but the match itself was this trope.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Nigel McGuinness in ROH.
    • In his initial face run in the WWE, The Miz and Michael Cole.
    • After turning heel, Sheamus, CM Punk and A.J. Lee.
    • After turning face again along with Kane as Team Hell No, the Rhodes Scholars and The Shield.
    • And after getting screwed out of the title, Triple H and Randy Orton. Also Vince McMahon, whose character believes that Daniel Bryan isn't a top performer, and thus doesn't deserve to be champion.
    • Ties.
    • Bray Wyatt. Particularly after The Wyatt Family beat him up and then indoctrinated him... or so they thought and again after Daniel became the next victim of the Fiend. On the November 15th episode of SmackDown Bryan challenged Wyatt for the Universal Championship at Survivor Series 2019.
    • The Miz has become this again during Bryan's run as GM of SmackDown.
    • AJ Styles after his Face–Heel Turn in late 2018 and again in 2020 over the Intercontinental Championship.
    • Kofi Kingston after he got a title match for WWE Championship at WrestleMania 35.
    • Erick Rowan after he was revealed as the mastermind behind the attack on Roman Reigns.
    • Roman Reigns after he started gunning for The Tribal Chief's Universal Championship in early 2021.
    • Adam Page after he viewed Page's AEW World Championship celebration as disrespectful to the wrestling business and began injuring Page's Dark Order stablemates in their hometowns.
    • Chris Jericho once Danielson's Blackpool Combat Club stablemate Jon Moxley came to his best friend Eddie Kingston's aid against the Jericho Appreciation Society. The feud became extremely personal on Danielson's part once he was injured in the Anarchy in the Arena match at Double or Nothing.
    • MJF after he severely injured Bryan's mentor, William Regal. The fact that this happened as Bryan refocused himself on Friedman's newly won AEW World Championship didn't ease tensions either.
    • Ricky Starks after Bryan made his return from injury to defend the honor of Ricky Steamboat after he got whipped with a belt by Starks.
    • Bryan's feud with Kazuchika Okada started off relatively cordially as both men just wanted to see who the better man was. It quickly became personal after Okada injured Bryan in back to back matches - first a broken arm then a broken orbital bone, Okada mocking Danielson after the latter incident.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "Why don't you quit?" Courtesy of The Miz during his now-legendary Talking Smack promo on Bryan.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: He has this trait, regardless of his face or heel status, in regards to his pride of being a wrestler.
  • The Artifact: The dragon motif on Bryan's trunks and boots is a callback to his "American Dragon" persona, which hasn't been referenced in WWE (outside of Matt Striker mentioning the moniker during Bryan's return to WWE at SummerSlam in 2010).
  • Ascended Meme: His WWE "YES! YES! YES!" chant was adopted by the fans as a reaction similar to Stone Cold's "WHAT?". Everyone from WWE to TNA, to Ring of Honor and CHIKARA and even outside of wrestlingnote  got caught in chanting it. Then WWE released a "YES! YES! YES!" t-shirt first, and a "NO! NO! NO!" shirt to counter the YES! chants after whining that the fans stole his chant. It eventually culminated in a Slammy Award Winner.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • His corner shotgun dropkicks are usually fun to watch and provide a nice visual when sold correctly, but cause Bryan to put a lot a lot of pressure on his head and shoulder after landing, whether or not he connects.
    • Subverted with a touch of career cunning at WrestleMania XXX, since his left shoulder had been targeted throughout the night, he used the ropes to land on his feet each time to avoid putting further pressure on the bad shoulder.
  • Badass Longcoat: His scarlet boxing style entrance coat, which he of course removes before a fight.
  • Badass Normal: Until 2018, at least. In the WWE and its over the top characters, like the outright supernatural Kane and The Undertaker, the sociopath Randy Orton, cartoonishly villainous Large Ham Chris Jericho, Dark Messiah and Straight Edge Evil CM Punk, he is just a talented competitor, that honestly wouldn't be out of place in Mixed Martial Arts. Hell, he started out as an Expy of Chris Benoit, added some jiu-jitsu, and then trained with Randy Couture. Then he became the World Heavyweight Champion.
  • Bash Brothers: Started with Lance Cade in FMW. He's had tag team title runs with Spanky, then Low Ki, then Curry Man, then Kane. Others include Paul London, Bison Smith, and CM Punk sometimes.
  • Batman Gambit: Pulled an epic one on The Wyatt Family.
  • Beard of Evil: With his heel turn in WWE came his beard growing out of control.
  • Beard of Sorrow: During his first ROH feud with Homicide, he grew his Hobo Beard. During this time, he also came to the ring to a remix of The Imperial March.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: During his feud with Kofi Kingston right down to having a McMahon as an ally and using the same B+ insult used at him 5 years ago.
  • The Berserker: He may well be the latest Trope Codifier with how's he gone about proving himself to not be the "weak link." An example? He not only dominated the Shield in a close losing effort, but took on Ryback simply because he wanted to and refused, hell, demanded that Kane not be around to help him. The craziest part? He actually dominated Ryback for a good chunk of the match before Ryback drove him into the announce table and powerbombed him through a table.
  • Berserk Button:
    • As a face, Michael Cole really got under his skin and vice versa. On at least one occasion, their shouting matches escalated to the point where he would jump from the ring to the floor threatening to kick Michael Cole's ass and fully intending to do it.
    • Others saying "YES!" during his heel phase after A.J. left him at the altar to be RAW GM is this, leading to his new catchphrase: "NO!" And any references to Goats.
      • Subverted with the latter after his Heel–Face Turn. A lot of his more recent WWE merchandise have goat themes of both the flying and bearded variety.
    • He is NOT the weak link of Team Hell No. Suggesting this causes him to snap into a berserker level rage and take you out.
    • Sending a monster like Kane after Bryan is one thing; Daniel is more than capable of taking his lumps and dishing them back out in kind. Having that monster go after his wife Brie Bella? You better hope he's too hurt to kick your face in. Stephanie found this out after Kane nearly abducted Brie on the 4/28/14 Raw:
    Bryan: You will REGRET dragging my wife into this.
  • Big Damn Heroes: After being fired from WWE for his actions, Bryan was kayfabe exiled from the Nexus for "showing remorse". Two months later, he's rehired... and made the seventh man for Team WWE against The Nexus.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: As part of Team Hell No with Kane. Later him and Erick Rowan after he help him to retain the title at the 2019 Royal Rumble.
  • Big "NO!":
    • After A.J. was revealed as the ref for his title match, the new GM of Raw while leaving him at the altar and onwards.
    • Has since taken the role that "YES!" used to occupy in such a way that they're now a Dueling Chant:
      Crowd: YES!
      Daniel Bryan: NO!
      Crowd: YES!!
      Daniel Bryan: NOO!!
      Crowd: YES!!!
      Daniel Bryan: NOOO!!!
    • Eventually, Bryan brought "YES!" back; "NO!" has not been completely abandoned, although "YES!" has overshadowed it again.
    • His response to The Wyatt Family when Bray attempted to recruit Daniel. The however ended up being averted, as Daniel ultimately ended up joining them anyway. Which was part of his larger plan to get a chance to strike back at Bray.
  • Big "YES!": How Bryan celebrated his victories during his run as World Heavyweight Champion, whether he earned it or won by sheer luck. After dropping the belt, he did for a while, but the fans had taken a liking to it so he started the Big "NO!" instead. He has now started it back up again after his face turn.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • The Final Countdown Tour. While it was great to see him finish his ROH career with a win, you had to feel at least slightly bad for Nigel McGuinness, knowing it was his final show as well, and McGuinness didn't get a whole frickin' tour named after him like he did.
    • Also Summerslam 2013, full stop. He managed to defeat John Cena cleanly, only to have the title taken away from him by Randy Orton and Triple H.
    • His WWE World Heavyweight Title run ended not with an amazing match but Bryan being unceremoniously stripped of the title due to injury.
    • His Intercontinental Title run ended in the same way as his World Title run.
    • His career in general. While it ended sooner than he would have liked and he'll have to find a new passion now, he still got do what he loved for sixteen years. He'll forever be immortalized in history with his countless accomplishments, always beloved and remembered well by fans. Most of all, while he'll never completely heal, he'll live a long life and have his Happily Ever After with Brie, and be able to spend more time with his future children. While Bryan's career didn't end the way he wanted he wanted it to, he still had a lot to be proud of and went out with his head held high. Having said all that, averted with his return to being an active wrestler on the WWE roster in 2018.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • His opening promo in the 01/13/2012 edition of SmackDown had him telling the crowd that, despite what it looked like, and no matter what people are saying in the message boards, he absolutely did not intend to win his first championship match against The Big Show via disqualification. That disqualification win was all Mark Henry's fault, not his. While Henry indeed shoved him to the ground, it was because Bryan taunted him into attacking him.
    • He would not cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase until WrestleMania. To be fair, he wasn't going to, but certain events, such as being Mark Henry's punching bag for a few weeks, made him realize that he might not be healthy enough for WrestleMania and took the first opportunity he got to cash it in.
  • Blessed with Suck:
  • Blood Knight: His persona in AEW is very much this. He isn't so much a babyface or a heel as much as he is motivated specifically to kick the head in of anyone he views as inferior note and fight anyone he sees as an equal in an attempt to prove himself.
  • Bookends:
    • WWE Fatal 4-Way on 6/20/10 began and ended with the crowd chanting "DANIEL BRYAN! (clap clap clap-clap-clap)"
    • Topped with WrestleMania 28 starting with Daniel Bryan chants and the next night's RAW ending with them.
    • In a sense, the build-up for his match at SummerSlam 2013 with John Cena. Cena was the one who brought Bryan back to the WWE at SummerSlam 2010, and now, three years later, Bryan's the one he's chosen to potentially unseat him as WWE Champion.
    • Bryan's first WWE match was a dark match on Heat (using the SmackDown set), as the (masked) American Dragon teaming with Shooter Schultz to fight and lose to Lance Cade and Brian Kendrick. All of them were unknowns at the time, and their crowd reactions were mostly limited to big spots. His last match was a tag match on SmackDown, in a winning effort with John Cena against Tyson Kidd and Cesaro. All of them were champions at the time, and were pretty well-known and received by the crowd.
    • Bryan's rise from mid-card to main event began in 2013, seeing him play the role of a sympathetic, underdog babyface, and culminated in Bryan taking the WWE Title from arrogant, egotistical company man Randy Orton. Five years later, now a valued company asset and having become literally everything he ever hated, he fell from grace and glory when Kofi Kingston - another underdog and a man who Bryan had the audacity and egomania to accuse of being a "B+ player" in the exact same manner Triple H had used against Bryan himself at the start - put him down at WrestleMania 35 and became WWE Champion in his own right.
  • Boring, but Practical
    • He employed Greco Roman, catch wrestling, British chaining, Japanese strong style, mixed martial arts and Mexican lucha libre offense along with plain old power wrestling moves to destroy Austin Aries from head to toe at Testing The Limit. What was this all building too? A bear hug.
    • His Solid Knee Plus (single leg high knee). It isn't especially technical (especially for Daniel Bryan), but... well, it does exactly what you expect of a knee forcefully applied to the face.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase:
    • In an interview for GQ admitted that he got the idea for YES chants from UFC fighter Diego Sanchez.
    • Luckily, it would seem that Sanchez doesn't mind how popular it has gotten since Bryan started to use it (though the fact that Bryan repeated credited him for the inspiration probably eliminated the risk for any ill-will).
  • Breakup Breakout: Wade Barrett has done well, but his push was derailed due to injury. As of now, Bryan is the only member of the original Nexus lineup (Bryan, Barrett, Slater, Gabriel, Otunga, Sheffield, Young) to win a world title. Most of the others are floundering around in the midcard or are Jobbers. Except for Skip in a way who been repackaged as Ryback.
    • Considering his career now, being the first to be kicked out of The Nexus was probably the best thing to happen to Daniel Bryan's career.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Spent a week or two leading up to the Rumble antagonizing The Big Show, who was already somewhat irritated with Bryan in the first place. Then he bitch-slaps him on live (sorta) television. Not the best course of action when the guy you're slapping around is well north of 400 pounds and gets to fight you in a steel cage over the weekend.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Fits this trope to a T during his time with Team Hell No. He's essentially gone from "slightly disturbed" in 2012 to batshit insane in 2013. But no matter his sanity (or lack thereof), if he slaps that "NO!" Lock on you in the middle of the ring, you're probably tapping.
  • But Not Too White: He is very pale, which other wrestlers have taken time to mock. He himself cut a promo insisting that his pale skin is a testament to his lack of vanity, therefore making him more manly.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • While he will manage to crush anyone at a PPV, he's not as successful on Raw. He lost to Michael Tarver immediately after his return to the WWE (mostly due to The Miz's interference), and was absolutely destroyed by Sheamus which many claimed destroyed his credibility (Sheamus jumped him before the match and was eventually disqualified for repeatedly kneeing Bryan's head at the ropes), then lost again to Sheamus (although he did scare the hell out of Sheamus this time around). He's been getting better about it recently, though, ever since his feud with Dolph Ziggler, and most recently he had a great match with former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Jack Swagger and won.
    • Also, he lost to Alberto Del Rio in the first round of the 2010 King of the Ring. He did manage to qualify for the first round after destroying Ted DiBiase Jr. once again though, and did also get consoled by the Bella Twins.
    • Even as World Champ, he was not immune to this, as WrestleMania 28 proved.
    • Summerslam 2013, pins John Cena clean, gets an Eddie Guerrero-Chris Benoit style celebration with streamers, then Orton comes out, he is pedigreed by Triple H, and Orton pins him.

  • Call-Back: The first few minutes of his match with John Cena at SummerSlam '13, wherein he won his first WWE Championship, was almost an exact move-for-move repeat of the opening sequence with a match he had with Cena nearly ten years earlier, when Bryan was barely a blip on the wrestling radar and Cena an unremarkable midcard talent.
    • His heel run in late 2018 to the present has been one big extended callback to the "Yes Movement" and his underdog character... with Bryan now in the Triple H role. Bryan shows repeated disdain for his opponents, even making references HHH (and other heel authority figures) once leveled at him. Mustafa Ali is "too small", Kevin Owens is "average-looking", and worst of all, Kofi Kingston is "a B+ player".
    • Danielson's Championship bout with Adam Page at Winter is Coming in December 2021 ended in a draw after the two hit the time limit—just like Danielson's very first match in AEW against Page's former mentor and tag-team partner.
  • The Cameo: At a Velocity (SmackDown's midcard show then) taping in 2003, he, under his real name, fought against John Cena (then the heel Doctor of Thuganomics). To make it better, even though he obviously lost, a scheduling error resulted in WWE having him call the match, and so he got in plenty of offense.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "I have until five, ref!"
    • "Best in the world!"
    • And his (former) signature chant: "You're gonna get your fucking head kicked in!"
    • During NXT, he (and people talking about him) were throwing around "You tap, or you snap!", a holdover from his time in the independent leagues.
      • However, since Michael Cole (repeatedly) got it wrong, it was dropped in short order.
    • "YES! YES! YES!"
      • Ironically, "NO! NO! NO!" after A.J. Lee was declared the special guest referee for his match against CM Punk at Money in the Bank 2012. Ever since the 1000th RAW episode, it's become his catchphrase in earnest. He's worn a shirt to go with it.
    • As part of Team Hell No with Kane: "I AM THE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS!"
    • And after they lost the belts with him being pinned: "I am NOT the weak link!"
    • Usually before using his foot stomps against an opponent, he'll tell the crowd, "I'm gonna kick his/He's gonna get his fucking head (kicked) in!"
    • After his Face–Heel Turn in 2023, he almost constantly calls his enemies "AMATEURS!"
  • Celibate Hero: The Bella Twins took a fancy to him, and he turned them down. This was later revealed to be due to him already having a girlfriend.
    Daniel: Didn't you guys get enough of that last week? (referring to their now-famous triple kiss)
    Brie and Nikki: Uh, nooo.
    • Ironically, as of 2014, he's married to Brie Bella in real life while Nikki was dating The Rival John Cena in real life. They even took a vacation together.
  • Cheap Heat: He was over from his first appearance on NXT. So over that he had to rely on this in his promos to get crowds to boo him once he won the World Title. How over is he? Despite having been a huge heel at the time, WWE still used him in their 'Don't try this at home' vignettes and such when typically this is limited to faces. At Night Of Champions the crowd booed the faces, Kofi Kingston and R-Truth, whenever they successfully attacked Daniel Bryan, even though he had antagonized the crowd during the whole build up to the show.
  • Chick Magnet: Bryan once noted in an interview that he seemed to get paired or find attention from Divas in his storylines. This ranged from the time he danced with the Raw Divas in the ring (which was rumored to lead to a "ladies' man" gimmick), to have the Bellas accompanying him and having a competition to be "his first", having Gail Kim as his girlfriend, and the recent storyline with A.J. Lee. He joked that creative probably did the pairings because the idea of a Diva being with a "plain-looking" guy seemed amusing.
  • Combat Commentator: For IWA Mid-South, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and WWE on their Saturday Morning Slam. Since his retirement, WWE have plugged him as color commentator for their Cruiserweight Classic.
  • Cool Mask: During the early 2000s when he went on tour in NJPW, Danielson turned his "American Dragon" moniker into a gimmick. Observe.
  • Cool Versus Awesome:
    • Many of his feuds, but his feud with The Miz is a great example, yes really, despite how good you think Miz may or may not be, this feud is basically the two extremes of wrestling battling it out. You have the charismatic, cocky, flashy and larger than life though unspectacular in the ring Miz versus the more boring, humble, simple and subdued super talented worker - it's Technician Versus Performer on a grand scale that's been set up ever since NXT. The feud has allowed both to expand as wrestlers as well; Bryan gets the pizazz he's been lacking and The Miz gets some in-ring respectability.
    • Inverted by his mentorship of NXT rookie Derrick Bateman in that while Bryan is the humble technician, Bateman is a Large Ham Cloudcuckoolander performer who can't even be taught a simple heel hook without slipping off into his own little world about how he's doing "SUBMISSION WREST-LING!" while Bryan plays the frustrated straight man.
  • Cosmic Retcon:
    • Though WWE does remember him winning titles all over the world, dominating the indies, and being the best wrestler in the world awesomely enough.
    • Hilariously enough, this applied even when he returned in season 4 of NXT. The commentators were talking about how much he's earned his spot as a Pro, about coming full circle, etc etc etc and otherwise talking as if he'd been in WWE for a very long time. Though it neglected his stint in Nexus and such, it's more hilarious that - due to the way NXT tapes - he returned to NXT within months of him leaving it!
    • On a darker side, his finishing move (the LeBell/YES!/NO! Lock) is very similar to the Crippler Crossface. And as the WWE has struck Benoit from the history books, some of the commentary can be very much full of retcons in regards to the move.
    • The main event of the 8/6/12 Raw was Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena. The commentators had noted that it was the first time that both men had faced each other in a singles match. Except that Bryan did face Cena before on an episode of WWE Velocity. This could be handwaved, though, as technically, it was Bryan Danielson that fought John Cena more than 9 years ago.
  • Couch Gag: As ROH World Champion, he would constantly force ring announcer Bobby Cruise to introduce him with a different outrageous superlative, such as "the best wrestler in the entire world, with an emphasis on entire world," "the best champion in ROH history," "the best wrestler to ever step foot in the ECW Arena," "really too good to wrestle in front of all these pricks," and "even better than The Beatles."
  • Cut Short: Bryan Danielson was one of the principle players in EVOLVE, being involved in some fashion since it's creation. The name itself comes from him. WWE came calling before he could do much in it or with it though.
  • Dare to Be Badass: In response to the chants of "Best In The World" at Open The Untouchable Gate, Danielson said that he didn't know if he would be able to continue to be the best wrestler in the world, since he was going to WWE. He then laid out a challenge to all independent pro wrestlers to strive to take his place and singled out Davey Richards, demanding he take it. (Unfortunately for Danielson, the fans heckled Davey Richards after this, so Davey took out his frustration by attacking Danielson)
  • Defeating the Undefeatable
    • Proved KENTA was beatable, after everyone else in Ring of Honor failed to do so. Danielson did this with a separated shoulder which KENTA relentlessly targeted to boot (targeted with his boots).
    • Chris Hero was the longest Pro Wrestling Guerrilla Champion of all time until Danielson beat him.
    • He (with help from Randy Orton and Kane) handed the seemingly unstoppable The Shield their first loss.
    • Getting a clean win over John Cena to win the WWE championship at SummerSlam.
  • Demoted to Extra: The second half of his US Title reign was kinda lackluster, although admittedly that's mainly because most of the mid-carders on RAW, such as The Miz and John Morrison, got elevated into the main event scene at the same time, and he could only kill Ted DiBiase so many times before it got boring. A much more straight example, however, is his and Sheamus' match for the US Championship getting knocked off the card for Wrestlemania 27. Then, Wrestlemania 28 happened.
  • Dented Iron: Bryan missed most of 2014 due to injury, and then he missed even more of 2015. And by 2016 it was clear that he had accumulated too many injuries to ever safely wrestle again.
  • Despair Event Horizon: His main motivation for joining The Wyatt Family. He's come to the realization that regardless of how much the fans cheer for him every week, WWE Management simply doesn't care for him. Except not, as it was a ploy to get close to Bray in order to take him out.
  • Determinator:
    • Both in and out of character. He defended the ROH World Championship for three months with a separated shoulder just so that he could finish the build to Homicide's championship win.
    • Wrestling with an eye socket broken by Takeshi Morishima. And not just a broken eye socket, a detached retina.
    • Gave up meat-eating so he could continue wrestling with his weak immune system shortly before even arriving in WWE.
    • Part of the reason Triple H seemingly respected Bryan was that no matter how much crap he and The Authority put Bryan through since Summerslam 2013, Bryan's rallied against them and stood tall regardless of the innumerable setbacks he's been dealt.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: In his book, Daniel Bryan revealed that after the match with Orton where he got injured, he was so furious that his match was stopped that he got into an angry argument with Triple H backstage, with the two of them nearly coming to blows. And after that, he even started shouting at Vince who came to try to calm him down. Granted, Bryan did eventually apologize and make up with them but still, not many wrestlers can say they've told off both Triple H and Vince one after another in real life.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?:
  • Didn't Think This Through: With the CZW Ironman Champion Chris Hero was barking at Danielson to give him an ROH World title shot(despite not working for ROH), Danielson got a contract from Jim Cornette, signed it and then sent it to CZW for Hero to sign too. Hero pointed he could have easily had anyone sign it.
  • Distaff Counterpart:
    • Sara Del Rey, who was trained by him. They use some of the same moves (Le Bell Lock, Royal Butterfly), and have used the same entrance music ("The Final Countdown", "Ride of the Valkyries")
    • His one-time on-screen girlfriend A.J. Lee. Both considered very much members of geek culture, both fairly easily among the smaller yet more talented of their peers, both with at least a decent amount of indy success in their time pre-WWE.
  • Dirty Coward: During his World Heavyweight heel run, he was somehow this and a Manipulative Bastard (see below). If he couldn't win the matches he was in, he did everything he could to get out of them. After winning the WWE Championship and turning Heel at 2018, he again spent most of the time running away from his opponents.
  • Discontinuity Nod: The WWE Title match between Daniel Bryan and John Cena at Summerslam 2013 contained a spot where Bryan resisted getting pinned by using a bridge, culminating with Cena getting monkey-flipped for his efforts. This was also one of the opening spots in their Velocity match back in 2003.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: The reason for his loss at WrestleMania 28. He gave A.J. Lee one kiss only turn around for a Brogue Kick.
  • Domestic Abuser: Towards A.J. during his time as a heel when they were together. He was not remorseful at all for his behavior.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: How he reacted to both Kane and Randy Orton trying to tell him he wasn't the weak link of Team Hell No, or in general. Also, after a match on Raw between him and Orton had been called off due to concern for Bryan's well being, he accused Orton of this in one of their promos on the following episode of SmackDown.
    • In one of those anecdotes blurring kayfabe and reality, it's said that once Bryan went backstage he went ballistic at having the match called off, to the point of almost fighting with Triple H.
  • Dork Knight: His first WWE gimmick was that he's a quirky, awkward, good-natured guy...who just happened to be able to make anyone on the roster tap out, and had the hottest women on the show fawning over him.
  • Downer Ending:
    • His end to 2013 certainly qualifies. Daniel Bryan's is given an opportunity to get revenge on The Wyatt Family by facing them in a Gauntlet match. He ends up taking a beating first from Luke Harper and then by Erick Rowan but he is able to win both of the matches. Weary, it seems like he will finally get to face Bray one-on-one...only for Harper and Rowan to attack him making the match end in a Disqualification. As he lays there in the ring, Bryan admits that Bray was right and that no matter how hard the fans cheered, he was never able to succeed against the Authority. With nothing left, Bryan gives in and accepts the Wyatt's offer to become a member of the family.
    • Summerslam 2013, John Cena gives Daniel Bryan a shot at his title, feeling the latter had been overlooked for too long and deserved this opportunity. They put on a classic in front of a red-hot crowd that sees Bryan go over clean as a sheet, confetti and pyro shower the new WWE champ as the crowd is unglued...only for Randy Orton to come down to cash in his Money in the Bank. Bryan is eager to take him on...but Triple H, who just finished refereeing the title match, ambushes him with a Pedigree and giving Orton the title in the process.
    • Everything after his Crowning Moment of Awesome at Wrestlemania XXX could be considered one leading up to his forced retirement.

  • Early-Bird Cameo: Wrestled a match on Heat in 2003 as Bryan Danielson, against John Cena. Furthermore, because of a scheduling error, the WWE bookers had him calling the match, which lead to the match being back and forth instead of a squash.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After months of getting screwed over by the Authority, Bryan finally wins the title back at Wrestlemania 30, fort by beating Triple H, and then Randy Orton and Batista in a triple threat match, all while wrestling for nearly a full hour along the way.
  • Enemy Mine: Defied, he refused to help Alex Shelley deal with Generation Next, not wanting any distractions in his pursuit of the ROH World Title held by Austin Aries.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • After break up and A.J.'s progressive Sanity Slippage, he wanted almost nothing to do with A.J. However, when she was willing to go as far as jumping through a table for sake of attention, even he had to get in the way and talk her down from that one.
    • He isn't a liar and did not attempt to murder Roman Reigns. When he learned Erick Rowan, his ally, was behind the attacks on Roman, he reacted with disgust.
  • Everyman: If he ever had a gimmick, this was it. He looked like a regular guy, he had no outlandish weirdness, he wasn't a 6-feet plus giant with powermoves normal people couldn't pull off, he was... just a guy, and that was probably the main reason for his popularity.
  • Evil Costume Switch: After his heel turn, his wrestling attire prominently featured a touch of black along with the regular reds.
    • His recent WWE heel turn has him in hoodies and switching the green/blue trunks for red and black - a throwback to his indy heel days.
  • Evil Mentor: To A.J. Lee, as he has started coaching her for her matches. She was too in love to notice.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: One of the reasons WWE gave Bryan his big win at WrestleMania XXX and pulled the trigger on making him one of their top stars is because CM Punk legitimately walked out on the company after the 2014 Royal Rumble. Bryan was the only wrestler popular enough to take his spot, aided by the fact that the same people who were fans of Punk were fans of him as well. Naturally, when he had to temporarily retire in 2016, that blew its own hole in the main event scene, though luckily they already had Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles in place to fill it in a few months later.
  • Evil Vegetarian: His former role model gimmick could be basically summed up as CM Punk as a vegan instead of Straight Edge. Even CM Punk himself lampshaded it on an episode of SmackDown, stating that if Bryan shaved AJ's head, he'd sue for gimmick infringement.
    • Done again in his 2019 heel turn, to impressive effect; he even got the WWE Championship changed to fit his green vision!
  • Extreme Mêlée Revenge: What he did to Kane, interrupting his entrance and whacking him with a steel chair about twenty-five times uninterrupted.
  • Face: He started off as a heel during his ROH championship run, but he was so awesome the crowd never stopped cheering for him. In the WWE, he spat in John Cena's face and declared war on the WWE as a member of the Nexus, but unfortunately was released around that time. The WWE brought him back the moment they could, and they of course brought him back as a face because they figured crowd would probably never boo the guy after that. And then he won the World Heavyweight Championship...
    • And he became essentially the Number 1 Face in the entirety of the WWE. Yes, even beyond John Cena.
  • Face–Heel Turn:
    • Began to turn after deciding to cash in Money in the Bank at TLC on a prone Big Show moments after he won it, after having put down others for doing such a thing in the past. Afterwards, he began antagonizing Show just a little by continuing to interfere in his matches despite him asking him not to. After implying that Show DOES need his help, he was accused of having his title go to his head. Then, on the 1/6/12 SmackDown, when finding himself struggling in a title defense against Big Show, he resorted to taunting Mark Henry into attacking him, causing the disqualification, so he could retain his title, after which, he celebrated like he had won the Super Bowl. Definitely taking a level in jerkass here...
    • Subverted with his joining of The Wyatt Family. By the time of that turn, he was so over that the crowd simply wouldn't boo him. WWE, perhaps picking up on the fact that this would essentially kill the angle, turned him back again within a couple of weeks.
    • On November 13 2018, Bryan turned heel by giving AJ Styles a low blow during their WWE Championship match, which he won because the referee wasn't looking when he did it.
    • Has turned heel once again on March 29 2023, reconnecting with the Blackpool Combat Club, and joining in on their brutal attacks on other wrestlers.
  • Fake Defector: Towards the Wyatts.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: In WWE he changed his ring gear from straight red to a red and white hybrid pattern. It still looks pretty good.
  • Final Battle: Glory By Honor VIII: The Final Countdown was billed to be his final match against Nigel McGuinness in ROH and ended up being their final ever, as he and Nigel signed to different companies afterward.
  • Finishing Move:
    • While in the indies and ROH, he primarily used a submission hold called the Cattle Mutilation, but he's also known as "Mr. Small Package" for his tendency to use small package pins to win matches.
    • Since returning to WWE, he seems to have settled on an omoplata crossface (named the Lebell Lock, a reference to the legendary Gene LeBellnote ) as his new finisher. Recently, he's moved to a guillotine choke (Though he returned using the Lebell Lock again later). Occasionally, for a knockout finisher, he'll settle for just kicking the other guy's fucking head in - or kneeing it in.
    • He recently used a Flying Headbutt known as the Flying Goat, and a Buisaiku Knee Strike known as the Knee+.
    • He also had multiple finishing moves that involved holding the opponent down and elbowing or stomping their face in.
    • After his return to active performing in 2018, he began using a Heel Hook as an alternative to the Lebell Lock.
    • Upon his AEW debut, not only he brought his WWE finishers (Lebell Lock and running knee) with him, he even brought back the Cattle Mutilation, which earned him his first win in the company by submitting Nick Jackson with it. Later on, he finishes matches more often using a Triangle Choke, which is always preceded by him flexing his biceps a la Nate Diaz.
    • In early 2023, he adopted the Regal Stretch as a tribute to his mentor, William Regal.
  • Five Moves of Doom:
    • Although he has a nearly unlimited move set, many of his later ROH matches had a final stretch in which he would use several of his potential finishers in sequence - the Cattle Mutilation, the Crossface Chickenwing, the MMA elbows, "You're gonna get your fucking head kicked in," and the triangle choke in some order or another.
    • He uses a similar method of rotating moves in WWE, utilizing the Buzzsaw kick, a pair (or trio) of running corner dropkicks, a German and/or snap suplex and the flying headbutt in varying orders, usually ended with the YES!/NO! Lock for the tap out. If a tap out doesn't suffice, he goes in for the kill using the Busaiku Knee Smash, a move that he's beaten John Cena with.
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: After he agreed to work for Konnan in La Legión Extranjera while Danielson was still at AAA.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Daniel Bryan first appears in WWE kicking Cena's head off his shoulders during the NXT Riot and screaming "YOU ARE NOT BETTER THAN ME!" Several years later, he would beat Cena completely clean for his first WWE Championship in a type of loss Cena only gives up once in a blue moon.
    • Subverted at WrestleMania XXX. JBL, on commentary, predicted that "They're gonna have to drag [Bryan] out of this arena tonight" during his second match of the night (a triple-threat match vs Randy Orton and Batista), as a result of his shoulder injury and the beatdown the other two participants laid down on him. They (WWE's EMTs) did end up dragging Bryan out, eventually, on a stretcher... but by the time the stretcher was wheeled to the ringside ramp, Bryan unstrapped himself and bravely (or crazily, in JBL's opinion) re-entered the match. And won.
    • On CM Punk's Dynamite debut, he seemingly goaded the crowd into starting up a "Yes!" chant with several rhetorical questions. His response to them?
      CM Punk: That's somebody else's schtick, and you might just need to be a little bit more patient, okay?
  • Full-Circle Revolution: His feud with Kofi Kingston in the leadup to WrestleMania XXXV mirrored the one he had with The Authority in the build to WrestleMania XXX, with Kingston playing Bryan's role of long-suppressed by management fan favorite finally getting a legitimate shot for the WWE Championship while Bryan had become a McMahon-supported champion that didn't take his opponent seriously.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Greatest of All Time aka. G.O.A.T.

  • Game-Breaking Injury: While he was the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, he had to get surgery on his neck. This lead to him being stripped of the title, when it became clear he wouldn't be able to defend it.
  • Game Changer: Danielson, along with CM Punk and Adam Cole, all signing with AEW in September 2021. The injection of massively notable talent gave the company a shot in the arm at a time when the AEW roster had not seen much of a shake-up in a while. The result was Dynamite and new sister show Rampage pulling numbers (over a million viewers) AEW had not seen since the first month of existence when they were still a novelty, with 18-49 demographic ratings that toppled even WWE Raw; filled Arthur Ashe Stadium (home of tennis' U.S. Open) with 18,000 fans at a time when WWE struggled to hit 5,000 in return to live arenas; and led All Out 2021 to crack over 200,000 PPV buys, a first for a non-WWE PPV since 1999. The publicly expressed joy of Danielson and Punk returning to action in front of rabid fans with more creative freedom than they had in WWE had wrestling journalists reporting that more disgruntled WWE talent were now counting down the clock on their WWE contracts in hopes of making a similar jump, and noting that jump of talent may be the most important since Scott Hall and Kevin Nash infamously jumped to WCW.
  • Geeky Turn-On: He got quite excited after watching Gail Kim do some submission holds.
  • Good Is Not Soft: As a Face he's normally a nice and humble guy. However, he's rather aggressive and sometimes pragmatic in the ring, and if his wrestling ability (not just his ability to win matches, but also his mat wrestling acumen) is challenged or doubted, he can cross the line from humbly confident to completely arrogant.
  • Granola Girl: He's a former vegan and a socialist, and at least his character has always had an anti-corporate slant. He even retained the anti-establishment characterization in WWE, using it to launch a feud with company man Michael Cole.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Was on the receiving end of it from Randy Orton during their championship match in December 2013, as Randy panicked when Daniel looked like he was about to beat him and opted to get disqualified, exploiting Champion's Advantage to retain his belt.
    Michael Cole: Talk about the cheap way out!
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Bryan's envy-worthy golden locks beard nicely suit his unfailing Face character in WWE.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: And it's actually Played for Laughs, believe it or not.
    • Up to the point where he started going batshit crazy on The Shield. Ambrose and company were not laughing after Bryan's attempts to prove himself not the "weak link" cost them their first loss as a complete unit.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat:
    • With random fans, Big "NO!" vs Big "YES!"
    • With Kane: "I AM THE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS!!"
      • At an NXT promo, he gets into this with Kane again. He finishes by screaming a prolonged NO! for as long as his breath can hold out to the point where it's basically him wheezing for a few seconds at the end. Kane responds with a Little Yes and manages to not break character.
  • Hazy-Feel Turn: It's not entirely clear whether Bryan is truly a Face or Heel, as he suggested that he came to AEW to fight the best that the roster has to offer rather than to take sides in existing feuds. However, once the Blackpool Combat Club began feuding with The Elite, Bryan immediately reestablished himself as a full fledged heel.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: As ROH World Champion, whether he was a face or heel depended entirely on who he was wrestling and where. He always wrestled heel in Chicago, notably against Roderick Strong and Colt Cabana; he wrestled Nigel McGuinness twice as a face, and then as a heel when they wrestled in Britain; he wrestled face against Chris Hero, Sonjay Dutt and The Embassy(Alex Shelley, Jimmy Rave-though he was heel against Shelley in the Hammerstein Ballroom); and he was always unquestionably a heel when wrestling Homicide. After that, he remained a face - and like Ric Flair, his heel mannerisms became face mannerisms due to how integral they had become to his gimmick.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Finally turned away from his preachy, arrogant, crusading ways and back into the scrappy hero of old at Survivor Series 2019, reviving the YES! Movement and laying everything on the line in a valiant, but narrowly unsuccessful attempt at taking the Universal Championship away from the as-yet undefeated Big Bad of WWE, the Fiend.
  • The Hero: For the early parts of the Reality Era, Bryan was this until his injuries forced him to retire and later play the role of a Supporting Protagonist as the general manager of SmackDown!. After being medically cleared in 2018, he and Roman Reigns share this role.
  • A Hero to His Hometown: Whether a face or a heel, Bryan is beloved by everyone in his home state of Washington.
  • Heroic RRoD: One could argue his string of injuries that led to his temporary retirement was this. A natural consequence of Bryan's increased visibility during his meteoric rise up the card (as it is for any WWE superstar who ascends to the main event scene) was that he had to fight bigger and stronger opponents in bigger matches more often. (This includes non-televised house shows, where fans typically pay money to get a glimpse of a popular superstar). Combine this with a naturally frenetic and risky in-ring style, and you could easily make the argument that his world title face run accelerated an already ticking time bomb. This was actually the crux of that Talking Smack promo with The Miz. On top of that, Bryan seems to have figured this out in character - and possibly out as well. His post-return heel run has seen him not only work safer (focusing more on the strikes and submissions in his offense) but employ hired muscle in Erick Rowan to take pressure off him in matches.
  • He's Back!
    • After failing to defeat World Champion Austin Aries, Danielson refused to shake his hand and walked out of ROH in 2005, going on voluntary exile. In fact, he became frustrated with pro wrestling in general and considered his other career options, limiting his bookings to Europe and Japan. There was even news that TNA was interested in him. Then, having missed the end of both Aries and CM Punk's reigns, he returned to ROH to defeat James Gibson for the belt.
    • His scapegoat firing from WWE lead to his triumphant return to Dragon Gate USA, Chikara, Absolute Intense Wrestling, Guerilla, westside Xtreme wrestling and everywhere else his heartfelt farewells to the independent and foreign circuits were given. While it was good for him, financially, that WWE did an about face and hired him again, it was a little bitter sweet for fans to have to see him go again.
    • While he's no longer medically able to wrestle, he was able to come back in July 2016 to become the general manager of WWE SmackDown. The huge pop from this announcement (out-popping Mick Foley of all people!) showed that fans will still take Daniel Bryan any way they can get him.
    • Disregard the above, Daniel Bryan has finally been cleared to wrestle again, officially announced by the man himself on the 3/20/18 episode of Smackdown LIVE!
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Prior to WrestleMania 35, Bryan became rather arrogant and berated Kofi Kingston for being a B+ wrestler and not worthy of the WWE Championship, a line Triple H and the Authority used on him haf a decade ago. He even had Vince McMahon's support over the weeks, a direct contrast to what happened to Bryan in the past.
  • Hey, That's My Line!: Since Bryan got "YES! YES! YES!" to take off after Wrestlemania XXVIII, other wrestlers that he has feuded with have gotten into the habit of stealing the catchphrase from him, mostly as a way to irritate him. The biggest culprit of this is A.J., though she has pretty big reasons for wanting to get under Bryan's skin. This also seemed to lead to a spin-off phrase, "NO! NO! NO!" Since turning Face again, he doesn't seem to mind all that much anymore, as it become a rally for him when he's about to bring an opponent down.
  • History Repeats: Bryan's two Elimination Chamber victories had him entering as the defending world champion and being in the final two with an opponent who was a last minute replacement.
  • Hot-Blooded: Whereas he can have a rather subdued and easygoing personality (see Straight Man below), he gets pretty intense in the ring.
  • How Much More Can He Take?: At ROH Testing The Limit it took Austin Aries seventy-five minutes to pin Bryan Danielson.
  • Humiliation Conga:
    • The beginning of his WWE run really looked like this, forced to be a rookie, with the rather average worker of The Miz as his mentor, forced to job to a pack of left-footed actual rookies, then unceremoniously fired after being attached to the hot new angle. Of course, it was subverted as he got hired again cause he's so over, and got the U.S. Title and revenge against his Smug Snake former mentor.
    • The 7/30/12 edition of Raw served as one for Bryan. He starts out the night confronting A.J., who promptly calls him out on trying to marry her so he could legally have her committed. She then puts him in a match with Sheamus. He loses the match and demands to see a doctor due to a convenient neck injury. During this time, Kofi Kingston and R-Truth come out to laugh at him until A.J. brings out some orderlies to take him to the back for a psychiatric evaluation, where he slowly starts to lose his mind after answering questions and seeing a goat in a Rorschach blot test. Then, at the end of it all, for no apparent reason, when he's allowed to go free after being declared sane, Kane appears out of nowhere, introduces himself as Bryan's "anger management class", and lays him out.
  • Hypocrite: Cole called out Bryan on the 11/28/2011 Raw for cashing in his MitB briefcase against a knocked out Mark Henry far before his promised match at WM 28. Bryan admits that, yes, he's a hypocrite for doing it, but considering that Henry had been pretty much been trying to end Bryan's career on a weekly basis, plans change...
    • For his angle with Kofi Kingston for WM 35, Bryan would echo some of the same condescending sentiments Triple H and Stephanie used on him during his own underdog angle for WM 30, even down to even calling Kofi a “B+ player.”

  • I Can't Dance: After taking care of business with Ziggler one week on Raw, the WWE Divas convince a reluctant DBD to dance with them. And it turns out he can cut a decent rug for a white guy. He won't be doing the splits again for a while though.
  • Ignore the Fanservice: His storyline with the Bellas largely consisted of Bryan ignoring the Twin Threesome Fantasy unfolding around him... only because he's already seeing Gail Kim.
  • Important Haircut:
    • At his retirement, Bryan sported a new haircut and a shorter beard. It turns out that he donated his hair to the Locks of Love charity.
    • At TLC 2019, his scraggly beard and long hair have been trimmed, giving Bryan a look much more reminiscent of his earliest WWE days.
  • Incoming Ham: With an entrance set to Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries, punctuated with loud chants of "YES!" while pointing into the air, could you really expect anything else?
  • Insistent Terminology: During his heel run as WWE Champion in late 2018, he has christened himself as "The New Daniel Bryan" and insists that everyone calls him that, even forcing Greg Hamilton to refer to him as "The WWE Champion, The New Daniel Bryan".
  • Insult Backfire: Matt Striker called him a big fish in a small pond in the minor leagues who drowned in the WWE after being eliminated in NXT. Bryan Danielson responded that he had been champion in promotions across six countries across the planet and hailed as the greatest technical wrestler alive and suggested Striker just watch and find out what was next for him.
  • In-Series Nickname:
    • Booker T calls him "D Bryan".
    • Goat Face.
  • Irony:
    • Bryan is five credits away from an associates degree, those five credits? In PE.
    • John Cena brings him back to the WWE at SummerSlam 2010. Three years later, Bryan's the one who would end up taking the WWE Championship from Cena.
    • Bryan had a storyline in 2011 where the Bella Twins were fawning over him. That storyline ended with Bryan rejecting the Bella's as he was already seeing Gail Kim. Fast forward to 2012, where he's with A.J. in storyline but, in Real Life, he's dating Brie Bella. One can imagine that they've shared a couple of jokes about the previous year's angle.
    • In response to getting injured and needing a replacement for a match, the one member of the Blackpool Combat Club with enough heelish arrogance to come out of the left tunnel (Danielson) would induct the one member with pure babyface virtue (Claudio).
  • Ironic Echo: During his feud with The Authority, Bryan was constantly put down and told he was merely a "B+ Player", not on the A level of competition. Now, following his heel turn and during his reign as the WWE Champion, he has been using the insult himself, to criticize unlikely potential challenger Kofi Kingston as just a member of the New Day and not a believable singles competitor.
  • It's All About Me: As a heel World Heavyweight Champion, and then again as a Tag champ - or, in his words, "I am the tag team champions!"
  • It Only Works Once: Tried to use the Airplane Spin that won him a world title shot on champion Austin Aries but it was countered after thirty rotations.
  • It's Personal: Sure, go after him all you want, he's able to overcome it.note  Go after his wife? All bets are off, and he personally looks forward to sending you to hell.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Danielson had no illusions about WWE letting him use more than 2/3rds of his repertoire and let fans know it in his (thought to be) final days on the independent circuit. Once in WWE, he and former team uppercut partner Claudio Castagnoli came to the conclusion that wrestling was now a parody of what it once was, and based on that, they would never get upset about their positions on the card again. Danielson didn't need to, fans got upset enough about his position on the card for WWE to move him up.
  • Jerkass: Most Heels are, but after spending most of the first part of his WWE tenure as a Nice Guy face, the level of dickishness that came with his heel turn was especially jarring.

  • Kick Chick: His kick combo generally sparks "YES! YES! YES!" chants.
  • Kicked Upstairs: A few months after he was forced to officially retire, the new Brand Extension kicked off, and Bryan was picked to be the General Manager of SmackDown. And yes (YES! YES!); he's still massively popular even in that role.
  • Large Ham:
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After turning heel in 2018, one of Bryan's new move involved him pulling both his opponent's hands while they are lying down and stomps on their head. At WrestleMania 35, Kofi, a regular victim of this move over the past few months, used it against Bryan before finishing him off with a Trouble in Paradise.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: Red is more than a Shout-Out to William Regal, it's the best in the world.
  • Legacy Character: In a subtle way, his red trunks and one of his moves he uses, the Regal-Plex (bridging leg-hook belly to back suplex), were used/invented by his trainer William Regal.
  • Lightning Bruiser: He is a Lightning Bruiser of the deceptively strong variety. Sure he doesn't have a Charles Atlas Superpower, but he is strong enough to throw out a bevy of suplexes against good sized opponents.
  • The Load: He somehow got it in his head that he was this, much to everyones else's protests, and he went out of his way to prove them wrong. His matches with Randy Orton was something to see due to this.
  • Loser Leaves Town: Subverted, as he gave in to Kevin Steen's groveling and spared his job at Guerrilla, even as the fans were calling for Steen's deportation to Mexico.

  • Manipulative Bastard:
    • His heel turn in 2011-12 made him into one. He managed to hold on to the World Heavyweight Championship against both Mark Henry and The Big Show, by getting the victories by countout, interference or otherwise.
    • Everything about his on-air relationship with A.J. Lee. On the 1/13/12 show, he manipulated his new girlfriend A.J. (who confessed her love for him that VERY night) into taking a nasty looking hit from Big Show, taking advantage of the latter's Heroic BSoD to have the match called off, while likely getting Show off of his back for good.
  • Manly Facial Hair: During his WWE run, he's grown a scruffy beard, which combined with his rather drab appearance adds to his Granola Guy gimmick. After his initial Face–Heel Turn, he stopped shaving it, having become one of his signature looks.
  • Manly Tears
    • When he won the SmackDown Money in the Bank, and later, when he won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania XXX.
    • Narrowly averted on the 5/11/15 RAW, when Bryan was forced to surrender the Intercontinental Title due to injury. He choked up a few times, particularly when he had to admit he might never wrestle again, and he was very red-eyed as he was leaving, but he didn't actually cry.
  • Masked Luchador: On AEW Dark, he has Infinito as a masked alter-ego.
  • The Mentor:
    • He was trained by William Regal and Shawn Michaels. He'd get further training from Rudy Boy Gonzales, Tracy Smothers and Masato Tanaka. However, when The Miz was made his "pro" on NXT, he did nothing to help his rookie.
    • Bryan himself trained SHIMMER's first champion, Sara Del Rey - her Royal Butterfly finisher is a move that Bryan had used earlier in his career. According to rumor, he also advised her to use "Ride of the Valkyries" as entrance music before he himself used the song in WWE. Ironically, he also helped train her most hated enemy, Cheerleader Melissa.
    • Bryan Danielson was one of the mentors of TJ Perkins/TJP.
    • Older and Wiser: Bryan being Derrick Bateman's pro in NXT season 4.
  • Messy Hair: Rocks this look alongside his beard.
  • The Mole: Daniel Bryan faked joining the Wyatt Family to get closer to Bray Wyatt to get his revenge.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • At the end of a long, bloody, hate-filled feud, he finished off Homicide with the longest Airplane Spin (over 100 rotations!) in wrestling history.
    • Screaming out "YES! YES! YES" at the top of his lungs (complete with jubilant finger points) whenever he wins a match (sheer luck or otherwise) likely counts.
    • And screaming out "NO! NO! NO!" with righteous indignation.
    • Got in a fan's face and engaging in Ham-to-Ham Combat. In a battle of Catchphrase vs Crowd Chant.
    • He won the inaugural ROH Survival of the Fittest tournament June 24, 2004, in a six-way elimination match also involving Austin Aries, Samoa Joe, Colt Cabana, Homicide and Mark Briscoe. It came down tonote  Danielson and Aries, and Danielson gave Aries a series of bodyslams and the announcers called him "The Master of the Basics."
  • Mythology Gag: Immediately after Tony Khan announced that he had bought Ringof Honor to open the March 2, 2022 episode of Dynamite, he brought out Danielson and Christopher Daniels to have a match. The two had previously competed in the first ever ROH main event back in 2002.
  • Name of Power: His knee finisher, being called Solid Knee Plus. Perhaps as dig towards the fact Triple H calls him a B + player.
    • Well, it's an interesting aversion, as it's unofficially known as the "Knee +," but the announcers just call it the flying knee. However, he has used it to beat John Cena, Triple H, and to set up Batista for the Yes Lock (a Crossface and a more traditional example).
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Along with "American Dragon," for a time he used a submission hold finisher called "Cattle Mutilation."
  • Never My Fault: Blamed his WrestleMania loss on AJ, claiming it was her that wanted to kiss him before the match.
  • Nice Guy: The main problem of Daniel Bryan versus Bryan Danielson in his (their?) mind. This wasn't the problem at all, as he was only nice to the extent that he was no longer a complete Jerkass but he did not take much crap from Miz or Cole. On the other hand, his reaction to Sheamus's criminal threats toward him and Gail were a little too passive. He was fully back to his old self after Mark Henry tried to end his career though.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The Blackpool Combat Club's M.O. during a tag team match. Danielson stomps on an opponents head while his partners simultaneously rain elbows on the other members of the opposing team.
  • Nominal Hero: When he teamed with Kane and was being cheered again, he was essentially this. Purely because he crosses so far into Laughably Evil that few want to legitimately boo him.
  • Not So Above It All: Despite his reputation as being a more serious technical/shoot wrestler, Bryan has admitted to taking part in the pro-wrestling culture of backstage ribbing with his friends and co-workers in his book. At least two of the known wrestlers he's pranked include Cesaro and Kane.

  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Had an epic Oh, Crap! moment here at about nine and a half minutes in, where he has the YES! lock locked in on Alberto del Rio and Rio is about to tap...only for Kane to catch his hand before it can touch the matt, leaving Bryan staring dumbstruck at a very angry Big Red Monster.
    • Also, at Elimination Chamber when he was the last person left in the chamber and Big Show decided he didn't want to wait for it to open and climbed on top of the chamber and ripped the the top part away and climbed in. Bryan went from smug look to a look of horror.
  • One-Hit KO: SOLID. KNEE. PLUS!
  • Overly-Long Gag:
    • The YES! chant usually is this to begin with, but when Bryan re-named his finisher as The Yes Lock, he punctuated it by yelling YES! in Kofi Kingston's face for a good thirty seconds, prompting Kofi to corpse from the sheer ridiculousness.
    • Also, the NO! chant, which had him get into a screaming match with random fans at the end of his matches, and even at one point, Animal.
  • Parts Unknown: Infinito is "from the infinite universe, from the beginning and end of time", and weighs "more than you could possibly imagine".
  • Perma-Stubble: During 2011 and then he kept growing it.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Five ten and one hundred ninety pounds puts him firmly in the small category, especially when giants are so common in wrestling. However, he isn't a Fragile Speedster like similarly sized wrestlers - he goes toe to toe with wrestlers twice his weight and wins.
  • Police Are Useless: On March 10, 2014, Daniel Bryan organized what he described as the "Occupy RAW Movement." Close to 100 fans swarmed the ring at Bryan's cue, and they essentially held the show hostage, refusing to let the show go on unless Triple H caved in and made a match between himself and Bryan at WrestleMania. Triple H and Stephanie were not pleased... especially when they sent "security" to handle the situation. That's because "security" consisted of two bald, average-sized men who didn't even look like they were armed with flashlights, let alone anything capable of riot control. They marched towards the ring confidently, then turned around and essentially said to Hunter and Stephanie "What the hell are we supposed to do?" Daniel Bryan himself even lampshaded the ridiculousness of the whole thing:
    Bryan: Uh-oh, here they come! All two of 'em!
  • Popularity Power:
    • Boy, did he have it on December 9, 2013 during the Slammy Awards edition of RAW. Lampshaded by Triple H during the Title Ascension Ceremony. Further bolstered by the fact that this particular episode of RAW took place in Seattle. note 
    Triple H: That's a lotta family for one building, Daniel! I should have known; a lot of 'em look just like you!
    • The man is so over that he managed to turn both Randy Orton and Shawn Michaels heel just by going against him. As of right now the only superstar who rivals his popularity is CM Punk. Although as of January 27, 2014, that may no longer be the case with Punk walking out on WWE.
    • His massive popularity reached a fever pitch during the 2014 Royal Rumble. Chants of "Daniel Bryan!" and "YES!" permeated the entire event.
      • When it was revealed that Bryan was not going to be in the actual Rumble match, the crowd (and by extension those watching at home, especially one Mick Foley) was completely against it, even doing "NO!" chants when Rey Mysterio was the last one to come out, and when Batista eventually won. The hugely negative response from the WWE Universe at large, coupled with CM Punk's sudden departure from WWE after the Royal Rumble, prompted the writers to completely do script rewrites for RAW the following night, with rewrites coming in 90 MINUTES before the show started!
    • In other words, Daniel Bryan is so popular these days that he can completely change a show almost seemingly at will!
      • Weaponized with Occupy Raw Movement. He actually used his popularity to hijack Raw with the fan's assistance until Triple H caved into his demands for not only a match at Wrestlemania against HHH, but also to add the stipulation that if Bryan wins, he's entered into the main event of Wrestlemania 30 for a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
      • Put it this way: His popularity caused a rewrite of the main event of the biggest show of the year for WWE (WM 30).
      • Royal Rumble 2015: Bryan was so over that not only did the crowd riot when he was eliminated anti-climactically at the beginning of the match, not only did they turn on the winner of the rumble for the second year in a row, not only did they cheer Rusev of all people, but by the end of the night they were booing THE ROCK.
  • Power Stable: Blackpool Combat Club in AEW with Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli and Wheeler Yuta
  • Power Trio: Team Uppercut in Chikara with Claudio Castagnoli and Dave Taylor
  • Precision F-Strike: The ending of the 01/13/2012 edition of SmackDown! had Bryan telling Big Show that "You... are a bastard" for accidentally tackling his girlfriend, AJ.
    • A lesser known moment in Ring of Honor when he was admonishing Nigel McGuinness for trying to back out of defending the ROH World Championship against him.
    • Danielson got in his usual pre-WWE one after hitting Kenny Omega with a particularly vicious kick to the head during their match at Grand Slam.
      Danielson: He just got his FUCKING HEAD KICKED IN!
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: He's used remixes of Ride of the Valkyries as his theme in both WWE and AEW.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    • How he usually declared himself "BEST! WRESTLER! IN THE WORLD!"
    • And then, when the NXT rookies invaded a Raw main event to tear apart the set and brutalize John Cena, Bryan looked Cena in the face while screaming "YOU! ARE NOT! BETTER THAN ME!"
    • His heel run had Bryan declaring himself as the "WORLD! HEAVYWEIGHT! CHAMPION!", combining it with "YES! YES! YES! YES!" for added ham and later No! NO! NO!
  • Put on a Bus: RAW NXT leader Wade Barrett claiming that Bryan had been removed from the group for showing remorse (accentuating the others' refusal to apologize). Then he comes back to join Cena's team against his old stablemates in Wrestling/TheNexus at ''Summerslam'' a few months later.

  • Real Men Wear Pink: Vegan socialists from Nirvana's hometown don't exactly sound badass - Michael Cole even called him a wuss for not eating meat. But none of that stops Bryan from kicking a metric ton of ass regardless.
  • Recognition Failure: Apparently, Bryan was often not recognized by security guards when he showed up at the arena for his wrestling matches.
  • Red Baron
    • "The American Dragon", or "AmDrag."
    • Less used is King Of The Independents, which he inherited as the winner of the second KOI after first event winner Christopher Daniels left the indies. When Danielson left the indies it eventually went to HARISHIMA of Dramatic Dream Team.
  • Red Herring: Danielson's rematch with Adam Page for the AEW World Championship was assigned three judges to decide a winner in case the match went to a 60 minute time limit draw like their previous match did. As it turns out, the judges were completely unnecessary as Page won in less than 30 minutes.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Despite what one would think, he's actually the Red Oni to Kane's Blue... which really says a lot.
  • The Rival
    • Oakland Athletics baseball outfielder Josh Reddick - at least in terms of who can grow a longer/better beard. (This rivalry has actually been acknowledged on WWE programming.
    • In WWE, he was built briefly as a natural rival to CM Punk, which may or may not have been an intentional Mythology Gag as the two have been rivals in other promotions as well and best represent the new wave of 'indy stars' finding success in the WWE. They've had a couple of matches here and there, most of them ending in a draw or no-contest. If the internet ever explodes in the future, it may the IWC's reaction to Bryan and Punk finally working a program.
    • He has this as well in John Cena, who especially chose Bryan has his opponent for SummerSlam.
    • Despite their obvious differences in both persona and wrestling style, Danielson and Kenny Omega share a healthy respect for each other with each of them viewing the other as their only true equal on the AEW roster.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • At first, his backstage segment with Chris Jericho where he just started "YES"ing was merely funny... come the end of July, and it seemed to be a compulsion.
    • Then came the realization that "these people" (the fans) were 'stealing' "YES" from him...
    Daniel Bryan: I'm the one who gets to say "YES"! Not these people! NO! NO! NO!...
  • Scandalgate: "Tiegate", a derogatory nickname for his June 2010 firing after the infamous NXT Riot, where he choked out ring announcer Justin Roberts with a tie. The sponsors had a fit, demanded he be fired, and the WWE had no choice but to comply. The decision infuriated nearly the entire wrestling community, not just the IWC, and numerous independent promotions (including ROH, which Bryan is considered one of the three "founding fathers" of) widely mocked it. After most of the heat abated, the WWE rehired him when he was made the seventh member of Team Cena. The irony of it all is that it was probably the greatest thing to happen to his career, as the Nexus fell to pieces over the course of the rest of the year while the firing jump started Bryan's popularity. By 2014, he was the most over wrestler the company has had since Stone Cold and the Rock.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • In WWE, he has referred to himself as the "anti-superstar," saying that his music is so generic and forgettable that even he can't recognize itnote , and that he looks so shabby and is so un-stylish that he has to show his ID to WWE security to stop them from throwing him out of the building. This is also a bit of a knock at WWE management, for giving him a generic song and being so disorganized their employees don't know who he is. He then got the very identifiable "Ride of the Valkyries".
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Has kept being screwed out of big titles by The Authority, injuries, etc. And his latest injury's highly implied as career-ending.
  • Shout-Out:
    • He has worn ring gears that pay homage to other wrestlers:
      • His signature dark-red trunks are a tribute to his real-life mentor William Regal, even wearing his kneepads and boots in the mid-2000s.
      • In ROH and in 2010, he wore red and white version of Yuji Nagata's blue and white ring gear.
      • The furry kick pads he wore at WrestleMania XXX and in 2015 pay tribute to the late Bruiser Brody and his furry boots.
    • The "YES!" chants were inspired by Diego Sanchez' "Yes cartwheel"
    • The running knee he won the WWE Title with at SummerSlam '13 and has used since? A trademark of KENTA.
  • Signature Line: Bryan's "YES!" chants have become so ubiquitous that not only does it define him, but practically represents the entire WWE, or for that matter, the wrestling industry as a whole.
  • Smug Snake: As a WWE heel. He was quite the weasel.
  • Smug Straight Edge:
  • Spell My Name with a "The": After his second Face–Heel Turn he started calling himself The New Daniel Bryan and has been announced as such before his matches and segments.
  • Squash Match:
    • He was on the losing end of several of these in his run on NXT.
    • And has had some seriously epic Ham And Cheese squashes of his own in ROH. Most famously, any time he got the chance to tie the flexible Jack Evans in knots.
    • Then he got squashed on the grandest stage of them all, WrestleMania 28.
  • "Stop Having Fun" Guys: In-Universe. He and Rowan have become this towards Smackdown's tag team division, complaining about their crazy gimmicks and goofy behaviour and alleging that those things are the reasons the Tag Team division is not taken seriously. Notably, Bryan praises the other teams for their athletic accomplishments and past matches, so he does believe they can do better, but since he's a heel he has to be a jerk about it.
  • Straight Man:
    • With his mask American Dragon to Curry Man during their run as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, without his Bryan Danielson mask to Paul London in the Hybrid Dolphins.
    • WWE got around Bryan's relatively plain look by simply portraying him as an all around normal guy in a company full of people who are balls to the wall insane, most of all his own rookie Derrick Bateman. It works really, really well, resulting in some truly funny moments, including the infamous "SUBMISSION WRESTL-ING!" incident.
    • Then he won the World Heavyweight Championship.
    • Then he lost the world heavyweight championship, his ex-girlfriend became his fiancee only to leave him at the altar and essentially become his boss, who then ordered him into anger management classes with a bunch of people that were just as nuts as he was becoming, and with one of them being Kane.
    • Then he began teaming with Kane, it was outright inverted. When Kane is playing the Straight Man opposite you, you know you've gone way too far over the top.
    • Back in the indies, he played this when teaming with Cloud Cuckoolander Paul London as the Hybrid Dolphins

  • Tag Team: Perhaps his most unlikely was his forced pairing with Kane but before there was also the odd team of American Dragon and Spanky, who came together due to their rough treatment at the hands of Shawn Michaels. Then there was his team with Paul London...A less outlandish pairing in European All Star Wrestling and New Japan Pro-Wrestling was The Metal Dragon with Metal Master. American Dragon teamed with Super Dragon in Pro Wrestling Guerilla as well.
  • Targeted to Hurt the Hero: has been on both sides of this.
    • As a face, Kane targeted Brie Bella as part of his WWE World Heavyweight Championship reign in 2014.
    • Seven years later in AEW, Danielson, disappointed after finding out he was going to challenge Adam Page instead of another match with Kenny Omega for AEW, as well as seeing Hangman's celebration as an insult to wrestling (and not being in his wrestling gear), would turned heel and go on a reign of terror and kick in the heads of each male Dark Order member in a one-by-one in matchesnote  to provoke Hangman.
  • Testosterone Poisoning:
    • The Daniel Bryan Manliness Meter.
    • This aspect of Bryan's character re-emerged in NXT season 4, when he introduced his rookie, Derrick Bateman, as "manly... so manly... oh, so manly." For his own part, Bateman refers to himself as "mantastic".
  • That Man Is Dead: The "Who is Daniel Bryan?" NXT promo played with the idea, with him stating that Daniel Bryan is clearly a loser, and Bryan Danielson is the one who wrestled all over the world and kicked people's heads in. After the NXT invasion of Raw, he suddenly changed the name on his Twitter account to Bryan Danielson, declaring that it was indicative of the winds of change. Averted upon his WWE return at Summerslam 2010, probably since the fans had gone right on chanting "Daniel Bryan" anyway. It seems that the WWE would be conveniently ignoring the promo.
    • The "Old" Daniel Bryan is dead, the "Yes!" Movement is dead, and the only thing that exists now is the "New" Daniel Bryan.
  • Theatrics of Pain: He manages to make getting hit with a clothesline look like the most painful thing ever, since he somehow manages to get a full 360 degree rotation in the air when hit by one no matter who does it or when.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: This way.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Downplayed with Danielson in the Blackpool Combat Club. While he's not villainous per se (more arrogant and haughty than evil), he's the only member of the group that's outright heel, as he makes his entrance through the left tunnel on the stage, which is typically reserved for heels.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • A subtle, but still pretty huge example of how Daniel's changed was on the 4/2/13 edition of RAW. First of all, the match itself. Bryan vs. Rey Mysterio Jr., not only does Bryan counter the 619 into the "NO!" Lock, he later gets hit with the move, but still manages to regain his footing quick enough to catch Mysterio in the lock again, making him tap out. Immediately after the match, however, Mark Henry just happened to return, and was out for blood. What does Bryan do, exhausted after beating Mysterio? He's suprised for all of two seconds, then gets out of the ring and charges at Henry. Sure, he just got tossed into the barricade like a ragdoll, but it's still impressive considering it wasn't too long ago when Bryan was still the WHC and avoiding Henry like the plague.
    • The loss of the tag team titles (or more specifically, having been the one pinned in the championship matchup) seems to have knocked the last of Bryan's screws loose. On the flip side of that, there have been at least two separate occasions in May/Early June where he's brought The Shield within inches of defeat single-handedly. While he ultimately needs help from Randy and Kane, he's the one who hands them their first loss.
      • He also laid all three Shield members out on one memorable episode of SmackDown.
    • He made RANDY ORTON TAP OUT! Using a Kendo Stick Yes Lock at that.
    • Screw that... he BEAT JOHN CENA, CLEAN, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RING at one of the biggest PPVs of the year.
    • And then he proceeds to top even that. He not only beats TRIPLE H CLEAN in the opener of Mania, but he comes back for the Main Event with essentially a destroyed arm, gets OBLITERATED by one of the nastiest coordinated table spots we've seen in a while, and continuous attempts to be screwed...and FINALLY comes out on top of the Main Event of Wrestlemania XXX the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
  • Tournament Arc
    • Suffered a loss at ECWA's fifth Super 8, losing to Low Ki in the finals. American Dragon got his revenge at APW's King Of Indies, meeting Low Ki again in the finals and managing to get his win back.
    • Won All Star Wrestling's World Mid-Heavyweight Title Tournament and said vacant championship belt but defeating James Mason in the final.
    • Won New Japan's "Best Of The American Super Juniors" in 2004 ahead of Rocky Romero. Ring Of Honor's "Survival Of The Fittest" was more so a series of qualifying matches for an elimination match, but it was meant to be a continuation of Maryland Championship Wrestling's Shane Shamrock Memorial Cup prior to the RF Video scandal and Danielson outlasted Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, Colt Cabana, Homicide and Mark Briscoe to win it anyway.
    • Beat Metal Master in the finals of the International Catch Wrestling Alliance's Expo 2008 on the second night of ICWA Euroresu in France.
    • Won westside Xtreme wrestling's AMBITION 1 Tournament of 2010, his last opponent being Johnny Moss
    • Won the 2021 AEW World Championship Eliminator Tournament by defeating Miro at Full Gear 2021
  • Trauma Conga Line/Mood Whiplash: Had a real life one in 2014 after finally winning the WWE World Heavyweight Title (and marrying Brie Bella). First his father dies about two weeks after the event. Not too long after that, he was revealed to have a neck injury that forced him to get surgery and vacate the title. Then, while he was in recovery from his injury, someone tried to rob his house. After that, he suffered a minor setback in his recovery and as of October 2014, still isn't fully healthy yet.
  • Underestimating Badassery:
  • Unnecessary Roughness: When you get right down to it, his tendency to wrench arms while relentlessly stomping faces was this, which made his more well known "kick head in" habit he was loved for look tame. Also, when he used the butterfly plex he often kept the set up locked in far longer than he needed to (if you can't get out of the move, it's likely because you're too worn out and it hurts too much for you do anything)
  • Underwear of Power: Its only the most common outfit in all of pro wrestling. Parodied here, with Danielson's red trunks on the outside of his pants like Superman.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating:
    • Part of his gimmick as the WHC celebrating over any victory whether they be by dq or even default.
    • He even celebrated his girlfriend's victory like he won the match himself on an episode of 'SmackDown'.
  • Unstoppable Rage: After Team Hell No lost the Tag Team Titles, his rage at being considered the 'weak link' of the team, proceeds to snap, fly into one of these and demolish the entirety of the Shield single-handedly. This has pretty much been his default setting ever since Extreme Rules.
  • Use Your Head: He was prone to lunging headbutts during his bald phase, and not in the "battering ram" style either. He's used the diving headbutt and played tribute to Junkyard Dog too.

  • Versus Title: EVOLVE 4: Danielson vs. Fish, EVOLVE 5: Danielson vs. SAWA
  • Villain Team-Up: Subverted to hell and back... almost literally. Bryan and Kane were bitter enemies that were forced to attempt to work out their problems with one another in an anger management program. Then, they were forced to team together... and eventually ended up winning the Tag Team titles. The crowd found their interactions so entertaining that, despite not changing their personalities at all (in fact, they've been simplified and turned up to near-parody levels) they've been receiving cheers like faces and began being booked as such (i.e. almost exclusively wrestling heels)
  • Villainous Breakdown: Heel Daniel Bryan is a master of these. One example of this can be seen in the aftermath of his first World Title loss, but an even better instance came in his showdown with Kofi Kingston at Elimination Chamber 2019. The instant Kofi kicked out of the Busaiku Knee, the normally smug, preachy Bryan - quietly, without a single word - went berserk with incredulity.
  • Villainous BSoD: In contrast to his normal heel persona, where it's hard to get him to shut up, when Josh Mathews asked him about his Squash Match loss the RAW after Wrestlemania, he didn't respond. At all.
    • Brought up whenever someone in his 2019 heel turn points out he's become everything he's ever fought on his way to the top. Daniel doesn't get mad, he doesn't yell, he doesn't even brush it off...his face contorts in a way that suggests he's actually stung by the realization that what he's doing might be wrong.
  • Villainous Friendship: With Erick Rowan as a heel Tag Team. Bryan claims they share beliefs and he considers Rowan an intellectual equal.
  • Villainous Underdog: At Elimination Chamber 2019. He was one man facing AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, Kofi Kingston, Randy Orton and Samoa Joe, who he also started the match fighting against, and was the shortest and least physically powerful among them. Even so, he walked out the victor.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: He and Kane are the epitome of this trope.
  • We Can Rule Together: He offered Jon Moxley the chance to join him in imposing a more serious, violent brand of wrestling onto AEW.
  • Weak, but Skilled: A relatively small wrestler who stays away from big power moves, but he has a nearly endless array of holds, submissions, and suplexes.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Konosuke Takeshita got along well with Danielson after their fight, even having Danielson's back when MJF tried to break his arm before Revolution. However, after Danielson started to assault and maim other wrestlers alongside the Blackpool Combat Club, Takeshita went against Danielson, leading their friendship to fall apart. However, Takeshita returned to being on good terms with Danielson after Takeshita himself made a Face–Heel Turn during Double or Nothing 2023.
  • Wham Line: To Bray Wyatt: "You're were always right. I'm yours...I want to join the Family."
  • Worked Shoot: His promos on NXT after his elimination have elements of this. Some fans thought this was true of his firing and eventual, perhaps inevitable rehiring, but it seems unlikely.
  • Wild Card: According to Bryan himself, the Blackpool Combat Club are this in AEW.
    Danielson: Oh, I mean I like to think that we can straddle the line between anything. Like so...I didn't wrestle necessarily today like a good guy. I strapped Ricky Starks in the face. But...I love Ricky Steamboat, and he refereed a match between me and Low-Ki in 2001 that really helped put my career on the map. He's refereed, actually, multiple of my matches, he was a producer for the WWE when I was there. He is just a legendary figure in professional wrestling who continues to give and give and give. So, like, coming out to do this thing with him, it puts me in a good guy role, but you could also see me, at the very end, stabbing somebody with a screwdriver. Right? There's nothing that's "Oh, Bryan Danielson wouldn't do that." Like, he might do that, so I think that's within the realm of our characters.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • Came to Dragon Gate USA asking for the most difficult match they could give him. He acknowledge Naruki Doi as a worthy contender.
    • He viewed Kenny Omega as the only person close to being on his level in AEW.
    • This has become the Blackpool Combat Club's M.O. - if someone wants to join the club, they have to prove themselves against both Danielson and Moxley one-on-one. Of course, given that Bryan and Moxley are portrayed as two of the strongest members of AEW's roster, that's easier said then done.
    • Viewed Konosuke Takeshita as this, being the only wrestler made to fight Danielson by MJF to have been on good terms with him. Even after the two became enemies after Danielson's subsequent Face–Heel Turn, he still views Takeshita as someone with a large amount of potential.
  • Would Hit a Girl
  • Wrestling Family: Has now married into that of the Bella Twins. In an odd twist, a couple of years later, the Bella Twins' mother got engaged to one John Laurinaitis, and assuming that engagement holds and they go through with getting married, that would make Johnny Ace Daniel Bryan's father-in-law and the Bella Twins' stepdad.
  • Wrestling Psychology: Bryan is generally regarded as one of the best ever at this.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: AEW got away with tacitly referencing Bryan Danielson's tenure in WWE as "Daniel Bryan" in September 2022 when Danielson was announced as an entrant in the Grand Slam Tournament of Champions (a tournament ostensibly intended only for former AEW champions), despite never having won an AEW championship title at that point. Notably, Tony Khan announced him as a "six-time champion", but just didn't say which championship titles he'd held in the past (he was WWE Champion once, WWE World Heavyweight Champion four times, and Ring of Honor World Champion once).
  • Yank the Dog's Chain:
    • Cashed in his MITB briefcase against a prone Mark Henry to win the World Title on the 11/25/2011 SmackDown, only to have the victory and the match overruled by Teddy Long due to Henry not being medically cleared. The disappointment and reluctance on Bryan's face was palpable.
    • In the main event of Summerslam 2013, he pinned John Cena to become the WWE Champion. Moments later, Randy Orton came out with his Money in the Bank briefcase in hand, teasing a cash in. Just as Bryan was getting ready to defend his newly won title against Orton, Triple H (the special guest referee in the championship match) delivered a Pedigree to Bryan and allowed Orton to cash in and take the WWE Championship from him.
    • It happened again the night after Night of Champions 2013. Daniel Bryan went over Orton clean to get his championship back... only for Triple H to strip him of it and vacate it the very next night, claiming the ref did a fast count.
    • The very last Raw of 2013, Bryan had a chance to get his hands on Bray Wyatt after months of ambushes and beatdowns...but only if he got through both Luke Harper and Eric Rowan. Harper essentially dominated Bryan for 15+ minutes until Daniel surprised him with a Solid Knee Plus. Rowan continued the beatdown, only to get small-packaged around 5 minutes. Bray has to come in now, Bryan finally has his chance...and Rowan and Harper floor him before he can even lay a hand on Bray. This time, the chain was yanked hard enough for Bryan to wearily accept Bray's offer to join the Wyatts. Except it was all a ruse.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!:
    • At ROH: Final Battle 2006, when Homicide was wrestling him in his last shot at the ROH World Championship. During the match, Homicide was attacked by other wrestlers, and it appeared that he would once again walk away with the title - but then referee Todd Sinclair declared that the match was "too important" to end on a disqualification, and he ordered that the match be restarted (much to the delight of the fans...and the disbelief of Bryan).
    • After winning SmackDown's Money in the Bank contract, rather than go with the usual Your Princess Is in Another Castle! cash in, he promised to cash in his title opportunity at Wrestlemania 28. He then tried to cashed it on the November 25th edition of SmackDown in 2011, but found out that Mark Henry wasn't cleared and thus it doesn't count. He would at that years TLC cash it in successfully.
  • You Wouldn't Hit a Guy with Glasses: Invoked by his rookie, Derrick Bateman. It doesn't work. Though, his actions led to Bateman winning the match he had for that night.
    Daniel Bryan(To Bateman): Now get up. Because you've got a NXT Rookie Reunion Tag Team Match tonight, an I want you to win! And I don't want you to win for me, I want you to win for you! I want you to win for chicks! I want you to win for America! AND I WANT YOU TO WIN FOR CLEVELAND!


Alternative Title(s): Daniel Bryan