Bryan Danielson (May 22, 1981) is a retired American professional wrestler. He is best known for his time with WWE where he wrestled under the ring name Daniel Bryan. He is also known by his ring name, and later nickname, the American Dragon.
In professional wrestling, Danielson is an eight-time world champion, having won the ROH World Championship in Ring of Honor (ROH) once, the PWG World Championship twice in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, the WXW World Heavyweight Championship once in westside Xtreme wrestling, and the World Heavyweight Championship once and the WWE Heavyweight Championship/WWE World Heavyweight Championship three times in World Wrestling Entertainment. In addition, he has won the FIP Heavyweight Championship once in Full Impact Pro, the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship once in Pro Wrestling Noah and is officially recognized as the final ROH Pure Champion, as he unified the Pure title with the ROH World title in 2006. He also won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship in New Japan Pro Wrestling with Curry Man.
Until 2009, Danielson primarily competed on the independent circuit. ROH was generally regarded as his home promotion, but he also worked in FIP, PWG, and the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). He has also worked internationally, most notably in Pro Wrestling Noah through ROH's involvement in the Global Professional Wrestling Alliance, a global organization of cooperative promotions that allow their competitors to travel abroad to other companies. He also competed in a handful of matches in WWE before signing an actual contract with the company in 2009. In June 2010, shortly after the end of the first season of the WWE NXT show in which Danielson participated, WWE announced that he had been released from his contract. He returned to WWE in August at SummerSlam, and won the WWE United States Championship the following month. On July 17, 2011, Bryan won the SmackDown Money in the Bank ladder match.
On July 18 2016 Danielson was named the General Manager of SmackDown Live by SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon.
Professional wrestling career
Early career (1999–2004)
Danielson's first exposure in wrestling was as a backyard wrestler competing for Backyard Championship Wrestling (BCW) under his real name with the nickname "The Dagger". There he won the promotion's Heavyweight Championship. After Danielson graduated from high school in 1999, he decided to pursue wrestling professionally and initially attempted to train at Dean Malenko's Wrestling School. Due to its subsequent closure, however, he instead trained under Shawn Michaels at the Texas Wrestling Academy. Danielson debuted in Michaels' promotion, the Texas Wrestling Alliance (TWA), and on March 21, 2000, he won his first professional wrestling championship, when he teamed with Spanky to win the TWA Tag Team Championship by defeating Jeromy Sage and Ruben Cruz.
As Danielson continued to tour the country, he was signed to a developmental deal by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) to work in their developmental system where recently signed performers train and refine their skills before debuting on WWF's television programming.
Bryan was assigned to Memphis Championship Wrestling (MCW) where he gained exposure, and was trained by WWF competitor, William Regal. It was during this time that Danielson adopted his well-known moniker "American Dragon".
WWF severed its ties with MCW in 2001, releasing Danielson from his contract, but not before he won the MCW Light Heavyweight Championship and the MCW Tag Team Championship with Spanky. Danielson returned to the company on later dates after it was renamed World Wrestling Entertainment to compete on its secondary programming, Velocity and Heat, initially as enhancement talent before being allowed to compete in longer matches; he once wrestled future WWE Champion John Cena in a losing effort.
Danielson also toured Japan with the promotion, Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW) with fellow trainee from the Texas Wrestling Academy, Lance Cade, competing in several tag team matches. He returned to the country after his release from the WWF, competing in Japan's premier promotion, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). In NJPW, he used his American Dragon persona, and donned a red, white, and blue mask reminiscent of a dragon. As a part of the junior heavyweight division, Danielson had success in both singles and tag team competition in the company, the latter of which culminated on March 12, 2004 when Danielson (sans mask) won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship with Curry Man from division veterans, Jado and Gedo, on the Hyper Battle tour.
Ring of Honor
Founding father (2002–2005)
In 2002, Danielson joined the independent promotion, Ring of Honor, where he is acknowledged as a "Founding Father" of the company by fans, as he was one of the wrestlers who made the company prominent during its inception, and competed in the main event of the company's debut show, The Era of Honor Begins, in a three-way match against Low Ki and Christopher Daniels. He continued to have critically acclaimed matches in the company that would last for extended periods of time with numerous wrestlers, including a match with Austin Aries that lasted for eighty minutes. One of the more notable rivalries he had in the early years in the company was with Homicide; the two embarked in numerous matches with a variety of stipulations, culminating in a steel cage match at The Final Showdown, which was won by Danielson.
At that time, Danielson had long been regarded as the best wrestler in ROH to have never held a major title belt; despite winning the company's inaugural Survival of the Fittest tournament in 2004, championship gold constantly eluded him. It came to the point where, in 2005, Danielson announced in the company's newsletter, the ROH Newswire, that he had quit ROH after being frustrated by his inability to defeat Austin Aries for the ROH World Championship. It was later revealed Danielson had become frustrated in general with professional wrestling and planned to take some time off to evaluate his career options. Danielson had several dates booked in Europe and Japan, however, leading fans to believe that the periodical was likely a storyline claim for Danielson's absence during this period. In May 2005, rumors started that Total Nonstop Action Wrestling was interested in signing Danielson, and he also had some more tryout matches with WWE at that time, but none of these events led to anything, as he remained in ROH.
World Champion (2005–2006)
Danielson defeated James Gibson for the ROH World Championship at Glory by Honor IV on September 15, 2005. The rest of the year saw Danielson have many successful title defenses, competing against all comers, even those from other companies, such as Pro Wrestling Noah star Naomichi Marufuji, at Final Battle 2005.
At the beginning of 2006, Chris Hero, a representative from Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), invaded ROH and targeted Danielson; this led to the two exchanging words over the Internet before having a match together with nearly the entire roster of both companies embarking on an interpromotional feud. Danielson became personally invested in this feud, and invaded CZW himself, which led to him having physical altercations with a number of CZW wrestlers. Hero intensified the rivalry, leading to the two wrestling at ROH's Hell Freezes Over event, where Danielson successfully defended the ROH World Championship. He soon filled the vacant slot on ROH's five-man team which participated in one of CZW's more popular attractions, a steel cage match called the Cage of Death, a ten-man tag team match that would have a man from each team start out in the cage, with one more random competitor entering into the match after an allotted amount of time. During the match he turned on his team by assaulting his rival, Samoa Joe, before leaving the match and effectively abandoning his involvement in the animosity between the two promotions. As the interpromotional hostility with CZW heightened, Danielson also defended against challengers from the rival company, who had signed an open contract for any CZW wrestler willing to challenge for the ROH World Title. Former champion Samoa Joe also challenged Danielson during his constant defenses, only to have their match end in a sixty-minute draw.
Ring of Honor, while having the ROH World Championship, faced the issue of having another title with seemingly equal value, the ROH Pure Championship. Danielson and the ROH Pure Champion Nigel McGuinness had a match to unify the titles. They met at April 29 in a match fought under pure wrestling rules and McGuinness left Danielson outside the ring after a chair shot to win by count out; this would be enough to win the Pure Title but not Danielson's World Title. Consequently, they had another unification match in McGuinness' native England where ROH declared there would be a winner, with a title changing hands by count out and disqualification, and a draw would force a restart. Danielson won the match on August 12 and retired the Pure Title as its last champion. During a match with Colt Cabana on August 26, Danielson received an injury; he separated his shoulder, tearing two tendons in it, and tore another tendon in his chest, which led to his next few matches being cancelled. Danielson returned at Glory by Honor V: Night 2, and was challenged by Kenta, a guest competitor from Pro Wrestling Noah, due to the two company's talent exchange agreement; Danielson again retained his championship. At Final Battle 2006, Danielson's fifteen-month title reign finally ended after losing to Homicide, and he subsequently took time off from wrestling in order to heal his shoulder.
Later years (2007–2009)
On May 11, Danielson made his return to the company at Reborn Again where he defeated Shane Hagadorn and Adam Pearce in separate matches. On May 12 Ring of Honor filmed its first pay-per-view, Respect is Earned, which had Danielson team with ROH World Champion, Takeshi Morishima, to take on Nigel McGuinness and Kenta; Danielson's team scored the win, as Danielson made Kenta tap out to his signature submission hold, the Cattle Mutilation. Danielson made his return to contention for the ROH World title by defeating Nigel McGuinness at Domination, which would appear on the company's next pay per view, Driven. This allowed him to, now as a heroic character, challenge Morishima for the title at Manhattan Mayhem in a losing effort; he also suffered a legitimate detached retina. Following a subsequent surgery, Danielson returned with intent to challenge Morishima once more, leading to a match at Man Up that had the referee stop the match due to Danielson being unable to respond to him. Danielson exacted revenge, albeit by Morishima getting disqualified, at Rising Above against his rival by assaulting him before Morishima returned to Japan. Morishima returned to the company at Final Battle 2008, in a match billed as a "Fight Without Honor", which allowed both men to use weapons, which Danielson won.
Over the coming months Danielson worked with Austin Aries again as friendly rivals, exchanging victories including a match on pay-per-view at Take No Prisoners, which was won by Danielson. Danielson also aided Aries by becoming his partner in order to take on The Age of the Fall as revenge for Aries. The two wrestled all members of the group in a series of different stipulation matches, as well as teaming together frequently to challenge members Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black for the ROH World Tag Team Championship.
As part of ROH's agreement with Pro Wrestling Noah, the company held a show in Japan on September 14 entitled the Tokyo Summit, where Danielson wrestled GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and won the championship. Following his victory, he was interviewed, and announced that Noah would allow him defend the title in Ring of Honor, with his first defense being at Glory By Honor VII, defeating Katsuhiko Nakajima, a competitor from the Kensuke Office, another member promotion of the GPWA. This would ultimately be his only successful defense, however, as he would return to Japan on October 13 to lose the title to Kenta. Following his loss, Danielson challenged McGuinness for the title at the next ROH pay per view, Rising Above in a losing effort.
Ring of Honor made its national television debut with the program, Ring of Honor Wrestling, and Danielson made his television debut in the main event of its third episode by defeating Austin Aries. The following episode to feature Danielson had him wrestle Tyler Black, which ended in a draw. This was the start of a rivalry between the two that was highlighted by Danielson's respect for Tyler, even claiming Black would be the top star in the future, with Danielson's antithesis being that would not happen for a while, leading to the two have many more matches that kept the notion of neither man truly being better. At this point, as well, Danielson became more involved in trying to win the ROH World Tag Team title, so, out of respect to his rival, had chosen Black to be his partner. The two attempted to win the title multiple times, leading to a conflict, dismantling the partnership.
On August 23, it was announced Danielson signed a deal with World Wrestling Entertainment; prior to joining the company, he embarked on a farewell tour with ROH known as The Final Countdown Tour, which saw him challenge Aries for the title again in a losing effort. On September 26 at Glory by Honor VIII: The Final Countdown, he won his last match in the company against Nigel McGuinness, who was also having his final match with the company.
Aside from competing primarily in ROH, Danielson has also competed in a multitude of other independent promotions, both in the United States and abroad. In 2003, Danielson also toured the United Kingdom for British promotion, All Star Wrestling. While he was in the UK, Danielson won the World Heavy Middleweight Championship on May 6 in an 8 Man One Night Tournament in Croydon defeating James Mason. He spent the next 6 months in the UK, working for ASW, FWA, WAW and Premier Promotions. He returned several times over the next 5 years, working for various promotions. In February 2005, at New Dawn Rising, Danielson made his debut in ROH's sister promotion, Full Impact Pro (FIP), teaming up with Rocky Romero in a match against Austin Aries and Homicide. The next night at Dangerous Intentions Danielson competed in a losing effort against CM Punk, which led to a brief feud between the two. Danielson's biggest success came in 2006 by winning the FIP World Heavyweight Championship, holding the belt for eleven months before losing it to Roderick Strong. Danielson wrestled his last match for FIP in December 2006 at Florida Rumble, in a losing effort to Erick Stevens.
Danielson has also wrestled in the California-based promotion, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG). He made his debut in November 2003 at An Inch Longer Than Average, in a losing effort to PWG Champion Frankie Kazarian. He continued to appear in PWG over the next couple of years, winning the PWG World Championship in 2007, and holding it for six months before taking an eleven-month hiatus from the company. He made his return to PWG at the 2008 Battle of Los Angeles tournament. In May 2009, he made another appearance teaming with Paul London, referring to himself as American Dolphin in a parodied manner. On September 4, 2009, at Guerre Sans Frontières, during his last night in PWG, Danielson defeated Chris Hero to win the PWG World Championship for the second time and immediately vacated it afterward.
Following his return from his injury in 2007, the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) published a video of Danielson stating his intent to challenge for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, as the establishment that sanctioned the title at the time, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, was relinquishing the title back to the NWA. A tournament, entitled Reclaiming the Glory, was held to determine the new champion with Danielson making his way to finals, scheduled to compete face Brent Albright on September 1, but due to the eye injury he sustained at Manhattan Mayhem, the NWA announced he withdrew from the tournament with and Adam Pearce replacing him; Danielson was appointed the referee of the match.
In 2009, Danielson's contract with Ring of Honor expired; this opened up Danielson to travel to other companies more freely while competing in his home promotion. He made his debut with Philadelphia-based promotion, Chikara to compete in their King of Trios tournament, which saw him team with Claudio Castagnoli and Dave Taylor in a contingency called Team Uppercut. In the same year, it was announced Danielson would compete in Dragon Gate USA in their second show, which saw him lose to Open the Dream Gate Champion Naruki Doi.
World Wrestling Entertainment (2009–2010)
On August 23, 2009, ROH announced that Danielson had signed a deal with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Danielson made his debut as a WWE contracted wrestler on January 4, 2010, in a dark match prior to Raw, defeating Chavo Guerrero. Later that week it was reported that Danielson had requested to go to Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), the WWE developmental territory, to acclimate himself to his new work environment and work what he saw as "ring rust". He made his debut at the FCW television tapings on January 14, where he was defeated by Kaval. At the February 11 tapings, Danielson was renamed Daniel Bryan.
On February 16, it was announced that he would be wrestling on the first season of the WWE NXT show, using the name Daniel Bryan, with The Miz as his storyline mentor. He made his debut on the inaugural episode of NXT on February 23, losing by submission to the World Heavyweight Champion, Chris Jericho. After the match, Bryan was attacked by The Miz for disrespecting him earlier in the show. Over the next several weeks, Bryan failed to win a single match, but despite having a win-loss record of 0–5, he was ranked first in the inaugural Pros' Poll on the March 30 episode of NXT. After losing five more matches on NXT, Bryan earned his first victory on the May 10 episode of Raw by pinning Santino Marella in an eight-on-four handicap match. The following night on NXT, he was eliminated from the show, along with Michael Tarver, as neither man had confidence in themselves to win the competition. Later that night, in an interview, Danielson said that the elimination might be the end of Daniel Bryan, but that Bryan Danielson will be fine. Despite his elimination, he appeared on the following editions of NXT, being interviewed by Matt Striker and attacking both Michael Cole, who had constantly belittled him on commentary, and The Miz.
On the May 31 episode of Raw, Bryan defeated The Miz in a singles match, and after the match, he threw The Miz into Cole, who was commentating at ringside. The following week on Raw, the season one NXT rookies interfered in the main event match between John Cena and CM Punk, attacking both competitors, the announce team, and the ring announcer Justin Roberts, before dismantling the ring area and surrounding equipment, turning Bryan and the other rookies heels in the process. On June 11, WWE announced via their official website that Danielson had been released from his WWE contract. It was later reported by the Wrestling Observer that his release was due to him strangling Roberts with his own tie during the segment on the June 7 episode of Raw, which WWE felt was too violent for their TV-PG programming. His release was put in a storyline, where the rest of the NXT rookies kicked him out of the group for showing remorse for his actions and declared he would not be seen in the WWE again.
Return to the independent circuit (2010)
On June 26, 2010, Danielson made his return to the independent circuit, defeating Eddie Kingston at the Chikara event We Must Eat Michigan's Brain in Taylor, Michigan. Rather than receiving streamers, the fans instead threw neck ties in light of the Justin Roberts incident in WWE. The following day at Chikara's Faded Scars and Lines Danielson defeated Young Lions Cup holder Tim Donst in a non–title match. On July 3 Danielson returned to westside Xtreme wrestling, defeating Wade Fitzgerald and TJP in the round robin stage of the Ambition 1 tournament. The following day he defeated Tommy End, TJP in a rematch and finally Johnny Moss in the finals of the tournament to win Ambition 1. On July 17, Danielson debuted in the International Wrestling Association (IWA), being booked to defeat Q.T. Marshall for the IWA Puerto Rico Heavyweight Championship. On July 23 Danielson debuted in the fledgling Evolve promotion, which was originally conceived to be built around Danielson as their top star before he signed to WWE. In the main event, he defeated Bobby Fish who went 0–4 in the company, while Danielson continued on undefeated the following day by returning to Dragon Gate USA, and submitted Shingo in the dark match main event Return of the Dragon. After the match Danielson joined BxB Hulk, Masato Yoshino, Naruki Doi and PAC as the fifth member of the stable World–1. On July 30 Danielson returned to Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, competing in a match where he defeated Roderick Strong. On August 7 Danielson unsuccessfully challenged Adam Pearce for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship at the NWA Legends Fanfest.
Despite returning to WWE, Danielson honoured most of his independent bookings, making his first appearance on August 20 and defeating Jon Moxley at Heartland Wrestling Association's Road to Destiny. The following day he was defeated by Drake Younger at Insanity Pro Wrestling's Ninth Anniversary Reign of the Insane. The day after that Danielson defeated J Freddie at a Squared Circle Wrestling event. On September 10 he returned to the IWA, using the name Daniel Bryan, and lost the IWA Puerto Rico Heavyweight Championship to Dennis Rivera. The following day Danielson returned to Evolve, defeating Munenori Sawa in the main event. Later that same night Danielson wrestled for New York Wrestling Connection in a tag team match, where he and Tony Nese defeated Dimitrios Papadon and Alex Reynolds. On September 25 Danielson returned to Dragon Gate USA and defeated YAMATO in the main event of the evening. The following day Danielson defeated Jon Moxley. On October 1 Danielson wrestled the last of his independent matches by defeating Shelton Benjamin at a Northeast Wrestling event.
World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE
Return to WWE (2010-2011)
On August 15, 2010, Danielson returned to WWE as Daniel Bryan at the SummerSlam pay-per-view, where he was revealed as the surprise seventh member of Team WWE for the seven-on-seven elimination tag team match against The Nexus, the other NXT season one competitors. At the event, Bryan was one of the two final members of Team WWE, and managed to eliminate two members of the Nexus, but was eliminated by Wade Barrett after his former pro The Miz, whose place he took in Team WWE, attacked him. Despite this, Team WWE won the match. The following night, he was revealed as part of the Raw roster. He feuded with the Miz, with both interfering in each other's matches, and The Miz being aided by Alex Riley, his rookie from the second season of NXT. At Night of Champions, Bryan defeated The Miz to win the WWE United States Championship, his first championship in WWE. He then successfully defended the championship two weeks later, by defeating The Miz and John Morrison in a triple threat submissions count anywhere match at Hell in a Cell, and successfully defended it against Ted DiBiase at Survivor Series. On the November 30 episode of NXT, it was announced that Bryan was returning to the show as the Pro to NXT Rookie Derrick Bateman on season four. In late 2010, The Bella Twins began competing for Bryan's affection, leading to them supporting him at ringside and competing in mixed tag team matches together. On the January 24, 2011 episode of Raw, it was revealed that Bryan had been secretly dating Gail Kim, who began accompanying him to ringside. On the March 14 episode of Raw, Bryan lost the United States Championship to Sheamus. Bryan was originally scheduled to wrestle Sheamus for the United States Championship at WrestleMania XXVII on the main card, but the match was rescheduled as a preshow dark match, a lumberjack match that ended in a no contest when the lumberjacks fought among themselves to trigger the start of a battle royal. On the 11th April edition of Raw Bryan joined a group set up by Santino Marella known as The Apple, also consisting of Mark Henry and Evan Bourne in order to battle against The Corre. Bryan lost his title rematch the next night on Raw, after which he was saved from Sheamus by the debuting Sin Cara.
Mr. Money in the Bank and World Heavyweight Champion (2011-2012)
On April 26, Bryan was drafted to the SmackDown brand as part of the 2011 Supplemental Draft. Bryan debuted for the SmackDown brand on the May 6 episode, when he lost to Sheamus. Cody Rhodes then started a feud with Bryan by attacking him after losing their match and placing a paper bag on his head. Bryan then aligned with Sin Cara to feud with Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. On June 28, Bryan returned to NXT to manage Derrick Bateman once again.
On July 17 at Money in the Bank, Bryan defeated Cody Rhodes, Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater, Kane, Sheamus, Sin Cara and Wade Barrett to win the Money in the Bank ladder match and earn the right to challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship whenever and wherever he wanted, within the next year. On the July 22 edition of SmackDown, Bryan declared he would cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania XXVIII. Throughout the later half of 2011, Bryan would be put into a feud with World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry, in which after two losses to Henry, Henry nearly put Bryan into the Hall Of Pain twice, only for Big Show to save Bryan, on the second match, Big Show nearly had Bryan cash in his money in the bank contract only for Henry to escape. On November 25 tapings of Smackdown, Bryan cashed in his MITB contract successfully on Henry, only for Teddy Long to revoke the match and give Bryan the MITB back due to Henry's injuries. After winning Number One Contendership by making Cody Rhodes tap, Bryan would lose a World Title Steel Cage Match to Henry the following Tuesday in a Holiday Edition of Smackdown. After losing the World Title Match, Bryan would re-ignite his feud with Micheal Cole.
At TLC 2011, Daniel Bryan would win the World Heavyweight Championship. The following night on Raw Supershow he teamed with real-life friends and fellow Champions CM Punk and Zack Ryder (as TLC Trio to defeat The Miz, Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler. The following Smackdown, Bryan beat Ziggler, making a winning streak. On the January 6, 2012 edition of Smackdown, Daniel showed signs of a heel turn getting disqualified to retain the World Heavyweight Championship against the Big Show after making Mark Henry angry and causing Henry to push him. The following week in a No DQ match against Big Show for the title, after several attempts to pin Show, and making Show angry, Bryan hit Show with a chair and Show chased Bryan halfway around the outside of the ring only to crash into AJ Lee(who is Bryan's on-screen girlfriend) causing a no contest. After the match, Bryan showed extreme anger at Big Show, claming if he wanted the World Title he could have it but Show couldn't be so reckless. Bryan ended the show calling Show a "bastard". It was announced Bryan would defend the title against Mark Henry a week later. In his World Title defense in a Lumberjack Match was again turned into a no contest after the lumberjacks attacked each other. It was announced Bryan would be defending the title at the Rumble against Big Show and Mark Henry. With the 4 consecutive title defenses, Bryan is the most defended champion since Edge in 2011. On the final Smackdown before the Royal Rumble, Bryan attacked Big Show with a steel chair. After this Bryan would claim in an interview he was now a Tweener. At the Rumble, Bryan would defend the title against Big Show and Mark Henry which he came out victorious. In February, Bryan would get into a 4 match mini-feud with real-life friend and WWE Champion CM Punk and would turn heel for the first time since joining WWE siding with John Laurinitus. Bryan would then successfully defend the World title at Elimination Chamber 2012 and would defend the title against the Royal Rumble 2012 winner, Sheamus at WrestleMania XXVIII. At WrestleMania, Bryan lost his title to Sheamus in 18 seconds due to Bryan being distracted by AJ when she kissed him and got kicked in the face by Sheamus right after. On the next episode of Smackdown, Bryan blamed AJ for his loss at WrestleMania and ended their relationship. AJ would try to fix their relationship, but Bryan would reject her, leaving her an emotional wreck.
#1 Contender for the WWE Championship and Team Hell No (2012-2013)
At Extreme Rules 2012, Bryan failed to capture the World Heavyweight Championship to Sheamus in a 2 out of 3 falls match, with 2-1. The next night on Raw, Bryan became the #1 Contender for the WWE Championship by beating Jerry Lawler in a Beat The Clock Challenge match in under 3 minutes, beating Randy Orton's time at 4:16. Bryan would then face CM Punk at the Over The Limit 2012. On the May 4 edition of Smackdown, Bryan would go up against Sheamus but the match was interfered when Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez ganged up on Sheamus, injuring his left arm. Bryan and Del Rio would later be found arguing backstage in Eve Torres's office. Later that night, Bryan would lose against an injured Sheamus. The next week on Raw, Bryan teamed up with Lord Tensai in a 2 on 1 handicap match against CM Punk in a winning effort. On the May 14th episode of Raw, Bryan and Cody Rhodes lost to CM Punk and Santino Marella. During Over The Limit, Bryan failed to capture the WWE Championship against CM Punk. The following night on Raw, Bryan would engage in a match against Kane. CM Punk would try to interfere in the match and would try to hit Kane with a chair. Bryan grab the chair from just when Kane would catch Bryan redhanded with the chair. Kane use the chair on Bryan, hitting him multiple times. Later on, CM Punk would use the Anaconda Vice on Bryan. Kane then attacked Bryan next week, but Bryan retaliated on May 25, hitting Kane with a chair 26 times.
After Kane left the feud after No Way Out to deal with AJ. Bryan continued the feud with CM Punk, and was made number one contender again for Money in the Bank, and on the June 29, edition of Smackdown, Bryan discovered AJ was made the Special Referee for the WWE title match. Which he lost, ending his feud with Punk, Bryan would then propose to AJ, to which she accepted, on Raw 1000, AJ left him at the alter to become GM of Raw. The following two weeks, Bryan would show intense paranoia, with the fans constantly chanting "Yes! Yes! Yes!" and combined with AJ leaving him, Bryan showed signs of an anger problem, on RAW 1002, Daniel would lose a match to John Cena, following the announcement he would fight Kane at SummerSlam and On SummerSlam Daniel Bryan defeated Kane. AJ Lee enrolled Bryan and Kane in anger management classes by Dr.Shelby and they were later forced to hug each other. The two adversaries fought with The Prime Time Players (Darren Young and Titus O' Neil) by forces of AJ Lee and Dr.Shelby and The match resulted in victory of Bryan And Kane. Later that match they became the No.1 Contenders to the WWE Tag Team Championship on the September 10 Raw. Bryan and Kane defeated the WWE Tag Team Champions R-Truth and Kofi Kingston at Night of Champions. Bryan and Kane made their first successful title defense on Raw, defeating the former champions in a rematch.The following week on Raw, Team Hell No was chosen as the official team name via Twitter while Team Rhodes Scholars(Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes) started a feud with them and made Bryan turn face once again. On October 28 at Hell in a Cell, Team Hell no lost to Rhodes Scholars via disqualification, but they retained their title back. On the November 14 Main Event, where Team Hell No defeated The Rhodes Scholars to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship. On the November 26 Raw, after Kane lost to CM Punk in a non-title match he was assaulted by The Shield(Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns). Bryan and Ryback attempted to save Kane, suffered a similar fate. This attack had the effect of uniting Bryan and Kane, and after The Shield and Team Hell no, along with Ryback, attacked each other on the December 3 Raw, all six men decreed to face each other in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs at TLC where the Shield gain victory against Team Hell No and Ryback by Pinning Bryan. Team Hell no went on to Defend the Tag Team Titles through the end of the year, retaining against Team Rhodes Scholars on the Following Main Event, and against 3MB (Drew McIntyre, Jinder Mahal and Heath Slater) on the December 31 Raw. Bryan ended 2012 having wrestled the second most PPV matches that year with 90. On January 27 at the 2013 Royal Rumble, Team Hell No retained the WWE Tag Team Championship against Team Rhodes Scholars. During the Royal Rumle, Bryan eliminated Kane and was in turn thrown out of the ring by Antonio Cesaro; Kane caught Bryan before he touched the floor and despite Bryan's begging, dropped Bryan to complete Bryan's elimination. On the February 4 Raw, Bryan was inserted into the World Heavyweight Championship number one contender Elimination Chamber match when he defeated Rey Mysterio, after that Mark Henry returned and attacked Rey Mysterio and Bryan. On February 17 at Elimination Chamber, Bryan was the first man eliminated from the match, courtesy of Henry. On April 7 at Wrestlemania 29, Team Hell No defeated Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston for another successful title defense. Team Hell No rekindled their rivalry with The Shield the following night on Raw, after saving The Undertaker from an ambush by them. On the April 22 Raw, Team Hell No and the Undertaker were defeated by the Shield in a six-man tag team match. The Shield went on to take Undertaker and rack up wins over Bryan and Kane in both singles and tag team matches that also included WWE Champion John Cena. On May 19 at Extreme Rules, Bryan and Kane lost the WWE Tag Team Championship to Shield members(Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns), ending their reign at 245 days.
Yes! Movement; WWE World Heavyweight Champion and injury (2013–2014)
As Bryan being pinned led to the loss of the tag titles, Bryan became obsessed about proving that he was not the weak link of Team Hell No. As a result, Bryan became even more aggressive, but his overzealous behavior led to Team Hell No losing their rematch against Reigns and Rollins on the May 27 Raw. When Kane tried to reassure Bryan, Bryan replied with harsh rebukes that alienated Kane from him. As a result, Bryan was paired with Randy Orton despite their poor relationship to face a common enemy in the Shield. During this storyline, Bryan was praised as the best performer in WWE and having an unmatched connection with crowds by critics, peers and veterans of the professional wrestling industry. On the June 14 SmackDown, Bryan ended the Shield's unpinned and unsubmitted streak in televised six-man tag matches by forcing Rollins to submit in a match with Kane and Orton as his tag partners. Two days later at Payback, Bryan and Orton's poor teamwork resulted in an unsuccessful challenge for Reigns and Rollins' Tag Team Championship. The following night on Raw, while the status of Team Hell No was left up in the air after both members considered individual pursuits, Bryan and Orton faced off in a no disqualification match that Orton won via referee stoppage after Bryan suffered a legit nerve injury. Four days later on SmackDown, Bryan defeated Orton, but to Bryan's dismay, it was via count-out. On the next Raw, Bryan decisively defeated Orton via submission in a street fight, and later continued his hot streak by picking up wins over Sheamus and Christian. On July 14 at Money in the Bank, Bryan competed in the WWE Championship Money in the Bank ladder match; during the match, Bryan was attacked by Curtis Axel, a non-participant, which ultimately prevented Bryan from winning the match that was won by Orton.
The following night on Raw, WWE Champion John Cena picked Bryan to be his opponent for the WWE title match at SummerSlam. This led to Bryan being embroiled in the McMahon family's internal feud, with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon against Bryan due to Bryan's image not fitting the mold of McMahon's typical "WWE Superstar", while WWE COO Triple H was in support of Bryan. On the July 22 Raw, Bryan ran a gauntlet match to prove his worth as number one contender, defeating Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro in succession, while his third opponent Ryback was disqualified after powerbombing Bryan through a table. The following week on Raw, Bryan was forced to face Kane and emerged victorious, but Kane attacked Bryan after the match. On August 18 at SummerSlam, Bryan defeated Cena to win his first WWE Championship. However, after the match, special referee Triple H attacked Bryan, leading to Randy Orton cashing in his Money in the Bank contract to win the title from Bryan.
The next night on Raw, Triple H and the McMahons endorsed Orton as "the face of the WWE", forming The Authority faction, claiming that the company was looking for Orton as champion instead of Bryan. Bryan also assumed the top babyface role in WWE with Cena being out injured. With Triple H threatening to fire anyone who disobeyed him, Bryan was left alone to take on and suffer attacks from Orton and the Shield. On September 15 at Night of Champions, Bryan defeated Orton to regain the WWE Championship, but was stripped of the title the following night on Raw by Triple H after referee Scott Armstrong admitted he had made a fast-count the previous night resulting in Bryan's win, while Bryan denied that Armstrong was working for him. This resulting in his second WWE Championship reign coming to an end, meaning Bryan hasn't held the WWE Championship for one full day over his two reigns as the WWE Champion. Bryan and Orton faced off again for the vacant title on October 6 at WWE Battleground, but the match ended in a no contest after Big Show interfered and knocked out both men. Bryan once again challenged Orton for the vacant championship at Hell in a Cell, but was unsuccessful after the special guest referee Shawn Michaels superkicked Bryan for attacking Michaels' best friend Triple H.
The following night on Raw, Bryan confronted Michaels, who offered a handshake, but Bryan put Michaels in the "Yes!" Lock. Later in the night, Bryan was attacked by The Wyatt Family. As a result, Bryan allied himself with CM Punk, and the duo defeated Luke Harper and Erick Rowan of the Wyatt Family at Survivor Series, but the entire Wyatt Family defeated Bryan in a handicap match at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, with Wyatt attempting to recruit Bryan in the previous weeks. On the final Raw of 2013, Bryan defeated Harper and then Rowan in a gauntlet match so that he could face Wyatt, whereupon Harper and Rowan interfered for a disqualification and beat him down. Bryan then acknowledged that no matter how many times the fans chanted "Yes!" or supported him, it wasn't enough for "the machine", so he gave up and decided to join the Wyatt Family. On the January 13 Raw, after the Wyatt Family punished him for their lack of success since he joined, Bryan attacked all the other members of the Wyatt Family to break free from the group. At the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, despite Bryan losing to Wyatt in a singles match and later not participating in the Royal Rumble match, the audience continued to chant for Bryan during the Rumble match and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match.
On the January 27 Raw, Bryan qualified for the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the eponymous pay-per-view by teaming up with John Cena and Sheamus to defeat the Shield via disqualification. Meanwhile, he also continued his feud with the Authority, as Kane attacked him on multiple occasions, attempting to injure Bryan before his Elimination Chamber match. At the Elimination Chamber event, Bryan survived until he was one of the final two participants in the Elimination Chamber match, but defending champion Randy Orton retained after Kane interfered against Bryan. On the March 10 Raw, Bryan and multiple fans occupied the ring and refused to leave, resulting in an irate Triple H agreeing to Bryan's demand for a match at WrestleMania XXX, with the stipulation that the winner would be inserted into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at the event. At WrestleMania XXX, Bryan defeated Triple H and was inserted into the title match. He went into the main event with a badly injured shoulder, but defeated Randy Orton and Batista to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship by making Batista tap out to the Yes Lock, despite interference from the Authority and a crooked referee. After successfully defending the championship against Triple H in a one on one match, Bryan resumed feuding with his former partner, Kane. After getting married to Brie and learning Kane was his next challenger, Kane brutally assaulted Bryan in front of Brie by executing a Tombstone Piledriver three times outside the ring on the floor, on the steel steps and lastly on the announcing table, despite Stephanie McMahon's orders. He was taken away on a stretcher afterwards. In real life, Bryan's father had recently passed away, so this angle was put in place to give Bryan time off. Bryan would then go on to defeat Kane at Extreme Rules to retain his title.
On the May 12 episode of Raw, Bryan announced that he would have to undergo neck surgery. That same night, he was attacked by Kane and stretchered away. On May 15, Bryan underwent successful neck surgery, with a cervical foraminotomy to decompress the nerve root having been performed. Bryan returned on the May 26 episode of Raw, where he refused to relinquish his title. Stephanie McMahon threatened to fire Bryan's wife Brie Bella if Bryan did not give up his championship at Payback. At Payback, Brie Bella 'quit' WWE, allowing Bryan to not have to give up his championship. The next night on Raw, Stephanie McMahon announced that at Money in the Bank - if Bryan were able to compete - it would be against Kane in a Stretcher match, otherwise he would be stripped of the WWE World Heavyweight title. On the June 9 episode of Raw, the Authority announced that due to Bryan's neck injury, he was stripped of the title effective immediately and the vacant title will be on the line at the Money in the Bank pay per view.
During the November 24 episode of Raw, Bryan made his WWE return when he interrupted The Authority's farewell to the WWE Universe. He then announced that he was put in charge for the night, punishing members of Team Authority, including Lana, Jamie Noble, and Joey Mercury.
Return from injury (2014-2016)
On the December 29th edition of Raw, Bryan addressed the WWE universe that he can compete again and will be an entrant in the Royal Rumble match at the upcoming Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Despite entering the Royal Rumble match with the full support of the WWE Universe behind him, Bryan would ultimately be eliminated by Bray Wyatt. Two weeks later, he defeated Seth Rollins for the right to face Roman Reigns at WWE Fastlane with the winner moving on to challenge Brock Lesnar for the World Title at WrestleMania 31.
At WWE Fastlane, Bryan put forth a hard-fought effort to achieve his goal of facing Brock Lesnar on The Grandest Stage of Them All. Pulling out all the stops against Roman Reigns, Bryan nearly secured victory but Reigns came away with the victory following a huge Spear. After the bout, Bryan congratulated Reigns and wished him luck at WrestleMania. The next night on Raw, Bryan displayed his admiration and respect for Roman Reigns.
Then, at WrestleMania 31, Bryan triumphed over six other Superstars to capture the Intercontinental Championship for the very first time in a fast and furious Ladder Match. After a successful title defense against Dolph Ziggler the next night on Raw, both Bryan and Ziggler were attacked by former Intercontinental Champion, Bad News Barrett and the returning Sheamus. On SmackDown, Bryan was bloodied by the returning Celtic Warrior, losing their match by count out after Barrett nailed Bryan with a Bull Hammer elbow. Bryan is set to defend his newly won championship against Barrett at Extreme Rules. On the April 9 edition of SmackDown, Bryan teamed with Ziggler and Reigns in a winning effort against Bad News Barrett, Sheamus and Big Show.
Bryan was cleared by the doctors at UCLA but has yet to be cleared by WWE and Dr. Joseph Maroon. WWE told Bryan at one point he was not going to be cleared. On February 8, 2016, Bryan announced his retirement due to medical reasons on Twitter. This was later confirmed by WWE.com
General manager of SmackDown (2016−present)
Bryan still has three years remaining on his WWE contract despite retiring and will be a central figure on Total Bellas.
On Thank You Daniel, a WWE Network tribute to Bryan, he confirmed that he has been asked about working for WWE in a different capacity, but Bryan compared this to "a partner breaking up with you, getting married to someone else and then asking you to be best friends", expanding to say that he needs time to heal emotionally before he can agree to such an offer, while WWE confirmed that Bryan would continue to appear for the WWE in a non in-ring role alongside his wife Brie Bella, who now serves as a WWE Ambassador following her retirement from in-ring competition at WrestleMania 32.
Bryan was appointed as the general manager of SmackDown Live by SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon on the July 18, 2016 episode of Raw.
Danielson has spent the majority of his career without an overt character in favor of becoming popular with the fans through his monikers, signature mannerisms, and wrestling ability. His attire has varied, as well, with the majority of his tenure wearing a pair of short trunks, but also ventured into wearing a mask for a time in Japan as an extension of his "American Dragon" persona.
A notable part of Danielson's persona are his mannerisms and the reaction he inspires from the crowd during the course of his matches that include:
- Danielson made his way to the ring to his entrance song, The Final Countdown; once in the ring, he stands on the top turnbuckle and sings the refrain along with the fans in attendance.
- After winning the ROH World Championship, Danielson displayed traits of a heel-like persona, starting to behave more aggressively and threatening to the fans, as well as taking more liberties with the rules. Despite his rulebreaking character, he still retained a certain level of popularity with the fans, as well as his upholding of the company's Code of Honor, ROH's storyline rules of wrestler conduct, allowing him to perform as a more neutral character.
- Applying a submission hold while the opponent gets a part of their body in the ring ropes, leading to the referee counting to five (not releasing the hold by the count of five would result in a disqualification); as the referee would be about to disqualify Danielson, the latter would release the hold, instructing the referee: "I have till five!"
- During his initial reign as ROH World Champion, telling the ring announcer to add an extra note about him appertaining to the current circumstances around his match; this was generally insulting the crowd or his opponent.
- At the beginning of Danielson's ROH matches, the crowd chants, "You're gonna get your fucking head kicked in!" at Danielson's opponent.
Danielson has cited a number of wrestlers as influences to his style: Toshiaki Kawada, Mitsuharu Misawa, and William Regal. He has also made mention of modeling his wrestling off of the work of Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit in his early career, then using Jujutsu as a platform to develop his own style. In 2009 Danielson relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he has began training in mixed martial arts at Randy Couture's Xtreme Couture gym.
Danielson married WWE Diva Brie Bella on April 11, 2014, with whom he had been in a relationship for nearly three years.
On April 21, 2014, WWE announced the death of Danielson's father. Danielson insisted on performing that night on Raw as scheduled but left for home immediately after his segment.
In July 2014, Danielson's home in Phoenix, Arizona was broken into by two burglars. Danielson came home at that time; he managed to chase down and subdue one of the burglars with a rear naked choke until police arrived. Based on information gleaned from the caught burglar, police apprehended three other people about two weeks later who were involved in burglaries throughout Arcadia and Phoenix.
During a 2014 interview, Danielson stated that he cannot swim or go deep into water due to a ruptured ear drum he suffered in an unspecified 2007 Ring of Honor match against Kenta. Danielson has never had the ruptured ear drum fixed, and he claims he still has problems hearing in his left ear.
- Finishing moves
- As Daniel Bryan
- As Bryan Danielson/American Dragon
- Bridging dragon suplex
- Cattle Mutilation / Arms Across America (Bridging double chickenwing)
- Crossface chickenwing, sometimes with bodyscissors
- Double wrist-clutch to a grounded opponent followed by multiple stomps to the opponent's chest, face, and head
- LeBell Lock (Omoplata crossface) – 2010
- Multiple elbow strikes to the side of the opponent's head while holding the opponent in a crucifix position
- Regal-Plex (Bridging leg hook belly to back suplex) – adopted from William Regal
- Triangle choke, sometimes followed by multiple elbow strikes to the opponent's head
- Signature moves
- Air Goat (Suicide dive)
- Ankle lock
- Arm trap seated abdominal stretch
- Backflip off the top rope over a standing opponent followed by a crooked arm lariat
- Cobra clutch to a facedown opponent
- Corner elbow smash
- Discus elbow smash
- Dragon screw
- Dragon sleeper
- Drop toe-hold into the turnbuckles, sometimes followed by kicking the second rope into the opponent's throat
- European uppercut
- Flying Goat (Diving headbutt)
- Guillotine choke
- Heel hook
- High knee from the apron to the outside of the ring
- Indian deathlock
- Jumping knee drop
- Multiple kick variations
- Multiple suplex variations
- Rolling fireman's carry slam
- Running leg lariat
- Single leg Boston crab
- Sleeper hold
- Small package
- Surfboard, sometimes while applying a dragon sleeper
- "The American Dolphin"
- "The American Dragon"
- "The Beard"
- "The Best Wrestler in the World"
- "The Dagger"
- "The Dazzler"
- "The Flying Goat"
- "G.O.A.T." (Greatest Of All Time)
- "King of Beards"
- "The Master of the Small Package"
- "Mr. Money in the Bank"
- "The Submission Specialist"
- "The World's Toughest Vegan"
- "The "Yes!" / "No!" Man"
- Entrance themes
- Independent circuit
- World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE
Wrestlers trained by Danielson
- Alex Payne
- Andrew Patterson
- Bobby Quance
- Cheerleader Melissa
- Dan Marshall
- Farmer Joe
- Killer J Mathias
- Rhett Titus
- Robbie Ryder
- Ryan Drago
- Sara Del Rey
Championships and accomplishments
- All Star Wrestling
- ASW World Heavy Middleweight Championship (1 time)
- Match of the Year (2010) vs. Munenori Sawa on September 11
- International Wrestling Association
- IWA Puerto Rico Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Memphis Championship Wrestling
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #13 of the best 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2008
- Pro Wrestling Report
- Independent Wrestler of the Year (2006)
- Ring of Honor
- Texas Wrestling Alliance
- TWA Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Spanky
- westside Xtreme wrestling
- wXw World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Ambition 1 (2010)
- World Series Wrestling
- WSW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE
- World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- WWE Championship/WWE World Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
- WWE Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Kane
- WWE United States Championship (1 time)
- WWE Intercontinental Championship (1 time)
- Money in the Bank (SmackDown 2011)
- Twenty sixth Triple Crown Championship
- Fifteen Grand Slam Championship
- Slammy Award for Cole in Your Stocking (2010) – attacking Michael Cole on NXT
- Slammy Award for Shocker of the Year (2010) – the début of The Nexus
- Slammy Award for Tweet of the Year (2012) - "Goat face is a horrible insult. My face is practically perfect in every way. In fact, from now on I demand to be called Beautiful Bryan."
- Slammy Award for Facial Hair of the Year (2012)
- Slammy Award for Upset of the Year (2012) - Defeating Mark Henry and Big Show at Royal Rumble
- Slammy Award for Couple of the Year (2014) - with Brie Bella
- Slammy Award for Catchphrase of the Year (2013) - YES! YES! YES!
- Slammy Award for Beard of the Year (2013)
- Slammy Award for Superstar of the Year (2013)
- Slammy Award for Fan Participation of the Year (2013) - YES! YES! YES!
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- Bryan is friends off-screen with Mistico, John Cena, CM Punk, Zack Ryder and John Hennigan.
- Upon his official WWE Debut, Bryan was considered the next John Cena, by fans and by Michael Cole due to the similarities between the two.
- Bryan is the first NXT Rookie to win a championship.
- He is also the first NXT Rookie to win a world championship.
- WWE.com Profile
- Daniel Bryan Facebook
- Bryan Danielson Twitter
- Profile at OWW
- BryanDanielsonOnline.com (official website)
- MySpace profile
- TV.com profile
|CM Punk • David Otunga • Husky Harris • Mason Ryan • Michael McGillicutty • Skip Sheffield • Daniel Bryan • Darren Young • Heath Slater • John Cena • Justin Gabriel • Michael Tarver • Wade Barrett|