Only days ago, wrestling fans said goodbye to one of the best wrestlers this generation laid eyes on. Bryan gave an emotional retirement speech on Raw that left wrestling fans emotional. The whole segment was quite powerful, and you could feel the “gratitude” Bryan had for his fans. After all, Bryan was “our guy”, and the fans rallied around him like they did with no other superstar. Bryan’s success was our success; on the magical night of WrestleMania XXX when Bryan defined all odds and won the title, the fans felt like they won the title as well.
All I can say is thank you Daniel Bryan.
Now to the article. We know Bryan was never a Vince McMahon guy. Daniel had to work his butt off climbing the ranks to becoming a top draw with the company, and even when he was there, he still wasn’t considered a future face of the company. Bryan didn’t look like Hogan or Cena, he was a small guy who flew around the ring. Vince never considered him a top guy, and just like the angle he was in with The Authority, they didn’t think he was an A plus player. The angle was more factual than fiction.
Vince was wrong to believe Bryan wouldn’t turn out to be a bright light for the WWE. Ultimately down the road however, there were many factors that influenced Vince to believe so. These factors are surely things Vince wants you to forget about.
13. Fired from WWE
In 2010, Bryan was fired for being too aggressive in the ring (I know, it’s very bizarre, but that’s the WWE). Two incidents were the reason for his firing; the first, strangling Justin Roberts with a neck tie at ringside, and the second, spitting in Cena’s face right before kicking him in the head. Apparently those actions were too violent and crossed the PG guidelines that the WWE has in place. At the time, Bryan was not a known superstar, he was just beginning his career with the company. Wrestling fans were shocked that Bryan was disposed of so quickly. WWE later apologized for firing him and brought him back shortly after the release. This is definitely something Vince most likely wants you to forget about.
12. Came From The Independent Circuit
Bryan enjoyed quite the career on the independent circuit, most notably his time in Japan and ROH. The WWE fails to mention any of it, and Vince likes to make the viewers believe every wrestler is a homegrown talent, even though many wrestlers on the roster have come through the indy circuit. As much as Vince wants us to forget this, hardcore wrestling enthusiasts will never forgot the work Daniel Bryan put in outside of the WWE.
11. Almost Named Buddy Peacock
This isn’t a joke. In an interview, Bryan talked about the origins of his name; he didn’t come up with Daniel Bryan, William Regal did. Bryan stated, “It could have been much worse because they left it up to me to come up with a list of names as far as what I could have been, I actually had a list of names that included Buddy Peacock and Lloyd Bonaire.” Imagine that. WWE fans could have been chanting Peacock, Peacock, Peacock. It’s a shame we never got the chance.
10. Former Tag Team Partners with Lance Cade
Bryan and Cade were both students of Shawn Michael’s wrestling academy. They would eventually team up and become tag partners over in Japan. Cade got the call much earlier in his career. Cade enjoyed some early success in the Tag Team Division, winning the Tag Team titles three times. Lance Cade’s involvement with Bryan is something Vince McMahon wants people to forget. It was during that time when Linda McMahon was running for the senate that Cade passed away due to drug use. This created a whole new controversy regarding the WWE’s wellness policy and put a lot of heat on the McMahon family.
9. Jobber for WWE in 2003, and Wrestled John Cena
Bryan wrestled as a jobber for WWE in 2003, and his most notable match up came on Velocity against a young John Cena during his rapper gimmick years. Fast forward ten years later at Summerslam, and both would be in the main event for the WWE Championship, with Bryan winning the title. However, WWE completely ignored their first match and didn’t use it in any vignettes. In an interview with Slam Wrestling, Bryan acknowledged how the WWE didn’t mention their first encounter: “The match in 2003 from Velocity is interesting because that was the first night that he started going to the main event. He did an interview with Brock Lesnar that night, that’s when he started a feud with Brock for the World Heavyweight Championship. That’s a very interesting part of the story that hasn’t been talked about, really. When we wrestled in 2003, that was his ascension to where he is now. Now, here we are 10 years later.”
8. Chris Benoit is One of His Inspirations
It’s no surprise that Chris Benoit would be one of his inspirations. Their build and wrestling styles are very similar. Watching Bryan in the ring brings back memories of Chris’ days with the company. A lot of Bryan’s moves are seemingly modeled after Benoit. Although, Chris would never be mentioned or associated with Bryan because of his murder suicide incident.
7. Lost in 18 Seconds at WrestleMania
Bryan had one of the best WrestleMania moments in history when he went against all odds and won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXX. Though, only two years earlier, Bryan would experience one of the most embarrassing moments in WrestleMania history during a World Heavyweight Championship match against Sheamus that would see Bryan lose the match in 18 seconds. This truly was a slap to the face of Daniel Bryan, and wrestling fans were outraged by the outcome. I’m pretty sure McMahon wants to sweep this memory under a rug somewhere.
6. Bryan’s Lady Gimmick
In early 2011, Daniel Bryan developed a persona as a lady’s man. He was dating Gail Kim but gained affection from the Bella Twins instead. The angle was a failure. The WWE was trying to give Bryan a personality, though ultimately it didn’t pan out the way they intended it. The whole angle was scrapped soon after.
5. Released From the WWE When He Was 20
Wrestling fans tend to forget that Bryan originally signed with the WWE when he was 20 years old. He was sent to the WWE’s developmental territory Memphis Championship Wrestling, where he would be trained by his mentor William Regal. Bryan developed the moniker “American Dragon” and had success with the company. However in 2001, with the purchase of WCW and WWE taking in more talent, Bryan was released from his contract. This is certainly a huge mistake that Vince would like us to forget.
4. Yes! Was Done as a Heel Move
Some fans forget that the Yes! movement was actually done as a heel move by the WWE. Bryan started chanting “Yes” to angry fans. It was done in a cocky, in-your-face sort of way when he was the World Champion in 2011. He has said many times that it was something he saw UFC fighter Diego Sanchez doing (much like Austin’s What? slogan). It was done as a heel move, but fans fell in love with it, which eventually turned him into a face. The Yes! movement might go down as one of the most popular catchphrases in WWE history.
3. Founding Father of Ring of Honor
Bryan is a Ring of Honor legend. He single-handily took the promotion on his back and became its superstar. Much of ROH’s current success is thanks to the lasting impression Bryan made on the company. Obviously, it was never mentioned on WWE television that Bryan made such an impact in ROH. It seems the WWE doesn’t like mentioning other promotions and tries to make viewers forget about the wrestler’s past accomplishments outside of their product.
2. Didn’t See Money in Daniel Bryan
We all know that Vince’s prototypical star is a big, tall, muscular wrestler who has the image of being unbeatable. Bryan is the total opposite of that; he’s 5’8 and 190lbs. Bryan never fit the mold of Vince’s idea of a champion. For years, Bryan had to claw his way up the ranks with his great in-ring ability, winning over fans, executives and eventually the boss himself. Nonetheless, Vince never saw Bryan as a wrestler who could draw in money.
In a 2013 interview with Ministry of Slam podcast, Shawn Michaels said he had a conversation with Vince and the WWE chairman said he didn’t see money in an unnamed superstar. According to sources within WWE, the individual was in fact Daniel Bryan. Looking at Bryan’s legacy with the company, McMahon certainly hopes fans will forget this statement.
1. Was Not Originally Booked for the WrestleMania XXX Main Event
We all know by now that Bryan wasn’t originally planned to be in the Main Event and win the title at WrestleMania XXX, it was Batista. Well, the fans ultimately rejected Batista and with Punk leaving the company the night after Royal Rumble, the WWE was stuck with quite the dilemma. Bryan discussed this matter on Chris Jericho’s podcast: “It wasn’t necessarily that I felt a shift. It was essentially after Punk quit. It was like, ‘Well, we’ve got John and we’ve got eeeeeeeh.” Ultimately because of Punk’s dismissal and Batista’s unpopularity, Bryan was thrown into the WrestleMania Main Event.