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Daniel Bryan – From Indie Honors to Nerd to Yes! Fame

by Michael Becker

18 seconds at Wrestlemania - it was all Daniel Bryan needed to become the next big wrestling sensation - by losing his title in record time. What happened there - and why Daniel Bryan? To answer this question, the man's illustrious history might be important:

Before WWE

When Bryan Danielson (his real name) finally joined WWE he was a indie superstar for years. He is one of the 'old breed' of wrestlers who had wrestled in different territories and in different countries (including Canada and Japan). Of course, he won some prestigious titles during his indie times: The most important ones are the Ring of Honor PURE and the Ring of Honor World Championships he managed unify. In his time as ROH World Champion, Bryan tuned heel slowly by becoming arrogant and threatening everybody - his heel promos were  He also won New Japan Pro Wrestling's IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships alongside a certain Curry Man (aka Christopher Daniels).Her you can see the American Dragon (one of Bryan's nicknames) and Curry Man in action in Japan:

Danielson & Daniels

During his indie tour, Bryan wrestled accomplished opponents such as Christopher Daniels, Low Ki, Homicide, Austin Aries, and even later fellow WWE champion CM Punk. Watch this match here:

Bryan vs Punk ROH style

 

Bryan & The Nexus story

When he finally came to WWE, Bryan Danielson was renamed Daniel Bryan. He was one of the contestants of the first NXT season, with The Miz as his mentor. While he lost most of his matches, the fans still voted for him regularly. HE also cut a great plain-talking promo:

Bryan speaks his mind

When all NXT rookies formed The Nexus and destroyed RAW for the first time, Bryan was there as well - yet Bryan strangling ring announcer Justin Roberts with a cable was deemed to violent for WWE's PG delusions, which led to his release straight afterwards.

But he would return to WWE in no time - and in an important match. At Summerslam 2011, 7 WWE superstars would face the 7 members of The Nexus in an elimination tag team match. Bryan was the secret seventh member of Team WWE. He single-handedly eliminated 2 Nexus members before he was attacked by his old rival The Miz which ultimately led to Bryan's elimination.

 

The Nerd

While he became officially a part of WWE and Bryan even won the United States Championship in September 2010, yet, he had basically no gimmick. He wasn't allowed to show his good mic skills as well. The only 'idea' the bookers could come up with was to call him a 'nerd' - and for some strange reasons, both Bella twins took an interest in him. This shameful story line ended when it was revealed Bryan had had a relationship with Gail Kim for months ... History would repeat itself - Bryan lost his US title to no other than Sheamus in March 2011.

 

Money in the Bank

In July 2011, Daniel Bryan managed to win Smackdown's Money in the Bank match (which guaranteed him a title a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship whenever he saw fit). Initially, Bryan declared to cash in his briefcase no earlier than Wrestlemania 28 - yet his rivalry with World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry and repeated attacks made him change his plans: He cashed in his contract and actually beat Henry - to lose the Championship within minutes as GM Teddy Long said Mark Henry had not "been medically cleared to compete":

Cash-In, part 1

Bryan explained his change of heart: He was motivated by revenge and afraid not to make it to Wrestlemania 28. While this made sense, his second cash-in didn't: After Big Show won the Title from Henry at TLC in December 2012 (and received a DDT on a steel chair as part of his celebration), Bryan covered Show to finally become World Heavyweight Champion. On RAW, we witnessed a memorable event with the WWE Champion CM Punk and the World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan - two indie wrestlers rose to stardom in the big mainstream league!

 

Yes!

But soon after his triumph, Bryan fell back to his old champion pattern - he slowly turned heel - it started with frantic "Yes!" chants before and after his matches, his refusal to say that he loved his girlfriend AJ (after she pledged her love to him on air a couple of times) and eventually telling her to shut up. The heel turn culminated when he defended the World Heavyweight Championship by count-outs or disqualification only from January to Elimination Chamber (actually, this PPV was the exception from the rule as he pinned Santino Marella for the win). It became clear that Bryan would have to defend his title against Sheamus at Wrestlemania 28.

 

Bryan's loss becomes his gain

We all know the story that followed - Sheamus 'surprised' Bryan with a foreseeable and inevitable Brogue Kick out of nowhere, making Bryan lose his title in just 18 seconds. Ironically, this enraged many fans who wanted to see Bryan wrestle: Let's be honest, Bryan vs Sheamus and Punk vs Jericho were the only matches were the fans expected to see solid wrestling. During Wrestlemania, the fans kept on chanting "Yes!" and Bryan's name, at least until Taker's Hell in a Cell match.

But it wasn't until the episode of WWE RAW the night after when it became clear what happened: At RAW, the fans kept on chanting "Yes!" and "Daniel Bryan" throughout the 120 minutes. Sheamus entered the building and received heat - in his segment with Alberto del Rio, the fans didn't care about the action in the ring and kept on cheering for Bryan (who only appeared for seconds staring at the screen). But the sensation of the night was a 6 men tag team dark match where Sheamus and Bryan collided once more: virtually everyone in the building was rooting for Daniel Bryan:

Epic Yes chants(Warning!!! Turn your speakers down)

WWE even started going further: There is a new Bryan shirt, a twitter competition with the weirdes Yes! creations - yet at the same time, WWE officials ask the crowd not to chant Yes all the time ... it is all pretty confusing. Add to it Bryan's split from AJ but she still follows him - it seems as if no one knows where to go with this story.

 

What will the future hold?

At the moment, everything seems possible. We might see a double turn - Sheamus could turn heel (let's be honest, he is bland and boring as a face) while Bryan turns face. AJ could play a vital role in their title match as well. A third option would be a revolutionary one - Establishing Daniel Bryan as the smarks' John Cena - let the women and kids boo him while the grown men and teenagers cheer for him. Everything seems possible right now - but of course, there's some big risk involved: If the strategy fails Bryan's main event status will fade faster than his title dreams did at Wrestlemania ...

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