Over the past sixteen years, Bryan Danielson competed on different continents doing what he loved to do. Wrestling for promotions such as Evolve, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Ring of Honor and the WWE, Daniel Bryan made a sterling reputation for himself. Everything he did in and out of the ring earned the adulation of wrestling fans all over the world. His recent retirement announcement, while disappointing to his fans, provides him with a new outlook on life. So while we can be disappointed that he will no longer be competing, we are grateful for having been fortunate enough to see him compete.
Bryan gave of himself inside the ring. There was never a moment where you could watch him and think that he isn’t giving his all. Even seeing him wrestle for five minutes, we knew it would be the most entertaining five minutes we’d see on that particular show. Bryan would often give passionate promos that would leave fans wanting more. He has said was that he didn’t have any regrets, and when you’ve accomplished all of your goals, how could you have any regrets? As fans we will miss a number of different things about Daniel Bryan. We’ll miss them because we won’t have the good fortune of seeing them anymore. We’ll miss them because we won’t be able to smile each and every time he steps in the ring and entertains us.
On Monday February 8th, Daniel Bryan announced his retirement from active competition. The news has saddened fans all over the world. While we know that the decision was for the best, what he said really resonated the most with fans on that night. Bryan repeatedly used the word gratitude to describe how he felt. For everyone that stood behind him, whether it was his family, friends or complete strangers, Bryan said he was grateful. What Bryan should know is fans feel the same way about seeing him compete. They are grateful to have seen him paint pictures and tell stories in the ring countless times. From his underrated classic against CM Punk at Over the Limit 2012 to his battles against Nigel McGuinness, Austin Aries or Samoa Joe in Ring of Honor, fans have a lot to be grateful for. Thank you American Dragon, Bryan Danielson, Daniel Bryan for all you’ve done; it is us, your fans that know that you did what you loved to do, and we loved you for it.
Daniel Bryan was always one to roll with the punches. His dream was to compete in the WWE, capture the championship and main event Wrestlemania. Bryan was able to achieve all these things. But even if he had never received the push he did, he would have probably been fine. But fans wanted to see him succeed so much that it was impossible to keep him down. Still, he never appeared to have a chip on his shoulder at any time. During his time in Ring of Honor, he didn’t always win, and he didn’t have to win. He was so incredibly over with the fans that he always came out looking like a winner. Did he have a good attitude because good things were coming? No, because those good things were never a given. Bryan’s positive attitude and ability to take things as they come all stem from whom he is and where he comes from. In one of the earliest interviews Bryan gave, when he was first joining NXT, he said the most important things in life was family. The loss of his father in 2014 hit Bryan hard, but Bryan was always a positive role model even when he wasn’t competing, which says a lot about him.
Yes! No! Early on he was accused of not showing any character or personality. While that was being said as part of an on-screen storyline, the reason for it was that he didn’t sound or act over the top. But just because he didn’t do those things didn’t mean he lacked character. He was jeered and cheered during his time competing on the independents. It was at this time where he earned his craft and worked on those traits, and showed he could bring a great deal of depth to a character. When he first came into NXT he was unknown to the WWE fan base, who didn’t know what to think of him. He worked from his initial promo to endear himself to fans, then successfully pushed them away, leading to them chanting “No” when he would chant “Yes”. He mistreated AJ Lee who was his on-screen girlfriend. For anyone that believed chivalry was dead, look no farther than this period, as fans disliked him because of how he acted thought they didn’t dislike what he could do in the ring. It’s a remarkable that even when he was a heel, fans still cheered him on because they knew that he could put on an incredible wrestling match.
Although fans have seen Daniel Bryan grow into the wrestler he was, when he retired he had only scratched the surface on what he could do. During his time in Ring of Honor, Bryan Danielson faced a who‘s who of men that have left their mark on professional wrestling for the last two decades. CM Punk, Samoa Joe, and Nigel McGuiness are just a few of the men that have gone head-to-head with Bryan. Indeed, Ring of Honor was home to some of Bryan’s greatest matches. During his time in the WWE, Bryan faced Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose as well, showing that he is able to put on solid and competitive matches regardless of the promotion or time. Fans will not be able to see Bryan compete against AJ Styles, Finn Balor, Apollo Crews, Kevin Owens or SamiZayn, which is unfortunate. Could you imagine the types of matches they would have, with Bryan? The exchanges between Bryan and each of his opponents was always something special, and will remain that way. We will greatly miss not having the fortune to see Bryan compete anymore.
A number of wrestling fans that were late in watching Daniel Bryan’s progression missed a lot. Often, the key to being a good heel is the ability to be a convincing face as well. When Daniel Bryan first came into NXT and was a rookie, he was often thought of as being a positive, clean shaven character that was well received by the fans. What fans will also recall was that the clean cut and upbeat rookie was a major heel for the company as well. During his World Heavyweight championship title reign, Bryan’s character was jeered quite extensively. The reason for that was his treatment of then on-screen girlfriend AJ Lee. The more Bryan would publicly berate her, the more he would earn jeers from wrestling fans. He became a heel again during his run alongside Kane as one half of Team Hell No! His versatility as both a heel and a face showed that he can pull off both fairly easily. When he became arguably the top face in the company, fans celebrated his effort and his accomplishments. That ability to draw in adulation and anger from the fans will be sorely missed.
Throughout Bryan’s career he has been able to tell fascinating stories with his actions in the ring. Fans would be hard pressed to see someone more committed to his character that Bryan. Whether it was being beaten down and publicly embarrassed by The Miz, or working through issues with his tag team partner Kane, or even how convincing he was during his relationship with AJ Lee, fans have seen the scope of different things that Bryan will go through in order to create a scene, paint a picture and execute the script. He would give powerful speeches talking about how he would fight back against The Authority and continue to fight against what was wrong. and unjust. Bryan couldn’t have anticipated the reaction he received from fans. And the occupy Raw movement he was able to tell a story that would live beyond his wrestling career. As a “Founding Father” in Ring of Honor, Bryan set the standard which all others would be measured against, having been featured in the promotion’s initial main event. During his feud with Chris Hero and CZW, he continued to be the flag bearer for Ring of Honor.
CM Punk, Austin Aries, Samoa Joe, Chris Hero, Randy Orton, Triple H, Nigel McGuinness, John Cena, Kane, Tyler Black, and Frankie Kazarian are among the people who have crossed paths in the ring with Bryan. In each one of these contests, fans were treated to the best possible match he could provide them with, regardless of whether he was feeling alright. The names listed above are at an elite level. While many wrestlers are accused of mailing it in, Bryan competed against talent that could not only wrestle, but helped further along the story with him. These rivalries have provided us with some of the best wrestling matches anywhere in the world. Fans have enjoyed seeing Seth Rollins face Daniel Bryan when he was with The Shield, but imagine how they were against each other when they were able to have freer reign during their time in ROH. While we miss the rivalries Bryan has had, we will miss the ones that were likely to come, as NXT boasts a great deal of talent could have lent itself to incredible rivalries against Byran.
Over the span of Bryan’s sixteen-year career, wrestling fans have been treated to some of the most incredible wrestling anyone has ever seen. His use of submission maneuvers and technique in the ring are matched by very few over the last two decades. With the renamed Labell Lock that became the Yes lock, Bryan was often able to make his opposition submit. Another move that he adopted, which originated with current NXT wrestler HideoItami was the running high knee, known as the Busaikuhe noHizageri when Itami used it in Japan under his real name, Kenta. Prior to WWE and under his American Dragon persona, his finisher was called Cattle Mutilation, a double arm chicken wing submission maneuver. He would use bridging suplexes, triangle chokes and cobra clutches on his opponents. His variation in moves showed that he was committed to being the finest technical wrestler he could. The numerous moves were usually combined with diving headbutts and dragon sleepers. This array of wrestling technique will be missed by fans of Daniel Bryan.
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