Daniel Bryan‘s Wrestlemania 30 journey was one of the most memorable times in WWE history. Watching him go from the ultimate underdog to triumphing in the main event of Wrestlemania was a joy to watch and vindicated years of hard work and sacrigice on his part.
However, it was also incredibly frustrating. As a fan, watching your favorite lose week after week while Triple H and Stephanie McMahon tell you that you should cheer for the Big Show instead was horrendous television, and turned a lot of fans off the product.
Luckily, it all turned out right in the end. While the post WrestleMania XXX season was one of the worst times in Daniel Bryan’s life, his road to the main event of WrestleMania began with one of Daniel Bryan’s best matches ever, at Summerslam 2013.
Daniel Bryan’s Road To Wrestlemania Began At Summerslam 2013
Fans had gotten behind Daniel Bryan after Wrestlemania 29. At the show he defended his WWE Tag Team titles against Dolph Ziggler and Big E, alongside his “Team Hell No” partner Kane. Fans loved the team but were ready for Bryan to go solo again and challenge for the world championship in the WWE.
The pair lost the titles to The Shield and Daniel Bryan was free t o go out on his own. He soon became the most popular man on the roster with fans appreciating his in-ring work as well as his fantastic career work.
John Cena won the WWE Championship from The Rock at Wrestlemania 29 and was looking for challengers for Summerslam 2013. With nobody at the forefront, he was given the chance by Triple H to choose his own opponent. Looking to the crowd for inspiration, he decided that John Cena vs Daniel Bryan would be the main event Summerslam 2013.
This would be the start of Daniel Bryan’s Wrestlemania dream and his journey to the main event of Wrestlemania 30. He went from up-and-coming star to fully-fledged main eventer during this match where he went toe-to-toe with one of the greatest WWE Champion of all time and came out on top.
The match main evented Summerslam and was one of the best matches of the year. In the build up, Daniel Bryan refused to “slap” Cena, as was tradition in Japan, because he didn’t respect him as a wrestler. This lit a fire under the WWE Champion and he did he best to prove himself as professional wrestler in the eyes oft he American Dragon.
He earned the respect of Bryan but could not retain his WWE Championship. Daniel Bryan won his first WWE Championship by beating John Cena at Summerslam 2013, debuting a new “running knee” finishing move to win the match. Confetti fell and the fans rejoiced as WWE finally listened to them and made their favourite the champion.
However, Triple H soon crashed the party. He was the special referee during the match called it right down the middle. Afterwards however he nailed Bryan with a pedigree and left him in a heap in the ring.
This gave Mr Money in the Bank Randy Orton the chance to slither in and win the WWE Championship, ending Daniel Bryan’s first WWE Championship reign at a matter of minutes. He seemed a far cry from Wrestlemania 30 now but fans still wanted to see Daniel Bryan on top.
His Feud With Randy Orton Ended With WWE Losing Faith In Daniel Bryan
After the disappointment at Summerslam 2013, Daniel Bryan continued to feud with his eventual Wrestlemania 30 opponent Randy Orton. Wanting to regain his WWE Championship, he fought Orton in a variety of matches and stipulations, being screwed out of each one in increasingly petty and ridiculous ways.
The next night on Raw, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon explained why they didn’t want Daniel Bryan as the WWE Champion. They didn’t think he had what it takes to become the face of the company, labelling him a “Solid B+”.
Bryan regained the title from Orton at Night of Champion 2013 but was stripped of the belt the following night. This is because Scott Armstrong, the referee at the time, did a fast count in Bryan’s favour and made his win unfair. It later came to light that Armstrong was a “crooked referee” and working for Triple H to screw Daniel Bryan out of the championship he so rightly deserved.
Next Randy Orton vs Daniel Bryan main evented Battleground 2013. This match was to once and for all decide who the world champion was. Obviously, it did not as The Big Show interfered and knocked both men out. He then confusingly ran into the crowd and began to do the “Yes” chants along with the crowd.
At this point, the WWE did not want Daniel Bryan to be the face of the company. They didn’t see him as being over with the crowd, just that the “Yes” chant was popular. They decided to try and have The Big Show to co-opt the chant and hope that nobody noticed to get the heat of Bryan. Luckily, the fans aren’t idiots and this did not work.
The final match in the “let’s screw Daniel Bryan” trilogy took place at Hell in a Cell 2013. The pair wrestled again at Hell in a Cell, with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee. Being Triple H’s friend made it seem like HBK was biased, but it came to light that he also trained Daniel Bryan as a rookie, so he had alliances to both men. Sadly, he too turned on the American Dragon, nailing him with a superkick to help Randy Orton win the WWE Championship again.
This was meant to set up a match at Wrestlemania 30 between Daniel Bryan and Shawn Michaels. The story was there for the master vs student match that would blow any other bout out of the water. Sadly, Shawn Michaels opted to stay retired and that match still has yet to ever take place.
Daniel Bryan Teamed With CM Punk As “The Best & The Beard”
After being screwed out of the WWE Championship by The Big Show of all people, Daniel Bryan found himself the subject of attacks by Bray Wyatt’s unruly faction of misfits. A shot at the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania 30 seemed further and further away as the weeks went by for Daniel Bryan, although he still held out hope for the Royal Rumble
The Wyatt Family was comprised of Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan and Luke Harper (the late Brodie Lee) and were one of the most terrifying tag teams in the company. They also had main event potential written all over them and were a good feud to help build up Daniel Bryan for a Royal Rumble win down the line.
After being attacked for weeks, Daniel Bryan found help in an old enemy. He joined forces with former WWE Champion CM Punk, forming a short-lived tag team called “The Best and The Beard” in their efforts to take down the Wyatt Family.
They did just that at Survivor Series 2013. The Best and The Beard easily defeated Harper and Rowan during the event and Bryan parted ways with Punk. CM Punk went on to feud with The Shield while Daniel Bryan continued his feud with Bray Wyatt by… joining his cult?
His Wyatt Family Feud Culminated In An All-Time Great Moment
After losing to the Wyatt Family in a handicap match at TLC 2013, he wrestled them once more in a gauntlet match on the final Raw of 2013. He beat Harper and Rowan, ready to get his shot to beat down Bray Wyatt once and for all.
However, after being attacked again by the family, he came to a realisation. No amount of the fans chanting him name or yelling “yes” at him was going to get him anywhere. He laid down and accepted the hand he had been dealt. He joined the Wyatt family. He became known as Daniel Wyatt and acted as if he’d been brainwashed by the cult leader.
This relationship only lasted for two weeks however. On the January 13th, 2014 episode of Raw Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt wrestled against The Usos in a steel cage match. They lost the match but the post match content caused one of the biggest pops ever.
Daniel Bryan pretended to lay down and let Wyatt beat him up, but soon revealed he had been faking his allegiance to the leader of the family. He removed the overalls he had been wearing to reveal his classic red ring gear and began to beat down Bray Wyatt, the cage stopping any interference form the family.
At one point, he sidled into the corner and began to slowly lift his hands in his signature “Yes” Chant. He got faster and faster as the crowd joining him, creating one of the biggest pops and the best visual in WWE history. This set up a huge match against Bray Wyatt at the 2014 Royal Rumble – but would Daniel Bryan still be in the Royal Rumble match?
The 2014 Royal Rumble Disaster Forced WWE’s Hand
Despite wrestling Bray Wyatt at the 2014 Royal Rumble, fans were hoping to see Daniel Bryan in the Royal Rumble match. He was the bookies joint-favourite to win the match alongside the returning legend Batista.
Batista was planning to return as a surprise in the Royal Rumble match. It would have been his first match in four years and one of the rumble’s biggest returns ever. However, plans leaked and he had to be announced early, on an episode of Raw prior to the event.
The Royal Rumble match came and went and superstars filled up the ring. It was famous for being CM Punk’s last match and the crowd behind him until he was thrown out by Kane.
Batista entered at 28 to a decent pop but fans were still waiting for Daniel Bryan. 29 entered and he still remained out of sight and the noise grew as number 30 prepared to enter. The yes chants filled the arena as the clock counted down from 10 and the last man entered the match.
It was Rey Mysterio. He was not who the fans wanted. The Lucha legend was showered with boos by angry fans who wanted Daniel Bryan to win and main event Wrestlemania. Everyone in the match, bar from CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler, were booed out of the building. They only cheered when Rey was tossed out of the match.
Soon, all the fan favourites were gone. The final two were Batista and Roman Reigns, but by the chants of “Daniel Bryan” you’d think he was hiding somewhere on the outside. As a protest toward Batista winning, the crowd cheered for Reigns. He came close but Batista ultimately won the match and punched his ticket for Wrestlemania 30.
The WWE Universe was furious. Daniel Bryan had once again screwed out of his chance by the Authority. This was also the final straw which caused CM Punk to walk out and leave the WWE, never to return to the company.
Elimination Chamber 2014 Was The Last Straw
It looked as if the WWE had seen the error of their ways on the build up the 2014 Elimination Chamber. Randy Orton was defending his title inside the Elimination Chamber match at the event against of the best wrestlers in the world. The six men in the 2014 Elimination Chamber match were;
- Randy Orton
- Daniel Bryan
- John Cena
This gave Daniel Bryan one last chance to win the WWE Championship and main event Wrestlemania 30. With Batista locked in for the main event match after winning the Royal Rumble, the time was up for Bryan.
He had a good performance in the match, eliminating Christian. He also nearly had Randy Orton beaten as the pair lasted until the final two. When he was just about to win the match, Kane attacked Daniel Bryan and cost him the match. Kane had long been a part of The Authority and did their bidding as he helped Randy Orton to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
However, it became clear that WWE had learned their lesson. Michael Cole’s call on commentary was one of his best, the sheer disgust at what just happened apparent in his voice.
His words made it clear that WWE were finally acknowledging that Daniel Bryan was being screwed out of the Wrestlemania 30 main event and that something needed to be done.
Daniel Bryan Occupied Raw For Wrestlemania Dream
Getting his match at Wrestlemania 30 was not easy for Daniel Bryan. WWE were intent on him being omitted from the main event and di all they could to keep him out.
This wasn’t just on-screen. Backstage management didn’t see anything in Daniel Bryan as a Wrestlemania main eventer and that the storyline where they didn’t believe in him was simply just the truth.
Whether it was his size, his beliefs or whatever it was, Vince McMahon didn’t want Daniel Bryan to face Randy Orton at Wrestlemania, no matter how perfect the story was.
The company’s original plans for Wrestlemania 30 was leaked after the event and the Wrestlemania main event was originally meant to be a singles match between Batista and Randy Orton. They had also planned to have Daniel Bryan vs Sheamus in the undercard, a match that had already happened twice at Wrestlemania that nobody wanted to see a third time.
Something had to be done. The company had actually decided by Elimination Chamber 2014 that he needed to be included in the main event but needed a creative way to do so. This is where they took inspiration from the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.
“Occupy Raw” was a classic moment in WWE Raw history where Daniel Bryan invited fans into the ring to protest his exclusion from the WWE Championship match at Wrestlemania 30. They held the ring hostage, cancelling a planned match involving Damian Sandow and enraging Triple H.
Triple H tried to rush the ring but security stopped him for the safety of the fans. This is where Bryan goaded him into wrestling him in the opening match of Wrestlemania. However, this had one key stipulation – the winner would join the main event of Wrestlemania 30.
At Wrestlemania 30 Daniel Bryan Became WWE World Heavyweight Champion
Daniel Bryan’s Wrestlemania 30 journey finally came to a climax when he walked out of the show with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
He kicked off the show in his grudge match against Triple H. The pair wrestled the match of the night, pulling out spots and moves that had never been seen before, as well as paying tribute to wrestlers from yesteryear like Chris Benoit. Bryan wore fur boots, paying tribute to the late Bruiser Brody and did him proud with an incredible win over The Game. He earned his spot in the main event and step one of his journey had been completed.
After the match, Triple H beat down the American Dragon and made him a doubt for the main event. However, he came out at the end, coverered in bandages and forced Batista to tap out to the Yes lock. He won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and proved to everybody that he was the best wrestler in the world.
Daniel Bryan’s Wrestlemania journey was long, arduous and at times made no sense. It angered fans, broke the internet and made CM Punk quit wrestling for seven years. But it was worth it to see the Flying Goat lift the world title at Wrestlemania as 80,000 fans yelled his name and chanted “Yes! Yes! Yes!”.