Daniel Bryan became synonymous with the “Yes Chant” in the WWE, as it catapulted him into the main event of WrestleMania and to WWE Championship glory.
Like all good things in wrestling, it had to start somewhere. And like all of the great things in wrestling, it was stolen from somebody else as passed off as his own.
The Yes Chant is no different, and Daniel Bryan revealed how he invented the Yes Chant, crediting the man who inspired the legendary chant.
How Daniel Bryan Invented The Yes Chants
In December 2011, Daniel Bryan won his first World Championship in the WWE. He had held the Money in the Bank briefcase for a number of months, having won the titular ladder match earlier that summer, and carried it around with him until TLC 2011. He had intended to cash in at WrestleMania 28, but the opportunity quickly presented itself to him.
At TLC 2011, Mark Henry defended his World Heavyweight Championship against The Big Show. Henry was in the midst of his legendary “Hall of Pain” run, widely regarded as the best of his career. Meanwhile, Big Show was in the midst of a career resurgence, putting on some fantastic matches with the likes of Sheamus and Mark Henry over the year.
Big Show managed to beat Mark Henry to win the World Heavyweight Championship – his last world title run in his career (so far) – but faced a savage beat down from Henry after the match.
As he lay on the ground, surround by steel chairs (it was a chairs match, and yes, that is a real match type. No, it is not good), the familiar sounds of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries blared through the speaker system, and Daniel Bryan sprinted to the ring to cash in his contract.
As Big Show lay on the ground, Daniel Bryan quickly covered him for the pin. The dazed giant managed to kick out just after the three count, the lost milliseconds costing him the World Heavyweight Championship in what was one of the best nights of Daniel Bryan’s life.
Bryan ran around the ring like crazy, celebrating like he had just won in the main event of WrestleMania. Being a heel, he was being obnoxious as he could, jumping on tables and barricades to celebrate the cheapest of victories that had just occurred.
He was following instructions given to him by WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, who wanted him to go as over-the-top with his celebrations as possible.
“Vince’s only direction for me after I won was to ‘celebrate like you won the Super Bowl.” So I celebrated like my life depended on it”. Daniel Bryan wrote in his 2014 autobiography “Yes! My Improbably Journey Into The Main Event Of WrestleMania”. Bryan continued to do this celebration every time he walked to the ring, celebrating his championship reign as much as he could. This evolved into the Yes Chant we all know and love today.
Daniel Bryan invented the Yes Chant by copying UFC fighter Diego Sanchez, who did his own variety of the Yes Chant whenever he walked to the Octogon.
Again writing in his book, Daniel Bryan revealed:
“That’s how I started using a simply yet emphatic word: Yes. I used the term as a way to how how happy I was to be World Heavyweight Champion, an idea I actually got frmk one of my favorite MMA fighters, Diego Sanchez. As he walked down to the Octagon for his fights, he’d hammer down his fists and with a serious, intense face, he’d yell ‘Yes!’ Apparently , for him it was about positivity, but I saw it as great showmanship and almost covertly annoying.”
Daniel Bryan would change up the chant when it suited his character. After becoming annoyed at the crowd using the chant themselves, he changed to a “No!” chant – crossing his arms and shouting “No!” in defiance, as the crowd continued to scream “Yes” at him.
This eventually led to Daniel Bryan becoming the most popular star in the WWE, and the Yes Chants took over the world of pro wrestling (and even transitioning into other sports, like Basketball).
Despite attempts to transplant the Yes Chant onto the Big Show (with utterly disastrous results), The American Dragon’s popularity remained resolute, and was one of the most beloved wrestlers in the WWE until he left the company in 2021.
The Greatest Yes Chant Ever Was Daniel Bryan’s Cage Match With Bray Wyatt
The Yes Chant hit its peak before WrestleMania. The Greatest use of the chant came during an episode of Raw in January 2013, after a Bray Wyatt & Daniel Bryan match inside of a steel cage.
During the storyline where Daniel Bryan briefly joined the Wyatt Family, he began acting like one of the group and even wearing gear like Erick Rowan. It was a sort of heel turn, although the fans never stopped supporting Daniel Bryan.
After he teamed with Bray Wyatt against The Usos in a steel cage match, Daniel Bryan turned on Wyatt, leading the crowd in synchronized yes chants, acting like the conductor to his “yessing” symphony.
Why Bryan Danielson Won’t Do The Yes Chants In AEW
Despite it being a key part of his WWE character, when Daniel Bryan returned to being Bryan Danielson in AEW, he decided to stop using the Yes Chants completely.
He has not kept the Yes Chant as a regular part of his arsenal, and has instead moved onto different gimmicks as a part of the Blackpool Combat Club.
In an interview with Wrasslin’ with Brandon Walker, Bryan Danielson revealed that the WWE asked him not to infringe on their “intellectual property” after leaving – including using the “Daniel Bryan” name after his move to AEW.
“I’m not doing it myself because I respect WWE’s intellectual property. I don’t think anything legally…they haven’t threatened anything legally. I had a great conversation with Kevin Dunn before I debuted with AEW. I was very up front with WWE on ‘I want to let you guys know I’m leaving. This is my debut date.'”
“They asked me, politely, to respect their intellectual property even on some things that couldn’t be legally enforced. I’m trying my best to do that. There are also certain expectations fans have of me that they want to be able to do and I’m happy they still get to do that. I’m going to do my best to avoid swinging my arms in the air.”
Dave Meltzer later confirmed that the Yes Chant was not brought up during the conversation between Bryan Danielson and Kevin Dunn, but The American Dragon has continued to honor his promise to the WWE beyond legality.
However, despite his reluctance, Bryan Danielson has done of the “Yes Chants” twice once in All Elite Wrestling. They were some of his biggest moments in the company, at the culmination of two of the greatest matches of his entire career.
During his sixty-minute Iron Man match against MJF at AEW Revolution, Bryan Danielson used the Yes Chant right at the end of the match. Nearly 70-minutes into the bout, he evoked the Yes Chant before tapping out, locked in his own LaBelle lock by MJF.
He used it again in his Forbidden Door 2023 match against Kazuchika Okada. Danielson was forced to bide time in the match, regrouping after breaking his arm following a botches elbow drop by Okada.
Bryan Danielson used the Yes Chant during the match, and even went on to forced Okada to tap out while having only arm to use after breaking it. For different reasons, both uses of the Yes Chant were crucial in creating two of the best moments in Bryan Danielson’s career.
Daniel Bryan’s Best Matches
vs Edge & Roman Reigns – WrestleMania 37
Danielson’s final Wrestlemania match as Daniel Bryan is number ten on the list of his best matches.
The match was for Roman Reigns’ Universal Championship, and featured three of WWE’s top stars. It was an all-action, fast paced classic between Bryan, Edge and Roman Reigns in the main event of the biggest show of the year.
Edge won the Royal Rumble to face Reigns for the Championship and Bryan was added to the bout weeks before the show. Fan could not decide which of the two faces they wanted to win the match, with reaction split on they wanted to pin the champion.
However, Reigns would pin both men to win the championship, capping off a blockbuster year as champion as the top champion in WWE.
vs Triple H – Wrestlemania XXX
The culmination of Daniel Bryan’s rise to the top of WWE was at Wrestlemania XXX, when he defeated Batista and Randy Orton in the main event to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
However, before he could get there, he had just one more roadblock in his way. That was Triple H, the man who had held him down for so long and who cost him the WWE Championship at Summerslam 2013. He took on The Game in the opener of Wrestlemania XXX, with the winner going on to join Randy Orton and Batista in the main event of Wrestlemania.
Triple H and Daniel Bryan had one of the great Wrestlemania matches, with Bryan finally getting his hands of the man who held him down for so long. The crowd were electric and were desperate to see Bryan win, and when he finally threw fists and kicks and starting suplexing the Game, they erupted with cheers.
Bryan defeated Triple H when he hit him with the running knee to pin him for the three count. However, the injuries on his body mounted, and the post match attack by Triple H left fans in doubt whether or not he could continue into the main event. Luckily he did, and went on to create one of the great wrestling moments later that night.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.