Which is your favourite of the best Bryan Danielson matches?
Whether he’s called Daniel Bryan or Bryan Danielson, nobody has pulled out as many best matches on the card than the Dazzler himself.
Whether it be in WWE, AEW, ROH or even wrestling a bear, every time you watch Bryan Danielson wrestling you know you’re going to see something spectacular. He is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time and maybe the greatest in-ring technician the sport has ever seen.
Since he debuted in WWE as part of the Nexus, Daniel Bryan has been the best wrestler in the company and regularly had the best match on the card whilst barely breaking a sweat. After leaving WWE for AEW, Bryan Danielson took over having the best matches on the card, with a style of wrestling that truly showed by Bryan Danielson can do in the ring.
Here are the top 10 matches Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson has had in AEW and WWE. This match will not include bouts in other companies like Ring of Honor, as that will be covered in a future article.
Bryan Danielson Best Matches
10. 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.
This match was also one of the best WWE matches of 2021.
9. 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.
8. vs Eddie Kingston – AEW Rampage
The first match on this list from Bryan Danielson’s current run in AEW. Bryan Danielson took on Eddie Kingston in the second round of the AEW Eliminator Tournament, with the winner going on to face Miro in the final for a chance to face the AEW Champion in the future.
The match was a pure fight. Both men beat the hell out of each other, with Bryan’s chest being absolutely destroyed by chops and kicks from Eddie Kingston. The match was a tribute to the King’s Road style of wrestling from All Japan Pro Wrestling, which was the favourite period of wrestling of Eddie Kingston.
Chops, kicks, punches, forearms were the main form of offence for both men. Danielson won the match by knockout after a triangle choke coupled with smashing elbows to the forehead. Kingston was defiant to the end but could not stop from succumbing to the American Dragon’s devastating submission manoeuvres.
7. vs Kofi Kingston – Wrestlemania 35
After Daniel Bryan’s heroics at Wrestlemania XXX, few people thought he could become the most hated heel in wrestling. However, it is a testament to Bryan’s skill as a performer that he could get the people to hate him and that he could help make Kofi Kingston’s dream a reality at Wrestlemania 35.
Daniel Bryan had defeated AJ Styles for the WWE Championship on Smackdown before Survivor Series (the next match on this list) and had begun his crusade to save the planet. As the “Planet’s Champion”, Bryan preached about sustainability and saving the planet, completed with his own wood and hemp WWE Championship belt. While his message was on point, his way of delivery was arrogant and rude, making the fans hate him all the more for it.
His work as a heel helped make KofiMania a reality. After years of being kept out the main event scene, Kofi Kingston and the New Day earned him a match against Bryan at Wrestlemania 35 for the WWE Championship. After a fantastic match, Kofi hit the Trouble in Paradise on the champion to win the WWE Championship in one of the best Daniel Bryan matches in WWE history.
6. vs AJ Styles – Friday Night Smackdown
The year prior to this match, AJ Styles defeated Jinder Mahal to win the WWE Championship in London. This gave him the chance to take on Universal Champion Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series 2017, in a dream match that more than lived up to expectations.
One year on, AJ Styles was once again WWE Champion, and the prospect of a rematch between the two was high. However, two days before that match was due to take place, AJ Styles defended his WWE Championship against newly turned “New” Daniel Bryan. The heelish side of Bryan was fully out and was a joy to watch.
Daniel Bryan defeated AJ Styles in a brilliant match. It was by far the best of their matches and was a very rare World title change to occur on Smackdown Live. Bryan would go on to face Lesnar at Survivor Series 2018, which will be talked about later on the list of Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson’s best matches.
5. vs CM Punk – WWE Over the Limit 2012
The match that was beaten to the main event of Over the Limit 2012 by one of the worst WWE matches ever, John Laurinitis vs John Cena, is also one of Daniel Bryan’s best matches. He took on WWE Champion CM Punk for his Championship, in a match that showcased what both men can truly do.
The match was pure wrestling, something not seen in WWE at the time, with the roster dominated by the likes of John Cena and the Big Show. The pair showcased technical wrestling skills that the crowd were enthralled in. Despite being a heel and over a year away from his huge push toward WWE Champion, the crowd were really into Daniel Bryan, almost as much as their heroic champion CM Punk.
CM Punk would win the bout which was rather overshadowed by John Cena’s awful main event match. This pair seemed destined to battle again at Wrestlemania one day, but for one reason or another that never happened. Hopefully we get to see a rematch between these two in AEW in 2022.
4. vs Minoru Suzuki – AEW Dynamite
When Minoru Suzuki broke down the forbidden door to challenge Jon Moxley at All Out 2021, fans mouths watered with the prospect of what matches the Japanese legend would be taking part in.
When he was announced to be facing Bryan Danielson at AEW Dynamite, fans were ecstatic. Bryan Danielson was already pulling out the best matches on the card on a weekly basis regardless of his opponent. Once he was in the ring with a talent like Suzuki, fans knew there would be magic.
And there was. In a match, the two veterans exemplified the ways of “Strong Style”. Huge, stuff strikes were common place, with both men barely leaving their feet. No selling was rife, but in a way that made the match better not worse.
The match is unlike anything in AEW before, and both men proved how they were still two of the greatest wrestlers in the world. This was a five star classic while keeping the crowd in the palm of his hand, and was his the second best Bryan Danielson match in AEW so far.
3. vs John Cena – Summerslam 2013
Daniel Bryan’s assent to the top of WWE seemed to have arrived at Summerslam 2013. After winning over the crowd with a series of brilliant matches and his hilarious tag team with Kane, Daniel Bryan was handpicked by John Cena to be his WWE Championship opponent for Summerslam 2013.
The match was one of the matches of the year in 2013, with John Cena really showing the world he could truly wrestle. The build up was all about how Bryan did not respect Cena for being a “sports entertainer” whilst he was a “wrestler”, and Cena made sure he earned Bryan’s respect in the match.
Daniel Bryan wrestled one of his best matches in WWE, even debuting a new finisher as he pinned the WWE Champion. He launched a knee into the face of Cena, which was later named “The Knee that beat John Cena” (and not the “Solid Knee Plus” as everyone hoped”.
Sadly, the aftermath of the match taints the memory of it, as Randy Orton cashed in his Money in the Bank and stole Bryan’s newly won championship. They feuded for months following, until the fans were too loud and forced WWE to have Bryan win the championship in the main event of Wrestlemania XXX.
2. vs Brock Lesnar – Survivor Series 2018
In my opinion, this is the best WWE match in the past 10 years. The champion vs champion format doesn’t always produce great matches, but this one does that and more.
Universal Champion Brock Lesnar absolutely manhandled WWE Champion Daniel Bryan at Survivor Series 2018. The first half of the match was evocative of Lesnar’s mauling of John Cena at Summerslam 2014. At one point, Lesnar had Bryan beat, but lifted his shoulders off the mat to interrupt the pinfall, simply to inflict more damage.
However, a well place kick to the balls put Bryan in control, and he showed his aggressive side perfectly in this match. Kicks and elbows to the face made Lesnar cry with pain, with a series of brutal looking submissions made fans think that Daniel Bryan could beat Brock Lesnar.
In the end, Brock Lesnar managed to claim the victory, but even in defeat Daniel Bryan looked like a true WWE Champion, and this match earned it’s spot as the second best Daniel Bryan match.
1. vs Kenny Omega – AEW Grand Slam 2021
Bryan Danielson came into AEW with one express purpose, and that was to kick Kenny Omega’s head in. He debuted at AEW All Out 2021, interrupting the Elite and saving Christian from a beat down.
In the weeks following, he laid out the challenge to Kenny Omega. The match was set and two of the best wrestlers in a world would face of at Arthur Ashe Stadium at AEW Grand Slam 2021.
Kenny Omega vs Bryan Danielson had more hype behind it than any other match I’ve seen. The fans erupted into a frenzy of cheers when the bell ring to signal the start of the match, such was the incredible anticipation for this match.
After such build it, it seemed impossible that the match could live up to the hype. Somehow, it exceeded it.
The pair fought an incredibly paced match to an exciting thirty minute draw. As the bell rang to signal the end, the pair kept fighting, having to be held apart by their respective allies. This set up beautifully for the rematch which I’m sure will happen as soon as Kenny Omega returns from surgery.