In 2013, Daniel Bryan grew into the most popular wrestler on the planet with the growth of The Yes Movement. It culminating in two matches at Wrestlemania, where he defeated Triple H then Randy Orton & Batista to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and reign as the top star.
It has been widely reported that the original plan for Wrestlemania 30 was Sheamus vs Daniel Bryan, but did you know that Vince McMahon wanted Shawn Michaels to come out of retirement to face Daniel Bryan in a huge match at Wrestlemania?
Shawn Michaels vs Daniel Bryan
According to PWInsider, WWE reportedly wanted Shawn Michaels vs Daniel Bryan as a headline match at Wrestlemania 30. Michaels had been retired for four years at that point and still appeared to be in ring shape during his various appearances with the company.
Had had never shied away from working in the ring during his time in retirement. Just two years after hanging up his boots at Wrestlemania 25, Shawn Michaels had his arm broken by Brock Lesnar is a gruesome in ring segment. During the Beast’s feud with Michaels’ best friend Triple H, Lesnar hit Shawn Michaels with his trademark F5 finisher, before locking in the deadly Kimura Lock, snapping the arm of the WWE Hall of Famer.
He also stepped inside the ring as a special guest referee on a few occasions. He famously refereed the Hell In A Cell match between Triple H and The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 28. He even hit The Deadman with a Sweet Chin music before he was hit with a Pedigree from Triple H, before counting the closest three count “the streak” had seen.
Shawn Michaels refereed another Hell in a Cell match in 2013, during Daniel Bryan’s battle against Randy Orton and the Authority. The title was swapped between Bryan and Orton since Summerslam and was vacated going into Hell In A Cell 2013. The champion would be decided once and for all, and with all the shenanigans surrounding referees like Brad Maddox, a neutral party had to be chosen.
This choice was Shawn Michaels. While he was the best friend of Authority leader Triple, The Heart Break Kid also trained Daniel Bryan when he was first starting out. He was conflicted over who he wanted to win and was the perfect choice to call the match right down the middle.
That was until he hit Daniel Bryan with a massive Superkick to send him crashing to the ground and costing him the WWE Championship. This was done to hopefully coax the WWE Hall of Famer out of retirement and set up a Daniel Bryan vs Shawn Michaels match at Wrestlemania. This was further set up the following night, when Daniel Bryan put Shawn Michaels in the Yes! Lock and wouldn’t let go until officials pulled them apart.
Michaels also presented his former student with the Wrestler of the Year Slammy award that December, with the simmering tension between the pair almost palpable. This concluded with HBK being hit with the “Running Knee”, also known as “The Knee That Beat John Cena” (which should have been called the Solid Knee Plus) to end a segment full of legends.
This plan was thrown out the window soon after, presumably because Shawn Michaels refused to come out of retirement for the match vs Daniel Bryan. The American Dragon would soon align with The Wyatt Family, before CM Punk walked out at the 2014 Royal Rumble and WWE were forced to pivot and give the fans what they wanted – Daniel Bryan in the main event of Wrestlemania 30.
Shawn Michaels went on to stay retired until 2018, when he came out of retirement to team with Triple H against Kane & The Undertaker. DX vs Brothers of Destruction completely failed to deliver and is one of the lowest rated WWE matches of all time.
This reaffirmed Michaels desire to stay retired and perhaps indicated he made the right call when refusing the match with Daniel Bryan (now called Bryan Danielson in AEW).
WWE also tried to book Shawn Michaels vs AJ Styles at Wrestlemania 33, which you can read about below.