10 Biggest Moments Of Daniel Bryan's WWE Career

The Yes Movement is about to start up again so let's take a look back at the leader's best moments...

YES! YES! YES! Daniel Bryan has been cleared by WWE for an in-ring return and all is right with the world.

Rumours had been rife for some time that a return to the squared circle could be on the cards - WWE's or otherwise - but in a statement on WWE.com, the company confirmed the news fans all over the world have been hoping for since February 8 2016. The former four-time World Champion "underwent a full review of his medical history and received comprehensive neurological and physical evaluations independent of WWE. He was cleared by each doctor as well as WWE’s Medical Director, Dr. Joseph Maroon." The last part of that quote is music to the ears of Bryan's fans the world over as it has been well documented how WWE's in-house medical team wouldn't clear the 36-year-old, even though those outside of the company would.

I'm sure you're all sat at home now conjuring up a list of dream matches you'd like to see Bryan take part in if his return is more than just a one-shot deal - I'll leave that to you, but I'll take you through what I believe to be the 10 biggest moments of his WWE career to date.

(Because we're all about celebrating all that's good about professional wrestling, there'll be no mention of Justin Roberts, ties, or firings! Damn, I just did...)

10. "Daniel Bryan" *Clap Clap, Clap Clap Clap*


Twas the night of the Championship Ascension Ceremony, and all through the arena, not a creature was stirring - apart from Stephanie McMahon and Triple H flapping their gums - until the entire arena erupted into unstoppable chants of Daniel Bryan's name and 'Yes!'.

The leader of the Yes Movement made something that wasn't really about him very much about him without doing anything other than standing still - a huge moment that Vince McMahon et al hated, apparently, because somebody was getting over that wasn't supposed to be at that time.

In an attempt to silence the crowd by wearing them out with a popping crescendo, Mark Henry raised the hand of Bryan, something Triple H spotted and was visibly annoyed by. Then, The Game presumably realised Henry is the World's Strongest Man and didn't say anything...

But this was the moment saw Daniel Bryan, of all people, overshadow a ring that included no less than 20 former World Champions to confirm he was destined for bigger and better things. It's a moment that almost forced God himself, Vince McMahon, to admit he was wrong about someone he never earmarked for true Superstardom - and he never admits he's wrong!

9. WrestleMania 31 Ladder Match


The last championship, for now... it's the moment that gave us a glimmer of hope and signalled that better things were to come for Bryan after a lengthy layoff from competition. However, the dream was postponed and then pronounced dead just short of 11 months later and that made us all very sad - it's the hope that kills you, isn't it?

Back in a time when the Intercontinental Championship - much like the hopes and aspirations in all of our lives - was all over the shop, a game of Hot Potato was being played throughout most of the mid-card with Bad News Barrett patting that proverbial potato up in the air in at 'Mania rolled into Santa Clara.

Coming into the event fresh off a defeat to Roman Reigns at Fastlane in a match that could have seen him wrestle Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship, our brave little warrior saw off a catalogue of men to win the IC strap - with the thinking behind the move presumably to put a massive name on the title and make it mean something. Again, it really is the hope that kills you, isn't it?

A few weeks later, however, the title was vacated and Bryan would embark on another prolonged period away from the ring before that retirement speech on Raw.

8. The First Big Return


Without this, the rest of it wouldn't have happened.

After being kayfabe kicked out of the Nexus and real-life shoot BROTHER fired from WWE for strangling ring announcer Justin Roberts with a tie - damn, that's the second time I've mentioned it when I said I wouldn't - Daniel Bryan morphed back into Bryan Danielson and tore all kinds of humanity up on the independent scene.

After admitting their firing was just for the lols, D-Bry made his return as part of Team WWE at SummerSlam 2010, being revealed as the surprise final member. He would be eliminated from the match after being jumped by The Miz - sewing the seeds for a match a lot of people want to see now way back then.

However, the fact he came back and was straight into a massive match like this - even though it was all about John Cena who could have probably solved poverty and world hunger that night if he wanted to - just showed that WWE saw something in Bryan. The fans would later confirm their suspicions, of course.

7. 2014 Royal Rumble


As you can see above I have obtained an exclusive image explaining why Daniel Bryan wasn't part of the 2014 Royal Rumble match. Sources close to WWE claim he was stuck, and that Rey Mysterio is not a bad human being and you shouldn't boo him - he's as pure as the driven snow, you monsters!

The most popular Superstar in WWE by this point, Daniel's Road To WrestleMania™ was far from clear. Vince McMahon was hell-bent on giving us Randy Orton vs. Batista for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, with a victory in the Rumble seemingly the only way Bryan could work his way into the title picture.

As the 10-second clock counting down to the 30th entrant appeared on screen, fans started to chant 'YES!' in expectation, with a rampant, relentless goat about to be unleashed on an unassuming field of Superstars - despite the fact they'd seen him face off against Bray Wyatt at the start of the night in a losing effort.

However, he didn't appear, and people didn't like that so Rey Mysterio had his metaphorical head cut off in front of our eyes. It was painful to watch. It's not Rey's fault that he isn't Daniel Bryan - blame science and sexual intercourse for that.

6. Winning His First WWE World Title


CM Punk did a lot of great things for WWE but first and foremost, of course, is the fact that he broke down barriers for smaller 'indy darlings' in WWE's land of the corporately built giants.

Daniel Bryan was certainly one of those who took advantage of the smaller, more technical landscape, following on in Punk's footsteps. The crowning glory of this opportunism - if that's the right word for it - came at TLC 2011, where he cashed-in his Money In The Bank contract to win his first WWE World Title.

It was a classic bit of heel work from Bryan who not only cashed-in unnanounced, but did so on an unconscious opponent who had been an ally of sorts for months prior - poor Big Show.

Believe it or not, the 'YES!' chant we all know and love today wasn't born out of 'babyfaceness' - it was very much a heel thing. Bryan would celebrate the smallest and most meaningless victories with over the top cries of 'YES!' being used to try and get on fans' nerves - having just won his first WWE World Title, it's fair to say he did quite a lot of this.

Bryan also became the first graduate from NXT to become a World Champion in WWE - another nice thing to have next to your name, I guess.

5. That Retirement Speech


After almost a year away from the ring, Bryan received the Edge retirement haircut and we all lost our minds.

February 8 2016 saw the leader of the Yes Movement officially retire from in-ring action at the end of an episode of Raw, giving a speech that made you laugh as much as it made you want to cry. He really does have a way with words does our Daniel.

Few retirement segments on WWE shows felt as real as this one. Most of the time we're sat there thinking of Terry Funk and Mick Foley in the back of our minds and saying to ourselves, 'meh, you'll be back.' The way Bryan spoke, coupled with everything those dirtysheets were publishing, really felt like he was closing the door on something he didn't want to see go. This looked to be true for so long, of course, before Brie told him to get his finger out of his proverbial and keep on fighting to get back even when all hope of a return appeared lost.

4. Beating John Cena At SummerSlam 2013


Back in 2013, John Cena was nothing like he is today. He wasn't as giving, he wasn't as laid back, and he wasn't as good (quite frankly) as it was all about salutes and winning and posturing, and winning (and the winning). That's what makes Bryan's inital win at SummerSlam over the leader of the Cenation such a monumental moment.

It was also - although it must be said it didn't mean half as much as it used to by this point - a victory for wrestling against the WWE machine, if you will. This was a ready-made star who had made his name on the Indies toppling someone WWE designed from the ground up. People like Daniel Bryan weren't really beating people like John Cena back then - a hard concept to grasp if all you know is WWE of today, I know.

Ultimately, the joy of the moment was short-lived as upon delivering the belt to the new Champion, Special Guest Referee Triple H hit a Pedigree which opened the door for Randy Orton to cash-in his Money In The Bank contract - a bitter pill to swallow at the time, but a moment that built momentum for Daniel as an underdog babyface fighting against The Authority.

Oh, and you have that fact that this was Bryan's first WWE Championship win - the one you really wanted to win if you had to choose between the two top titles of the time.

3. 18 Seconds


This was the night where the WWE Universe sat up in unison, said 'bollocks to this. Daniel Bryan deserves a hell of a lot more than losing the WWE World Championship in 18 seconds in the curtain jerker to WrestleMania XXVIII - let's do something about it!'

And so the Yes Movement was born.

Despite the fact that he was at his heelish pomp back then, the clever part of the WWE crowd warmed to Daniel Bryan with cheers and chants of 'YES!' taking the place of what should have been boos.

After stalling to provide his on-screen girlfriend and manager AJ Lee and kiss of the lips, 2012 Royal Rumble winner Sheamus landed a strong Brogue Kick on Daniel's lips to win the title. Many eyebrows were raised when it was revealed that a World Title match would open the show, but the way it went made the decision as transparent as a really clean window... I spoil you with this analogies, I know.

Without this defeat, goodness knows what might have happened to Daniel Bryan's career. I'd like to think he would have been as much of a success as he was because cream always rises to the top. But, without a defeat that annoyed the fans to such a degree that they felt obliged to join his cause, whether Bryan would have been as big as he was is up for debate (maybe).

Who cares about the hypotheticals, right? Best. Loss. Ever.

2. This Week's SmackDown Live Return


This week's SmackDown Live was fantastic. In the words of Borat Sagdiyev, 'I very excite.'

Daniel Bryan's return after a near three-year spell out of the ring isn't only great because it's a fantastic fan favourite coming back into the fold after a long old time away. It's great because he's taken medicine and doctors and all of that clever stuff, and shown the tenacity, desire, passion and willing to throw it in the bin.

Not only is it a victory for fans who have one of their most beloved performers back, but it's also a victory for performers who have been told there's no way back once upon a time.

Please just go and watch Daniel's promo from SDLive as he perfectly explains what his return means. "IF YOU FIGHT FOR YOU DREAMS, YOUR DREAMS WILL FIGHT FOR YOU!" Goosebumps all over...

1. WrestleMania 30


What else were you expecting?

It's a story that was build over two painstaking years but a story that, in the end, was absolutely worth it for the moment when Daniel Bryan made BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOtista tap out.

Daniel Bryan knows how to tug at your emotions, and on a night where he overcame the odds and pulled double duty to defeat three men he perhaps shouldn't he certainly pulled harder than most have pulled before.

This night saw Bryan continue the good work of CM Punk. I believe that the way the fans received this piece of rejigged booking - Vince McMahon wanted Orton/Batista to main event 'Mania 30, remember? - saw the likes of AJ Styles and Kevin Owens given a stronger foundation on which to thrive today.

It's a moment that you have to watch with your own eyes and feel to really appreciate, so go and do that now on the WWE Network. While you are, get excited for what is to come in the next chapter of Daniel Bryan's WWE career.

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Ross Tweddell

Written by Ross Tweddell

Written and video journalist for Cultaholic Wrestling | twitter: @rossonrasslin | instagram: @rossonrasslin