Bryan Danielson: An Unparalleled Legacy

WWE, Daniel Bryan (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)
WWE, Daniel Bryan (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images) /

Bryan Danielson is undoubtedly one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. He is among the best wrestlers in the world today. Known for his technical proficiency inside the ring, fans have seen him grow and evolve as a wrestler into perhaps his best version today.​

He first rose to prominence on the independent circuit. During much of his time in the indies, his home promotion was Ring of Honor. He has since been acknowledged as one of the founding fathers of the promotion. During his time on the independent circuit, Danielson carved out a niche for himself that has never been replicated.

When Danielson arrived in WWE, he was one of the very best indie wrestlers in the world. He had been in legendary matches and rivalries with the likes of Samoa Joe, Homicide, AJ Styles, Nigel McGuinness, CM Punk, and many more. While he did not fit the mold of a traditional WWE Superstar, Daniel Bryan, as he was known in WWE, defied all odds and stereotypes and eventually became a bonafide main event superstar.​

Daniel Bryan: Breaking barriers in WWE

Despite having to tone down much of his move set and working the safer “WWE style,” Daniel Bryan adapted to a new environment and quickly started getting over with the WWE Universe. With every passing year, DB’s popularity soared. The Yes! Movement catapulted him to megastardom. It transcended wrestling and Yes! chants took over several MLB, NHL, and NCAA games.

The pinnacle of his career came at WrestleMania 30 when he defeated Randy Orton and Batista (he also beat Triple H earlier in the night) in the main event to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion. “The Miracle on Bourbon Street” is widely regarded as one of the greatest moments in the history of pro wrestling.​​​​​

Alas, a few months later, he had to relinquish his title due to a severe neck injury. After surgery, he returned to WWE. He subsequently won the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania 31. However, his comeback proved to be short-lived. Multiple injuries forced him to relinquish the title and retire from in-ring competition in one of the most heartbreaking moments in WWE history.

He wasn’t done just as yet…

Daniel Bryan miraculously returned to in-ring competition in 2018. Later that year, he shockingly turned heel and won the WWE Championship from AJ Styles. His title run as the Planet’s Champion was critically acclaimed and widely regarded as one of the best runs of his career.

At WrestleMania 35, he put over Kofi Kingston in a moment reminiscent of the one he had five years ago at WrestleMania 30. DB left WWE on a high. He main-evented WrestleMania 37, unsuccessfully challenging Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship in a Triple Threat match also involving Edge. His last match in WWE was once again challenging Reigns for his title. DB lost and was “banished from SmackDown.”

During his time in WWE, he opened the doors for dozens of wrestlers to come to WWE and make an impact. Such wrestlers include AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn and plenty more. Several wrestlers have cited him as an inspiration. Danielson has no doubt left an undeniable, profound, and ever-lasting impact on WWE and professional wrestling.

The return of the American Dragon

AEW All Out 2021 witnessed the return of The American Dragon. Bryan Danielson has since gone on to have a series of excellent matches with the likes of Kenny Omega, Adam Page, Jon Moxley, and many more. Until last week, he was part of the hottest faction in AEW, the Blackpool Combat Club, alongside his mentor William Regal, AEW World Champion Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli (fka Cesaro), and Wheeler Yuta. However, the future of the faction is now up in the air after William Regal betrayed Jon Moxley and helped MJF win the AEW World Championship at Full Gear.

Over the past several months, Danielson’s booking has been criticized by fans and experts. A drastic change in the Blackpool Combat Club will hopefully result in Danielson being utilized to the best of his potential.

Behind the scenes, Danielson is also instrumental in mentoring young talent in the promotion. It remains to be seen when and where The American Dragon decides to finally hang up his wrestling boots. Hopefully not soon.​​