CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are widely considered to have been two of the best professional wrestlers of the current generation.
Obviously, neither man wrestles anymore and it seems that both Superstars' careers were cut short due to shocking circumstances. CM Punk was unhappy with his position in the company and the fact that he wasn't able to main event WrestleMania and so decided to walk away. Daniel Bryan on the other hand was forced to retire due to an injury.
Bryan retired from the company back in February and has since returned to WWE TV as the new General Manager of SmackDown Live. CM Punk is yet to make a WWE appearance since he walked away from the company following the 2014 Royal Rumble.
The longest reigning World Champion of the modern era decided to switch over to UFC for what was an ill-fated match back in September with seasoned performer Mickey Gall.
While both men have gone on to do very different things since their time in the ring came to an end, these two have shared some incredible moments and memories together and have a much closer relationship than many people would believe.
The following are 15 things that every fan of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan should know about their relationship.
15 Daniel Bryan's Retirement
It was one of the most emotional farewell's in WWE history when it was finally announced that Daniel Bryan would be walking away from active competition in the company after more than a year of fighting a serious health condition.
Bryan didn't know at the time that he would be given the opportunity to return in a non-wrestling role, so many of the WWE Universe, Bryan's colleagues, and friends shared their thoughts on the fact that he was retiring early and CM Punk was one of these people.
Punk said the following: “Even if I hate a guy, I’d hate to see him get hurt, but I love the guy and it’s a bum way to go out, but living is more important than silly pro wrestling, and I’m glad he’s alive and it sucks that he can’t do what he wants to do, but he’ll find something else to do; the smart ones always do.”
14 Running WWE
It is rare that WWE give guys like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan a chance to be at the top of the ladder in their company. But back in 2011, a year that is hotly considered to have been the best year of CM Punk's career, he and Bryan were 'running WWE.'
Bryan won the World Heavyweight Championship just a month after CM Punk won the WWE Championship and both men then controlled WWE following the end of the Brand Extension. Bryan went on to lose his Championship in record time to Sheamus at WrestleMania before CM Punk made history himself when he held the title up until the 2013 Royal Rumble, a reign that lasted 434 days. It's hard to believe but for a short while, two Indy wrestlers were at the top of WWE.
13 Once Fought Over Punk's Wife
It was perhaps one of the better storylines that WWE had ever created in recent memory. AJ Lee had developed something of a reputation for herself when she ended up causing a problem between CM Punk and Daniel Bryan because she couldn't decide which one it was she wanted.
AJ finally decided that she didn't want either after putting Punk through a table and and even left Bryan at the alter in another WWE wedding angle. But it made for a very good storyline. AJ Lee and CM Punk are now married, which means that they have become another couple that was formed after they were put together on WWE TV. WWE probably has a much better relationship rate than Blind Date at this point.
12 Final Matches Together
Daniel Bryan and CM Punk have come through the ranks in wrestling at pretty much the same time, but they have not faced each other as many times as fans think. They are two guys who made history their own way and refused to change to become a WWE stereotype. Despite this fact that they are both no longer wrestling, and fans will always remember them for their time in WWE together.
Their final matches together took place back in 2013 when The Wyatt Family kept attacking Daniel Bryan and so CM Punk aligned himself with his former rival for a while and managed to defeat The Wyatt's at Survivor Series that year. None of the WWE Universe knew that this would be the final time they would team together, but it's great knowing that they were given this chance to team up.
11 CM Punk's UFC Loss
It was perhaps one of the most hyped UFC debut's of all time, but back in September CM Punk became one of the bravest men in America when he stepped into the UFC Octagon for the first time after only a year of training.
CM Punk may have lost in record time, but he gained the respect of many people for having the guts to step into the cage in the first place. Obviously Daniel Bryan commented on the loss. Bryan stated that even though he and CM Punk are not the best of friends, he was still rooting for him to win. Daniel would also say that is was crazy that he fought an actual UFC fighter in the first place. Nice to see that level of respect.
10 WrestleMania Dream
From their very first meeting, there were many of the Internet Wrestling Community who thought that one day both CM Punk and Daniel Bryan would main event WrestleMania, and that they would main event the annual event together. This would cause for an actual "wrestling" match to headline WrestleMania.
This was one of the main reasons that CM Punk left WWE. Because the one goal he set himself kept eluding him and so he took his ball and walked away from the company, Daniel Bryan was then given the chance to main event WrestleMania and actually won the World Championship in this match after he forced Batista to tap out. Even though Punk didn't get his dream, he must be happy that Bryan was given it in his absence.
9 First Meeting
CM Punk and Daniel Bryan have known each other now for more than a decade. They met back in 2002 at a Jersey J-Cup event and Daniel Bryan stated that he had heard about CM Punk at this point, but the first time he met him he had fractured his skull.
Punk was wheeled off to the hospital because of this, and Bryan stated that was the first time that he had ever met Punk. 'The Second City Saint' himself stated that he had heard of Bryan at the time and that Bryan was all he was hearing about on the wrestling circuit. So, Punk really wanted to step into the ring with him at this point as the two hungry wrestlers were both starving for a piece of the spotlight.
8 Their 45 Minute Match
Punk and Bryan truly put themselves on many wrestling fans radars following their 45 minute Two-Out-of-Three Falls match at Full Impact Pro's Bring The Pain event back in 2005. The two young men would showcase their incredible wrestling abilities. The very abilities that would eventually carry them to the top of WWE.
The duo put on one of the best matches that the company's fans had ever seen, and it is a match that Bryan remembers as 'a 45-minute match in front of 35 people.' While this match wasn't seen by the amount of people that deserved to see such brilliance, it was still one of the best matches FIP had seen and it thrust these two men into the right spotlights in the wrestling world. This match
7 Bryan and Punk Have History
Daniel Bryan and CM Punk have a storied history between them, but they haven't actually fought each other as many times as people think. They were both a part of Ring of Honor together and wrestled many times there, but before that Bryan and CM Punk appeared on many Indy promotions as well.
Bryan once recalled "I have been on shows that CM Punk drove 14 or 15 hours for from Chicago to get paid 100 bucks. We've done those shows in front of 30 people together. It's a long road for guys like us to get here."
6 Punk Once Called Bryan an 'Idiot'
There are some fantastic stories that the duo have told about each other in recent interviews, but one of the best was when Daniel Bryan revealed that CM Punk once called him an idiot because he ruined an easy setup.
Bryan admitted that they were set to chase off The Wyatt and Punk then asked Bryan if he wanted to fight The Wyatt's right now in a way to set him up for a YES chant but instead Bryan forgot and shouted 'Yeah' instead so CM Punk audibly stated 'You're an idiot.' It just goes to show the kind of relationship the duo actually had during their time in WWE. This was in all likelihood a playful rip on Bryan for blowing up the spot Punk had planned.
5 Ring Of Honor
CM Punk and Daniel Bryan first met back in 2002 at an independent event but it wasn't until April 23, 2004 that the two finally collided in the ring together at a Ring of Honor event. (The anticipation was high as their was much praise around the circuit about the two.)
It was at Ring of Honor's Border Wars event and the match lasted more than 25 minutes before CM Punk finally submitted to Bryan. It was an event that also saw current Universal Champion Kevin Owens who was known as Kevin Steen in ROH, play his part in the event. It was the first of many meetings between the popular duo and it set the tone for them moving forward. Plus, it's a cool side note to know that the future Universal Champion was there that night.
4 Bryan Doesn't Even Have CM Punk's Number
Wrestlers travel together all the time and are often forced to work together. If the creative team decide that they want them to feud with people they hate, then they have to get on with it and be professional (yeah, it sounds difficult but such is the nature of the job).
Daniel Bryan and CM Punk worked together on many occasions and even though they weren't best friends, they respected each other greatly. Many thought CM Punk and Daniel Bryan were much closer that friends, but Bryan revealed in an interview a few months ago that he doesn't even have CM Punk's number on his phone, which means they obviously didn't remain close after his WWE departure. And who really knows when and if these two will communicate again.
3 WrestleMania XXVIII
When CM Punk and Daniel Bryan were given a match on the card of WrestleMania XXVIII, it was considered to be a huge step in the right direction for WWE and wrestling as a whole. Wrestling's image over the past few years has changed dramatically and Daniel Bryan and CM Punk have paved the way for the likes of Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Sami Zayn, and Neville to be given opportunities in the company.
It seems that even Daniel Bryan realized how much of a big deal it was for him and CM Punk to be given that chance and stated: "We are two guys who weren't supposed to make it. He's 'skinny fat' I'm 'too small,' we are not prototypical WWE Superstars...We are two guys who are not supposed to be here."
2 CM Punk Practically Handed Daniel Bryan The World Championship
CM Punk walked out of WWE the day after the 2014 Royal Rumble after he found out that he would be wrestling Triple H at WrestleMania XXX, and would once again not be main eventing the show. (Although the company tried to convince Punk that a match with Triple H was a 'main event' match.)
Punk walking away meant that Triple H had no opponent for WrestleMania and so the Yes Movement began. Daniel Bryan was then forced to wrestle two matches and went on the win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Bryan was originally scheduled to face Sheamus at the event, so if CM Punk didn't walk away, Bryan may have never been given the chance to climb to the top of WWE's ladder.
1 Bryan Agrees With What CM Punk Was Fighting For
Throughout his WWE career, CM Punk always attempted to rage against the machine and cause problems with the bookers in the company because he believed that he wasn't the body type to ever make it to WWE's main event.
He thought that people like Triple H and Vince McMahon had a problem with him because he didn't fit in with WWE's stereotype and it seems that Daniel Bryan agrees with what he was fighting for. It's about the wrestlers who want to make it to the top despite their body type and Bryan stated: "It's the whole thing with me and him, and guys like Sami Zayn and Neville even trying to wrestle. Right? It's just this idea of you have this dream that everybody tells you that you can't do, but you just keep going after it. Sometimes, you're not successful, right?"