In 2011, Daniel Bryan won the Money in the Bank Ladder match and that guaranteed himself a World Title shot. Many believed that Bryan would be the first WWE Superstar to win the Money in the Bank briefcase and unsuccessfully cash in. He would prove everyone wrong when he cashed in his contract at TLC 2011 and defeated the Big Show to win his first World Heavyweight Championship.
During his World Heavyweight Championship reign Daniel Bryan evolved. After every win, he started an obnoxious Yes chant that fans got behind, despite him turning heel. When Bryan lost his title at WrestleMania XXVIII in 18 seconds to Sheamus, not only were fans upset, they spent the rest of the night filling Miami with Yes chants.
Daniel Bryan evolved to the WWE’s most popular Superstar in 2013. He defeated John Cena at SummerSlam and when Randy Orton cashed in his own Money in the Bank contract, joining Triple H and forming The Authority, his connection with the fans skyrocketed. The same way Stone Cold Steve Austin represented every workingman who wanted to beat up his boss during the Attitude Era was the same way Bryan did in 2013.
When Bryan was withheld from the 2014 Royal Rumble, fans completely highjacked the show. When Batista was crowned the winner, they booed continuously and even went on to start a petition to get Bryan in the main event at WrestleMania. WrestleMania XXX became known as YES-tleMania because it was the night Bryan overcame all adversity and won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship after wrestling twice. Unfortunately for Bryan, he was forced to vacate the title after just two title defenses due to injury.
Bryan would return in time for the 2015 Royal Rumble. This time he would compete, but when he was thrown out early, fans would again highjack the event in frustration. He would fall short of the opportunity to main event WrestleMania again when he lost to Roman Reigns at Fastlane. He went on to win the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 31, but was forced to vacate the title again due to injury.
Doctors discovered that Daniel Bryan had 10 documented concussions in his career and discovered a legion growing on his brain that would cause seizers. Therefore after 15 years, Daniel Bryan was forced to retire from professional wrestling. Bryan, at age 34, is leaving the business early. However, there remains a number of Superstars (past and present) who fans have loved to see him work with. Here are the top 15 Daniel Bryan matches we'll never get to see.
15 Shinsuke Nakamura
Shinsuke Nakamura is one WWE’s hottest new signings. He is the youngest IGWP Heavyweught Champion, winning the title at 23. When it was announced that he was part of the incoming free agent class, Daniel Bryan responded with a tweet begging for his clearance. There is no doubt that a match featuring these two would tear the house down. Unfortunately for fans and Bryan, this sure to be epic encounter will never have the opportunity to take place.
14 Baron Corbin
Baron Corbin is easily the biggest heel in NXT. He is not a cool heel by any means. His arrogance and entitlement instantly makes him someone who would be the perfect opponent for Daniel Bryan. Put a major title on Corbin and have Bryan chase him and fans will immediately be invested. While Bryan's career comes to an end, Crobin's continues to grow as the NXT Superstars improves each week. As it stands, these two will never meet on the main roster.
13 Tyler Breeze
Daniel Bryan is not the first guy a woman will look at when they enter a bar. On the other hand, Tyler Breeze is the Prince of Pretty. The story writes itself. Inside the ring, the two men have styles that would work well together. Breeze would have been the perfect opponent for Bryan as he was reestablishing the prestige to the Intercontinental Championship. However, this match of visual opposites will never have the chance to go down in WWE.
12 The Rock
Though he is no longer a full-time competitor, The Rock is still a WWE Superstar. Whether he is heel or face, he is very captivating on the microphone. Daniel Bryan on the other hand has been a face for so long, that many forget that it was during his run as a heel where fans saw his character evolve. These two interacted on a Daniel Bryan’s wedding on the 1,000th episode of Monday Night Raw. While this led to setting up a heel turn for CM Punk, one could only imagine how much money a program with these two could have made.
11 Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews' fast-paced, high-flying offense has captivated the NXT Universe. Crews, like Bryan is physically small, but his heart and drive are huge. Daniel Bryan would be the perfect opponent to help introduce Crews to the fans of the main roster. Put these men in an iron-man match and they would have a match for the ages. While Bryan vs. Crews would not be considered a "big money" match it would still make for something special and memorable.
10 Xavier Woods
The New Day has become one of the most entertaining factions in WWE. This group does not work without Xavier Woods. He is the brains and the mouthpiece of The New Day. Fans have had the opportunity to see Daniel Bryan face Big E and Kofi Kingston, but not Xavier Woods. Bryan would be the perfect person to put Woods over in the mid-card. Sadly, Woods will have to find another opponent to help him break on though hs current standing.
9 Finn Balor
Before Finn Balor entered the WWE, he was one of the top guys of the independent circuit. Balor, like Daniel Bryan made a huge name for himself in Japan. Both guys have evolved since they entered the WWE. Balor, the NXT Champion, would have a perfect opponent in Bryan upon arrival to the main roster. With Bryan vs. Balor fans would have been treated to an instant wrestling classic and a match which fans would have discussed for years to come.
8 Austin Aries
When Austin Aries arrived on NXT, Daniel Bryan tweeted that it was awesome. The two battled while they were both in Ring of Honor. Both are guys who have been told they are too small to make it in the land of giants. This would be a perfect match for the Intercontinental Championship. If any match would rival "Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III, it would have been this battle of former ROH stars turned WWE Superstars.
7 Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens is the fastest rising WWE Superstar in recent memory. In his first year he won the NXT Championship, defeated John Cena, and won the Intercontinental Championship. He is the #1 heel in the company. Whether he is facing Ryback or Dolph Ziggler, he finds a way to make the match entertaining. He and Daniel Bryan would have had been the perfect candidates to main event any Pay-Per-View for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
6 Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn has captured the hearts of the NXT audience in a similar way that Daniel Bryan captured the WWE Universe. Not only are they captivating outside of the ring, but also inside. If there was ever a time to turn Bryan heel, Zayn would be the perfect opponent for him. Fans may start looking at Zayn as their replacement now that Bryan is retired. But image the back and forth contest(s) that could have taken place between Bryan and Zayn had Bryan remained healthy.
5 The Undertaker
The Undertaker is without a doubt a legend. Every year, a match with him at WrestleMania is just as important as the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match. While The Undertaker’s window is closing this is one match fans would have loved to see. Take Bryan's quickness and put it against The Undertaker's power and it would have been great to see if Bryan could defeat The Undertaker in his older years on his biggest stage, or if the Undertaker was still ruler of the yard.
4 A.J. Styles
A.J. Styles, the Phenomenal One, is WWE’s biggest free agent signing since Ric Flair in 1991. After leaving TNA, he made a name for himself wrestling all over the world, which also included leading the famous Bullet Club. The Bullet Club are the coolest wrestling stable since the nWo. When Styles arrived in WWE, Daniel Bryan’s name was at the top of the list of most anticipated matches. Of course, this is just another great match we can throw out the window.
When Sting arrived to WWE, it was one of the most anticipated arrivals in the history of the company. He was the biggest wrestling star to never wrestle in a WWE ring. When he arrived, it was show time. Fans already had a list of guys they would want to see him in the ring with. Sting and Daniel Bryan would be a classic in which two generations collide. And now, the aging Sting continues to work while the much younger Daniel Bryan was foced to leave it all behind.
2 Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle is perhaps the greatest wrestler to ever lace up a pair of boots. Originally an amateur wrestler, he arrived to the WWE and instantly picked up on the business. He learned the entertainment aspect of it and became on the best characters on television. Angle held his own during the height of the Attitude Era. Currently, he is wrestling in TNA on his farewell tour. Nothing would have been better than seeing him return to the WWE and face Daniel Bryan in a submission match.
1 Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar is the "Beast Incarnate"who did the unthinkable and defeated The Undertaker at WrestleMania. When he arrives, he is not doing much talking; he is taking his opponents to Suplex City. While Lesnar was WWE World Heavyweight Champion and seemed unstoppable, Daniel Bryan wanted his shot at him. Unfortunately for Bryan, he did not earn that opportunity. In 1987, over 93,000 fans were on hand to witness Hulk Hogan defeat Andre the Giant. With WrestleMania 32 taking place at AT&T Stadium, Daniel Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar would have been the perfect main event to fill the stadium with more than 100,000 members of the WWE Universe.