Bryan Lloyd Danielson, or Daniel Bryan to WWE audiences, was born on May 22nd, 1981 in Aberdeen, Washington, a small and gloomy city located in the Pacific Northwest. It's also the hometown of Nirvana frontman, Kurt Cobain, another unwashed hero to the masses.
Danielson had a love for professional wrestling from an early age and decided to peruse his love as a profession immediately following high school. Danielson toured the United States before being signed to Memphis Championship Wrestling (defunct) which was a developmental system operated by the WWE. There, Danielson was trained by William Regal, a man who Danielson credits as an instrumental factor in the development of his career. When MCW folded, Danielson was let go from his contract. Following his run in Memphis, he would head overseas and work in Japan before finally returning to the United States and embarking on his independent wrestling career. Danielson is known as one of the “founding fathers”of Ring of Honor, the promotion that was influential in Danielson becoming the wrestler that he is today.
Fast forward to 2010 and the debut season of NXT – an experimental new WWE project where future stars would be showcased on a weekly basis while under the tutelage of a current superstar. The name Bryan Danielson was tweaked to Daniel Bryan and he was paired with The Miz. Despite a long losing streak, Bryan was a crowd favorite and while he did not win the first season of NXT, his career in WWE has certainly been more fruitful than the other contestants.
Daniel Bryan is not what your typical superstar is supposed to look like, at least not according to McMahon standards, but still he's managed to thrive in the land of giants. The “Yes Movement” has become a global phenomena, taking over the arenas hosting Monday Night Raw and forcing the McMahon family to listen. When Bryan was not entered in the 2014 Royal Rumble match, the outraged poured on WWE. Daniel Bryan was supposed to be the guy headlining WrestleMania XXX and the fans all knew this to be true. Eventually, WWE came to their senses and the night ended the way it should have ended with Daniel Bryan leading a loud “Yes!” chant as he hoisted high his newly won WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
No doubt, the road has been long and hard for Bryan and it continues to be as he is currently recovering from injury. However, nothing was handed to the bearded man from Washington State. Bryan has proven that organic connections with the fans is something sorely lacking in today's product. Here's hoping that he is back in WWE sooner than later and here are 15 little-known facts about Daniel Bryan.
Daniel Bryan does his best to live as green as possible and is a huge proponent of solar panel use and sustainable living. Bryan once tweeted his outrage when the state of Arizona declared that they would begin to charge those who install solar panels. “Arizona will start charging people who install solar panels staring next year. Corporate greed strikes again.” Bryan did not own a television set for a number of years , kind of weird for someone whose livelihood is featured so prominently on television with WWE programming and Total Divas, but at least it was a noble effort at energy conservation.
14 Former Vegan
Daniel Bryan became a full-on vegan in 2009 following a series of illnesses (elevated liver enzymes and staph infections). While working as a heel in WWE, Bryan would incorporate his vegan-lifestyle into his promo work by pompously suggesting that he is a better person than those who choose to be carnivores. There have been a lot of great heel talking points over the years, but the use of veganism was definitely something different. Bryan has since revealed that he is no longer vegan since finding proper food while on the road proves to be quite difficult. However, he maintains a mostly vegetarian diet.
13 Libby Award Recipient
The Libby Awards honor both companies and people who make significant contributions to the vegan lifestyle. The awards are presented by peta2, a division of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), which is geared towards teens and young adults in an effort to turn the youth on to the preach-speech of vegan-living. While Daniel Bryan may have given up on a strictly vegan diet in recent years, back in 2012 he was the recipient of the Libby Award for “Most Animal-Friendly Athlete.” I wonder what means more to him, a Libby or a Slammy?
12 Real Life Friendships
In the wrestling world, genuine friendships are few and far between as everybody is seemingly only looking out for themselves. Long ago there was something known as “The Kliq” which consisted of Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Sean Waltman. There are numerous stories of these men politicking backstage with Vince McMahon in order to book angles in their favor. Daniel Bryan has established a few real life relationships/friendships himself over the years – albeit nothing with as much backstage pull as The Kliq. Daniel Bryan has known fellow wrestlers CM Punk and Antonio Cesaro for years, dating back to their days on the independent circuit and has developed a strong relationship with both men.
11 Pushing the Envelope of PG-TV
The NXT season one rookies were involved in a 2010 storyline which saw them attacking WWE superstars and even the ringside crew. During the assault of the crew, Daniel Bryan focused his attention towards ring announcer Justin Roberts, strangling him with his own tie. The result of this incident lead to the release of Daniel Bryan as the act was deemed unsuitable for PG programming. However, Bryan was not gone for long as he made his return at SummerSlam to join Team WWE in the fight against The Nexus – his former cohorts.
10 Texas Wrestling Academy
When Daniel Bryan first wanted to learn the fundamentals of wrestling, he was hoping to do so at a wrestling school operated by Dean Malenko. When the school was closed down Bryan instead underwent training at the Texas Wrestling Academy. While a student at the academy, Bryan was trained by one of the greatest in-ring performers of all-time, “The Heartbreak Kid,” Shawn Michaels. The school was started by Michaels during his original retirement from WWE in the late-nineties and was run by Michaels until he returned to WWE on a full-time basis. It's too bad that HBK never squared-off against Daniel Bryan in a classic teacher vs. student match. That would be a great bout.
9 American Dragon
The only time in his career when Daniel Bryan did not wrestle under a straight-forward human name was during his tenure in New Japan Pro Wrestling where he was known as the “American Dragon.” This gimmick would have Bryan wear a red, white, and blue mask that resembled the features of a dragon. Bryan would eventually lose the mask in NJPW but managed to see some success in the company when he captured the Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship along with his partner “Curry Man,” better known as Christopher Daniels – formerly of TNA and longtime ROH wrestler.
8 First Ever ROH Main Event
The Era of Honor Begins was the debut show from ROH. It took place on February 23, 2002 at the Murphy Recreational Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The card featured a match between the legendary Eddie Guerrero and Super Crazy – two of the most well-established luchadores in the business who were facing each other for only the second time in their careers. However, the event was headlined by a three-way match between Christopher Daniels, Low Ki, and Bryan Danielson. That night would be prove to be a pioneering evening for ROH, with Bryan participating in its first main event.
7 ROH Head Trainer
Ring of Honor runs its own professional wrestling school know as the ROH Wrestling Academy. The head trainer position has been occupied in the past by CM Punk and Austin Aries, as well as the man we have been talking about, Daniel Bryan. The fact that a promotion is willing to appoint someone as the head trainer for developmental talent says the wrestler cannot be any run-of-the-mill wrestler. Daniel Bryan as head trainer was a nod to his unbridled talent and dedication to the wrestling business.
6 Hard of Hearing
The ailments of a career in profession wrestling are hard and hazardous to the health. This applies to Daniel Bryan in the sense of his actual senses. During a match against Kenta (a well-known Japanese wrestler currently working in NXT) in Ring of Honor, Bryan suffered a ruptured eardrum which he has never had fixed. As a result of this injury Bryan cannot swim or enter any deep waters and still has trouble hearing out of his left ear. The way of the pro wrestler is a wild one indeed but as many critics constantly like to point out: “it's all fake.” Yes, but the human body is a real thing.
5 Daniel Bryan Day
Mayor Micah Cawley of Yakima, Washington declared that Friday, January 13th, 2012 be known as “Daniel Bryan Day” throughout his fair city. During this time, Daniel Bryan was working his heel character and was the World Heavyweight Champion. He was involved in a on-screen relationship with AJ Lee, who he would blame for his loss a few months later at WrestleMania XXVIII when he was defeated by Sheamus in eighteen seconds for his championship. This was the first major title run for Daniel Bryan while employed by WWE.
4 Kimya Dawson Song
Kimya Dawson is an American singer-songwriter and good friend of Daniel Bryan. Dawson has her own unique style of music as an indie-folk artist, which is certainly a sound that you would not find on Top 40 Radio. Dawson, a wrestling fan, was apparently distraught enough by the death of Lou Albano, one of the greatest mangers in professional wrestling history, that she wrote a song entitled “Captain Lou.” The track features her pal Daniel Bryan singing background vocals. The song as a whole is a nice tribute to Lou but embodies a rather weird sound.
3 Velocity Match Versus John Cena
Long before Daniel Bryan defeated John Cena for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam 2013, the pair did battle on an old WWE television show called Velocity. On the February 8th, 2003 edition of the show, John Cena would challenge a twenty-two-year-old talent by the name of Brian Danielson. Cena was victorious in the match and was still in the early days of his WWE career. Meanwhile, Danielson was years away from his name change and WWE run. Anyone who witnessed that match probably never thought that the two men in the ring were going to main event a Pay-Per-View together a decade down the road.
2 Independent Return
As we alluded to on #11 on this list, Daniel Bryan was released by WWE back in 2010 due to the Justin Roberts incident. Well, it didn't take him long to start wrestling again as he was immediately found back on the independent circuit once again as Bryan Danielson. While he was only away from WWE for two months, Danielson wrestled a number of matches for different promotions. Even when he was hired back to WWE, he decided to honor the remainder of his independent commitments. Daniel Bryan proved to the WWE that he doesn't mind being Bryan Danielson and that he is not a sports-entertainer, he is a wrestler.
1 ROH and WWE Champion
There are only two men in the wrestling industry that can make claim to having won both the ROH World Championship and the WWE Championship. Those two men are CM Punk and Daniel Bryan respectively. This is a big deal because of the way WWE perceives independent talent. Indy wrestlers are often viewed as too small to main event in WWE. Their look and persona come into play because WWE loves to mold guys who have already established a fanbase and who have already displayed the kind of wrestler they are into their own image. CM Punk wasn't given his ring name by anybody in WWE, he was already CM Punk coming into the company. They may have switched around the name Brian Danielson but Daniel Bryan was never meant to achieve higher than middle of the card. While these two are the exception to what is considered the “norm” in WWE, another independent wrestler breaking the WWE mold is highly unlikely.
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