Every wrestling company in the world employs a ‘creative team’ to produce dynamic and entertaining storylines for their audiences. Ultimately, booking a wrestling show is simple, give the fans what they want. Push their favorite wrestlers, and have them wrestle longer and more important matches. Daniel Bryan’s rise to the top is a fascinating story. The man the fans adored was the opposite of who the WWE envisaged as being the face of their promotion. From 2012 through to 2014, the WWE universe witnessed the will they won’t they story of Daniel Bryan & the Authority. Would the company give into the fans’ demands and finally give Bryan the moment that his hard work deserved?
The WrestleMania Disaster Prior to Daniel Bryan & The Authority
Bryan walked into WrestleMania 28 as the World Heavyweight Champion, where he faced Sheamus for the belt. After kissing his on-screen girlfriend AJ Lee, Bryan turned immediately into a brogue kick. He lost both the match and the belt in just 18 seconds.
“It was disappointing. I’ve always tried to go out there and steal the show? I’ve always tried to go out there and put on the absolute best match possible…
That’s what has gotten me to where I’m at…I was really looking forward to all those extra viewers watching Wrestlemania. It seems when you go out there and have a great match at Wrestlemania, that’s better than having a great match on any other show of the year. I was really looking forward to it, so for that to happen it was deflating.”
– Daniel Bryan regarding his WrestleMania 28 loss to Sheamus.
Bryan’s ‘main event push’ was seemingly over following this defeat. However, the fans were obviously already taking to him. Some already new of his full potential from his days on the independent scene, in companies like Ring of Honor. However, his short but sweet world championship reign had begun to show the WWE universe his talent as well. Fans had started chanting ‘Yes!’ which was Bryan’s catchphrase, even when he wasn’t present.
He would also receive great receptions when he did wrestle or cut a promo. It was apparent that times were changing in WWE. The fans were growing tired of people like John Cena and The Rock constantly stealing the spotlight from newer guys like Bryan, CM Punk, Zack Ryder and others.
Team Hell No
Bryan would briefly feud with CM Punk, AJ Lee’s real-life and then on-screen partner, who chose Punk over Bryan. However, he would be unsuccessful in capturing Punks’ WWE championship. For the remainder of 2012, Bryan would form ‘Team Hell No.’ This was an unlikely tag team with Kane, in which the two became WWE tag team champions. They held the belts until Extreme Rules 2013, where they lost to Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins of ‘The Shield.’
Daniel Bryan and The Authority – Not The Man for The Job
By the summer of 2013, Bryan would re-enter the singles division. He was unsuccessful in capturing the ‘Money in the Bank’ briefcase. The following night however, WWE champion John Cena personally chose Bryan to be his opponent at SummerSlam. This decision infuriated Vince McMahon. He didn’t’ feel a wrestler like Daniel Bryan was worthy of main eventing the second biggest pay-per-view of the year. Surprisingly, Triple H defended Bryan and even inserted himself into the match as the special guest referee, to ensure a fair fight. Bryan would win the match and the championship, however, Triple H betrayed Bryan, hitting him with a Pedigree after the match, letting Randy Orton, who won the ‘Money in the Bank’ match, cash in his contract and immediately take the belt off Bryan.
Bryan would receive his rematch at September’s Night of Champions, defeating the Viper for the WWE Championship once again. But the following night, Triple H and The Authority stripped Bryan of the title, declaring that referee Scott Armstrong had issued a fast count. The following month, Bryan would receive another title rematch, at Hell in a Cell, with Shawn Michaels as the referee. Once again, Bryan looked set to beat Orton, but Michaels hit Bryan with a Sweet Chin Music. Orton once again retained his belt. Michaels would later explain that he did this in retaliation of the way that Bryan had treated his best friend Triple H.
The Raw after Hell in a Cell, the Wyatt Family would attack Bryan, resulting in a two-month story where Bray Wyatt would convert Bryan to ‘the other side.’ Bryan joined the family, as he believed they were the only people on his side in his war against the Authority. During this time, Randy Orton would feud with John Cena, and unify the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships at TLC. On January 13th, following a steel cage match defeat to The Uso’s, Bryan would turn on Wyatt, turning babyface once again, just in time for the Royal Rumble.
Daniel Bryan & The Authority – The Road to WrestleMania
At the 2014 Royal Rumble, Wyatt beat Bryan in the opening match. The entire arena seemed adamant that he would both enter and win the Royal Rumble match. When Rey Mysterio entered the match as number 30, the crowd heavily jeered, and expressed their frustration, as Bryan now wasn’t going to enter. To make matters worse, Triple H’s friend Batista won the Rumble, meaning once again an older, returning star would main event Wrestlemania, instead of a newer, younger wrestler.
Bryan would have one last chance to make it to Wrestlemania. He entered the Elimination Chamber, with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on the line. Bryan made it to the final two along with Randy Orton, after the Wyatt family appeared in the chamber to eliminate John Cena. Kane came to the ring to check on Cena, but Bryan attacked him with a running knee off a chamber pod, evidently worried that Kane would try to cost him the match. This would come true moments later when Kane broke up a pinfall that would have resulted in Bryan winning the match. Kane would then punch Bryan into an RKO, allowing Orton to win the match.
For the coming weeks, Bryan would taunt and mock Triple H, until eventually the Game would cave in. Finally, it was announced that Bryan would open Wrestlemania against Triple H, and if he won, he’d be inserted into the WWE championship match in the main event.
The Dream Becomes Reality – Daniel Bryan and The Authority
The perfect story was finally set to culminate on the biggest stage, Wrestlemania. After a gripping twenty-five-minute opening match, Bryan finally toppled his now bitter rival Triple H, pinning him after a running knee. The crowd was electric for both Bryan and the match, as they realised he was just one obstacle away from completing his dream. Triple H ambushed Bryan after the match, as one last attempt to keep him from the title.
“I’m really proud of that. It’s interesting because when I envision myself wrestling somebody like Triple H, what I want is to mix up styles. I don’t want it to be a Triple H match, and I don’t want it to be a Daniel Bryan match. I want us both to bring the best parts of each of us and bring it to the table.
That’s what we actually got. You get the things that Hunter is great at – all the attention to detail, and he’s vicious. But he also gave me a Tiger suplex, which I don’t know if he’s ever done before. And then some of the new generation type stuff as far as different sorts of action. I was really proud of that one.
– Daniel Bryan, in response to his WrestleMania 30 match against Triple H
The main event began at a steady pace, Orton and Batista worked a lot of the match, with Bryan overselling his injuries from earlier in the night. Bryan put Orton in the Yes Lock and looked set to win the match, when Triple H and Stephanie ran out, and Triple H pulled the referee out of the ring to stop Bryan from winning. Eventually however, Bryan would tap out Batista, finally overcoming all obstacles and being crowned the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Bryan’s celebrations will be remembered forever. The crowd was wild; their ‘chosen one’ had finally made it to the pinnacle of the Sports Entertainment. Bryan’s victory will always be remembered as one of the greatest wrestling moments of all time.