Trained by WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels, Daniel Bryan competed on the indy wrestling circuit for more than 10 years. Honing his craft on multiple continents, he became well-known for his hybrid of Japanese and American offensive styles that made good use of vicious elbow strikes, precise kicks, spine-jarring suplexes and various torturous submission maneuvers like the “Yes!” Lock, formerly named after martial arts specialist Gene LeBell.
First coming to WWE as part of the inaugural season of WWE NXT, Bryan soon made it clear he was destined for great things.
After shaking the drama of The Nexus — which formed out of WWE NXT season one contestants — he refocused his efforts on a solo career, exciting the WWE Universe with his unique in-ring style and bone-snapping artillery.
Eventually, the determined Superstar’s efforts came full circle, when he enjoyed his first taste of title gold in WWE from then-United States Champion The Miz, his former NXT Pro. In summer 2011, Bryan won the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, which soon propelled the skilled grappler to the World Heavyweight Championship. After Bryan cashed in at WWE TLC 2011, the weightier prize around his waist wasn’t the only difference in the typically humble competitor; his newfound arrogance distanced him from the WWE Universe that once pulled for the underdog.
Upon losing the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania XXVIII in only 18 seconds, the former champion’s increasingly erratic behavior forced him into an unlikely pairing with Kane. The odd couple, dubbed Team Hell No by the WWE Universe, won the WWE Tag Team Championship, which they held onto for eight months. Their loss contributed to the crumbling of their partnership, with Bryan insisting that Kane believed he was the "weak link" in their team. The former World Heavyweight Champion caught fire, going on tirades in and out the ring, and John Cena selected Bryan to challenge him for the WWE Title at 2013’s SummerSlam.
While defeating Cena at the event was the highpoint of Bryan’s career up to that point, he also suffered his greatest defeat. Moments into the new champion’s celebration, Randy Orton cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and — with a shocking assist from special guest referee Triple H — successfully claimed the WWE Title for himself. In December, Bryan cleaned up at the 2013 Slammy Awards, including winning Superstar of the Year. He rebelled against The Authority by leading a “Yes!” Movement through the WWE Universe that brought him to a triumphant victory in the main event of WrestleMania 30, becoming the second-ever WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
The celebration would prove to be short-lived. Returning from his honeymoon after marrying WWE Diva Brie Bella, Bryan battled his former tag partner, Kane, in a series of brutal matches, and was then forced to undergo neck surgery. Unable to compete, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was vacated. During his hiatus, Bryan began penning his first book, "Yes!: My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of WrestleMania," as he revealed at San Diego Comic-Con 2014.
After months of speculation, Bryan made his Raw return on Dec. 29 and revealed his plans to the WWE Universe: Not only was he ready to fight, but he declared his entry into the 2015 Royal Rumble Match. Despite entering the pay-per-view free-for-all with the full support of the WWE Universe behind him, Bryan would ultimately be eliminated by Bray Wyatt. Two weeks later, he defeated Seth Rollins for the right to face Roman Reigns at WWE Fastlane with the winner moving on to challenge Brock Lesnar for the World Title at WrestleMania 31.
At WWE Fastlane, Bryan put forth a hard-fought effort to achieve his goal of facing Brock Lesnar on The Grandest Stage of Them All. Pulling out all the stops against Roman Reigns, Bryan nearly secured victory but Reigns came away with the victory following a huge Spear. After the bout, Bryan congratulated Reigns and wished him luck at WrestleMania. The next night on Raw, Bryan displayed his admiration and respect for Reigns, hoping the Big Dog puts a stop to Brock Lesnar. After weeks of being caught up in the madness of the Intercontinental Championship, and a victory over the current champion, Bad News Barrett, Bryan officially announced his entry into the Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match at WrestleMania 31.
As he's always proven. no matter his rival, any question that asks if Daniel Bryan has what it takes to be a champion in WWE has been answered with a loud, defiant “YES!”