Yes! Daniel Bryan is back. Bryan does not seem likely to work a full-time schedule, and it remains unknown if he can work the same high-impact style that made him the biggest fan favorite since Stone Cold Steve Austin. What we know is that a tag match seems likely for WrestleMania.
Bryan and SmackDown Live commissioner Shane McMahon have a score to settle with a pair of evil Canadians. When the dust settles and Bryan is officially back as a professional wrestler, what’s next? We at FRS SLAM! have some ideas.
For the sake of the list, we stick to realistic matches. Of course we all want to see Bryan face Shawn Michaels or reignite his rivalry with CM Punk.
6. Bryan vs. Shane McMahon – Only because there has been so much angst in this relationship since they became on-air business partners two years ago, this is a match that has to happen … and will probably happen soon (SummerSlam anyone?). Maybe this is the match that leads to Bryan’s resignation or firing as an authority figure and return to the roster. McMahon still knows how to put on a wrestling match, and he proved it with the best singles match at last year’s WrestleMania (with many thanks to A.J. Styles). There is too much invested for the two not to lock up a this point.
5. Bryan vs. Jeff Hardy – These styles mesh so perfectly, but the pair somehow never crossed paths in a meaningful way. Bryan was on his way out at Ring of Honor by the time Hardy hit the independent scene. Bryan’s in-ring retirement went a full year before Meekmahan welcomed the Broken Hardys back to WWE. Whether it was Hardy defeating the Undertaker or Bryan pinning John Cena clean at SummerSlam, these are the two best small, underdog champions of the last decade.
4. Bryan vs. Ricochet – Who says Bryan’s career has to focus solely on main-roster, heavyweight wrestling? One could argue that men like Ricochet picked up where Bryan left off in revolutionizing the independent scene. The former American Dragon against the former Prince Puma in a legitimate wrestling match is must-see television. You know Bryan will want to use his star power to promote cruiserweights and NXT wrestlers as much as he possibly can. This matchup may not make a lot of sense with a storyline, but there is no doubt these two could tear down any house in a main event.
3. Bryan vs. A.J. Styles – Shut up and take our money right now. Bryan and Sytles have such beautifully parallel careers, and are clearly the two biggest self-made stars in the last five years at WWE. Styles went from young, WCW outcast to the TNA route for 10 years of incredibly matches before Japan finally led him to WWE. The rest was history. Bryan, after a brief stint with WWE under HBK’s wing, went the Ring of Honor route. Fired twice by WWE, nothing would hold him back. As Bryan said Tuesday night, fight for your dreams and your dreams will fight for you. The rest was history. Think about this match. How do you choose which wrestler to support? Who goes over? The phenomenal forearm against the running knee and the Yes lock vs. the calf crusher. Styles was the dream opponent for Bryan years ago, and should still be considered as such.
2. Bryan vs. Shinsuke Nakamura – These two have been close since before Bryan Danielson’s name meant anything in professional wrestling. Former roommates and understudies years and years ago, the amount of kicks and knees in this match could kill a herd of elephants. When Bryan has his official retirement match with WWE, this is the man to do it. Whether Bryan leaves at the end of his deal this year or five years from now, there is no better person to retire the American Dragon than Shinsuke Nakamura.
1. Bryan vs. The Miz – There has not been more believable heat between two feuding wrestlers since Edge stole Lita from Matt Hardy. This is a match that absolutely has to happen at some point. This will be a straight-up blood feud. Bryan can have a barn-burning match with any wrestler on this list and three dozen others within WWE walls. What Bryan cannot have with all of them, is the kind of heat that brings fans back to breaking Dusty’s leg or Sgt. Slaughter’s heel turn. Get this match, and you will not see a more modern hostile crowd than the one that cheers against the Miz in a match with Bryan. That is as much a credit to the Miz as it is to Bryan, but it is a match that has to happen.
If there is one, single match Bryan needs to have after WrestleMania, this is the one. We as fans do not know how much time we have left with Bryan in the WWE. Will he leave in September? Will he re-work a deal that includes part-time wrestling work? Whatever the case, Miz vs. Bryan has to happen. Bryan leaving WWE for the independents leads to a whole other list of dream matches.