To be honest, I still can’t believe it – Daniel Bryan (real name Bryan Danielson) has been cleared by the WWE to return to in-ring competition. After being forced to retire from in-ring action back in February 2016 due to concussion related injuries, he has gone through numerous test and studies, both for the WWE and outside of their system, to prove that he was healthy enough to return as an active competitor on the roster. Two years, he worked his ass off to prove that he could once again compete in a WWE ring; and believe you me, I understand the reasons why the WWE held off on clearing him to return to the ring despite being medically cleared by outside doctors. It would be a public relations nightmare should he once again get seriously injured inside their ring. But at the same time, the man was adamant that he was going to return to in-ring competition, either with the WWE or with some other promotion – so after years of trials and test and studies, the WWE finally cleared Daniel Bryan medically to return to the ring – and the response from the WWE Universe has been overwhelmingly positive.
There is no denying that Daniel Bryan was (and may still be) one of the most talented and entertaining wrestlers of this generation. There may even be an argument that he could be considered one of the best ever to step foot inside a wrestling ring. So, to see a man of that caliber be able to once again wrestle in the WWE and entertain the fans as an active competitor… man, I am shaking just thinking about seeing him return to competition. And in the two years that Daniel Bryan has been on the shelf, unable to compete in the WWE, there has been a swell of new talent that has joined the company that I would love to see Daniel Bryan face off against during his return. Hell, there are some competitors that were around when Daniel Bryan was wrestling that I wouldn’t mind seeing him wrestle against a few more times as well. Which brings me to this list here: the ten wrestlers that I would love to see Daniel Bryan face off against in the WWE now that he has effectively returned to in-ring competition.
(Note: this list is presented in alphabetical order.)
Honorable Mentions: Aleister Black, Bobby Roode, Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, John Cena, Pete Dunne, Ricochet, Sami Zayn, Shinsuke Nakamura, Velveteen Dream
Weight: 210 lbs
Legend has it that Daniel Bryan was once trained by the legendary Shawn Michaels, a man many consider to be the best in-ring performer of all time. In my eyes, Adam Cole is potentially the next HBK due to his charisma, talent, and in-ring capability. So, seeing Daniel Bryan face off against a guy like Adam Cole seems like a no brainer to me.
Weight: 218 lbs
AJ Styles is the best in the WWE today, maybe even in the world. He has an incredible sense of in-ring psychology and one of the best move sets I have ever seen in all my years of watching wrestling. So, to see AJ Styles face off against Daniel Bryan in a WWE ring would be nothing short of a dream match.
Weight: 286 lbs
This is a case of David versus Goliath with both men being very capable in-ring competitors (when Brock feels like it) suited to their particular in-ring styles. If Daniel Bryan could work a program with Brock Lesnar, pitting his speed and agility against Brock’s strength and power, I think it would be a match that many people would like to see… if Brock decides to stay with the WWE after WrestleMania 34.
Weight: 182 lbs
Unfortunately, due to some injuries, Hideo Itami hasn’t quite reached the potential that many thought he would when he signed with the WWE a few years back. But I think that if you put Itami in a program with Daniel Bryan, the WWE Universe as a whole may see why the signing of Hideo Itami away from Pro Wrestling Noah was a huge deal when it was announced.
Weight: 199 lbs
This would be the ultimate underdog match pitting Daniel Bryan against Johnny Gargano. Both men are extremely talented, very capable in-ring performers, and huge crowd favorites. This is a match, if booked, that could split the WWE Universe in terms of who they would like to cheer for to see who comes out victorious.
Weight: 266 lbs
There is no denying that Kevin Owens is a huge asset for the WWE. He is the perfect heel and there is no one in the WWE who can match what he does as a heel on the mic or in the ring. And given the program that is already being laid out by the WWE after the announcement of his return on SmackDown Live, this may be the first match we see on this list. And man, to see Kevin Owens face Daniel Bryan would be nothing short of wonderful.
Weight: 237 lbs
Kurt Angle is one of the greatest wrestlers to have ever laced up a pair of boots. And it is a shame that he spent so much of his career away from the WWE or else we may have seen this match years ago. But now that Kurt Angle is clean and back in the WWE and Daniel Bryan is clear to wrestle again, and that even Kurt Angle has said that he would like his last match to be against Daniel Bryan… why isn’t this match happening already. Unless we are going to get this match for WrestleMania 35 next year.
Weight: 221 lbs
Oh man, who doesn’t want to see this match go down? I mean, ever since The Miz bitched Daniel Bryan out on the August 23, 2016 episode of Talking Smack, the WWE Universe have been clamoring for Daniel Bryan to be able to get some payback against him. Now, with the Superstar Shake-Up coming sometime after WrestleMania 34, if they could move either man to the opposite brand, this would be a match that would need no work and would pay off huge dividends for the WWE.
Weight: 265 lbs
My seething hate for the Roman Reigns character is no secret. His bland character work, limited in-ring appeal, and non-existent mic skills make him the polar opposite of Daniel Bryan. And this is why I would love to see Roman Reigns face off against Daniel Bryan – to shove the Roman Reigns project back in the faces of WWE creative and show them what a real WWE Superstar, fan favorite, and professional wrestler really is. I want to see Daniel Bryan and the Yes Movement burn the Roman Empire down to the ground and leave Reigns in a pile of ashes as the WWE Universe makes it clear who the real star of the show is.
Weight: 217 lbs
Seth Rollins is my favorite wrestler on the WWE main roster today. He is the complete package when it comes to what I consider a WWE Superstar should be. And now with Daniel Bryan back, it has split my idea of who the best is in the WWE – and for that, I would love to see a series of matches between Seth Rollins and Daniel Bryan if for anything to see some of the best wrestling that the WWE has to offer.