When Daniel Bryan came to the WWE via NXT in 2010, hardcore wrestling fans knew and loved him for his incredible technical skills in the ring. Bryan still possesses those abilities, but his mic skills and overall personality have put him over the top.
Bryan is a classic case of never judging a book by its cover. While wrestling for Ring of Honor, in Japan and for countless other promotions on the independent circuit, he was known as "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson. He was essentially a stiff, no-nonsense fighter who aimed to cripple his opponents.
Are you surprised by Daniel Bryan's development as an entertainer?
When Bryan debuted on NXT, however, he was essentially a smiley, nondescript face who dazzled in the ring, but didn't do much else. Many fans still loved him based on his previous accomplishments, but it seemed possible that Bryan would fall flat in sports entertainment despite the fact that he had flourished in the wrestling business.
Bryan shined brightly when the NXT rookies formed Nexus and attacked John Cena on an episode of Raw, though, as he was incredibly intense. Bryan was soon released, however, as he choked ring announcer Justin Roberts with his tie during the attack and it was deemed too violent for WWE programming.
As quickly as Bryan's WWE career began it appeared to have come to an end, but he made a surprise reappearance at Survivor Series as part of Cena's team that defeated Nexus. After that, Bryan went on to win the United States Championship and had countless fantastic matches.
There was still something missing when it came to Bryan's character, though. That started to change when he won Money in the Bank last year and cashed it in on Big Show to become World Heavyweight Champion. Bryan's character slowly changed and he became a full-on heel over time.
Bryan's popularity then skyrocketed at WrestleMania despite Sheamus beating him for the world title in a mere 18 seconds. The "yes" chants were deafening and they carried on for weeks and months following WrestleMania, but Bryan didn't truly reach the pinnacle of his popularity until recently.
It all started when ex-girlfriend and current Raw general manager A.J. Lee ordered Bryan to attend anger management. At the time he was feuding with Kane, but Kane was also made to go to the classes, and hilarity ultimately ensued.
Bryan and Kane have impeccable comedic chemistry together and every segment involving both of them is highly entertaining. Considering the fact that Bryan seemed to have little or no personality when he first came to the WWE, his transformation into a funny, psychologically unbalanced individual is nothing short of amazing.
Bryan's revised character hasn't changed his ability to perform in the ring, though, as he is still one of the best in the business in that regard. Bryan went from being a very one-dimensional superstar early in his tenure to one of the most well-rounded in the company, rivaled perhaps by only WWE Champion CM Punk in that regard.
On top of that, Bryan is essentially a tweener rather than a heel or face at the moment, and that is very tough thing for a wrestler to pull off. You can probably count on your fingers how many successful tweeners there have been over the years, so Bryan deserves full marks for that as well.
I didn't think that Bryan had this type of personality in him, but he has most definitely proven me wrong. I don't want his interaction with Kane to end any time soon, but based on what I have seen from Bryan over the past few months, I have no doubt that he is a future WWE Champion and face of the company.