Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H: Top Moments from Feud's WrestleMania 30 Build
One of the most anticipated matches on Sunday night's WWE WrestleMania 30 card is Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H. As entertaining as the feud between John Cena and Bray Wyatt has been and as good as the match between The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar has the potential to be, no match on the show has had better buildup than Bryan vs. HHH.
Since SummerSlam, The Authority has done everything in its power to prevent Bryan from becoming WWE world heavyweight champion. Regardless of how many times he has come close to capturing the gold, The Authority has gone out of its way to cost him the title at every turn.
One of the best aspects of the Bryan vs. HHH feud thus far has been how it blurs the lines of what's real and what isn't. HHH has stated many times in the past how Bryan as champion isn't what is "best for business," but Bryan has prided himself the last eight months on proving him and all the naysayers wrong.
An extra wrinkle was added to their WrestleMania match when it was made official that the winner will go on to contend for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship later on in the night. This unprecedented stipulation has made the 30th anniversary of The Show of Shows that much more interesting and will either make or break Bryan on Sunday.
Before they go to war on the grand stage, let's look back at the greatest moments in the ruthless rivalry between HHH and Bryan over the last several months and how it's become one of the most personal feuds in WWE history.
The Backstage Encounter (Raw, June 17)
On the June 17, 2013 edition of Raw, Daniel Bryan did battle with Randy Orton in a no-disqualification match. Bryan suffered a sting during the course of the contest, so the referee called the contest and deemed Orton the victor.
Per WWE's official report on the situation, the decision to stop the match was made by Triple H, as he wanted to prevent Bryan from doing further damage to the injury. Bryan was apparently furious over this, scolding HHH about how he worked injured on the independent scene and never had any of his matches stopped.
The two engaged in a brief altercation backstage before apologizing to each other and moving on. Of course, the entire thing was a complete work, but it planted the seeds for the long-running rivalry between Bryan and The Game.
The Initial Backstabbing (SummerSlam, August 18)
At 2013's SummerSlam pay-per-view, John Cena put his WWE Championship up for grabs against Daniel Bryan. He had handpicked Bryan to be his opponent at the event, given that he was the biggest threat to his title at the time.
As expected, the match was incredible and one of the best of the year. Bryan took Cena to his limit, hitting him with his patented running knee to claim his first WWE Championship.
Following the match, Cena shook Bryan's hand in a sign of respect, leaving him to celebrate his title victory. Out came Randy Orton moments later, who had a Money in the Bank briefcase that he won a month prior in his possession.
Just as it looked like Orton wouldn't cash in his contract at all, Bryan was blindsided by Triple H, who served as the special guest referee for the Bryan vs. Cena match. WWE's resident "Yes!" man was laid out with a Pedigree, allowing Orton to pick up the scraps and the prestigious prize.
The show closed with Triple H raising the arm of The Viper, and thus The Authority was born.
The Vacating of the WWE Championship (Raw, September 16)
After his loss of the WWE Championship at SummerSlam, Daniel Bryan invoked his rematch clause against Randy Orton at the Night of Champions pay-per-view. At the end of their matchup, referee Scott Armstrong made a quick three count and crowned Bryan the new WWE champion.
However, Bryan's second reign as champion would prove to be not much longer than the first.
He kicked off the next night's edition of Raw, celebrating his championship win from the night prior. He was soon interrupted by Triple H, who showed footage of the controversial conclusion from the contest and asked Bryan to relinquish the gold.
The bearded grappler made the case that regardless of whether the final three count was fast or not, he still would have won since Orton was out cold. HHH had nothing of it and ultimately took the title away from Bryan, ending his reign at a mere 24 hours.
That would be the final time he would have the championship belt in his possession (to date, at least). It would also mark the beginning of his quest to get back what was rightfully his by regaining the gold.
The First Signs of Physicality (Hell in a Cell, October 27)
Following Night of Champions, Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton had various battles over the vacant WWE Championship. Their match in the main event of WWE Battleground ended in a no-contest thanks to Big Show, so one final rematch was made for the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view.
With Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee and the ring being enclosed by Satan's Structure, the chances of Bryan finally winning back the belt were certainly likely. Orton had no way out, and more importantly, Triple H had no way in.
Despite that, the Heartbreak Kid was "injured" at one point in the bout, which then saw HHH enter the cell to check on his longtime friend. The Game laid his hands on Bryan, opting WWE's resident "Yes!" man to make things physical with HHH for the first time by knocking him out with a running knee.
This series of events allowed Orton to recuperate and pin Bryan after he was hit with a Sweet Chin Music from Michaels. The Viper has been the reigning WWE champion ever since, and Bryan is still hellbent on revenge.
The Royal Rumble Rant (Raw, January 27)
After being taken out of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture for a few months, fans fully expected Daniel Bryan to re-enter the title chase by winning the 2014 Royal Rumble match. He was already slated to compete against Bray Wyatt at the event, but that didn't prevent him from appearing in (and winning) the annual Battle Royal.
He lost to Wyatt in the night's opening match and, despite popular speculation, was not seen for the remainder of the evening. The returning Batista ultimately won the Rumble, earning the right to headline WrestleMania 30 for the WWE World Heavyweight title.
Batista was welcomed back to the WWE with open arms on the January 20 Raw, but fans quickly turned their backs on him following his Rumble win. Clearly, they wanted Bryan to be the one to go to 'Mania to compete for the prestigious prize, not The Animal.
At the start of the next night's Raw, Bryan confronted The Authority on the matter and claimed he was barred from competing in the Rumble per request. HHH gave Bryan an opportunity to qualify for the championship Elimination Chamber match later on in the night, but it became quite clear in this segment that Bryan and HHH would face off before long.
A Challenge Is Made (Raw, February 24)
Daniel Bryan did end up qualifying for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber match, but Kane interfered in the bout and cost him the championship. This led to a match between the two on the February 24 Raw, where Bryan emerged victorious.
Earlier in the evening, he confronted The Authority in the parking lot and pitched the idea of facing Triple H at WrestleMania 30. HHH blew it off and claimed that he only faced "A" players on the grand stage and never anything less.
Following his win over Kane, Bryan once again laid down the gauntlet. He cut a promo, saying that he demanded a match that everyone wanted to see: Bryan vs. Triple H at WrestleMania. And so, the stage was set.
The "Yes!" Movement Occupies Raw (Raw, March 10)
For weeks, Triple H denied Daniel Bryan's challenge of facing him at WrestleMania 30. He claimed Bryan had a "nice, little thing" going and didn't want to end it by squashing him and his "Yes!" Movement at The Show of Shows.
Bryan took his "Yes!" Movement to an all-new level by "occupying" the flagship show on the March 10 Raw. He told Triple H that he refused to leave the ring until he agreed to face him at 'Mania before being joined by countless members of the WWE Universe, all of whom were sporting Bryan shirts.
To say it was a fantastic visual was an understatement, as the sight of a sea of WWE fans in one ring doing the "Yes!" chant was indescribable. HHH ultimately gave into Bryan's demands, also offering him a title opportunity if he were to beat him.
This segment marked the first time since the dawn of The Authority angle that HHH actually showed signs of the frustration and anger that a true heel should possess, and it wouldn't be the last.
A Brutal Beatdown Ensues (Raw, March 17)
One week removed from his "occupying" of Raw, Daniel Bryan confronted Triple H in the middle of the ring on the St. Patrick's Day edition of the flagship show. HHH gave credit where credit was due and even showed signs of compassion toward Bryan, hinting at a potential babyface turn.
His wife Stephanie McMahon scolded him from outside of the ring, threatening him to be a man. She ordered the "police" to arrest Bryan, but HHH called them off.
The Game then said that they weren't real cops and instead wanted to punish Bryan himself. A handcuffed Bryan was forced to ensure all kinds of pain for several minutes as a joyful Stephanie sadistically looked on.
From being battered with a chair to being tossed into the steel steps at ringside to taking a Pedigree, Bryan was left lying at the hands of HHH at the conclusion of the show. It was the most fire HHH had shown in a long, long time, proving why he made for the perfect heel.
The Return of a Hero (Raw, March 31)
Due to the vicious assault he endured on the March 17 Raw, Daniel Bryan was absent from the subsequent week's episode. The beatdown of Bryan was so brutal that it was smart of WWE to sell his sustained injuries by keeping him off the show.
Stephanie McMahon also announced the following week that Bryan would not be appearing until WrestleMania 30, if at all, leaving fans disappointed. However, Bryan made his presence felt by interfering in the main event match between Randy Orton and Batista and laying waste to everyone and everything in sight.
Bryan immediately went to work on Triple H, pummeling him on the commentary table and all around ringside. This caught the attention of Orton, who briefly got the upper hand over Bryan before being taken out by Batista via a Spear.
With Orton out of the equation, Bryan then shifted his focus toward Batista, knocking him out cold with his patented running knee. He looked to add insult to injury on HHH, but The Game scurried out of the ring before any more damage could be done.
Aside from a swift kick to the head of HHH from Bryan on the March 3 Raw, this marked the first time that Bryan was able to get his hands on The Cerebral Assassin in many months. In the final few moments of the broadcast, Bryan led the live crowd to a massive "Yes!" chant—a sure sign that he doesn't plan on leaving New Orleans without championship gold in his grasp.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.