The summer of 2010 was an interesting one, to say the least, for Bryan Danielson
The darling of the independents had finally begun to make waves in the WWE. After spending time in development, Danielson was renamed Daniel Bryan and given a spot on the roster of NXT, a new show focused on finding the next breakout superstar in the WWE.
Despite not winning the competition, Bryan clearly became one of the show’s most popular stars and was placed into an interesting feud with announcer Michael Cole. Not only did this feud help turn Cole into the character that fans love to hate, but it allowed Bryan a chance to showcase his personality and attempt to prove he wasn’t as bland and boring as his critics made him out to be.
On the June 7 edition of Monday Night Raw, Bryan and the rest of his NXT peers took center stage with a shocking and vicious beat down of John Cena and anyone else who got in their way. It was the first strike of the stable that would soon be known as the Nexus and Bryan looked to be a major part of it.
That is, until June 11 when the WWE announced that Bryan had been released, sending the Internet into a tizzy over the sudden and stunning firing of one of their most beloved.
It became known simply as “tie-gate” and while it may have meant the end of Bryan’s dream of WWE stardom, it also became a reason for fans of independent wrestling to rejoice. The prodigal son had returned.
Obviously, Bryan’s firing didn’t last too long as he is now back with the WWE. He is enjoying great success as the current United States champion and as an unlikely ladies' man torn between two love-struck twins.
Though he was only gone for a few months, Bryan managed to remain active on the independent scene for most of July and August before returning to the WWE in surprising fashion at Summerslam.
His summer tour of the indies featured stops in CHIKARA, EVOLVE, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Absolute Intense Wrestling amongst others. He even went international, competing for Germany’s Westside Xtreme Wrestling and Puerto Rico’s International Wrestling Association
While Danielson, as he was once again called, faced stiff challenges in all of these promotions, he faced no tougher test in his time away from the WWE than the one that awaited him in Dragon Gate USA.
Shingo Takagi, for those unaware, is a beast.
The former power lifter and bodybuilder has built an incredible reputation in Japan’s Dragon Gate promotion as a dominant force inside the ring. He has carried that reputation stateside and has become one of the major players in the American offshoot, Dragon Gate USA.
Shingo possesses incredible strength but also knows his way around a wrestling ring. Though he may not be a pure technician, his mat skills are impressive and are a dangerous element when combined with his sheer power.
His 2009 battle with Davey Richards at DGUSA’s Untouchable event was perhaps the best match of that year, so when he was announced as Danielson’s opponent for his return to DGUSA, my interest immediately skyrocketed because I already could see the potential that this match had.
The brilliant in-ring technician against the unstoppable powerhouse. A man who had made his name on the independent scene against a man who could make his own name by defeating one of the best in the world. There was surely reason to believe that this one could be a classic.
The match was set to main event Dragon Gate's first anniversary celebration, Enter The Dragon, and would serve as a dark match that could not air on the pay-per-view broadcast because of the WWE's 90 day no-compete clause. Fans would have to either be there to see the match in person or wait until the show was released on DVD.
Expectations were high and not surprisingly, Danielson versus Shingo managed to not only live up to those expectations but it completely surpassed them.
For approximately 30 minutes, under the hot lights of an already scorching and sweaty late July evening in Philadelphia’s famed Arena, these two battled in a back and forth wrestling classic.
Make no mistake about it; this match was a beautiful illustration of what professional wrestling can be when done the right way.
Danielson unleashed his impressive arsenal of submission moves, working heavily on the arms of his much stronger opponent. Shingo brought many of his signature power moves, including the Stay Dream, which nearly put Danielson down for the count.
The two men fought on the floor, traded reversals in the ring and essentially beat the crap out of each other in one of the stiffest contests of the year.
It has been hyped by DGUSA as a match for the ages and I can hardly disagree. If you’re a fan of Bryan’s work in the WWE and enjoyed his matches against the likes of The Miz, Dolph Ziggler and Ted DiBiase, then you simply must do yourself a favor and seek this match out.
While Bryan’s WWE work has been fun to watch, this is the type of match that showcases why fans have been calling him the “best in the world” since his days in Ring of Honor.
This one also showcases why Shingo is a wrestler to watch in 2011, he continues to improve and it seems as if it is only a matter of time before he becomes a champion in DGUSA. While Bryan may be the called the best in the world, Shingo isn’t very far behind.
Shingo and Danielson put on DGUSA’s best match of 2010, which is impressive enough given the high quality of wrestling that the peomorion consistently produces.
It comes in at number two in my top matches of 2010 series. The final article, spotlighting the very best match of the year, will be up by the end of the week. Until then, check out the other articles in this series, focusing on the very best wrestling that you might not have seen in 2010.