NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s going to be an emotional Monday Night Raw in Seattle tonight as Daniel Bryan announces his retirement.
One of the greatest wrestlers of our generation is stepping away after battling concussion and neck injuries for the past two years.
Bryan’s popularity reached pantheon levels as his “Yes! Movement” catapulted him to the main event at WrestleMania 30 where he captured the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
CBS New York takes a look at his top 11 defining moments in the WWE.
Thank you, Bryan.
1. Bryan Defeats Randy Orton & Dave Batista At WrestleMania 30 For World Heavyweight Championship
It finally happened after years being on the independent circuit and being held back – Bryan finally reached the mountaintop. Bryan, with the help of the Yes! Movement, defeated Triple H to get into the WWE world heavyweight championship match and made Batista tap out in the triple threat match in the main event of WrestleMania 30. Unfortunately, Bryan wasn’t able to keep the title for long, being forced to vacate it after getting injured. He will be on the shelf for nine months before returning at the 2015 Royal Rumble.
2. “You Deserve It” Chant Breaks Out At Raw
“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.” Those were the words uttered by Raw announcer John Bradshaw Layfield during Bryan’s celebration on Raw the day after winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania as fans serenaded the champ with “You Deserve It” chants.
3. Yes! Movement Occupies Raw
Those two moments wouldn’t have happened if Daniel Bryan and the Yes! Movement didn’t take over Raw earlier in 2014. Bryan and his people refused to leave the ring until Triple H gave him what he wanted – a championship match at WrestleMania. It was a moment Bryan and WWE fans will never forget.
4. Bryan Defeats Cena At Summerslam To Win Title
“The fairytale has come true,” Michael Cole said as Bryan defeated John Cena at the 2013 Summerslam to capture his first WWE Championship title. That reign was short-lived, however, as Randy Orton cashed in after Triple H hit the Pedigree on Bryan.
5. Bryan Turns On Wyatt Family
People were puzzled as to why Daniel Bryan joined Bray Wyatt and his flock for a few weeks. Fans didn’t know whether to cheer or boo. But boy did Raw get electric when Bryan turned on Wyatt following a tag team cage match against The Usos. The crowd was deafening after Bryan walloped Wyatt inside the cage.
6. Bryan Cashes In Money In The Bank To Win World Heavyweight Championship
It was a less hairy Daniel Bryan who cashed in his Money in the Bank contract at the WWE TLC pay-per-view in 2011. Bryan took advantage of a fallen Big Show following his grueling match against Mark Henry. It was the first time Bryan captured the World Heavyweight Championship.
7. Team Hell No Wins Tag Titles
It wouldn’t have happened without the help of Dr. Shelby. Thanks to their “anger management” classes, Kane and Daniel Bryan were able to become one of the greatest tag teams in WWE history, winning the titles at 2012 Night of Champions against R-Truth and Kofi Kingston. They ended up holding the titles for several months.
8. Bryan Loses To Sheamus At WrestleMania 28 In 18 Seconds
An 18-second match helped to launch the Yes! Movement. Bryan lost his World Heavyweight Championship to Sheamus in 18 seconds at WrestleMania 28. The next night on Raw, the Yes! Movement was born.
9. Bryan’s Hometown Fans Hijack Raw
Seattle fans deserve a standing ovation for this one. The fans hijacked the end of the show in 2013 and refused to let Triple H and Stephanie McMahon speak by continuing to chant Bryan’s name. “This is maniacal!” JBL exclaimed.
10. Winning Intercontinental Title At WrestleMania 31
Daniel Bryan brought prestige back to the title, despite holding it for such a short time. Bryan conquered several other wrestlers in the ladder match to grab the Intercontinental Title. Unfortunately, Bryan had to vacate the title due to injury.
11. Bryan Meets Connor The Crusher
It’s one of the most important moments in Daniel Bryan’s career – fulfilling a dying child’s wish. Connor “The Crusher” Michalek was able to meet Bryan, his hero, in 2013. The two formed an inseparable bond, and along with the WWE, Connor was in the front row at WrestleMania 30 to see Bryan win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Connor died several days later following his battle with cancer. The WWE set up a charity fund in honor of Connor. To donate, please go towww.givetochildrens.org/CONNORSCURE.
What are some of your favorite Daniel Bryan moments?