Daniel Bryan: Five matches we need to see

He's back! After an impassioned promo on SmackDown Live, Daniel Bryan is officially cleared to compete. So, what dream matches are out there for him?

(Photo credit: Megan Meadows)

It has been two long years since Daniel Bryan gave a tearful retirement speech on Raw. Two long years being unable to follow his dreams and do what he is most passionate about. And then there was change. In a heartfelt promo on SmackDown Live, Bryan once again showed why he is the most beloved wrestler in the company by talking from the heart and announcing that he had finally been cleared by WWE medical staff.

While Bryan seems on a collision course with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn at WrestleMania in just a few short weeks, his return to action immediately had us talking about dream opponents in WWE. Here are the top five Daniel Bryan singles matches we would love to see.

5. Aleister Black

There are many terrific wrestlers in NXT at the moment. The likes of Roderick Strong, Velveteen Dream, and Ricochet are all opponents we’d love to see Daniel Bryan go toe-to-toe with, but if there could only be one it would have to be Aleister Black.

Black is the latest darling in NXT, and on course to face Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas for the NXT Championship at TakeOver: New Orleans. His aura of danger, his perfectly balanced persona and flawless work in the ring make him an ideal person for Bryan to tangle with. The Yes Movement and Black’s darkness could create a terrific program, capped off by a man with a legitimate kickboxing background and a killer spinning heel kick finisher called ‘Black Mass’ would also create angles of intrigue against Bryan’s publicized head and neck issues.

4. Cesaro

Cesaro is the perfect opponent for everyone. He could wrestle a broom to a five-star show, nevermind another outrageously talented performer like Daniel Bryan.

He and Bryan tangled several times during their time on the circuit and they’ve clashed before in WWE, but this current incarnation of Cesaro is far more assured both in his character and his place with the fans. These two could paint a modern masterpiece in the ring if they were allowed the time. Sure, it may mean separating The Bar, but it would be worth it just to watch 20 minutes of these two again.

3. AJ Styles

Two of the best in-ring wrestlers of the modern, or really any, era haven’t faced off for over a decade. Both have held gold around the world and in the most prestigious and well-respected companies. They have multiple accolades from the likes of Dave Meltzer and Pro Wrestling Illustrated.

They both have a claim to being the greatest of their generation, and we need to seem them together. With AJ currently the WWE Champion on Bryan’s SmackDown Live there is a chance we will get to see it sooner rather than later.

2. Shinsuke Nakamura

Daniel Bryan and Shinsuke Nakamura have never faced off in a wrestling ring. Or at least, I can’t find a record of it.

The two roomed together as up-and-coming wrestlers over 15 years ago, but their professional paths never crossed. While Nakamura’s WWE career has been something of a disappointment to those that knew his performances in Japan well, he remains a special performer and a unique talent.

Just the idea of these two locking up is enough to get your blood racing. They are two of the best strikers in the modern era and have such unique personalities and looks that this match could be unlike anything else.

1. The Miz

When was the last time you saw Miz at the top of any "matches we want to see" list? The answer is probably never, but Daniel Bryan and The Miz have a unique story that has been running for the last 18 months.

It all started just after the brand split, when The Miz let rip on Bryan calling out his work rate. Their verbal clashes on Talking Smack made the show must-watch, and are still some of the best moments in the entirety of the brand split. The idea that the two could actually have a match to settle their feud was just a pipe dream for fans, but now it is a reality.

While Miz is on Raw, it wouldn't take much to get the two crossing words again, and there is often a roster shake-up after Mania. If Miz returned to SmackDown Live then sparks would surely fly and we could finally see these two, whose kayfabe story arc is as long as Bryan's WWE career, go at it again.

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Toby Durant

Deputy Editor at RealSport. A life-long gamer, I have been with RealSport since 2016 and spent time covering the world of Formula 1, NFL, and football for the site before expanding into esports.


I lead the site's coverage of motorsport titles with a particular focus on Formula 1. I also lead RealSport's Madden content while occasionally dipping my toe into Football Manager and esports coverage of Gfinity Series events.