Before joining WWE, Daniel Bryan fought for several independent federations using both his real name and later nickname of American Dragon. From 2002 to 2009 he fought in the Ring of Honor (ROH), where he won the ROH World Championship and was the last athlete to hold the ROH Pure Championship (unifying the two titles), as well as the first winner of the annual Survival tournament of the Fittest in 2004.
Together with CM Punk and Seth Rollins he is one of the three athletes to have won both the ROH World Championship and the WWE Championship. During a long interview, Triple H commented on Daniel Bryan returning after being cleared: “You’ve seen that with Daniel Bryan.
None of us ever thought Daniel Bryan was going to step into the ring, at least not for us. And that was a question for him. ‘I can’t do it for you, doesn’t mean I can’t do it for other places.’ But we had a conversation with him about, ‘If medical experts are telling you this isn’t the best thing,’ right? But he worked extraordinarily hard for a very long time to get himself back to a place physically where medical teams, the same people that disqualified him were willing to say, ‘Okay, now I feel like this is a safe return.' ”