Before joining WWE, Daniel Bryan fought for several independent federations using both his real name and the 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.
Daniel Bryan: 'I actively did not want to go to WWE'
From May 2014 to December 2014 and from April 2015 to March 2018, Daniel Bryan was either injured or recovering from injury.
In February 2016, Danielson retired from professional wrestling due to medical issues (including seizures) arising from multiple concussions and a brain lesion. That July, he became the SmackDown General Manager following the return of the brand extension.
In March 2018, Bryan was formally cleared by doctors and returned to in-ring competition at WrestleMania 34. He regained the WWE Championship for the first time in four years later that November. Speaking with FOX, Daniel Bryan discussed how he actively did not want to go to WWE: “One of my things was actually I actively did not want to go to WWE.
I really liked the DIY aesthetic as far as, I liked being in control of my own schedule, I liked being able to be like, OK, I’m going to take a couple of weeks off here and go do this thing or go watch this Seahawks game with my dad or all of that kind of stuff.
I remember when [CM] Punk signed with WWE and I thought like, man, if they give him a shot, he’s gonna blow them away. I actually didn’t think that about myself and the reason why is because WWE is so promo-heavy and so interview-heavy, and at that point, I was not good at promos, and I would say actively bad, maybe, would be some of the terms.
I could do a sports promo, like, OK, hey, you’re fighting this guy, OK, I’m going to go in there and do this, or whatever it is, but as far as being entertaining, I could do that a little bit but that’s not what they would do with smaller guys and that sort of thing and my interest has always been in my love for wrestling and I’ve never wanted to be famous and I only needed enough money to survive, so the rest of it was just, OK, whatever”.