Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The long path of Daniel Bryan: Japanese journeyman and indie darling

By 2002, Daniel Bryan was an American independent star, but that did little for his pocket book. He worked a couple early ROH cards before leaving the company for awhile in order to travel to Japan to work more regularly. His work in the California based Inoki Dojo allowed him an entry point into New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he more regularly worked for the next couple years. He would stop in for American matches now and then, like the following Jersey All Pro match with perennial foe Low-Ki.

In 2003 while still working tours with New Japan, he worked a few WWE B-shows and dark matches as he sought a new contract with the company. A personal favorite of mine was a future SummerSlam main event, as a recently debuted John Cena took on the jobber Bryan Danielson on Velocity. They put on a decent little match, though it was marred by awful Ernest Miller commentary.

By 2004, he was regularly working matches against big up and comers and seasoned stars in NJPW, men like Hiroshi Tanahashi, Minoru Suzuki, Shinsuke Nakamura and one Naofumi Yamamoto, better know to WWE and modern NJPW fans as Yoshitatsu.

He would also more regularly take stateside bookings all over the country, such as the following match with AJ Styles.

IWA Mid-South was regularly using big name independent talent at the time as can be seen by the Ted Petty Invitational of that year as well, where Danielson faced off with Samoa Joe and AJ Styles.

By 2005, he would devote himself to ROH again and start a new path for himself as the biggest name on the American indies.

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