Daniel Bryan made his triumphant return to the WWE ring at WrestleMania 34, teaming up with SmackDown Live commissioner Shane McMahon against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, the recently-fired duo of frustated Superstars who brutally attacked both McMahon and Bryan in consecutive weeks last month. If Owens and Zayn won, they were back in the company, but if Bryan picked up the win in his first match since injuries threatened to end his career three years ago, they were gone forever.
After Bryan’s rousing entrance that had more than 77,000 fans in attendance on their feet shouting “YES” at the top of their lungs, Kevin Owens’ entrance music hit — and then so did Owens and Sami Zayne, appearing from behind Bryan and Shane McMahon to ambush them before the bell. McMahon was dumped out over the barricade in front of his family, and then Bryan was left alone and defenseless for this to happen:
#KevinOwens & @SamiZayn have STRUCK from behind...and it is NOT good for @WWEDanielBryan. #WrestleMania pic.twitter.com/ii2KzUmz3m— WWE (@WWE) April 9, 2018
WWE’s medical staff would come out to attend to Bryan, leaving a defiant McMahon to face Owens and Zayn alone despite suffering from the effects of a bout with diverticulitis that hospitalized him several weeks ago. He put up a brave fight, but the skill and ruthlessness of Owens and Zayn was too much for him. But just as it seemed like Owens had McMahon finished, Bryan came flying back into the ring to break up the pinfall.
From there, it was almost all Daniel Bryan. Owens and Zayn each threatened to bring a sad end to his comeback, but there was just too much momentum for them to overcome for long. Eventually, Owens was outside the ring in massive pain and Zayn was stranded in the ring on his own, and after a rough series of kicks from Bryan, all it took was a few seconds in the YES! Lock for Zayn to be forced to tap out in the middle of the ring, banishing him and Owens from SmackDown Live forever.
It was a fantastic scene, with Bryan looking very much like the Daniel Bryan of old. Concussions and neck injuries stole the better part of four years of his career, with only a few short months of health before WrestleMania 31 before another concussion forced him to announce his retirement. But now that he’s healthy and firing on all cylinders, it’s time for Bryan to show the rest of WWE just how good he can be, because he can hang with anyone in this company, even with the new and incredible wave of Superstars who have arrived during his absence. There’s an exciting time ahead in the WWE, and Daniel Bryan is going to be at the heart of it.