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WWE's Daniel Bryan DVD set is a fantastic retrospective

Daniel Bryan's autobiography just came out and made him a bestselling author. In June, WWE released a three-disc DVD set that serves as a companion piece of sorts to the autobiography, Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! The set recaps his entire career, with a surprising amount of attention given to his days on the indies.

The first disc of the set is the complete Journey to WrestleMania 30 documentary, which you've almost certainly already watched on the WWE Network. It's just as good the second time around and adds a bit of new footage to really flesh it out and make it deserving of its own full disc in the three-disc set.

The other discs conform to the standard WWE set format of having people talk about Daniel Bryan, interspersed with full matches. Bryan and a few others drop some incredibly good and very candid tidbits as they go through his career chronologically.

The first match on the set is Bryan's tryout match, which came when he and the rest of the standouts at Shawn Michaels' wrestling academy only had a handful of matches under their belts. Bryan (and Michaels, to an extent) talk about how Shawn basically strongarmed WWE into giving his four top students (a masked American Dragon, Spanky, Lance Cade and Shooter Schultz) a tryout match at a SmackDown! taping. Bryan laments their performance, citing how green they were and how little they knew (like Cade performing a chokeslam in the middle of their match, despite both Undertaker and Kane being on the show). He also reveals that after their match, Michaels demanded contracts for all four of them, or he'd take them all to WCW. The four men were signed on the spot.

The tryout match itself is exceptionally compelling, as you can see glimpses of the American Dragon we'd all come to know and love, as well as flashes of brilliance (or at least competence) from future WWE Superstars Cade and Brian Kendrick. It's a bizarre snapshot of indie workers getting a WWE dark match in the year 2000.

bryan tryout

Bryan then talks at length about getting released from developmental and bouncing around the indies, including his breakthrough at King of Indies and his time in Ring of Honor and Japan. He also talks about his Velocity match against Noble and that match is shown in its entirety, which makes you miss Noble and Nidia. Okay, maybe it's just me.

The WWE story picks up again at NXT, where Bryan talks about how he was the only one of the initial NXT eight who was actually working with a contract. He talks about how much he hated NXT and the format and both he and Michael Cole talk about the treatment he received on commentary. Cole says it was by design; that they were trying to make Bryan the underdog by continually selling him short and not taking him seriously. Bryan doesn't necessarily agree with tat assessment. And yes, they paired him with The Miz specifically to rile up as many people as possible. We get Bryan's awesome introductory match against Chris Jericho, his firing and re-hiring and his United States Championship match against The Miz.

The story moves on to his Money in the Bank win and his reign as World Heavyweight Champion. He talks about how much he loved working with the Big Show, because they were able to have a lot of fun with the big man/little man dynamic. He says their best work wasn't always on television or PPV, but they had a ton of fun at house shows. The set includes a fun match against Big Show from SmackDown! to help prove his point.

Bryan then talks about how much of a slap in the face his 18-second loss was to Sheamus at WrestleMania 28. He calls it the lowest point in his career, especially after the two of them got bumped from the main card the year before. He says their follow-up 2 out of 3 falls match was a sort of redemption to show what they were both capable of. That match is, of course, included on the set.

A really great bit of info from Bryan comes when he leads into his WWE Championship feud with CM Punk. He says that heading into Money in the Bank 2012, he was unsure what his character would be doing next, as he felt he was coming off the "YES!/NO!" angle with AJ and was trying to come up with ideas. He thought he would be transitioning to a sort of anarchist gimmick, so he had his anarchy-style "DB" circle logo made and got a green military jacket to go with it, with a large, bleeding "DB" logo on the back.

bryan jacket

He says that when he came out of Gorilla wearing the jacket, Vince McMahon flipped his lid backstage and sent word to the ref to have him take it off ASAP during Punk's entrance. According to Bryan, his producer for the segment, Dean Malenko, got a severe talking-to from Vince backstage for allowing him to go out like that. Bryan laughs and apologizes to Malenko for the idea.

You're likely pretty familiar with what comes after that, as Bryan's anger issues send him to anger management, which leads to Team Hell No and then onward to the Yes Movement and his run to the top of the card. But did you remember that Team Hell No won the tag team titles from R-Truth and Kofi Kingston? I sure didn't!

We get Bryan's cool Swagger/Cesaro/Ryback gauntlet match from the run-up to SummerSlam (by the way, it's already very bizarre to hear commentators refer to him as "Antonio Cesaro," so the branding machine definitely works) and his title win from John Cena (and subsequent immediate loss). Bryan talks about how much he loved working with Randy Orton and we get their no-disqualification match from RAW that has aged very, very well. And then, of course, we get the wonderful stuff from his WrestleMania 30 run.

The Blu-Ray extras are absolutely fantastic, so I would recommend picking up the Blu-Ray version if that option is available to you. It includes great stuff like Cena talking about their Velocity match. Cena was a huge fan of American Dragon from his ROH stuff and wanted to have a great match, but it got him yelled at because he was supposed to be their next big superhero and he gave a non-contract opponent a 50/50 match. Bryan also talks about the Wyatt Family angle and how he wanted to do so much more with them, but the Yes chant exploded into the mainstream, so he had to nip it in the bud and head back to the main event. Another can't-miss Blu-Ray extra is Bryan talking about Vince calling him to tell him he was fired after the Justin Roberts choking incident. Bryan tells him, "That's okay, I'm going to make a ton of money on the indies this year after this." His account of Vince's stunned reaction is almost worth the price of the set alone. And yes, Bryan did make more money after getting fired than he ever had in a single year before.

The DVD set ends on a bit of a down note, as the last match is his loss to Roman Reigns heading into WrestleMania 31. This becomes a bigger bummer if you can't put out of your mind that his in-ring WWE career may be over. But overall, the DVD set serves to remind you just what a phenomenon he became in a relatively short period of time. With the deck continually stacked against him both behind the scenes and in storylines, Bryan's ability and passion allowed him to break through and achieve more than he or anyone else ever imagined. It's wonderful that we have a lovingly-crafted nine hours or so of his greatest hits to return to when we need some inspiration.

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