Legend of The American Dragon: Daniel Bryan's unlikely rise to the WWE Title & beyond (Part Two)

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September 19, 2013

The Rookie

Having clawed his way through blood, dirt and Texas rodeos to reach the big time, how did Daniel Bryan mark his debut in WWE? As a contender to the WWE Title many felt he deserved? In a rivalry with fellow self-proclaimed “Best in the World” Chris Jericho or CM Punk? Perhaps in pursuit of the Intercontinental Championship, long considered to be the title of the most gifted competitors in “the business”?

Nope. Instead, Bryan took stage on the rookie competition show, WWE NXT, and his first moments on WWE programming ended with The Miz slapping him square across the face.

Greatest Intercontinental Champions Ever

“[NXT] was very interesting and wild to be a part of,” said Bryan of the famously unorthodox show, “but I had this idea of what I wanted NXT to be for me. I came out in very basic gear – I had better gear – with the idea thinking, ‘If I have a mentor, obviously Miz is going to have a very hard time teaching me how to wrestle.’ So I came in as pale as I possibly could, in basic gear because I thought he might try to jazz me up and make me an entertainer.”

Miz and Bryan clash in NXT | Bryan's first match (you won't believe who with)

Alas, Daniel Bryan as “Miz Jr.” never came to pass. But he struck an odd chord with the crowd all the same. Once again, slowly but surely, what started as sympathy turned into support from the WWE Universe.

“Right away, people who were fans of me were mad that they were putting me as a Rookie with The Miz as my Pro,” said Bryan. “Most of the audience that had never seen me before started to feel bad for me. I got that role of the underdog.”

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