SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Daniel Bryan has a tendency to defy expectations. He was told he would never be a WWE Superstar, but he scratched and clawed his way onto the roster five years ago. He was told he would never be in the main event of WrestleMania, but he nevertheless celebrated a WWE World Heavyweight Championship victory on The Grandest Stage of Them All last year in New Orleans. At WrestleMania 31, nearly one year after neck surgery seemed to herald the end of his  career, The “Yes!” Man rose above adversity once again, winning one of the most kinetic Ladder Matches in the history of The Show of Shows to win his first Intercontinental Championship.

Photos | WWE.com Exclusive: Watch Superstars enter the ring

The chaos that ensued after the bell was appropriate given the championship’s bizarre journey in recent weeks as it had spent more time in the hands of the bout’s challengers — Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth, Stardust and Luke Harper — than it had in the grasp of its bearer, Bad News Barrett. Morphing quickly into a brawl outside the ring, the  match  put on full display the lengths to which Superstars will go to carry the title held by such WWE Hall of Famers as Bret Hart, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and the title’s first holder, Pat Patterson.

The battleground seemed like it would change dramatically when the unusual Stardust pulled a customized ladder from underneath the ring, his “Exo-Atmospheric Starbird,” but that cosmic implement was quickly destroyed by the defending champion. The intergalactic Superstar faced an even greater setback when Barrett — willing to do anything and everything to leave WrestleMania with his title reign intact — incapacitated Stardust with a wince-inducing superplex.

The brutality would only continue to escalate moments later, when Harper folded Ambrose in half with a powerbomb from the ring through a ladder bridging the ring and the outside barricade. Pressing his advantage, Harper began ascending another ladder in the center of the ring as Ziggler — intent to steal The Show of Shows — latched onto the behemoth with a sleeper hold. Unfortunately for The Showoff, the maneuver was all too effective, as a fading Harper eventually sent both Superstars crashing to the canvas. Staggered but determined, Ziggler seized opportunity and made what seemed to be his victory ascent, but he received only a Bull Hammer from the cunning titleholder for his efforts. Barrett similarly dispatched Stardust and Truth in a show of brute force, but would be the recipient of some decidedly “Bad News” just moments later.

 

Daniel Bryan won the Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match


Evading a Bull Hammer that would have surely sealed a victory for Barrett, Bryan retaliated with a well-timed running knee — the very same move that propelled him to the main event of last year’s WrestleMania. Bryan had seemingly cleared his path to the championship, but a dazed Ziggler refused to relent, meeting Bryan atop a ladder for an aerial slugfest. What began as a fistfight became a literal meeting of the minds when both Superstars began trading headbutts as the illustrious championship dangled just inches above them. In the end, it was Bryan who proved most resilient, sending Ziggler falling from the ladder with a final skull smash.

Reaching up, Bryan grabbed the prestigious prize, inciting a massive “Yes!” chant in Levi’s® Stadium that signified Bryan’s return to the WrestleMania spotlight, where he — and the Intercontinental Championship itself — truly belong.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Daniel Bryan has a tendency to defy expectations. He was told he would never be a WWE Superstar, but he scratched and clawed his way onto the roster five years ago. He was told he would never be in the main event of WrestleMania, but he nevertheless celebrated a WWE World Heavyweight Championship victory on The Grandest Stage of Them All last year in New Orleans. At WrestleMania 31, nearly one year after neck surgery seemed to herald the end of his  career, The “Yes!” Man rose above adversity once again, winning one of the most kinetic Ladder Matches in the history of The Show of Shows to win his first Intercontinental Championship.

Photos | WWE.com Exclusive: Watch Superstars enter the ring

The chaos that ensued after the bell was appropriate given the championship’s bizarre journey in recent weeks as it had spent more time in the hands of the bout’s challengers — Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth, Stardust and Luke Harper — than it had in the grasp of its bearer, Bad News Barrett. Morphing quickly into a brawl outside the ring, the  match  put on full display the lengths to which Superstars will go to carry the title held by such WWE Hall of Famers as Bret Hart, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and the title’s first holder, Pat Patterson.

The battleground seemed like it would change dramatically when the unusual Stardust pulled a customized ladder from underneath the ring, his “Exo-Atmospheric Starbird,” but that cosmic implement was quickly destroyed by the defending champion. The intergalactic Superstar faced an even greater setback when Barrett — willing to do anything and everything to leave WrestleMania with his title reign intact — incapacitated Stardust with a wince-inducing superplex.

The brutality would only continue to escalate moments later, when Harper folded Ambrose in half with a powerbomb from the ring through a ladder bridging the ring and the outside barricade. Pressing his advantage, Harper began ascending another ladder in the center of the ring as Ziggler — intent to steal The Show of Shows — latched onto the behemoth with a sleeper hold. Unfortunately for The Showoff, the maneuver was all too effective, as a fading Harper eventually sent both Superstars crashing to the canvas. Staggered but determined, Ziggler seized opportunity and made what seemed to be his victory ascent, but he received only a Bull Hammer from the cunning titleholder for his efforts. Barrett similarly dispatched Stardust and Truth in a show of brute force, but would be the recipient of some decidedly “Bad News” just moments later.

 

Daniel Bryan won the Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match


Evading a Bull Hammer that would have surely sealed a victory for Barrett, Bryan retaliated with a well-timed running knee — the very same move that propelled him to the main event of last year’s WrestleMania. Bryan had seemingly cleared his path to the championship, but a dazed Ziggler refused to relent, meeting Bryan atop a ladder for an aerial slugfest. What began as a fistfight became a literal meeting of the minds when both Superstars began trading headbutts as the illustrious championship dangled just inches above them. In the end, it was Bryan who proved most resilient, sending Ziggler falling from the ladder with a final skull smash.

Reaching up, Bryan grabbed the prestigious prize, inciting a massive “Yes!” chant in Levi’s® Stadium that signified Bryan’s return to the WrestleMania spotlight, where he — and the Intercontinental Championship itself — truly belong.