It has been a long time coming, but Daniel Bryan finally returned to action in a WWE ring tonight on SmackDown.
Tonight’s edition of WWE SmackDown (taped Tuesday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana) was also the first broadcast of SmackDown on a Thursday night since 2005. SmackDown originally premiered as a weekly Thursday show back in the fall of 1999 on the UPN network, but the show was moved to Friday nights in the fall of 2005.
Daniel Bryan’s last match was on May 5, 2014, on an edition of Monday Night RAW. On that night, Bryan successfully defended his WWE world heavyweight title against Alberto Del Rio. Bryan hasn’t wrestled on SmackDown since April 11, 2014.
Bryan underwent neck surgery in May 2014 due to a nerve issue that was causing him to lose strength in his right arm. The WWE hoped at the time that Bryan would be able to return to wrestling for the Money In The Bank pay per view event on June 29, 2014, but when it was revealed that Bryan was still suffering from injuries and would not be medically cleared in time, he was stripped of the WWE world heavyweight title.
The rest of the summer and fall of 2014 was a troubling time for Bryan, as he was given different medical advice and perspectives on his injury. He rarely appeared on either RAW or SmackDown. The neck injury performed in May had not resulted in strength returning to his right arm, and it was proposed that he undergo a second surgery, this time on his arm. Bryan refused surgery and underwent alternative therapy known as muscle activation techniques. Luckily for Bryan and his fans, the treatment was a success and strength returned to his right arm, allowing Bryan to make his return to the wrestling ring tonight on SmackDown.
Thought it was originally announced Bryan would return to the ring at the Royal Rumble, it was made known last week that Bryan would wrestle this week on SmackDown, likely to pump up the ratings for the show’s Thursday return. After the SmackDown opening vignette tonight, Bryan’s music came on in the arena and he made his way to the ring. Bryan did an in-ring interview with Byron Saxton. The circumstances of his injury (explained in story line by an attack from Kane last May) and recovery were recapped in the interview. Bryan talked about his goals of winning the Royal Rumble and going on to take back his title at WrestleMania. Bryan was soon interupted by Triple H’s music, as The Authority made their entrance down the SmackDown ramp.
Bryan next wrestled Kane with the rest of The Authority surrounding ringside. After a match that went just over 12 minutes, The Authority broke up Bryan’s Yes Lock for a disqualification finish to open SmackDown. Bryan was able to fight off the rest of The Authority following the match, and as everyone made their way up the ramp, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose came out to help Bryan. Triple H responded by declaring that SmackDown‘s main event would be Bryan, Ambrose, and Reigns taking on The Authority (Big Show, Kane, and Seth Rollins).
Bryan’s team picked up the win in the SmackDown main event. The finish came when Bryan gave Kane a running knee and pinned him to pick up the victory in the first main event on SmackDown‘s return to Thursday nights.
Following the match, Triple H declared that Kane deserved a re-match. He announced that the two will wrestle again next week on WWE SmackDown, and if Bryan loses, he also will lose his spot in the Royal Rumble match.
[Photo via the Mirror]