It’s tempting to shout hallelujah and award immediate full marks to any WWE release these days that is focussed on someone new and isn’t a fourth or fifth retrospective on the same old names.
With Daniel Bryan Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! there is no need to pretend. This is a must see set for any wrestling fan, regardless of your persuasion.
The main feature clocks in at just over an hour or so and is built around Daniel Bryan’s Road to WrestleMania XXX. Some will naturally be a little disappointed that there isn’t more focus on his years leading up to his WWE exploits, but don’t let what (partly) isn’t here forget what actually is here.
There’s candid footage of Bryan and his now wife Brie throughout (with the former Bella also providing vox pops at regular intervals). Seeing things like the two playfully argue about Brie’s shoes (with Bryan saying her wearing heels makes him look even smaller) it’s a small but compelling reminder that behind the athletics and the multi million dollar hype, wrestlers are still normal people. It’s a theme Bryan keeps returning to.
After the likes of Seth Rollins and Cesaro put Bryan over, the man himself reveals that it was the action in WCW’s Cruiserweight division that convinced him there could be a place for him in the wrestling business. There’s archive footage from Shawn Michaels’ TWA training camp, and Shawn says that it was clear from the start that Bryan had something, but that HBK always made it clear that for a man of his size, Bryan would constantly have to struggle and fight for his spots.
From there we get a brief look at Bryan’s Ring Of Honor career, and Bryan reminds us that he’s spent more time there than he has, yet, in the WWE. Bryan says that the Independent scene was never about being a part of the journey to the big time and that for him it was simply fun. He got to travel around the world doing something that he loved. John Cena says that he was a fan of Bryan’s before his main stint in the WWE and that he hates the term “indy guy”.
Bryan’s “proper” WWE stint starts with NXT (the old version). Bryan says that he was very frustrated at this time of his career as NXT was “goofy” and was in no way meant to emphasise the wrestling aspect. The Miz claims he had to Google Bryan to find out who he was prior to being unveiled as his “pro”. Here, and on the extras, Michael Cole leads you to believe that this was all intentional on the WWE’s part, to build the “underdog” part of Bryan’s personae. Bryan’s statements in the extras that he believes it was more to attempt to discredit the importance of the “independent” world he came from seem more accurate.
His firing from WWE is covered, (Bryan was fired for choking out Justin Roberts with a tie) as John Cena says that the Nexus guys were simply told to raise hell when they went out there and that was all that Bryan was doing. Cena claims he was “ashamed” at the decision and Pat Patterson says that he was constantly pushing for Bryan’s return. It was only when Cena agreed with Pat that the deal was done.
The twin disappointments of his WrestleMania matches with Sheamus are covered in detail (relegated to the dark match at 27, given a mere 18 seconds at 28) but with the acknowledgement that it was the “snub” at the latter that turned his career around to some degree. From there the Yes Movement explodes, with fans and even teams at other sporting events picking it up. This all builds up to his big moment at WrestleMania XXX.
There’s an unfortunate rearing of kayfabe, as the likes of Bryan, Cena and Brie discuss the matches at XXX in a “real” context (Bryan training hard for a “possible” second match), which is even goofier when earlier in the piece a candid backstage moment between Bryan and Seth Rollins sees Bryan talk about the upcoming Mania as “two of the biggest matches of his career”. His relationship with Brie comes under the spotlight a bit, as the two got married the week after Mania, and Bryan says that even during the darkest days of his WWE career she’s always been there for him. As a reminder of this, they talk about the night when Brie won the Divas title for the first time…and Bryan wasn’t even booked on that Raw card.
The feature ends with the WrestleMania XXX weekend, with both his excellent matches from that show highlighted. It’s a fitting end to a wonderful piece.
Although it glosses over some parts of his career, and there is the occasional lapse into kayfabe that jars given the “real life” focus of it, this is simply fantastic stuff. I don’t care if you are particularly a fan of Bryan or not. If you can’t appreciate the years of hard work and, yes, overcoming of the odds that lead up to Bryan’s “Mania Moment” you must have a very cold heart indeed. The talking heads are generally relevant and add to the proceedings and I should also add that after her heart-felt comments throughout, I’ve a new fondness for Mrs Danielson, Brie.
The extras add a WHOLE lot to the overall package. As well as the matches, there are brand new segments with Bryan that either set the scene for the things we are about to watch or add insight into his thoughts and feelings around that time. What it also refreshing is that the WWE have included the “set-up” promo videos for a lot of the PPV matches so you get a context of the ongoing storylines and feuds.
There’s a 2000 tryout match (without commentary) where a young Bryan teams with Shooter Shultz to take on Lance Cade and Brian Kendrick. It’s interesting to note that although fans don’t know any of them at the start, they pop huge for the finish, appreciating the work that’s gone into it. There’s a Velocity match with Jamie Knoble that is very competitive before Bryan’s first “official” WWE match against Chris Jericho from NXT.
From there, Bryan wins the US title from the Miz, cashes in on The Big Show to become the World Heavyweight Champion before getting some form of redemption in his Extreme Rules 2012 match against Sheamus. Bryan vs Punk from Money In The Bank 2012 is a cracker and there’s some fun from the Team Hell No run too.
There’s the awesome Bryan/Cena match from SummerSlam 2013, his big moment in the Triple Threat match at Mania XXX before we finish with his 2014 Fastlane match with Roman Reigns.
BluRay extras throw in four exclusive matches, including a 2003 Velocity match against John Cena (in which Cena admits he got admonished by Vince for “giving too much” to Bryan – perhaps that’s the reason he is how he is!), along with some “outtakes” from the main feature and some entertaining Team Hell No vignettes. It’s well worth the extra few pounds for the upgrade.
All in all this is one of the best WWE releases we’ve seen. A fascinating main feature that whilst built around his WrestleMania XXX moment brings us much more than that is complemented by a fantastic array of matches which also bring us more insights into Daniel Bryan the man and his career.
If you’re a fan of Daniel Bryan then it’s a no-brainer to get this in your collection. It’s so good though, that even if you’re not a fan of Daniel Bryan you really should see this.
Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk and Fetch.fm for providing our review copy of Daniel Bryan – Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! which is available on DVD & Blu-Ray from Monday, June 15th 2015. You can pre-order your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk now by clicking here.