By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Here on WrestleMania Recall, I will be ranking my top 31 favorite matches in WWE WrestleMania history. A new installment will be posted every day in the month of March, culminating with my No. 1 favorite match on Thursday, March 31st, mere days before WrestleMania 32. Each article will offer an in-depth look at each match and an analysis of why it is among my favorites.
Some people may find it surprising that this match is so low on my list, but these are my favorite WrestleMania matches after all and not the top 31 best, so I will order them any way I please! And no, I did not include this match at the No. 30 seed simply because it occurred at WrestleMania 30, but it is a cool coincidence.
There isn't much I can say about WrestleMania 30 other than it exceeded all my expectations and then some. I say that because the build wasn't the best, CM Punk left the company in January 2014, and I was skeptical about a few of the matches, yet I remained excited. Moreover than anything else, I was excited for Daniel Bryan's big night that would see him finally go one-on-one with Triple H and potentially wrestle in the main event for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship if he could beat The Game. Spoiler alert: You'll be seeing the Triple Threat a little later on this list, but this was the match that had been building for almost eight months.
It all started with Triple H screwing Bryan out of the WWE Championship at SummerSlam 2013, one of my favorite swerves of all-time. Many fans claim to have seen it coming, and perhaps that can be said for the Randy Orton cash-in, but I wasn't expecting that twist at all. Sadly, the follow-up flopped miserably, and Bryan's feud with The Authority was dropped in the fall so they could set their sights on Big Show and John Cena instead. It wasn't a case of "Oh, we'll get back to Bryan around WrestleMania"; they had no plans of pushing him had it not been for the "Yes!" Movement.
With Punk gone from the company shortly following the Royal Rumble, HHH was in need of a new opponent for WrestleMania 30. Enter Daniel Bryan. Originally, he was set to face Sheamus in a match early on in the show, but they switched up the card a bit to make up for Punk's departure, and Bryan was the most logical choice. The brawls between the two leading up to the event were excellent and two different sides of both men: Bryan was much more resilient than anyone gave him credit for while HHH was the same old ruthless bastard he was a decade earlier.
What shocked me the most was how the matchup kicked off the event. Never in a million years did I think that would be the case, but don't get me wrong, I was ecstatic. I just never thought HHH would put himself in the WrestleMania opener, much less lose, but I gained an all-new respect for him that night. And need I mention the phenomenal video package that was produced for this feud? Watch it in its entirety above and tell me you didn't get goosebumps.
Admittedly, I have never been the biggest fan of Triple H the wrestler, but when he is in there with the right opponent, I tend to enjoy his matches, and Bryan was without a doubt that guy. With the crowd fully behind Bryan, there wasn't any way they wouldn't be engaged in the action. Although the ending outcome was fairly predictable for some fans with Bryan advancing to the Triple Threat main event for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, the seeds of doubt had been planted. What if, after all this time, HHH was going after the gold, and the possibility of Bryan challenging for the championship was merely a hook for viewers to buy the event?
With that thought racing through the minds of fans, Bryan fought valiantly against The Game. He powered out of the patented Pedigree, the ultimate endorsement for any star on the cusp of breaking the proverbial glass ceiling into the main event scene. Stephanie McMahon made her presence known at ringside as well, but not even she could do anything but look on as Bryan's knee made contact with her husband's skull and put him out for the decisive three count. The Superdome came unglued for their bearded hero, but his journey to the main event of WrestleMania had only just begun.
SEE ALSO: "WrestleMania Recall, Match #31: Edge vs. Mick Foley, WrestleMania 22"