The Journey to WM30: Daniel Bryan documentary is exactly what it says in the title, a look at Daniel Bryan's journey to WrestleMania 30, with a peek at both Bryan's career to that point, as well as a closer look at the week leading up to Bryan's two matches on the biggest show of the year. Whilst brevity can be a plus point in these kinds of documentary, rocking in a just over an hour means the film struggles to cover any real ground when looking at Bryan's career, and anyone who's followed his course, even just his time in WWE, will notice major gaps in the narrative (most notably Bryan's team with Kane). Whilst there's some interesting insights into a number of major points in Bryan's career, including some good stories about Bryan's two bout with Sheamus at WrestleMania's 27 and 28, nothing is focused on long enough to really dig much deeper than what's mostly on the surface anyway.
|Bryan's title win at WrestleMania 30 is central to the documentary|
There's maybe just enough to make the documentary watchable, but it's not a piece which on it's own I'd recommend going out of your way to see.
The second disc heads into the matches, with both this and Disc Three including parts of an interview with Daniel Bryan (as well as appearances from other WWE personalities) which act as lead-ins for the matches, and do a much better job than the previous documentary does at covering Bryan's career.
|Years before "YestleMania" Bryan was wrestling in Dark matches before Smackdown tapings|
A dark match from a WWF Smackdown! taping (February 2000) kicks things off, pitting Bryan (under the American Dragon moniker and mask) and Shooter Shultz against Brian Kendrick and Lance Cade in what is an intriguing bout for how early it comes in Bryan's career, although it's essentially a "get your shit in" type affair. Bryan (under his real name, Bryan Danielson) shows much improvement in a hard hitting and technical affair with Jamie Noble from WWE Velocity (January 2003). A trip to the original version of NXT (February 2010) gives us a brief encounter between Bryan (accompanied by The Miz) and then World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho (with Wade Barrett), that whilst being pretty clunky at points, still features a handful of sequences that show off Bryan's potential well. A clash with The Miz over the United States Championship from Night of Champions (September 2010) is an underrated belter of a match, with some top quality storytelling, with both men putting in fantastic performances in their roles.
A Smackdown (January 2012) bout with The Big Show over the World Heavyweight Championship is a decent enough TV main event, but doesn't feature much to write home about, other than the start of Bryan's first heel run in WWE. Things really begin to pick up with an outstanding Two out of Three Falls contest with Sheamus over the World Heavyweight Championship from Extreme Rules (April 2012) with the pair working hard to put on the match that they weren't afforded at WrestleMania 28. There's some fantastic selling, and a crowd that is into everything that the two do, even if they aren't inclined to cheer the babyface Sheamus. There's perhaps more sports entertainment elements in a No Disqualification bout with CM Punk over the WWE Championship from Money in the Bank (July 2012) than many would have liked, but there's still more than enough wrestling to keep things interesting. The physical clash features a good mixture of styles, with Bryan and Punk showing that they have a lot more in their arsenal than perhaps they are often given credit for.
The final bout of the disc see's Bryan team with Kane (just before they became Team Hell No) to challenge Kofi Kingston and R-Truth for the WWE Tag Team Championships at Night of Champions (September 2012) in a decent tag bout, with all the focus on Bryan's relationship with Kane.
|Bryan's 2/3 Falls bout with Sheamus is one of the highlights of Disc 2|
A Gauntlet bout from Monday Night RAW (July 2013) opens Disc Three, and whilst an encounter with Jack Swagger is short, the next bout opposite then Real American, Antonio Cesaro is an absolute cracker. A truly forgotten gem, Bryan and Cesaro have a brutal contest, full of vicious strikes and quality reversal sequences, that builds into something truly special by the end. Whilst the final match of the Gauntlet with Ryback can't compete with the match that goes before it, it still has it's own charm and is far from a bad match.
From Daniel Bryan and John Cena's entrances for their SummerSlam (August 2013) WWE Championship bout (as well as Special Guest referee Triple H) you get a feeling for what kind of match is in store, with no frills and set pieces, this is all about wrestling. The pair wrestle a heated encounter, that has a hint of a Japanese styling to it, with the underdog Bryan attempting to hang with the ace, Cena. The pace of the collision could easily get swept under the carpet, but it is perhaps the matches strongest element with the two knowing exactly when to build and when to let the match breath. With everything that you'd want from a PPV main event of it's time, there's plenty of near falls, great storytelling and a lively crowd that all contribute to make this one of the best matches of the year.
|Occupy Raw was big moment on Bryan's Road to WrestleMania 30|
A No Disqualification Match with Randy Orton from Monday Night RAW (March 2014) is a fine TV encounter with plenty of weapon shots, with more than one eye on the upcoming WrestleMania XXX. Bryan's WrestleMania XXX bout with Triple H is disappointingly omitted, although highlights are included as part of the entrances from Bryan's WWE World Heavyweight Championship Triple Threat (April 2014) with Orton and Batista. The three way is chock-full of sports entertainment style shenanigans with a number of twists and turns along the way, this is WWE-style storytelling at it's peak in front of over 75,000 people. It's a spectacular feel good moment, with dramatic near falls and some big spots, plus there's Stephanie McMahon in a silly pair of shorts.
Whilst it might have been a logical place to finish (tying in with the earlier the documentary) the disc continues with Bryan's comeback promo from Monday Night RAW (December 2014) which is an emotional rollercoaster of a speech from someone who apparently struggles on the microphone. The set finishes up with The Yes Man's underrated clash with Roman Reigns from Fastlane (February 2015) in which the pair seem to click early, with their contrasting characters creating an intriguing dynamic throughout. Bryan puts on an unselfish performance making Reigns look like a real superstar heading into the latter's WrestleMania main event.
Cast aside the first disc and this is a terrific two-disc set with Bryan (and others) offering a good insight into his career, as well as the matches that follow each interview segment. The matches are for the most part very good, and those that don't quite make the high standard Bryan has set for himself are, at least, significant to his career or rare encounters. It would have been interesting to see how far the set could have gone if all three discs were presented in this fashion.
Whilst omitting Bryan's bout with Triple H might be the strangest decision of the entire set, due to it being the most heavily featured match of the documentary, most Bryan's best WWE matches are included here. There's an argument to be made for Bryan's bout with Punk from Money in the Bank being swapped for their earlier Over the Limit match, but both have their charms and the second one offers a nice contrast with the rest of the set.
On the strength of the second and third discs this should be a must-have for any fan of the modern day WWE product and even more so if you're a die-hard Daniel Bryan fan.