Bryan Danielson had perfected his craft through out the years in various territories and for numerous promotions. Danielson early days started as he trained with WWE’s Shawn Michaels and trained next to, two former WWE Superstars in Brian “Spanky Kendrick and Lance Cade. The three trained with Shawn Michaels and Rudy Gonzales at the Texas Wrestling Academy. November 11th, 1999, The American Dragon, Lance Cade, and Shawn Michaels traveled to Japan to compete for Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FWM.) Not only was this Danielson’s first match in Japan, which would be repeated multiple times, but was also met with much success. Cade and Danielson beat the team of Mammoth Sasaki & Naohiko Yamazaki.
After signing a developmental deal with WWE, the trio were shipped to Memphis Championship Wrestling and under the tutelage of William Regal and Bobby Eaton, Danielson was developing a style that would make him one of the most dominant Indy wrestlers the United States has ever seen. Danielson was released by the WWE and soon became a regular in Northern California’s APW. Becoming the King of the Indies in 2001 and becoming one of the corner stones to Ring of Honor. It wasn’t long before Danielson was being booked on both coasts with Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, New Japan/USA and various others. It also wasn’t long before Danielson was becoming a global phenomenon. Danielson would go on to wrestle in England, Germany, and New Japan Pro Wrestling. Danielson was a hot commodity. Eventually Danielson was Heavyweight Champion in Ring of Honor, Heavyweight Champion in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, competing for NOAH, in Japan, and solidifying his claim to be the greatest wrestler in the World.
Then the day came… the challenge was made.
The NWA was going through of a bit of resurgence. The NWA had a wealth of talent challenging for the National and North American Titles, but had zero control over their World Titles. NWA Pro (now known as Championship Wrestling from Hollywood) had really ramped up their business which included; DVD releases through Big Vision, a local television deal, and the biggest news, touring. Las Vegas, Texas, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida, opportunities to showcase the NWA and it’s then World Champion Christian Cage were opening up, however TNA wasn’t on board. TNA talent became ever so increasingly difficult to book, effectively preventing the NWA the use of it’s Champions. However things changed on May 13th 2007.
The NWA was able to end the 5 Year Relationship with TNA Wrestling, stripping Christian Cage and Team 3D of their NWA Championships. (TNA would still recognize them as TNA Champions). A Tournament was planned, which was music to the ears of Bryan Danielson.
Once this video dropped it seemed like everyone who associated with the NWA wanted to be in on this tournament.
Needless to say the challengers were lining up. All that was needed was an actual tournament to take place. With a special selection committee, the NWA announced a tournament.
Danielson defeated Nelson Cruz in Vancouver Canada. Danielson’s next bout would be against Fergal Devitt (who currently competes in the WWE as Finn Balor) who defeated Mikey Nichols.
Danielson’s semi-final match was set up with “Scrap Iron” Adam Pearce. Danielson would be victorious and would be scheduled to face Brent Albright in the Finals in Puerto Rico.
Unfortunately tragedy struck. Danielson was injured while competing for his home wrestling promotion Ring of Honor. Originally expected to be much more serious, Danielson would have to bow out of the tournament. At the time it was thought that Danielson’s career was over.
David Marquez is on record stating that “We shot interviews prior to the injury for cards he was scheduled to defend the title on.” Some wonder what direction the NWA would have taken had Danielson not been injured. In lieu of Brent Albright and Adam Pearce feud, I would venture to guess that “Scrap Iron” Adam Pearce would have been the man to emerge as the front runner to a Bryan Danielson World Champion. But much like Pearce’s World Championship Legacy, I believe Bryan Danielson would have traveled the World over defending the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship. And this isn’t to take one iota of gratitude for Adam Pearce and the legacy he left behind, because I don’t think Danielson would have been NWA Worlds Champion forever. The American Dragon was destined for bigger things. He would go on to become a NOAH’s GHC Jr. Heavyweight Champion, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla Champion (twice) and eventually join World Wrestling Entertainment. Just after Danielson’s retirement from the WWE his illustrious career coming to an end, we all can’t help but think … “Only If The Eye Injury Hadn’t Happened.”