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Smackdown GM Daniel Bryan Throws out First Pitch at Phillies Game

Daniel Bryan (ED HILLE/PHILLY.COM PHOTOGRAPHER)

“Flight of the Valkyries” played and out walked Daniel Bryan, but this time he wasn’t making his entrance down a ramp like he will be tonight as Smackdown emanates from the Wells Fargo Center for the first time since WWE split its brands and the show went live in mid-July. Rather it was through the tunnel as he took the mound to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at last night’s Phillies game.

Kudos to Tommy Joseph and the crowd for knowing exactly how to celebrate with Bryan following the successful strike.

YES! YES! YES!

While only a Phillies fan by marriage, Daniel Bryan’s history in this city goes back 14 years to 2002 when he began work for the then-brand new promotion, Ring of Honor, which started as a super independent held once monthly out of Murphy Recreational Center in South Philadelphia. Considered by many to be one of ROH’s “Founding Fathers,” Bryan (under his real name Bryan Danielson and later the American Dragon) took part in the promotion’s debut event and continued to work as a performer on and off for the next seven years, winning both the ROH World Championship and Pure Championship while taking on the likes of NXT’s Samoa Joe and Austin Aries, and Tyler Black, known to WWE fans as Seth Rollins.

In 2009, Bryan’s final year with the company before signing with WWE, he made his pro wrestling television debut with the newly launched Ring of Honor Wrestling show, which continues to air on various networks across the country including the Delaware Valley’s WMCN, which began airing the tapings in 2015.

Due to the success of Ring of Honor, which is now the third largest independent wrestling promotion in the U.S. and which began airing its own iPPVs in 2014, the company has been able to secure a lot more touring dates and through partnerships with Japan’s New Japan Pro Wrestling, even holds shows internationally now. However, it is still the iconic 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, where ECW hailed from, that ROH calls home.

Daniel Bryan helped ROH become what is today and he still has allegiance to the company which really gave him the platform that enabled him to reach WWE, but that’s not the only reason the former four-time WWE champion, career grand slam champion (at least one reign with the WWE/World Heavyweight, Intercontinental, United States and Tag Team Championships) and Slammy award winner for “Beard of the Year,” has an affinity for Philadelphia and the city’s sports teams. It’s because his wife Brie Bella traces her roots back to South Philadelphia and thanks to her grandfather, was raised as her sister Nikki was, to be die hard Eagles fans.

“My grandfather was full-blooded South Philly Italian,” Brie said during an appearance at Wizard World Con. “So growing up there were two things. You were Catholic and you were a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles.”

Bryan’s heart belongs to the Seattle Seahawks, as his own upbringing was in Aberdeen, Washington, but as he said during an interview with the Mike & Ike show last year, “if the Seahawks are not in the race or the running for everything, I am rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles.”

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