Much like any Ring of Honor DVD, Bryan Danielson: Rise to Glory focuses strictly on matches, and features no form of documentaries or interviews. The one-disc collection chronicles the career of Bryan Danielson throughout six matches in a span of four years.
In 2005, Bryan Danielson entered in one of the most prominent rivalries within the early years of the company against Homicide. The first match on the DVD, however, is not a match against Homicide but against Brian Kendrick (Spanky) in the opening round of the Best of the American Super Juniors – 4/24/05. Homicide remained on his quest for the ROH Title while The American Dragon tried his luck in the Super Jrs. tournament. Though Spanky was indeed faster than The American Dragon, Danielson was a lot smarter and more resilient as he was able to evade a Tornado DDT attempt and kick out of Slice Bread #2. Bryan Danielson advanced in the tournament by pinning Kendrick with the Regal Plex, a move adopted from his trainer William Regal.
Later in the year, Bryan Danielson would defeat James Gibson (Jamie Noble) for the ROH World Title at Glory By Honor IV – 9/17/05. The Ring of Honor World Title had eluded Bryan Danielson close to four years and finally culminated in one of the best matches of the year. The match is incredible, and the speech that American Dragon gives after winning allows fans to understand in retrospect why he went on to reign as ROH World Champion for fifteen months and set a record for successful title defenses. Throughout the course of his ROH Title reign, Bryan Danielson takes on a heel-persona, while still remaining a favorite among ROH fans.
In a feud that would eventually end his ROH career, Bryan Danielson took on the Pure Champion Nigel McGuinness (Desmond Wolfe) in a Unification Match at Unified – 8/12/06. The match would unify the ROH World and Pure Titles to determine the real champion. Bryan Danielson had been known as The Best Wrestler in the World, while Nigel McGuinness was recognized as the Best Pure Wrestler. With the setting being in the Pure Champion’s home country of Liverpool, England, the match was contested under Pure Title rules. The two most notable rules were: Each wrestler has three rope breaks to stop submission holds and pinfalls during the match. After a wrestler exhausts his rope breaks, submission and pin attempts under the ropes by the opponent are considered legal. In addition, unlike other belts, during Pure Title rules, a belt can change hands on a count-out or a disqualification. This match marked the final night that the Pure Championship would be defended as a result of Bryan Danielson knocking McGuinness out cold with repeated elbow strikes to the side of the head. Moreover, it established Bryan Danielson as the best champion amongst the two.
While Bruno Sammartino made a name for himself in Madison Square Garden, Bryan Danielson created his own legacy at ROH’s first event in the Manhattan Center, in New York City, at Glory By Honor V Night 2 by successfully defending the ROH World Title against Kenta, a guest challenger from Pro Wrestling Noah – 9/16/06. Sadly, the DVD does not have American Dragon’s speech to the fans at the start of the event about making his own legacy, nor the encounter with both Kenta and Bruno Sammartino prior to his match.
At Final Battle 2006, Danielson’s fifteen month reign came to an end at the hands of Homicide (not mentioned on the DVD). He would later return to ROH World Title contention as a fan favorite against Takeshi Morishima at Manhattan Mayhem II in a losing effort – 8/25/07. Danielson suffered a detached retina during the match. Fans chanted that he was still the Best Wrestler in the World, in which Dragon stated that the Best in the World was the one holding the ROH World Title, which at the time was Takeshi Morishma.
The final match on the DVD is possibly the most important as Bryan Danielson took on Tyler Black at Breakout – 1/25/08. Tyler Black, who became ROH Champion on February 13, 2010 at ROH’s 8th Anniversary Show, was a rule breaker in 2008. At the start of the match, Dragon extended his hand as it is customary in ROH’s Code of Honor, and Tyler greeted the hand with a swift kick. Black showed little respect towards Danielson with a series of kicks and slaps to the face. Though a lot of the arrogance displayed by Tyler Black mirrored Danielson during his ROH Title reign, he had always maintained the Code of Honor. Tyler Black obviously had the potential to lead the company some day, but Bryan Danielson basically had to kick his head in to get the message across.
ROH’s Bryan Danielson: Rise to Glory DVD is a phenomenal 6-match set because Bryan Danielson ups his intensity and his technical precision in every match. Yet, the DVD could have done better with some form of documentary or interview, and possibly extenting the collection to 2-or-more discs.