TJR WrestleMania’s Greatest Matches #18: Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista @ WM30

The main event of WrestleMania 30 was a triple threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight Title, which was two titles held by Randy Orton. His challengers were 2014 Royal Rumble winner Batista and Daniel Bryan, who earned his way into the match by beating Triple H earlier in the night.

If you’ve missed anything in the countdown so far, the WrestleMania’s Greatest Matches archives are here.

Who: Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista @ WrestleMania 30

When: April 6, 2014

Where: Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana

The Build

Randy Orton was the WWE Champion heading into WrestleMania 30 in 2014. He was a heel that was aligned with The Authority duo of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.

Batista returned to WWE after a four-year absence. He returned a few weeks before the Royal Rumble. He was positioned as a face wrestler. That was a bad move because the crowd booed him heavily when he won the Royal Rumble. Why? Mainly because they wanted Daniel Bryan to win the match and he really should have won it. However, Bryan wasn’t even in the match, so the fans took it out on Batista.

Batista stayed in the face role through most of February, but then WWE came to their senses, turned him heel and he went into this match as a heel.

The original plans for WrestleMania, based on what they were doing heading into the 2014 Royal Rumble, was for Batista to challenge Randy Orton for the WWE Title. Triple H was going to have a match with CM Punk. The day after the Rumble, CM Punk quit WWE because he was sick of things, so plans changed. If CM Punk didn’t quit when he did, would we have even gotten this triple threat

It was a long and winding road for Daniel Bryan to get into this match. I already covered it in detail when I wrote about the Daniel Bryan/Triple H match at WrestleMania 30, which was #24 on my list. To make that long story short, Bryan had to beat Triple H (which he did) and in doing so, he earned a WWE Title match to end WrestleMania 30.

Bryan was originally scheduled to face Sheamus at WrestleMania 30, which Bryan confirmed a year later in a Newsday article: “I can tell you 100 percent for a fact that I was not supposed to be in the main event at WrestleMania 30. That is one of the coolest things about WWE and wrestling in general. The fans have this very unique voice, and this very unique power, and in no other sport and no other form of entertainment can the fans make their voices heard and it affect change.”

If there was a negative aspect to this match is that there wasn’t much of a story between these three men. Yes, Bryan wrestled Orton a bunch of times in 2013, but they moved on. Bryan’s main rival was Triple H, who he beat earlier in the night. Despite the lack of a strong story, the crowd was ready for this match.

What I Thought Back Then

This was one of those matches where the outcome was obvious. A lot of WrestleMania main events are like that and it’s fine because we are used to it. I don’t think anybody in that building or watching at home thought that something other than Bryan winning would be the result.

Batista was much better as a heel, so I’m glad they turned him going into the match. If he was in the face role the crowd was going to boo him, so might as well make him a heel and have him perform at his best. Batista was 45 years old at the time.

Orton had a lot of chemistry with Bryan because they had wrestled so many times. While they didn’t have a classic match before this, I expected Orton to thrive in the match and that’s what he did.

Here’s my full review of the match plus the analysis, which was written in 2014.

The WWE Champion Randy Orton made his entrance for the main event. The band Rev Theory was there to sing Orton’s song live. It’s nice that there were two live bands during the show. Batista was up next. Daniel Bryan was last.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan

No countouts or DQ’s in triple threat matches. Bryan was in control early as he hit a hurricanrana on Batista to send him outside the ring. Orton went right after Bryan’s injured left arm. Backbreaker by Orton on Batista and then he knocked Bryan off the apron. Batista clothesline sent Orton over the top to the floor. Batista slammed Orton into an announce table and then the barricade at ringside. Batista sent Orton into the steps too. Orton gave Batista a back body drop onto steel steps to counter a Batista Bomb attempt. Orton drove Bryan back first into the barricade and did the same to Batista. Back in the ring, Orton worked over Batista until Bryan came back out of nowhere with a missile dropkick to knock both guys down. Bryan unleashed a series of kicks on both guys that ended with a kick to the head of Batista. Orton hit an overhead suplex on Bryan for two. Spinebuster by Batista for two. Bryan hit running dropkicks on both guys as they were standing in opposite corners. Top rope hurricanrana by Bryan on Orton for two. Batista suplexed Bryan out of the ring. Orton with a superplex on Batista. Bryan hit a headbutt off the top rope on Orton.

Triple H and Stephanie ran down to the ring. Hunter pulled the referee out of the ring to break up that submission win. Batista with a Spinebuster on Bryan. Referee Scott Armstrong showed up. Batista Bomb connected and that was good enough for two as Bryan kicked out. Even though Armstrong is supposed to be the crooked ref, he didn’t do a fast count. Bryan ended up kicking Armstrong in the head. Hunter and Steph checked on Scott, so Bryan hit a dive outside the ring on all three of them. Even Stephanie was down. Hunter was pissed off as he grabbed a sledgehammer. Bryan knocked it out of his hands and nailed Triple H in the head with the sledgehammer. Rollup by Bryan on Batista for two as Orton saved. Orton aggressively went after Bryan outside the ring by ramming him into the barricade. Batista hit a clothesline on Bryan as they beat him up outside the ring. Hunter and Stephanie were shown walking to the back with some assistance. Orton nailed Bryan with the steel steps. Batista and Orton cleared off the announce tables as they set Bryan up for a big spot. Batista nailed Bryan with one of the monitors. Batista stood on the announce table as the crowd chanted “CM Punk” because they wanted him to make the save. Batista hit the Batista Bomb and Orton caught Bryan and delivered a neckbreaker through the table. Cole called it a RKO, but really it was a neckbreaker. “Holy Shit” chant for that. There was also a monitor that was on the other side of the table that Orton’s back hit. Orton ended up with a cut on his back. Huge spot. Dangerous bump by Bryan and Orton was hurt from it too. Since we don’t see table bumps that often anymore it really was a big deal and they treated it as such.

Batista gave Orton a clothesline outside the ring. Bryan was being tended to by doctors, who were putting him on a stretcher. Batista threw Orton into the steel ring post and the barricade. Fans were chanting “Daniel Bryan” as he was getting carted away on a stretcher. Orton came back on Batista and hit a DDT off the ring apron onto the floor. Bryan shoved the doctors away. He was back in the match. Orton sent Bryan into the steps. Orton stalled for a while, so Bryan came back with the Yes Lock on Orton only for Batista to make the save. Bryan applied the Yes Lock on Batista, which led to Orton saving. Batista shoved Orton away during a RKO attempt. Batista went for a Spear, Orton jumped and Batista nailed Bryan. RKO by Orton on Batista for two. Great sequence into that believable nearfall. Orton set up for the punt, but Bryan entered the ring and hit the running knee to the face on Orton. Batista tossed Bryan out of the ring and covered Orton for a two count. “This is awesome” chant from the crowd. Batista Bomb on Orton. Bryan hit the running knee on Batista. That knocked him down. Bryan capitalized on that by applying the Yes Lock on Batista. Suddenly the loud cheers reached an all time high point. Batista tried to fight it, but Bryan’s Yes Lock was too strong and Batista tapped out! What a reaction! Wow! Bryan did it. The match went 23:20.

Winner by submission AND New WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Daniel Bryan

Over 70,000 people were cheering in unison as Bryan led them in “yes” chants with both World Titles in his hands.

Analysis: ****1/2 What a match. One of the best this year. It wasn’t perfect, but it was very close to that. It was everything that it should have been. Some fans might complain about the overbooking with Triple H getting involved as well as Scott Armstrong, but I don’t think it hurt it at all. If anything, that’s part of the storyline continuity. They both played parts in screwing him out of the WWE Title, so it made sense that Bryan would get his revenge on them. A lot of people criticized Batista in the past couple of months about not looking like he was in shape, but I thought he did an awesome job here. His timing was very good for every spot. His power was evident throughout. It was a big match situation where he stepped up. Orton was also terrific in terms of playing his role right. I’m a bit surprised that he didn’t tap out to Bryan, but either guy doing it produced the same result so that’s fine. As for Bryan, he was the unquestioned star of the match. Despite a grueling match earlier in the show and selling a shoulder injury, he was as good as ever. The fans loved him for it too. When he won, the ovation was as loud as anything I’ve ever been a part of.

During the celebration, Bryan brought in his niece and sister to join him. Then he continued with the WWE & World Titles in his hands.

There was confetti. There was pyro. There were so many “yes” chants. It was such an incredible sight to be in that building and witness 70,000+ people doing the “yes” in unison. People didn’t leave. We were high-fiving with strangers and celebrating the fact that a deserving guy won and most importantly that WWE booked it in the right way too. The show ended with Bryan holding both titles looking like the champion that he is.

Analysis: I’ll never forget looking across the Superdome and watching nearly everybody doing the “yes” in support of this man. It was such a cool moment to be a part of.

You can read my full recap of WrestleMania 30 right here.

What They Said

There are a lot of comments out there because WWE did an excellent WWE 24 documentary feature about WrestleMania and a “Journey to WM30” special about Bryan as well. Bryan also wrote a book that had a lot of information about this match as well. I’ll feature some other quotes here.

Here’s Batista talking about how he believed in Daniel Bryan and wanted to put him over:

“I did the thing with Daniel Bryan. Let me tell you the reason I was pissed about the whole thing, the reason why, because I didn’t want to work with him at the next pay-per-view. I wanted to work with [The] Shield. I wanted to do the Evolution thing, so it wasn’t anything against Daniel Bryan and it wasn’t because I loved Evolution so much. I wanted to do the Evolution thing and that’s what kills me. So the first thing, the whole Daniel Bryan thing, I love Daniel. Everybody gave me a lot of grief over that and I was one of the first guys way back when saying ‘Daniel’s great! You’ve got to do something with him!’ They wanted me to job him out. The only time we ever worked together and I was like, ‘he’s way too good for that!’ And people, they gave me all this s–t about being so anti-Daniel Bryan and I just didn’t know where it came from.”

Here’s a clip from one of the specials on Bryan.

What I Think Now

I love how the match was put together and I appreciate it more now than I did when I saw it live.

It’s a great match that you can break down in chapters. The first Chapter featured all three guys battling it out with some good nearfalls as they built up some cool spots.

The second Chapter happened as Triple H showed up to interfere while Batista and Orton teamed up to put Bryan through the table in what was a painful looking bump.

The final Chapter featured the comeback of Bryan as he tried to fight through the pain like the underdog face that he was and the crowd rallied behind him while he did it. Bryan getting the win drew one of the loudest ovations I’ve ever seen.

I thought it was a smart move to have Triple H and Stephanie show up at ringside during the match. It made the match even more unfair for Bryan. I know some fans might think it hurt the match because they didn’t need interference, but it came off as a nice payoff to Bryan’s long angle with Triple H.

This was the first triple threat match these guys did together and it won’t happen again. They performed on the biggest stage of the year at a very high level while giving WWE fans a moment we’ll never forget.

The visual of Daniel Bryan celebrating with the WWE Title in front of 70,000+ people chanting “yes” for him makes me proud and happy to be a wrestling fan.

What Happened Next

Bryan dealt with a lot of injuries following WrestleMania. He also dealt with a personal loss since his father died later that month. His physical pain was with his neck. He was forced to have neck surgery in May 2014 and he relinquished the WWE Title he fought so hard to win back. Bryan returned to action in January 2015 and won the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania 31. In April 2015, Bryan suffered a major concussion, was sent home from a European tour and never wrestled again. He retired in February 2016. It’s too bad his career ended how it did although he has commented recently that perhaps he will try to wrestle after his WWE deal is done in about 18 months.

Batista stayed in WWE for a few more months and that was it for him. There was a brief reunion with Orton and Triple H as they worked together as Evolution to put over The Shield. Batista quit in the storyline and hasn’t been back in WWE since then because his movie career is going really thanks mainly to Guardians of the Galaxy.

Orton continued to work as a heel that was a part of The Authority group. By early 2015, Seth Rollins had taken his place as the main heel in the group and Orton ended up turning face as a rival of Rollins. It’s three years later and Orton is in the WWE Title match at WrestleMania this year as the opponent of Bray Wyatt.

Final Thoughts

I’m not sure how many WWE events I’ve been to in my life. If I had to guess it would be around 50-60 shows in that range. What I know for sure is that this was my favorite event I ever attended because of the ending with Daniel Bryan leaving as the WWE Champion. We celebrated that moment as if we won the title. Sure, it could have been better if it was his first major championship, but that’s okay. It felt like a big deal because of who he beat and where it happened – at WrestleMania.

Daniel Bryan had an incredible night at WrestleMania 20. The match with Triple H that opened the PPV was amazing. He came back three hours later and had another classic with two completely different kind of opponents. It showed how great he was as a wrestler. I miss him all the time, but thankfully he got this moment and we got to experience it with him.

Rankings So Far

  1. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista @ WrestleMania 30
  2. Edge vs. Mick Foley @ WrestleMania 22
  3. The Undertaker vs. Triple H @ WrestleMania 27
  4. Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair @ WrestleMania 8
  5. The Undertaker vs. Edge @ WrestleMania 24
  6. John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels @ WrestleMania 23
  7. Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H @ WrestleMania 30
  8. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit @ WrestleMania 17
  9. The Rock vs. Steve Austin @ WrestleMania 19
  10. Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (vs. Seth Rollins) @ WrestleMania 31
  11. Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle @ WrestleMania 20
  12. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan @ WrestleMania 18
  13. Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair @ WrestleMania 24
  14. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch @ WrestleMania 32
  15. Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper @ WrestleMania 8
  16. Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan @ WrestleMania 6

WrestleMania’s Greatest Matches archives are here.

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