In December of 2011, World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Daniel Bryan won the World Heavyweight Championship for the very first time. A few weeks later, Bryan started to taunt the fans and his opponents about his accomplishment by shooting the word “yes!” over and over, while simultaneously lifting his arms and pointing his index fingers in the air. Just over two years later, the “yes!” chant has become one of the most popular chants in wrestling history, something nobody foresaw in 2011.
Bryan held that championship until Wrestlemania XXVIII, in early April of 2012. On that night, he lost the title to Sheamus in 18 seconds. The plan was to get Sheamus more over as a babyface, and to make Bryan a cowardly mid-card heel character. The fans didn’t let that happen.
The following night on RAW, WWE fans completely hijacked the show. The night was filled with Bryan’s signature “yes!” chants during all segments, and even Spanish “Si!” chants during an appearance by Alberto Del Rio. Despite the chants, Daniel Bryan never appeared in-ring on the show, and the WWE thought this would be a one-night event. It wasn’t.
Bryan is popular among “Internet” fans because of his involvement in independent wrestling organizations like Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. He is well known for his work across the globe. His popularity among casual fans is a little more shocking. They didn’t connect with the character at the start of the “yes!” era, but now they are in full support of him. He has the charisma, look, and in-ring skills to get the job done, and he is booked as an underdog, which is something that the fans can rally behind (and the simple catchphrase doesn’t hurt).
After a stint in a tag team with Kane, Bryan returned to singles competition in July of 2013, and his popularity went through the roof. When John Cena selected Bryan to face him for the WWE Championship at Summerslam, Bryan’s name alone received one of the biggest pops in recent history. Fan reaction for this man is reaching the level of The Rock and Steve Austin.
Now the “yes!” chants are being seen at other sporting events that aren’t involved with the WWE. Michigan State center Travis Jackson has been known for starting the chants during the school’s football games, and has even gotten students to perform the chant at basketball games.
The chant has also been seen being performed by fans at a Miami Heat game, Oakland Athletics games, and at a FIFA World Cup qualifier. The Seattle Seahawks even tweeted Bryan a picture featuring his signature chant after he congratulated them on their Super Bowl victory.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) February 3, 2014
The “yes!” chants have evolved from a simple taunt to a spectacular sight to behold. An entire arena moving their hands in synch and screaming “yes!” repeatedly. It truly is amazing how popular Daniel Bryan and the chants have become.