Though CM Punk and AJ Lee dated behind the scenes in WWE and later married in real life, Lee’s best on-screen romance was Daniel Bryan. Though Bryan had begun to involve himself in the World Heavyweight Championship picture by late 2011 and even incorporated the “yes” chant into his character, but “The Yes Movement” would not come for another couple years. Bryan entered an on-screen relationship with Lee, an adoring fan, while holding the world championship. Slowly but surely, Bryan began to believe in his own hype and turn heel, repeatedly and emphatically shooting down Lee’s declarations of love.
Bryan’s heel turn came at a time when he would routinely wrestle opponents much larger than him, such as The Big Show, Mark Henry, and Sheamus. All the while, his ego continued to grow proportionately with the way he would mistreat Lee, who remained a fan favorite all the while. Bryan’s dismissive nature came to a head at WrestleMania XXVIII when Sheamus defeated him in 18 seconds for the World Heavyweight Championship after a good-luck kiss from Lee caused the distraction. Though Bryan would break up with Lee on the ensuing episode of “SmackDown,” their interaction would continue throughout the rest of the year with Bryan eventually proposing to his ex-girlfriend after she made him jealous.
The wedding would not go according to plan, however, as Lee left Bryan at the altar to accept another proposal — from former WWE Executive Vince McMahon, no less — to become “Raw” General Manager. Lee leveraged her power on Raw to get back at Bryan for his mistreatment of her on Smackdown, bringing an end to a year-plus of memorable segments that served as the precursor to the “Yes Movement.”