Honestly the thing...LOL @ that dog gif!... anyway, the thing that got Bryan over was "Shut up AJ". I think people were intrigued by him on NXT. The WWE really dropped the ball by not having a true Bryan v Michael Cole feud. That would have been an outstanding start to his career. A program that should have ended in a match would have been great.
After that, he was popular with the IWC, but still very bland and not so interesting to the majority of the fan base. When he won the title from Show, I dont think a lot of people bought into him, even after his feuds with Show and Henry. What started to get him over and culminated at the Miami Mania was his relationship with AJ. He started getting huge pops when ever he would simply say, "Shut up AJ". Losing in 18 seconds to Sheamus looked like a massive slap in the face at the time. The fans turned on Sheamus for a good 5 months because of it. However, Bryan instantly became a darling regardless of his heel status. That post Wrestlemania RAW dark match in Miami was a fantastic way of kicking off his mega star popularity.
So I would say, "Shut up AJ", followed by losing at WM in 18 seconds, the subsequent RAW and then yes, the screw job by HHH has all worked in DB's favor. I highly doubt the WWE knew having him lose in 18 seconds would lead to this level of popularity, but they do know having a guy that the McMahons (HHH) are against is a great way to build a star.
I think we can all but guarantee "no more title matches" after Night of Champions, followed up by a Royal Rumble win and getting the Title at WM30 will ensure he's about as popular as any wrestler since Stone Cold & the Rock. Plus, you know there will be a HHH v Daniel Bryan PPV match on the way to Wrestlemania.