Bryan Danielson covers a handful of topics in his latest media interview.
This coming Wednesday, All Elite Wrestling is presenting their Dynamite program from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Bryan Danielson will be in action on the show as he teams with Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus and Christian Cage to take on The Elite (Kenny Omega, Adam Cole & The Young Bucks).
To promote the event, Danielson chatted with ABC6 in Philadelphia and explained that one of the things that drew him to AEW is the company focusing on the wrestling first. He feels that at times, one can find more wrestling on an episode of Dynamite than they can on a three hour Raw or a Raw and SmackDown episode combined.
This is one of the things that drew me to AEW; AEW is like a wrestling-first company. It’s a wrestling company for wrestling fans so if you’re a wrestling fan — and sometimes WWE is more just based on general entertainment. They wanna reach as many casual viewers as possible, where I think AEW is like, ‘Hey, if you love wrestling, here’s this’ but also, even if you’re not a wrestling fan, we’re putting on wrestling and the wrestling itself is gonna bring you in, you know what I mean? And I think that’s one of the really unique things about AEW. If you were to do a comparison of the two by just watching the shows, you’ll see that there’s a lot more wrestling in two hours of Dynamite than there is even in a three hour Raw and sometimes, there’s more wrestling on an AEW Dynamite show than there is on Raw and SmackDown combined. So that’s one of the things that drew me to it because as a fan, I mean when I was in high school, everybody loved The Rock and Steve Austin. They were my least favorite people because all they did was talk so I like the wrestler wrestlers.
At Dynamite Grand Slam in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Danielson and AEW World Champion Kenny Omega kicked off the show. Before the two locked up, they received a standing ovation from the crowd. Bryan said that feels like his favorite experience in a match and the only match he can recall that compares is his match against Kofi Kingston at WrestleMania 35, although Bryan feels the match with Omega may have topped that.
So, one of the things that I think it — as I’m out there a lot of times and the crowd is going crazy and that [Danielson vs. Omega] was a very specific — I think — when you look back on favorite matches, it’s hard because there’s a recency bias but it feels like my favorite experience in a match. My favorite experience before might’ve been wrestling Kofi Kingston at WrestleMania. But I think that may have topped it. But one of the things that I think in these moments where fans are just super into something is that how lucky I am to be doing this thing that I love with this incredible reaction because — I haven’t talked to CM Punk about it in years, but CM Punk and I wrestled each other. I think it was like in 2004 or 2005 at this little promotion in Florida in front of 75 people and we wrestled for like 45 [minutes], right? So we’re out there in front of so few people and it’s so quiet and you can hear — you can just hear the people. The guys weren’t even talking, they weren’t even booing us. It’s a guy sitting in the front row, chatting to his friend and just goes, ‘These guys aren’t very good are they?’ The guy’s like, ‘No, not really.’ It’s not even booing. They’re just talking to each other but we can hear it. That’s such a deflating experience as opposed to having this experience where fans are just excited to see you tie up. So yeah. Gratitude is what it feels like.
Prior to the match at Dynamite Grand Slam, Bryan penned a letter for The Player’s Tribune and he thanked WWE for his time there, showed appreciation to his former colleagues and those alike who helped shape his decade-plus in WWE. He said there was a point where he received hate messages on social media because he opted to leave WWE. He understands to a certain degree because some may feel that he left them, which is why he penned the letter.
He also commented on his stretch as a member of the WWE creative team and how he enjoyed chatted with WWE writer Ryan Callahan.
So, it just felt — it’s weird. You know, people — there’s a decent amount of tribalism in our culture today where it’s like people are, you know, say politically. If you’re right, everything on the left is bad. If you’re left, everything on the right is bad and same thing with wrestling. There’s WWE fans, and they would — the worst ones would be like sending death threats to me on Instagram or not death threats but, ‘I hope you die’ or, ‘I hope your son dies’ or something like that. But, that’s a small minority. I think wrestling fans for the most part are great people and great humans but what it does is it tells you — it’s kind of like conspiracy theories. The really bad conspiracy theories so like flat earth or something like that. It’s like, you don’t listen to the flat earthers. Why do they — the issue is distrust, right? They don’t have a trust, so the most hardcore of these people who are saying these horrible things, well they’re mad. Why are they mad? ‘Well because we supported you for years and years and we’re the ones who pushed you to this level and we feel like you’ve betrayed us and we feel like you left us’ and that sort of thing and I also, from a personal standpoint, never got a chance to say goodbye to a lot of people. A lot of people didn’t even know that was my last day. I didn’t know if I was gonna go back or not, right? My contract was up. Most people in the company didn’t know my contract was up that day except for a handful of people and I didn’t know if I was gonna come back, I didn’t know if I was gonna go to AEW, I didn’t know if I was gonna kind of stop wrestling for a while. So there was never really a chance to say goodbye, and I also just kind of wanted to express the gratitude that I have. Not just for the fans of WWE who pushed me to such a high level but also for the people in WWE. I mean you have to understand, it’s everybody. So it’s like the catering people, who when I came in as a vegan, nobody else was a vegan on the roster and would make me my own food every week.
They make this, they make this, they make this, you come, you shuffle food on a plate and all that kind of stuff. But they took the time to make me extra food. Like, ‘Hey, here’s something for you’ and this is before I main evented WrestleMania. This is when I was barely on TV. They would still make me food, right? So it’s like, the creative team like Ryan Callahan. They asked me to be a part of the creative team a little bit and it’s the conversations with Ryan Callahan where we would — sometimes we’d be talking for an hour about the show, sometimes we’d be talking for 30 minutes about the show and for 90 minutes about other stuff and like them just welcoming me with open arms. It’s the other wrestlers, you know what I mean? And so it’s like there’s so many people that you don’t get a chance to say, ‘Hey, thank you. These past 11 years were awesome and it’s thanks to a lot of you.’
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, WWE ran their shows out of the Performance Center in front of no fans. Pre-pandemic, Bryan was prepared to step away as a full-time talent and wanted to help as many other talents as he could before his contract expired.
It was when WWE events emanated from the Performance Center that his love for wrestling came back and he was thrilled about the challenge that awaited him.
I started really re-loving wrestling during the pandemic again. Empty arena wrestling reignited my love for wrestling. To me, it was such a unique challenge. It was like, ‘Oh my gosh’ and when we were in the Performance Center, there was no people, there was no extra audio. There was no crowd sweetening, there was nothing and I loved it! Because it was such a unique challenge as far as like, ‘Woah, what even is wrestling? How do you even present this?’ And you know, some people just do their same old thing and whatever it is. That clearly doesn’t work with no crowd and so, it made me look at wrestling differently, it challenged me. It was a lot of fun. But then, my daughter’s going into pre-school and I was just like, ‘You know what? Maybe it’s just time for me to just be a dad.’ All these conflicting ideas about what I wanted out of my life. So, and then kind of settled on I thought 40 was gonna be the tipping point where I was just like, ‘Okay, physically I won’t be able to do what I wanna be able to do.’ Turns out I’m 40 and I feel great so…
POST Wrestling will be covering the 10/6 edition of Dynamite with written and audio content. To keep up with the latest, head over to the ‘Rewind-A-Dynamite’ section of the site.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit ABC6 Philadelphia with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.