2018 WWE Hall of Fame inductee Jeff Jarrett recently spoke to Wrestling Inc. President Raj Giri. During the conversation Jarrett discussed Daniel Bryan being cleared by WWE to return to in-ring competition.
The wrestling world is still buzzing after news of Bryan being cleared to wrestle again broke last week. Bryan's last match was in April 2015 when he suffered a concussion and he was forced to retire the following February after an EEG test revealed slowing of brain activity and a "small, subacute lesion" in an area of his brain that causes seizures. Now that Bryan has been cleared, Jarrett discussed why he thinks audiences connect so much with Bryan and he said he believes Bryan has a unique ability to combine his in-ring performance with intense emotion that resonates with people.
"To me, the essence of our business, not just with Daniel Bryan but with any talent, is the emotional connection he has with the audience. A great song connects, whether it's a new pop song or a R&B or hip-hop or an old country song, it's emotionally connecting with your audience. The songs that us wrestlers 'sing' are the matches obviously, the story, the persona and Daniel has a unique gift that is, to me, very, very relatable," Jarrett said. "And it goes without saying, his in-ring skills are incredible; and I don't want to downplay anybody's in-ring skills, but he knows how to take his set of skills in the ring and make them emotionally connect. He's good at what he does, it's that simple. At the end of the day, there's a lot of guys that can do a lot of moves, but there's not a lot of guys that can do what he does and put his skill-set together and emotionally connect with his audience. It showed on SmackDown when he returned; you just felt it in the arena and it came across on your TV screen that this was something special happening."
The reality of the situation has endeared Bryan to fans even more and everyone loves a good comeback story. Jarrett said he respects how Bryan made his way into the business and how hard he's worked to become the superstar that he is today. He's excited to be in attendance when Bryan makes his in-ring return at WrestleMania 34.
"I'm happy [for him]. A comeback story in a scripted manner is a feel-good story, but a comeback story of this magnitude and the reality of the situation and how the chips fell... I'll say I emotionally connect with the guy because he came up the hard way. He wasn't the biggest, the tallest, the fastest, the smartest, any of those accolades. He worked his butt off, and it was long before money came into his equation and long before fame came into his equation. It was because he wanted to do it, and loved it," Jarrett said. "He had the unfortunate situation with his health at an early age, and that's tough, that's real-life a really, really bad break. And for us to see that it's almost three years since the situation happened and he's returning on this stage, I mean if you don't emotionally connect with that, I think you're brain dead. I'm excited, and heck I get to be there, and I don't have any responsibilities other than to put on a tux, wave at the fans and watch the wrestling match. I'm excited to see that match, I really am."
Jarrett was also asked if he ever wanted to sign Bryan when he was running TNA, which he said he did. He said he also had an eye on Cesaro before he made it to WWE. He said no one could've predicted that Bryan would become a star of this magnitude. He went as far as to say Bryan has become a generational superstar in that he is the quintessential babyface of his era.
"Sure," Jarrett replied when asked if he was interested in signing Bryan in TNA. "There's Cesaro, [too], I don't want to call them Ring Of Honor guys, but the guys that were not working currently at TNA that were out on the scene, you have to look at guys like that. In the year 2018, when you think of a babyface, immediately [Bryan's] name comes to mind... There's different guys in different generations where you think, 'That is a classic babyface or a classic heel.' When you look at today's generation, he is that guy," Jarrett said. "He's very likable, he comes across that way on camera... Who would've thought he would've been a star of this magnitude? Nobody would've guessed that, it's impossible, and if you say you did I think you're lying. But with that being said, he has always had a unique set of skills that is connectable, relatable and you can emotionally invest in Daniel Bryan."