AEW Star Bryan Danielson Opens Up About Training At Antonio Inoki's Dojo

Bryan Danielson is set to return to NJPW for the first time since the turn of the 21st century, as he'll face Kazuchika Okada on January 4 at Wrestle Kingdom 18. According to Danielson, the Forbidden Door rematch will be the end of a long road to redemption.

"New Japan, when I started wrestling, that's where I wanted to be," Danielson explained to NJPW recently. The former WWE Champion always imagined himself in a Japanese ring, fighting the stars of NJPW and making a name for himself there. "I was training at the Inoki Dojo and I was going regularly on tours ... and me and Curry Man had won the IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championships as a tag team and, all of the sudden, I just stopped getting booked and it was really, really frustrating." Danielson said he didn't know why he was released, outside of having a Tokyo Dome match he was told wasn't up to the standards of the venue, he felt like he was a reliable hand for the promotion. Danielson wondered what he'd have to do to return to NJPW, and now finds himself back, twenty years later, ready to show that he's taken to heart the lessons he learned there.

"I first started training [in the Inoki Dojo] in 2002," Danielson continued. "The American Dragon" was the first one to sleep and live at the dojo. "The mentality was, and this was directly from Inoki, is that we treat professional wrestling like a sport and you train legitimate combat sports." According to Danielson, Inoki and the trainers had the students learn as many different forms of combat as possible, to make them as well-rounded as they could be as combatants. "The mentality for us was we've got to train our ass off," Danielson said, "if we want to live up to this ideal that Antonio Inoki had of wrestling."