As previously noted, current WWE SmackDown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan was recently a guest on E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness. During the interview, Bryan discussed whether the likes of Ricochet and Will Ospreay could succeed in WWE, why WWE Network's 205 Live is struggling, and Bryan also identified a few standout performers on WWE's main roster.
When Edge asked whether indie standouts like Ricochet or Will Ospreay could translate to the WWE audience, Bryan suggested that they could succeed in WWE initially; however, character is king at Titan Tower.
"So this is what I think: I think at first it can, but I also think that WWE is very character-driven." Bryan reflected, "I was able to stand out, like, 'this guy does things a little bit differently because he does things like this.' And that helped me get over because I was different, right?"
In Bryan's learned opinion, performers cannot get over in WWE by their ringwork alone. With that said, 'The American Dragon' claimed that 'The Future Of Flight' and 'The Aerial Assassin' are developing as characters.
"If you're hoping to come in [to WWE] and stand out on your style alone as acrobatics, I think it's going to be very hard to stand out if that's just your thing. One of the things I'm really impressed with both is as I watch Ospreay develop, and like Ricochet, is that they've become also more personality-driven." Bryan continued, "and Ricochet is now more character-driven than anybody [has] ever given him credit for. And you can see that in Will Ospreay. He's more character-driven than anybody [has] given him credit for and he keeps developing that. And I think that's kind of the genesis, where those guys will get over. It's not because it's not a guy with no personality coming in and doing a ton of awesome spots. It's, 'these guys are doing awesome spots, but also personality-driven and story-driven as opposed to just being like, 'hey, look at the cool flips I can do!'"
On the subject of 205 Live, Bryan explained that the program, as well as the cruiserweight division itself, struggle because performers such as AJ Styles and Seth Rollins do things very similar to the cruiserweights.
"I think one of the things that they have a hard time with with 205 Live and the cruiserweights, is they do some incredible stuff, but do you know who else is doing incredible stuff? AJ Styles doing springboard 450º splashes, right? So to somebody who really knows, okay, the degree of difficulty, they may see Mustafa Ali do this incredible, I don't even know what you call it, an inverted 450º splash or something, I don't know, [but] it's incredible. But to the casual fan, is that any more impressive than AJ Styles doing a springboard 450º splash? And he's a main event guy who gets promo time and all this kind of stuff."
During the conversation, Bryan named SmackDown Live's Aiden English as a standout performer in WWE right now from a character standpoint.
"One of the people who really stands out to me as far as character presentation is Aiden English on SmackDown. He goes out there and he sings." Bryan continued, "Aiden English goes out there and he starts singing, everybody hates it, and everybody hates him. And it's like, 'man, he's standing out not by his ringwork, although he is very good in the ring, he's more standing out from just his character stuff because everybody else has been so focused on standing out through doing cool stuff.'"
Christian had a fantastic idea for English to sing all the time instead of talking.
"I would love for his character to just do everything singing like you know how in musicals people live their daily life and they just sing? Like, if he just sang everything, like his promos, he sang them like a musical, everything was done like a musical. To me, that would get a ton of heat, I think."
Also, Bryan mentioned WWE Superstars Chad Gable and Luke Harper as standout performers.
"I really like Chad Gable. So he went out there and he's somebody who can do, like, incredible stuff. And I think it was two weeks ago, he had this match with Rusev and it was some of the best, like, wrestling stuff that I've seen because he's telling a story with it. The whole first part of the match, it's him trying to hit a single-leg [takedown] on Rusev, who's much larger than he is. But he's an Olympic-level wrestler, right? And so, it's all about trying to go for this single-leg, and Rusev getting out of it, and Rusev getting out of it, and Rusev getting out of it. And people are trained to think of single-legs as being devastating or anything like that. The announcers told a great story with it. They picked up on it and were telling it for him. And then, the time he got Rusev down, there was a big crowd reaction. And he's a guy who hasn't been getting a lot of TV time and hasn't been getting a lot of character stuff and he can do really fun, really funny, character stuff, so he's a guy I think is, man, really good."
Bryan explained, "somebody like Luke Harper, you look at him and earlier this year, he was getting… they were giving him an opportunity and he was getting super over. Not super over, like not mega over where people are chanting, 'Harper! Harper! Harper!' But he was coming out, people were reacting to him, people were really getting into his matches. But then comes the part of, 'okay, it's WrestleMania time' [and] TV time is really hard to get ahold of and he kind of drops out of the scene and it just hasn't picked back up for him yet. And he was somebody, he just went from being a bad guy to being a good guy and people were really starting to get behind him and then he just kind of falls off the [radar]."
With respect to Harper, Edge recalled that when he first saw Harper, he thought 'The Backwoods Brawler' could be a potential WrestleMania opponent for The Undertaker.
"I'm a huge Harper fan. I think he's so under-utilized and, I don't know, under-appreciated, probably not. I just think he could do so much. Like, when I first saw him, I was like, 'there's a guy that works Taker at WrestleMania' because he's so good at what he does and the presentation of the character. Like, I see him and I believe."
Also on this episode of E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness, Bryan said he started a WWE book club, Christian talked about naming his finish after a TLC song, and Edge told a story about his mom and cousin partying all night with Ric Flair. Click here to check out the show. If you use any of the quotes fro this article, please credit E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness with an H/T to WrestlingINC for the transcription.
Source: E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness