WWE Champion Daniel Bryan recently spoke with Newsweek to promote Sunday's match with AJ Styles at the WWE Royal Rumble pay-per-view. The full interview is at this link. Bryan praised WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar for their Survivor Series match back in November, saying he wanted to do the match for a long time and he was very satisfied coming out of it. Bryan was asked how the match would have been different if he were still a babyface.
"It would have to have been a different match," Bryan said. "One of the challenges with that match, specifically, from a creativity standpoint is 'ok I just turned into a bad guy maybe 5 or 6 days ago, I can't go out there and be a good guy. Otherwise it's an ineffective turn.' So how do I go out there and make people want to see me beat Brock Lesnar but at the end of it still have them hate me? And I feel we accomplished that very well [laughs]. It's funny too, because a lot of people give Lesnar a lot of crap especially from wrestling fans. But man, what an incredible performer that guy is. I've been wanting to do the Brock Lesnar match for a long time and I was very satisfied."
The interviewer pointed to how Bryan would be cheered by default up against Lesnar, no matter how heelish he was. Bryan acknowledged that this was difficult, adding that the interesting dynamic worked in the end. Bryan said he wanted to be the most-hated Superstar in WWE, more hated than The Beast.
"Yea it's an interesting dynamic because this was my thinking going in and it worked. Get people at first, because I want to be the most hated guy in the company. I want to be more hated than Brock Lesnar," Bryan revealed. "Some people want to cheer for the bad guy. I don't want them to cheer, I want to be hated. So far I've had two jumpers at live events [laughs] and that's an old school kind of mentality. You don't want those guys to jump but you want them to hate you. You want them to pay to see you get beat. Or pay to see you get beat up or at the very least enjoy seeing you get beat up. That's my thing. In the Brock Lesnar match, specifically, before we got to do much, I wanted people to see Lesnar kick my ass. But then I want them to be concerned about Brock Lesnar kicking my ass, and then I kick Brock Lesnar's ass. And then when I lose, I still want [the fans] to be like "I wanted to see him win but you know what, I hate him. What a despicable human being this guy is" [laughs].
"So it's a challenge. I look at professional wrestling as a martial art, almost. But if you're looking at martial arts, MMA is the most martial aspect of it, professional wrestling is the most artistic aspect of it. And so this is my performance art. When I do other martial arts I do them to be better at my performance art. Creating those kind of narratives is something I think about a lot. People think of wrestling they don't see it as a performance art or something that is very nuance or have that kind of depth to it. It doesn't have to, but I don't mind having that depth."
Bryan continued, "One of the things I think of when I think of professional wrestling is music. I'm thinking more classical music. If you're in the ring and you're listening to classical music, and this is an imperfect example, but it would be like "boom... boom... boom...boom boom boom boom." So you get used to the "boom….boom….boom" part so when you get the "boom boom boom boom" part you say "oh that's different." And then you throw in variations on that, and you throw in the horns [makes horn noises] and that sort of thing. [I want to ] add those sorts of things to the art of professional wrestling in a way that even people who are watching aren't' thinking of. I do it because it isn't "I want the critics to be like this!" this is something that I do because I love doing it and I appreciate the small nuances of that. And selfish as it is, I'm not doing it for anyone else but myself [laughs]."
In response to the last comment about doing it for himself, the interviewer said that is OK because this is something Bryan loves to do. Bryan revealed how his reaction to a match sometimes differs from the reaction he receives when he returns backstage to the Gorilla Position.
"But when you're in entertainment you get 'I want the people to enjoy this' and I do but at the end of the day…," Bryan said. "There have been times in gorilla position where I go backstage and everyone is clapping after a match and I'm just shaking my head and thinking, 'what are these people clapping for? That was nothing. That was a spotfest.' I try to work hard in every performance that I do, but when I get back there it wasn't special, it was thoughtless. And there have been times where I go back there and I'm so proud, but not a single person in gorilla cared [laughs]. And I just walk with my chest out and my head held high, proud of what I've done."