In a special digital exclusive interview, WWE Backstage hosts Renee Young and CM Punk interviewed Daniel Bryan talking about Bryan’s upcoming match for the Intercontinental Championship. Punk and Bryan also discussed how they would always look at the next crop of young talent that they would want to work with.
“I think me and you were always the same. We were always looking for that next crop of talent to selfishly be able to work with,” Punk said. “I remember when they were talking about putting a group, they would eventually be The Shield, I was like you gotta use this guy. I was excited about people in the developmental system and people outside of television that I knew would thrive, and I think [Matt] Riddle is one of those guys. He’s already there.”
Bryan was asked to name guys on the current WWE roster that he would like to work with. He named Big E and Gran Metalik as guys who are underutilized that he would like to get in the ring with for a singles program.
“It’s interesting because there’s already guys that are on TV that I would really want to work with, in singles programs with,” Bryan stated. “Number one, who I think has been supremely underutilized is Big E. Big E, he’s just an entertaining guy, and he’s so big and he’s fast. I’ve had maybe about two or three singles matches with him. Every single one, when I’ve been in the ring with him, how is this guy so good. He’s so good.
“Another one is Gran Metalik because I love Lucha, and to me, he’s one of the premiere Lucha guys in the world. We just don’t utilize him that often, guys like that who are already on the main roster. It’s hard because when I look at NXT people, it’s guys that I want to see succeed because I know them, so it’s hard for me to look at them objectively. It’s like I want Roderick [Strong] to come up because I’ve known him for years.”
Bryan also named two NJPW wrestlers that he would like to work with. He complimented Will Ospreay and Zack Sabre Jr. on how they could do things better than he ever could.
“But I also look outside of WWE,” Bryan noted. “I see somebody like Will Ospreay, and I just like at him and I’ll be like, how was I never that athletic?
Punk added, “That guy would have fit in with us back in the day huh?
“I wrestled Zack Sabre Jr. maybe it was 2008,” Bryan recalls. “When I was an independent wrestler, I wrestled this very technical style just bend people and all that kind of stuff. I thought I was pretty good at it. Zack Sabre Jr. does it, and he does it so much better than I ever did it. It was kind of demoralizing a little bit. Although, it’s inspiring when you go OK.”
When looking at NXT, Bryan names Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic. Bryan also expressed his desire to work with Dijakovic for six months on house shows and how there are so many talented people in WWE that are hardly utilized.
“You see all of those kind of guys, but I want to wrestle a guy like Keith Lee, who’s fantastic,” Bryan revealed. “I never got to meet him before, and even like Dominik Dijakovic. I see things in him where I’d like to do six months of live events with him. He would be so good. There are so many guys at the Performance Center that are just incredibly talented. For the first time ever, I think we have so many talented people that it’s hard to utilize them all.
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit WWE Backstage with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.