Bryan Danielson was on a recent episode of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with Jimmy Traina where he reflected on his WWE experience, and looked ahead to his latest run now with AEW. Danielson talked about the freedom he has in AEW, and he talked about his experience working with writers in WWE.
“I was actually a little bit blown away,” Danielson admitted. “My first time I had to talk or anything was in Cincinnati, and I was like, so what are we doing? ‘I don’t know, what do you want to do?’ Wait, what? Last week in Newark, it was the same thing. I was never handed a sheet of paper. I was never told what we’re doing. We kind of sit down and decide what we’re doing, and I was just like, oh. And then there’s this overarching fear for me a little bit because some people don’t like working with the writers.
“I love working with the writers. I like collaborating. I had a really good time with that. Actually, one of my favorite times was as a bad guy in WWE as the ‘Planet’s Champion’, and the writer I worked with was Robert. We had so much fun, and he would present me with a piece of paper. I had a lot more leeway than a lot of people in WWE. I would work with the writer and be like, ‘Hey, what if we say this? What if we say this?’ And Robert was great because he would pull me back from the edge.
“Sometimes, I’d go off on a tangent. ‘Hey, this is too far environmental and maybe not focused enough on the show that we’re actually doing.’ I think Robert helped me stay on track. Eventually, I wasn’t saying anything about the environment at all, but Robert was great because he would throw in little things there, and so I love collaborating with the writers. There’s a real fear of the blank page – the writer thing of, hey, you have to craft your own story, and you want that. You want that freedom, but then all of a sudden, it’s like, oh no, here’s this blank page.
“You can create whatever you want. You’re like, ah, ah! That’s a little bit nerve racking, but for the last couple of months with WWE, I would get scripts. But my time in WWE has been pretty much that, always working with a writer but always collaborating, and in the last couple of months, I was part of the creative team a little bit. And so sometimes, very rarely, would I do my own stuff. ‘Hey, what if I said something like this?’ And I might have said that on a Tuesday. I’d show up on the Friday, and then it would be somebody else’s words but a version of what I kind of mentioned, and then we just work together.”
AEW has allowed talent to say what they want in promos. This has typically lead to talent using swears that are sometimes bleeped out on network TV, and Bryan talked about whether he will take advantage of that opportunity to go outside of the PG rating.
“Well, I’ve already used the s-h-i-t word on TV, but I think it’s all circumstantial,” Danielson noted. “I don’t look forward to using curse words, but the one thing that I do look forward to doing is not having to worry about PG in the sense of the actual wrestling. You can just get a little bit more intense and a little bit, I hate to use the word ‘violent’, but a little bit more violent in AEW. And I think in wrestling, sometimes that’s called for. When you have the big grudge match, people want to see that. I think one thing in WWE is when you start doing the Hell in the Cell matches, there’s no blood or whatever it is. I’m excited for that.”
Traina brought up the Justin Roberts tie incident, and noted how Danielson seems more relaxed in real life as opposed to a more violent personality. Danielson responded to that and talked about what pro wrestling has allowed for him.
“Well, to be fair with that specific incident, I legitimately choked him,” Danielson revealed. “Justin Roberts was the announcer, and I knew him a little bit, but I came from the background that, ‘hey, we have to make this look good, and if he doesn’t know, like, I can’t trust him to be great at what I do, which is the pretend part of it.’ They wanted a gang style beat down, so I wrapped it up.
“There were big, big marks on his neck after. But I think that is an aspect of my personality that pro wrestling has really allowed me to explore, especially pre-WWE is the more aggressive side of me. Because for the most part, I try to stay very calm and very chill. I don’t want to be angry, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to get that aggression out, and pro wrestling allows you to do that in a safe way.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.