On the latest episode of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast, Jimmy Traina sat down with Bryan Danielson to talk about his move from WWE to AEW. Danielson described the differences between each company’s backstage environments.
“It’s a little more relaxed. People are walking around a little bit less stressed, I would say,” Danielson said. “I’ve had a lot of great times in WWE, but sometimes, there are some more stressful moments. I haven’t seen that yet in AEW, although I’m sure there will be. I mean, anytime you’re producing live television, there’s going to be stress, and whenever people are competing for positions, there’s going to be stress.
“I love Vince McMahon. I do. He’s great, but he’s very stoic. When I went out at AEW, Tony Khan was like, ‘Bryan, lets go!’ I had incredible conversations with Vince, and when he gives you his approval, it’s a different form, but when I saw Tony there and he’s like wild eyed and so excited, it was funny.”
Danielson spoke more on the stress that can come when working in WWE. He spoke on his relationship with Vince McMahon and how some talents can view him.
“Some people are stressed by Vince. I never really have been,” Danielson admitted. “I think the hard part with WWE is the constant change in the show. I’ll give you an example. On SmackDown, we would go on at 8 p.m. live, and I had a promo. It’s 7:30, and then all of a sudden, ‘Hey, we want to change the promo to this.’ It’s like, oh no, I have to redo all this. I think for some talent, it’s the idea of are we going to be used? Are we not going to be used.
“I think there’s also a feeling of sometimes walking on eggshells. If you do the wrong thing, somebody’s gonna see it, and I don’t know why that that specifically is the case, but some of it comes from, I think people fear Vince in a way that maybe they shouldn’t sometimes. I wish people could see Vince more how I’ve gotten to see him in the sense of the humanity, but it’s hard because as Vince, you can’t have everybody walk into your door. There needs to be some barriers and that sort of thing.”
Danielson revealed how protective McMahon can be of him. He also revealed how he was viewed in WWE.
“I think their story of me, which they believe is that I’m injury-prone, but the reality is I’ve been wrestling for 21 years,” Danielson noted. “I’ve had one surgery, which was my neck surgery, which I was out for nine months, and then I was forced to retire due to multiple concussions, but all the concussion doctors cleared and that was concussions over the span of, at that point, 15 plus years.
“I haven’t had that many injuries, and I’m really durable, especially when you compare me to say, Triple H or John Cena, or all these other people. I haven’t had any problems with my knees or anything like that. All that said, Vince is very protective of me in almost a fatherly type way. I was wrestling Drew Gulak at the Elimination Chamber PPV, right before the pandemic started in 2020.
“I took a German suplex that went a little bit wrong, and I landed on my head. When I got to the back, Vince was so mad at me. It wasn’t anything about the performance. After he got mad at me, I said, ‘Was the match okay?’ And he goes, ‘Yeah, the match was great, but you can’t do that.’ He didn’t want me to get hurt. You don’t want your boss to be mad at you, but I saw this coming from a very loving perspective.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.