At the AEW All Out post show media scrum, new AEW signee Bryan Danielson talked about why he chose to come to AEW instead of re-signing with WWE. It was a decision Danielson, who wrestled for over a decade in WWE as Daniel Bryan, didn’t come to lightly and in fact struggled with.
“Honestly it was an internal battle the whole time,” Danielson said. “Because I loved where I worked before, I did. I loved the people I worked with. There was never a moment that I was like ‘oh now I know.’ It’s just that I kept seeing it. I don’t know how many of you are married or have kids. When you’re married and you have kids, your life becomes a little bit tame. I love it, but it’s a little bit tame. I need one part of my life that’s a little bit wild. Like ‘oh man, do you see these guys doing these crazy things? Oh my god, can I do those things? Hell yes I can. I don’t care!’ I’m going to go out there and show, everybody here, what Elite really looks like. This is what Elite looks like. Punk had come in and said ‘oh I want to help the young guys’ and all that stuff. No man, I want to kick their f*****g heads in!”
Danielson’s AEW debut was met with thunderous “Yes!” chants at All Out, a carry over from his time in WWE. While Danielson loved hearing the chants, he’s not sure he wants to take part in it himself, potentially over it clashing with WWE’s intellectual property.
“I mean it was awesome,” Danielson said. “I don’t know, we’re going to have to talk about what I can do and not do. One of the things I try to respect because, like I said, I appreciate the people I worked for before and respect their intellectual property and that sort of thing. So I’m making sure that I don’t contradict any of that. The fans doing it is great, but I’m not sure if I’m going to do it.”
A factor in Danielson choosing to come to AEW was over the authenticity the promotion provides in promos and character development. Danielson explained how that sort of authentic development had helped him over his career, both in and out of the ring.
“I just think, and I think this is a credit to Tony, I think everybody speaks more authentically here. Because you’re allowed to be yourself more,” Danielson said. “That’s not a knock on the place I worked before, but I think you see it. One of the things I love about this is the artistic expression, and that’s something that I’ve always loved about pro wrestling. You can be what you want to be and you can be who you are. Pretending to be a different person, that’s acting. Taking yourself and taking it up a notch, you actually learn a lot about yourself. I’ve learned so much about myself because of pro wrestling.
“When I first started, when I was in high school actually, I couldn’t read a book report in front of a class. And now, through pro wrestling, I can sit here and talk with you guys and I’m not really bothered if I mess up or I trip over my feet. And that’s because of my experience of doing this, from being myself. There’s not a question anybody here could ask me that would make me nervous.”
Danielson also confirmed that he had been part of WWE creative during his last stint with WWE. It’s something he will not be doing now that he’s in AEW.
“So I briefly took part in creative in WWE,” Danielson said. “And I will say this; I like just wrestling. I’ll leave the business stuff and all that stuff up to Tony.”
Danielson then went back to talking about the factors that led him to his new promotion. He credited AEW’s tribute show to Brodie Lee in December of 2020 as getting his interest, and that while WWE’s offer was generous, going to AEW allowed him to push his limits in a way he couldn’t if he stayed with WWE.
“One of the things that really turned Punk was the Brodie Lee show,” Danielson said. “That was also one of the things that I saw. So many of us loved him so much. I saw how special it was and we saw them go ‘okay, we’re going to stop what we’re normally doing and do that.’ And I thought that was really special for me. That was when I really started kind of thinking about it, knowing that my contract was coming up. But the final decision was when I started thinking about things. And WWE was so gracious to me as far as the offer that they gave me. They were going to let me go do some other stuff outside. But there’s just, I hate to say this, Vince and I have a great relationship. I love him, I really do. But sometimes he’s overprotective of me, and I want to be able to push my limits.
“That’s one of the things that I love about this, the physicality of what we do and being able to push my limits. And being able to do that here in a safe manner is one of the things that really drew me here. Also, there’s an excitement. There’s just an excitement. You see the crowd here and I think we all see it. You felt how excited people are about this product. And it feels vibrant and it makes you feel like, even just watching it through a TV screen in a trailer. I’m sitting there like ‘god this is awesome! I want to be a part of this.’ That was it. Although it was, I don’t know. I really battled back and forth. There’s a lot of people there that I consider family, that actually are legitimately my family, and people that I love there. It was a really tough decision.”
You can watch the full scrum below.