Bryan Danielson Talks The Cultural Shift In Wrestling Since He First Started

In an interview with ABC 6 Action News, AEW star Bryan Danielson talked about his recent match with Kenny Omega at AEW Grand Slam in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Comparing it to his WrestleMania match with Kofi Kingston, Danielson declared the Omega match may have surpassed the Kingston one as his favorite.


"When you look back on favorite matches, it's hard because there's a recency bias but it feels like my favorite experience in a match," Danielson revealed. "My favorite experience before might have been wrestling Kofi Kingston at WrestleMania 35. But that, I think that may have topped it. But one of the things that I think in these moments where fans are just super into something is that how lucky am I to be doing this thing that I love, with this incredible reaction. I haven't talked to CM Punk about it in years, but CM Punk and I wrestled each other, I think it was in like 2004 or 2005, at this little promotion in Florida in front of 75 people. And we wrestled for like 45 minutes.

"So we're out there in front of so few people, and it's so quiet and you can just hear the people. Like the guys weren't even booing us. It's a guy sitting in the front row, chatting to his friend, he just goes 'these guys aren't very good, are they?' His friend goes 'no, not really.' It's not even booing us; they're just talking to each other, but we can hear it. That's such a deflating experience, as opposed to having this experience where fans are excited to just see you tie up. Gratitude is what it feels like."


Danielson was also asked about what he sees as the biggest change in the wrestling business from when he first started in 1999. He believes it's the wrestlers becoming focused more on their health and less dependency on drugs and alcohol.

"So I think the biggest change is from a wrestler standpoint, it's the focus on health amongst wrestlers and the decreased drug use, like when it comes to steroids, painkillers, all that kind of stuff," Danielson said. "You look at AEW, I don't think Kenny Omega drinks or doesn't drink very much. I don't think the Young Bucks drink or drink very much. CM Punk is straight edge. I've never drank in my life. You have all these top guys who not only not do steroids, do not do painkillers, or whatever it is, they don't even drink. Obviously, there's nothing wrong with drinking, but, that's a huge culture shift from what wrestling was. And I think a lot of us saw the decline of past wrestlers and the early deaths.

"You talk to a lot of the guys, and a lot of them now have kids, and what their goals are. We want to be healthy, not only healthy dads, but we want to be healthy grandparents. So that's a major culture shift and it's a major cultural shift in the sense of how we take care of ourselves.When I first got into wrestling, you would see guys do a couple squats and then just go out there and wrestle. Now, I'll start warming up an hour before my match. But you see the same thing in the NFL; you see the same thing in the NBA. That's why Tom Brady is able to perform at such a high level (at age 44) or LeBron James is able to perform at such a high level at (36 years old.) We're all taking care of our bodies and our minds better so that we last longer, but so that we're healthier when we're done wrestling.