Before he was competing in 60-minute iron man matches for AEW, Bryan Danielson wrestled as Daniel Bryan for more than a decade in WWE.
During a recent interview with The Ringer, Danielson opened up about his time in the sports entertainment giant, calling to attention the fact that WWE‘s live event schedule allows performers to hone their skills in many non-televised bouts. He spoke particularly highly of his storied opponent Randy Orton, saying that Orton was one of his very favorite people to wrestle.
“I would get to wrestle Randy Orton [at house shows], who might be one of my favorite people to ever wrestle, in the sense of he and I just clicked, and Randy Orton is so good. You’re wrestling all these untelevised matches right in front of live events and… if you’re somebody who tries to continually get better, it’s a great place to hone the details… your explosiveness, of all the different things that you do.
“When I wrestle Randy, and when I watch Randy, and especially like, Randy at his best, I think, ‘Man, this guy is untouchable. Everything he does is perfect.’”
Along with Batista, Randy Orton was part of Bryan Danielson‘s most exciting WrestleMania moment when the leader of the Yes Movement won the WWE Championship in the main event.
Bryan Danielson Compared Independent Wrestling To Performing On Television
Later in the same interview, Danielson compared his work on the independent scene to working for WWE on television, saying that he was allowed to be more self-indulgent when wrestling for a promotion like Ring of Honor.
“I would say in my independent run, in Ring of Honor, you had the luxury of being self-indulgent. … And I’ve gotten a different lens on it, about music, especially. I don’t watch that many movies, but in movies where you see a self-indulgent music act who like, ‘OK, I just want to riff for seven minutes, right?’ And it’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s not exactly what we want.’ There would be things I would do on the independents that I would do just solely because I enjoy it, the style of wrestling.
“It frustrated me at times, but one of the things that I was told early on in WWE is, ‘I don’t want to see any of that ‘thumbs-up’ bullshit.’ … What they meant was actual wrestling, right? … But in front of those live crowds who are there to be entertained and all that kind of stuff, you have to put them in places where it can be acceptable, as opposed to, ‘Hey, let’s just start off wrestling around for 15 minutes.’ That’s not something that’s great for television, you know what I mean?”
Danielson last competed on March 5th, where he and MJF fought over the AEW World Championship in the main event of Revolution. Despite his best efforts, Danielson was forced to tap out by MJF after the match went into overtime.