Bryan Danielson has discussed the differences in the creative process in WWE and AEW and how having a blank page can sometimes be “a little nerve-wracking”.
Danielson joined WWE in 2010 and went on to work for the promotion for over a decade. During that time, he would work with writers on what he would be doing at shows. After making the jump to AEW in September 2021, he said on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast that he was “a little bit blown away” when he talked to Tony Khan at his first episode of Dynamite and the AEW CEO asked him what he wanted to do on the show.
“I was actually a little bit blown away because the first time I had to talk or anything was in Cincinnati and I was like, ‘what are we doing?’ [Tony Khan was like,] ‘I don’t know, what do you want to do?’ ‘Wait, what?’ In Newark, it was the same thing.”
“I was never handed a sheet of paper or told what we’re doing. We kind of sit down and decide what we’re doing. I was like, ‘Oh.’ Then there’s this overachieving fear for me a little bit because some people don’t like working with the writers. I love working with writers. I like collaborating. I had a really good time with that.”
Danielson then revealed one of his favourite times in WWE was when he had a heel eco-warrior character as the ‘Planet’s Champion’ and worked with a writer named Robert who would help him focus his ideas.
“One of my favorite times was when I was the Planet’s Champion. The writer I worked with was named Robert. We had so much fun. 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 say, ‘what if we say this?’ Robert was great because he would pull me back from the edge, sometimes I’d go off on a tangent and he would say, ‘Hey, this is too far environmental and maybe not focused enough on the show we’re actually doing.’ Robert helped me stay on track. Eventually, I wasn’t allowed to say anything about the environment at all, but Robert was great because he would throw in little things there.”
He also admitted that he can find being given a blank page “a little bit nerve-wracking”.
“I loved collaborating with the writers. There’s a real fear of the blank page. You have to craft your own story. You want that freedom, but then all of sudden it’s like, ‘Oh no, here is this blank page, you can create whatever you want’ and you’re like, ‘Uhhh,’ and that’s a little bit nerve-wracking.”
Speaking about his last months in WWE, Danielson said he was part of the creative team “a little bit” and the writers would use his ideas for things he wanted to say, then on the day of the show, he would have fun collaborating and fleshing the script out.
“My last couple of months with WWE, I would get scripts, but my time with WWE was pretty much that; always working with a writer but always collaborating. In the last couple of months, I was part of the creative team a little bit. Very rarely would I do my own stuff, but I was like, ‘What if I said something like this?’ I might have said that on a Tuesday then show up on Friday and it would be somebody else’s words, but a version of what I mentioned. We’d flesh it out, work together, and it’d be fun.”
Following his departure from WWE, Bryan Danielson penned a heartfelt thank you letter to the company which was published in The Player’s Tribune.
H/T to Fightful for the above transcription.