RF Video Shoot Interview with Bryan Danielson

This was filmed in late November 2002

The interview was conducted by Rob Feinstein

It runs at one hour and thirty-one minutes long

 

He is asked about the wrestling promotions he watched growing up. Bryan says that he watched the WWF and WCW, with the Ultimate Warrior is favorite wrestler.

 

Bryan said he got into wrestling because he always wanted to be that as a kid. He said while a sophomore in high school, he tried to get into Dean Malenko’s school but was not old enough and when it was time for him to graduate, the school closed so he was scrambling  to do something and saw that Shawn Michaels’ school was opening up.

 

On the American Dragon name, Bryan thinks either Shawn Michaels or Rudy Boy Gonzalez gave him that as Bryan recalls Rudy Boy calling him up and saying he wrestled Japanese-style but was an American.

 

Bryan said that Shawn was easy going and fun to be around. The classes were Tuesday to Thursday from 3-12 and Rudy Boy would open the school seven days a week. The month was all cardio then from that they did standing holds before doing moves like bodyslams and after that they would review everything before putting together a match.

 

He talks about never thinking about quitting but is worried about injuries, as he jokes about how he still thinks he has a few more years before worrying about that.

 

Bryan is asked about working against Spanky (Brian Kendrick) at the first TWA show as the first graduates of Shawn’s class. They worked a ten-minute draw and the crowd chanted for them to go five more minutes as Bryan joked they probably were not ready to give them more time.

 

He is asked about some of the guys he trained with. Bryan jokes that Lance Cade is scatterbrained and a bit goofy but has nice intentions and is a good guy. He also notes when Cade first walked in, Shawn commented that he “smelled money” as Bryan puts him over as being a hard worker.

 

On how he found out the WWF was interested in giving him a Developmental Deal, Bryan said that they found out a few days prior. At the time, he was working at a cookie store inside of a mall. Bryan talks about how they (Spanky, Cade, and Shooter Schultz) were not ready as they had only been wrestling for about three months and only got considered due to the fact they were trained by Shawn as there were so many other guys that were better.

 

They went down to Memphis Championship Wrestling, which was the Developmental Territory the WWF was using at the time. He said they ran a lot of shows in Memphis, wrestling 3-4 times a week.

 

Bryan puts over William Regal for being one of the smartest wrestlers and for teaching him a lot about mat wrestling. He also puts over Tracy Smothers and Bobby Eaton as great trainers too, stating it was a great experience.

 

On his release, they were supposed to have a week off then told about a big meeting regarding a potential WCW show, as this was when the WWF bought them out. They were told to go out and sit in the training room as they would either go to OVW or HWA. Joey Abs was the first guy in and he got released. Bryan went in and got released himself, along with Spanky and Shooter Schultz, who quit wrestling. Bryan was told they did not have a spot for him in the company.

 

After getting released, Bryan went back to Washington and started taking college classes. He also went to work for Jim Kettner in ECWA as the Haas Brothers set that up for him. He worked the Super 8 Tournament and had hurt ribs and wore baggy pants due to the fact he was wearing a knee brace. After that, he worked for Roland Alexander in APW for the “King of the Indies” tournament. He then became a trainer for APW as Bryan said he thinks they wanted a name guy from the Independent scene and he was the closest around so he took the job. He puts over Alexander for being a good businessman and how he is in it for money. Bryan then talks about guys thinking its easy to wrestle and that Alexander told him they would start with 30 guys in a class and out of them, only 2 or 3 will end up wrestling a match.

 

Bryan left APW as he felt nothing was happening for him there so he moved to Los Angeles.

 

He talks about wrestling Spanky and how they stiffed each other in the ring a lot. He said that Reckless Youth complains that he works stiff as Bryan does not want to be known as a stiff worker and that the WWE looks down on that.

 

Bryan said he likes singles matches as its easy to communicate with just two people’s ideas. He also talks about despising three-way matches.

 

He laughs when talking about how Spanky would find the cheapest clothes he could find as his ring gear and that it would rip at times. Bryan is not shocked that the WWE signed him because he is a great entertainer.

 

On working against AJ Styles at the 2002 Ring of Honor All-Star Extravaganza, Bryan said his ribs were hurt going into the match and that he mentioned that to the ref, who told AJ about his ribs. However, all AJ heard the ref say was the word “ribs” and started targeting them as he dropped Bryan on the guardrail and kicked him in the rib cage. He said the match was fun after that and wish he was healthy as he thinks they could have a great match.

 

Regarding his Cattle Mutilation finisher, Bryan said he stole it from the Great Muta and never thought to make it a finisher until Spanky suggested he use that. After that, he used the move and it got over. Bryan said that Low Ki told him the actual name of the move.

 

Bryan got over to New Japan after meeting Shinya Makabe at the Cauliflower Alley Club. After that, he had a tryout match at the dojo and once that finished, they wanted him to work on the October tour and talks about how he was sleeping in his car during the tryout. Bryan said they trained five hours a day, five days a week. Bryan was with the Havana Pitbulls, Hardcore Kidd (Jesus in WWE), He talks about the training and how the first few hours were more shoot fighting then it was pro wrestling and finished with cardio. He ended up losing about 15 lbs.

 

He talks about how he when he first started training at Shawn’s, he thought he would work indies for a few years then maybe sign with WCW, because he thought he was too small for the WWE.

 

On the New Japan guys, Bryan said it was cool wrestling against Jushin Lyger. He puts over Koji Kanemoto for being awesome and while he kicks you really hard, its all in safe places. Bryan said that Masahiro Chono was really down to earth and would take them all to eat.

 

He talks about guys on the Independent scene and how the main problem is that guys do not know how to use little things to make a match entertaining so they use big things because its all they know how to do and that working in Japan taught them how to make big things out of the little things.

 

Bryan loved Japan, saying everyone was helpful and the food was good.

 

On if he still keeps in contact with anyone from the WWE, Bryan says he talks to Regal about once a month. He does not think the company has interest in him as he is not an entertainer. He said that no one from NWA-TNA has contacted him and does not think they will as they would have to fly him in from California whenever they wanted him to work.

 

His favorite wrestlers to watch are Chris Benoit, Regal, Dynamite Kid, Dean & Joe Malenko, and Billy Robinson as he loves how they show the fans how their moves, like a wristlock, works and get them to buy into the match. Bryan said his dream match would be against Regal and would love to wrestle him again now that he has gained more experience and improved as a worker.

 

If he did have to pick a tag team partner, he’d like to do it with Doug Williams, feeling they could do some good things together. He also enjoyed teaming with Low Ki while in ECWA.

 

When asked his goal in wrestling, Bryan said its to be able to retire, walk, and leave with enough money so he can go to college when he is finished. He talks about feeling overly optimistic and how he wants to get back over to New Japan as he says his body feels good. He then talks about how he wants to have fun with wrestling and if you cannot have a good time wrestling in front of about 50 people, then maybe wrestling is not for you.

 

Final Thoughts: It was really interesting to listen to Bryan here. He was just a 22 year old kid, previously released by the WWE, fresh off a tour of Japan who seemed grateful for every opportunity he had. Bryan was positive throughout this interview and never had a bad word to say about anyone.

Listening to his thoughts about is health and how he never saw himself as a guy the WWE would want was something else.

Overall, I think it’s worth a look to see how Bryan felt at the beginning of his career and what he thought of the futire. Even here, he came across as a great person. It wasn’t the most newsworthy or insightful interview of all-time but it was a breeze to watch.