The UK’s Mirror recently spoke with Daniel Bryan to promote his new autobiography. Here are some highlights:
What made you want to write a book about your career?
[Laughs] To be honest I wasn’t even thinking about writing a book and WWE approached me with the idea. I had just had neck surgery, they asked me to do it and I was kind of like ‘okay, it seems like perfect timing’. It was May of last year, it was literally either the week before I knew I was having neck surgery, or it was the week after I had my neck surgery. It was one of those two times! I had a lot on my mind.
WWE officials were forced to reconsider their plans partly because of the astonishing reception to you not being included in the Royal Rumble. Why do you think you have formed such a strong connection with fans?
I’m not sure. We’ve entered this new phase in wrestling, where the fans acknowledge – and because WWE has done it for so many years – that what WWE is, is entertainment. Long gone are the days of you getting into trouble for saying that wrestling isn’t real. I prefer to use the term wrestling fiction. And so there is this acknowledgement that what they are watching is fiction. So fans don’t get as invested as far as like, for example if someone is really beating someone really hard. It’s not the same as it was in the 1980s when the Four Horsemen were beating on Dusty Rhodes. It’s a different vibe from the crowd. But there are still very real things that the fans catch on to. They think ‘this particular guy we like, and he entertains us, so we want to see him succeed, but the fiction is not allowing him to succeed’. And they think ‘it’s not that he’s not succeeding because he isn’t good enough to succeed, he’s not succeeding because whoever has decided to write the story, has written him out of this story’.
There is this realisation that by cheering they may have the power to change that. I think last year specifically it was almost the case that the fans didn’t know, they didn’t know if they could change it. But it’s very powerful, this idea is powerful. Imagine if you could watch a movie and as you’re watching the movie you realise that the supporting character is actually your favourite character, and you want him to be the guy who saves the day. And, somehow, by yelling at your TV screen or something like that, you could actually change how the movie pans out. That would be incredible! In wrestling you can.
Two years in a row after show-stealing performances at WrestleMania, we have sadly seen you have to relinquish the titles you have won because of injury. Is that heartache covered in the book?
Actually no, because the book ends shortly after WrestleMania last year. If I write another book it will definitely include it. It’s strange because you reach what is essentially the pinnacle of your career and then feel like it’s all taken away. And then it was a case of ‘okay, I’m finally back’ and it happened again. Literally I was thrilled to be the Intercontinental Champion and I really wanted to make the Intercontinental Championship mean every bit as much as the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, that was kind of my goal. I really thought it would be neat and one of my friends – I lived with him – Shinsuke Nakamura who works for New Japan Pro Wrestling, he main evented the Tokyo Dome show, the biggest show of the year, as their intercontinental champion, when typically their biggest championship is the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
Because he was so good with the IWGP Intercontinental Championship and because his match-up with Hiroshi Tanahashi to the fans was a bigger match, that main evented their biggest show of the year. That would be like main eventing WrestleMania with the Intercontinental Championship instead of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. That was kind of my goal. So it was really heartbreaking to me to have to give that up, because I had so many ideas and plans for that title that sadly didn’t pan out.
A famous example in WWE was the main event of SummerSlam at Wembley Stadium in 1992, when The British Bulldog pinned Bret Hart to win the Intercontinental Championship.
Yeah and you couldn’t have done it any other way because that was the best way to do it, because that was the match fans were most invested in. That’s what I wanted with the Intercontinental Championship when I had it. And I know it would have taken time. But I’m nothing if not patient! It took me years to get to the WWE. People sometimes tell me my patience is a flaw, because I’m very like ‘if I just keep working hard good things will come’. That’s just my personality, I’m not in a hurry to get anything done. It drives Brie crazy because I’m a slow driver, but I pace it, because I’m not in a hurry to get anywhere. That’s just how I am. It was heartbreaking to have to give up the Intercontinental Championship. But I’m patient. That’s how I’ve got to be with this injury. I can’t wait to return to the ring, but I’ve got to be patient.