GQ interview with Daniel Bryan

Everything Else, Except for Advertising. Nobody likes a shill.

Moderators: PWG_Silverback, PWGTickets

GQ interview with Daniel Bryan

Postby CheMateo » Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:42 am

Daniel Bryan on Wrestlemania, His History with the WWE, and Being a Vegan Pro Wrestler
BY Tom Breihan

Image


This year's Wrestlemania started with a bang that felt like a whimper. For the past few months, Daniel Bryan had held the World Heavyweight Championship in true asshole bad-guy fashion, beating larger guys through luck and chicanery and celebrating his own awesomeness loudly and awesomely. But in the opening match of the WWE's biggest show, hulking Irishman Sheamus defeated Bryan and took his belt in all of 16 seconds, kicking Bryan's face off after he had his back turned.

But on the following night's edition of Monday Night Raw, though, something magical happened. The crowd, mostly die-hard wrestling fans who'd stuck around Miami for another night after Wrestlemania, cheered for Bryan the entire time, despite Bryan himself never appearing in the ring. Throughout the show, they roared Bryan's signature chant ("Yes! Yes! Yes!") no matter what was happening. Those chants have continued at WWE shows, and there have been reports of them appearing at completely unrelated sporting events. Given that Bryan is, in storyline terms, a bad guy, as well as someone who the WWE never took all that seriously, this is the wrestling-fan equivalent of civil disobedience.

Bryan's got that fan sympathy for a lot of reasons. For one thing, he spent more than a decade wrestling on the independent circuit before making it to the WWE, perfecting his craft to the point where he was, by general dork consensus, the single best pro wrestler in that world. His style, marked by brutal head-kicks and intricate MMA-derived submission holds, is built around doing stuff to his opponents that looks like it hurts real bad, and he's arguably better than anyone else at bringing that pain. For another, he doesn't exactly fit the standard pro wrestler image. He's a scraggly-bearded vegan indie rock fan, and though he's certainly diesel, he's nowhere near the absurdly muscular body type we most associate with WWE types. He carries himself like your friend's half-awkward stoner little brother, and that means he's an easy man to like.

We spoke with Bryan about his new crowd favorite status, his history with the WWE, and the general difficulties that come with being a vegan professional wrestler.

···

GQ: In the last couple of weeks, you've experienced a real groundswell of crowd support. Was this a surprise?
Daniel Bryan:
Yeah, it really was, especially the reaction last week in Miami for Monday Night Raw. I didn't expect that at all. How could you?

GQ: Monday was a special night. What were you thinking as the night went on and the chants just kept going?
Daniel Bryan:
I thought the whole thing was unreal, that all these people were getting behind me. Or maybe they weren't getting behind me. Maybe it's just fun to chant "Yes!" But it was really cool. I came out and did a post-show [non-televised] dark match, and there was a really special moment where they were behind me 100%.

GQ: Do you have any ideas as to why it's happening right now?
Daniel Bryan:
Especially last week in Miami, I feel like part of it was a backlash against how short my match at Wrestlemania was. A lot of it is that people like to boo me, but they kind of like me. They don't want bad things to happen to me, like an 18-second loss at Wrestlemania, especially the hardcore fans, which is mostly who comes for Wrestlemania. People come from all over the world. They travel to Wrestlemania, and a lot of those people know my story, how long it took me to get a Wrestlemania match. And then for my first one to be an 18-second loss, it actually generated a lot of anger.

GQ: Do you share that anger?
Daniel Bryan:
Of course I do. I was World Heavyweight Champion for four months. I wanted to go out there and steal the show. I was trained by Shawn Michaels, and that's what he's notorious for. I've always had the mindset that my wrestling is as good as or better than anybody out there. I was really looking forward to going out there and showing everybody what I can do on the biggest stage of them all, and then I just wasn't able to do it.

GQ: What was the conversation like when you were told that the match was going to go down like this?
Daniel Bryan:
I mean, there wasn't much of a conversation. This is my job, you know? You have to do something, and even if you don't like it, that's what you do. But you go out there and do the best that you can. I went out and did the best entrance I could possibly do. You just do your best; that's all anybody can do.

GQ: There have been moments where WWE has been notorious for not doing what its audience wants. But with all the chants for you and how much you've been catching on since Wrestlemania, it seems like the company wouldn't be able to ignore that.
Daniel Bryan:
Well, for example, [this week] I wasn't on Raw. There were loads of "Yes!" signs in the crowd, but I wasn't on Raw. There's always a lot of things that go into that; it was a hectic show. But yeah, there's some stuff like that that happens.

GQ: Moving forward, what would you like to be doing?
Daniel Bryan:
I would like to have a more aggressive side to my character. Losing the World Heavyweight Championship in 18 seconds, storyline or not, is going to anger somebody. If you've been champion for four months and you lose it in 18 seconds on what's kind of a cheap shot, you're going to be a little bit angry. I'd like to amp up the more aggressive side of my character in that sense. But as far as what happens from here, who knows? I'm hoping that the fans keep getting behind me. Even if they do the "Yes!" chant in a mocking sense, I want them to see me in the same light that they've seen me before, as one of the main event guys on Smackdown.

GQ: Are there any people in particular that you're hoping to work with?
Daniel Bryan:
I'd love to actually get a good match with Sheamus [laughs]. Last year, Sheamus and I were supposed to wrestle for the United States title, and it got bumped to the dark match before the show. This year, we were supposed to wrestle for the World Heavyweight Championship, and it was 18 seconds. Sheamus and I don't like each other, but our styles fit together very well. We're both very hard-hitting wrestlers, and we both want to go out there and steal the show. That's true at any pay-per-view, any show, regardless of whether it's Wrestlemania or a live event in, say, Athens, Georgia. We want to be what people are talking about when they leave.

GQ: You and Sheamus were both wrestling at little holiday camps in England a few years ago, right?
Daniel Bryan:
Yeah, it's true. Sheamus obviously spent less time in independent wrestling than I did. But I spent a lot of time wrestling in high school gyms in front of 35 people. But I've also spent a lot of time in Japan, wrestling in front of 55,000 people. I've done both ends of the spectrum on the independent scale. But yeah, five years ago, me and Sheamus could've easily wrestled each other in front of 40 people in some little town hall in England.

GQ: Where did the "Yes!" chant come from? Was that your idea?
Daniel Bryan:
It was really just, "How do I be as obnoxious as possible?" The "Yes!" thing came from a UFC fighter named Diego Sanchez. He's a tremendous fighter, but he also has these little obnoxious aspects to his character. One thing that he used to do—he doesn't really do it anymore—is that when he would come to the cage, he'd say "Yes! Yes! Yes!"—not the same way I do it, but as some sort of positive affirmation that he could win the fight. I thought, "I love this guy, but that's so annoying!" And then when I became a bad guy, I started doing it, and it really worked out. Speaking of Diego Sanchez, he also did something ludicrous in his last fight: Brandishing a cross in front of him like he was warding off a vampire. If my character has to change at all, I might do that [laughs].

GQ: I loved your title reign. It would've been cool to see you just crush some more people, but the way your character was the guy who would sneak away with the win, I thought it was really well-done.
Daniel Bryan:
I was really thrilled with it, actually. I didn't expect to hold the title as long as I did. When I won it, I thought, "Oh, this is just a temporary thing. I'll probably lose it at the Royal Rumble." It cemented me, in a lot of people's minds, as someone who could be in a main-event spot and do a good job at it.

GQ: How hard is it to find good vegan food on the road?
Daniel Bryan:
Oh, it's so hard. I've been doing media all morning, so I had to be on the hotel lobby at 5:45 this morning. We had an hour between two interviews, so trying to find a vegan spot here in Virginia that's open that early was tough. But we found one! It's harder late at night, after shows. If we finish work at 10:30 and we've got a 250-mile drive, it's hard to find anything vegan, so I just bring a lot of protein shakes and stuff like that.

GQ: Which cities have the best food option for you?
Daniel Bryan:
I love Chicago. We'll be there for Extreme Rules at the end of this month. I love Seattle because that's where I'm from and I know all the spots. One of the places I love flying into is Baltimore. There's this vegan place right across from the airport that I always go to, and that's always a real treat. But in major cities, I can always find someplace good.

GQ: You're a big indie rock guy; what have you been listening to lately?
Daniel Bryan:
Right now, I'm really digging this English guy named Frank Turner. He was opening for someone in Vegas recently, where I live, and I just missed him. We had a show on a Saturday, and I had to fly out on the Friday night, which is when his show was. He's my current favorite. And I also have a hit single with Kimya Dawson. She did the soundtrack for Juno, and she was part of the Moldy Peaches. It wasn't a hit single! [laughs] I did a song with her about Captain Lou Albano.

GQ: Is music something you want to do more of?
Daniel Bryan:
No, no. I have a horrible voice. We recorded it just because she was making this tribute to Lou Albano. She knows me, I'm a wrestler, and she loves wrestling, so she was like, "Hey! You do backing vocals." I'm actually rapping, of all things. I don't think I have much of a career as a rapper.

GQ: The documentary Wrestling Road Diaries shows you on the road in your independent days, and it's got you buying records from thrift stores in all the cities you visit. Do you still try to find time to do that?
Daniel Bryan:
It's hard now because I don't ever have time to listen to records. I left Vegas on Sunday, and I won't be home for 25 days. On the independents, I'd only be wrestling two or three days a week. I'd go to Japan, and I'd be gone longer, but normally I'd be home four days a week and I'd have time to listen to records. Now, we're on the road so much and I'm home so infrequently that it's just not worth the money. I was spending like $250 a month on records, but I just don't get a chance to listen.

GQ: How difficult is all that travel? Does it wear you down?
Daniel Bryan:
The most draining part of it is that there's not a break. You don't get two weeks to let your body heal unless you're actually hurt, and none of us want to get hurt. There's no point where you can take a breather from it all. Raw is live every Monday, so you never get more than four days off in a row, and that can be taxing. That's the way the whole thing goes.

GQ: Do you find yourself missing the independent scene, or are you happier with the WWE?
Daniel Bryan:
There are positives and negatives to both. I wanted to come to WWE party for personal accomplishment. I'd done essentially everything I could do on the independent scene, and I wanted to see how far I could get in the WWE. But also, you can only do this for so long, and at some point you have to try to save enough money to retire or at least to put yourself into a position to do something else. But what I miss most about independent wrestling is the people. I have a lot of friends in independent wrestling, and those bonds develop over 10 years. They don't come quickly. In the WWE, it's such a competitive atmosphere. There are only a few top spots, and then the rest of them are independent spots; you don't really create the bonds and friendships that I had on the independents.

GQ: But a bunch of indie guys are coming to the WWE now, right? Like Claudio Castagnoli and Chris Hero?
Daniel Bryan:
Yeah, and I'm excited. I hope those guys get up on the road. That would be cool. But they're still down in the developmental system right now. Taking that step up from the developmental system to TV, you never know why they're going to bring somebody up. They could be down there a couple of years. My friend Tyler Black is wrestling in the developmental system as Seth Rollins; I'd love to have him come up to TV. That would be cool for me, but who knows when that's actually going to happen?

GQ: Do you have a favorite match that you've wrestled in the WWE?
Daniel Bryan:
I don't have a specific favorite match. I had a series of matches with William Regal, and some of them were in England, where those people are so behind William Regal and so anti-me. And this is when I was a good guy! I just loved that. William played a big part in my training; he was a mentor to me ever since I was 18 years old. It was just a blast for us to go out there and wrestle like only we could do it.

GQ: How about in your years before WWE? Do you have a favorite match or a favorite feud?
Daniel Bryan:
It's hard to say. I always loved wrestling Nigel McGuinness, and we had this match in England. Those people just loved Nigel; he's English. I ran his head into a pole, and he started bleeding furiously. That crowd was so with him. It was one of those matches where, at the end, you feel like you've accomplished something, like you really touched the 1200 people there. That's something that I miss about independent wrestling as well: The intimacy of those crowds. That was one of my favorite matches ever.

GQ: You've known CM Punk for a long time. On the indies, you used to call yourself "Best in the World," and he's adapted that as his catchphrase. Did he clear it with you beforehand?
Daniel Bryan:
No, he didn't [laughs]. Literally, we haven't talked about it at all.

GQ: You're not annoyed about it?
Daniel Bryan:
No, not at all. Chris Jericho had done something similar after I had done it. The only thing that I find really funny is that the "Best in the World" font on the back of his T-shirt is almost identical to the "Best in the World" on the back of my Ring of Honor shirts. It's just funny.

GQ: Punk used to use Living Colour's "Cult of Personality" as his theme music on the indies, and the WWE recently licensed it for him. You used to use Europe's "The Final Countdown." Has there been any talk of you getting that in the WWE?
Daniel Bryan:
There has been zero. They've never mentioned getting anything licensed for me. Maybe things will change. But you know, I like the "Ride of the Valkyries" mix that I've got going on now.
User avatar
CheMateo
 
Posts: 1771
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2005 10:13 pm
Location: Farmington Dist. L.A.

Re: GQ interview with Daniel Bryan

Postby El Asian » Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:15 pm

really good interview and as much as I don't like that Daniel Bryan lost the title in 18 seconds at WrestleMania, he probably got paid more for that 18 second than he would have gotten doing the indies and because of those 18 seconds, Daniel Bryan and a silly chant he started that got from Diego Sanchez made Daniel Bryan into one of the most over guys in the WWE, especially when Raw was at Miami and England, so its great to see that after working his ass off in smaller companies like, well, the one this board is dedicated to, to become this success and having a chant that might have even become more popular that Stone Cold's What, which I think even Stone Cold admits, and was even the most popular wrestler one time on the same night Brock Lesnar returned

also fun fact, Daniel Bryan pretty much stole both Ride of the Valkyries and The Final Countdown when Sara Del Rey was using it before him
User avatar
El Asian
 
Posts: 1656
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2005 3:07 am

Re: GQ interview with Daniel Bryan

Postby CheMateo » Tue May 22, 2012 1:36 pm

Daniel did a short interview with IGN shortly before his terrific match with CM Punk at Over the Limit. It is a short interview so I didn't think it deserved its own thread.

Daniel Bryan goes head to head with CM Punk for the WWE Championship at this Sunday’s Over the Limit Pay-Per-View. I had a chance to talk to the WWE Superstar, and former World Heavyweight Champion, about his “Big Gold Belt” title reign, his upcoming match with Punk, what Vince McMahon thinks of him being a vegan, his storyline with AJ and more.

IGN: The last time I spoke with you, you hadn’t even cashed in your Money in the Bank case yet to win the World Heavyweight Title. What have the past six months been like for you professionally?

Daniel Bryan: It’s been crazy. It’s been a lot of fun. I went from being a guy who was sparingly being used on television to being the World Heavyweight Champion and the focus of a lot of the storylines on Smackdown. And now I’m in a big match for the WWE Championship on a Pay-Per-View and it’s unreal.

IGN: Those of us who anticipated you becoming a World Champion in the WWE expected you to be having matches with guys like CM Punk. Guys similar to your stature. Did you ever think that your very first championship feuds would be against guys like Big Show and Mark Henry?

Bryan: No, I never thought that if I was going to be the champion in the WWE that those would be my first opponents. My first feuds. Especially because I also felt like I didn’t match up very well with those guys. But then it seems to me that both of those feuds went very well. And I was thrilled to wrestle those guys because it forces me to go outside my usual box. You know, I could go out there and wrestle CM Punk and have a fantastic match, but that’s along my normal line of thinking. Wrestling someone like Big Show requires a totally different style. And for me that was fun.

Image


IGN: Will we see the “Code of Honor” this Sunday?

Bryan: I suspect not. It’s interesting because in our first match in the WWE against each other, on Monday Night RAW – it was a Champion vs. Champion match – and we did it. We shook hands before the match. And for some reason, I don’t think that’s going to happen on Sunday.

IGN: Are you yourself surprised, given your indie history and legacy, that you’re now a part of a major high-profile relationship storyline with AJ?

Bryan: [laughs] Definitely. And you know what’s funny is that I feel like – not since I started with WWE, but since I got fired and then brought back - they had this storyline with me and the Bellas. Then it was me and Gail Kim. And now it’s me and AJ. It seems like I’m always in these stories with these Divas. And I don’t know what the deal is. Maybe they just see me as someone who’d be funny to pair up with them. Like “Yeah, it would be funny to put him with the Divas.” But I really have no idea.

IGN: It seems though, that in your story AJ, you’ve been able to move past that nerd-persona that they gave you. Would you agree?

Bryan: Yeah, I do. But I think the origin of me and AJ was part of the whole nerd persona. The idea that we were both nerds. Because it started before I was the World Heavyweight Champion and they just started throwing these little thing at me and her backstage and we were supposed to be really awkward. So the idea still started with “Oh, he’s a nerd.” But now it’s evolved into something that’s way better.

Image


IGN: How long have you been a vegan?

Bryan: Since December of 2009.

IGN: Did you ever think that being a vegan would draw this much heat from large crowds?

Bryan: No, I didn’t know actually. And I do it for health reasons, you know. Not for entertainment reasons or anything else. So for me it wasn’t even an issue of bringing it up on TV. Other than “Oh, that’s an interesting fact about this guy.” And the idea that you can tell people you’re a vegan and get everyone to go “BOOOO!” is crazy. It’s interesting because the first experience I had with that wasn’t even with the crowd but it was with Vince himself. And Chris Jericho loves telling me this story about how he had gone back to Vince and said “This guy’s good.” It was after the first match I had on TV, and it was against Chris, and he told Vince I was good. “He can get the people behind him,” he said. And Vince said [in Vince voice] “Yeah, but who doesn’t eat steak?” He thought people wouldn’t buy into a guy who didn’t eat steak. And that’s when I kind of realized that there are a lot of people out there who just think it’s completely foreign for me to not eat animals.

IGN: You didn’t just tell people you were a vegan though. In your promos, you actually denounced meat. Given how much trouble Oprah got into by denouncing meat on her own show with the meat lobby and food libel laws, did anyone ever think you’d get in trouble?

Bryan: No, and actually I look forward to getting into trouble with the meat lobbyists. If they want to come in and talk to me about how they’re treating animals, then I welcome it. Especially all those cows that are pumped full of hormones. I have no problem talking to them. But also, on the flip side of that, I know that human beings are omnivores. I have no problem with people eating meat. I would just like it, for the people who do eat meat, for the animals to be treated better. To be treated humanely. Cows in pastures living the life that their supposed to live. I have no problem with that. But when chickens spend their whole lives crammed in cages, just one on top of the other, spending their whole life getting pooped on by chickens that are on top of them - that’s a horrible existence. But I felt this way before I was vegan. So that might ruffle some feathers too.

IGN: This Sunday, in your match with CM Punk, and given your history with him, will the WWE audience get to see some moves they might not have seen before?

Bryan: Oh yeah. I would expect that there will be moves that the WWE audience hasn’t seen before. And I hope that there is. I want it to be more than standard-fare. I think it’s going to be something that people aren’t used to seeing. And something that people will get excited about. Something that’s really fun to watch and engaging and hard-hitting. The kind of match that, when you buy a Pay-Per-View, that’s the kind of match you want to see.

Image

IGN: I had the pleasure of actually being at WrestleMania this year. And the “YES!” chants started up before the show even went on the air. Did you know that? Or did anyone tell you that?

Bryan: No. And actually, I didn’t hear them. I mean that arena was so big that it kind of got drowned out. And nobody said anything to me about it. And so if they were aware of it, I didn’t know. But I definitely was aware of it the next night at the American Airlines Arena. That could be heard the whole show.

IGN: They kept chanting it after your match too and it seemed like, because you had such a non-match at ‘Mania, it set the crowd off even more.

Bryan: I feel like that when they kept doing it that it was almost a form off dissent. You know, it was like “We don’t like this. We don’t agree with this. YES! YES! YES!”

IGN: Other wrestlers seem to be trying to co-opt the “YES!” chants nowadays. How do you feel about that?

Bryan: I don’t mind it if it starts organically. Like if the crowd just started chanting it. It only bothers me when people start it up on purpose. For example, leading into the Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View, Sheamus would do promos and chant “YES!” And that’s taking something that I created and trying to use it to get yourself cheered, or get in good with the fans. And I feel like that waters it down. Because the last thing you want something to do when it’s hot is to get watered down.

IGN: How did the “YES” chant start? Where did you get the idea?

Bryan: It’s originally from the MMA fighter Diego Sanchez. It was after I had won the World Heavyweight Championship and they just said “When you go to the ring we want you to be very excited.” And so he would come to the ring going “Yes, yes yes”- just pumping himself up. I did it in more of an obnoxious way, just acting like I was the happiest human alive. Pointing my fingers in the air like a jerk. And, to be honest, it’s just fun to do.
User avatar
CheMateo
 
Posts: 1771
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2005 10:13 pm
Location: Farmington Dist. L.A.


Return to General Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 2 guests