Heated Conversations with Booker T
Episode 175: Daniel Bryan interview
Recap by: James Hayes
Booker T and his Co-host Brad Gilmore welcome you to the podcast!
On today’s show, we got “The American Dragon” Daniel Bryan.
Booker: I’m, in the locker room right now with WWE Superstars. But right now Daniel Bryan is here. My man, D-Bry! How ya doing?
Bryan: Good, happy to be here.
Booker: How’d you like that intro?
Brad: He’s good at intros.
Bryan: He’s very good. You know what use to be really helpful for me and this was before I was a name in WWE. Booker would always put me in his fave 5. “Here come Daniel Bryan. He’s in my fav 5.” There was one point I hadn’t been on TV for 6 weeks and I came out and to lose a 4-minute match to Cody Rhodes or whatever, still in my entrance, “Here’s my man, D-Bry! My fav 5!” He’s good a building you up!
Booker: I’ll tear you down too.
Brad: He will.
Booker: My thing is that I was always a big fan. I love your energy. You always put on a great show. That’s what this is all about, giving the audience the ultimate thrill ride. You are famous for doing that, but you were on the shelf for a while. Coming back from the injury we talked about before it happened. Let’s talk about your time off.
Bryan: It was a real struggle because I’d been doing this my entire adult life, right? I started when I was 18 and wrestling was how I dealt with things. When bad things would happen I had this outlet. I never cared about how much money I made. If something is wrong, it’s okay because I can sort of use this creative thing.
Booker: An escape.
Bryan: Yeah. One of the hardest things was when I retired my Dad had just died. So, I didn’t properly know how to grieve. This creative outlet… I am sitting at home and my wife is on the road…
Background noise keeps slipping in.
Bryan: Can the boys quiet down a bit?
Booker: That’s okay that’s Shelton Benjamin. The problem is Shelton is mad, he’s not getting any airtime right now, we’re gonna give him some later on. All he gotta do is just calm down for a second.
Booker: Go ahead.
There is laughter in the background.
Bryan: This is before I retired so I just didn’t really have the outlet to release. And that’s something I had to learn. I look at it now, both it being hard, but also a blessing, because being retired gave me 6 weeks at home when I didn’t have to be on the road.
Booker: Those were good times.
Bryan: It was awesome. Even being GM I only had to go to one day of TV almost until our baby was a year old. That’s helpful. It’s great as a Father to spend that kind of time with your baby.
Booker: Time you don’t get back.
Bryan: I see so many guys that have babies and they only get 2 weeks.
Booker: Blessing in disguise.
Bryan: There were negatives, but a lot of positives came too.
Booker: It seemed like you were itching, ready to get back in the game, like a bull. At points, I heard Daniel Bryan was willing to leave WWE just to go back… How true was that?
Bryan: One hundred percent true. Also, I had just signed my contract right before my last concussion, but they hadn’t signed their side of the contract yet. I had just gotten popular and they were like, “We’re going to give you a big new contract.” But, they took that away. Financially it was a big setback. The big thing was I didn’t get to do this thing I was passionate about, despite being cleared by multiple doctors. Doctors WWE sent me too. I probably would have been satisfied if they hadn’t brought me back to be GM. It was so soon after I retired. I had signed up for school for designing at ASU. I’m gonna transition my life into more of a homebody, but then a couple months later they bring me back. I remember sitting ringside for a Ambrose vs. Styles match. I got a great reaction coming back. I thought I should be in there.
Brad: So sitting ringside brought that fire back?
Booker: Too close too soon.
Brad: Like breaking up with a girl in school, but you still have a class with her.
Booker: Having that injury and knowing you were on the sidelines, how hard was that? I had a neck injury and I took a step back. How was it being there believing you were never coming back.
Bryan: There was only one point when I thought I’d never come back. At ringside that day, I thought when my contract is up I’m wrestling anyway. The day I retired was very difficult, I tried to come at it from a place gratitude. I did not want to be bitter. You know, we don’t know how long we’ll be able to do this. I am grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given.
Booker: You put on a good face on television.
Bryan: It’s also the truth. This is how I met my wife and my friends. I get to do this thing that I love. We complain sometimes, like we complain about waiting and now it’s not even a problem guys have video games and on their phones. This life is a blessing,
Booker: We only live once. I’ve had the greatest 30 years I could imagine. Great friends and stories. That alone is worth it. Let’s talk about you being back now. You away from the kid. I know how it is, I have 8-year-old twins. I couldn’t be on the road now.
Bryan: It was very hard. When I came back they threw me on everything. When I came back I thought it would be a limited schedule. There’s WrestleMania but things will calm down after that. Then we go to Saudi Arabia for 10 days and then we do an 18-day European tour. I went in to talk to Mark Carrano and told him I can’t do this. One of the things about stepping back is your perspective and priorities change. I’m mentally unwilling to work like that. They have really worked with me on this. Like, 2013 I did 227 shows, so I’m never doing 227 shows again. Now I do every TV and every other weekend live event. If they get the script for the TV show and I’m not on it, which is very rare, I get to stay home. It has made things a lot more manageable.
Booker: One thing about WWE they will figure a way how to keep you on the road.
There is laughter all around.
Booker: I went and told them one day I’m done and Vince said, “Well, why don’t we bring Sharmell on the road? We can fix that.”
Laughs from all around.
Bryan: We are going through that now with Brie on the road. She can only do X number of SmackDowns because then we’ll both be gone. Now all of a sudden she’s “needed” for Smackdown. They just made up the show, how is she now needed? Can’t she just not be on the show?
Brad: My girlfriend came into wrestling, not just through me but The Bellas and Total Divas. Do you think they get enough respect?
Bryan: Actually I don’t. I know I’m close to the situation, and I know a lot of hardcore wrestling fans look down on them and their era. Brie was in the ring when “Give Divas A Chance” became a hashtag. People were frustrated that they felt women weren’t being given enough. They worked very hard for that sort of thing. I get women coming up to me and they’re like, ”Oh My God, you’re Daniel Bryan from the show!” That’s how I know they are not wrestling fans but Total Diva fans. It exposed WWE Talent to different people. It’s like a melding of markets. Which is great for WWE.
Booker: We did a show talking about the growth of them as wrestlers. They work very hard. When people look back they will see they were awesome.
Bryan: They have been placeholders for the company. They get buried and never give a rebuttal. They spent 10 years on the road. People say they weren’t wrestling like the women are today, but that’s because the company did not want them to. (Really, WWE did not want them to be good wrestlers? This is just silly.) I would put Beth Phoenix up there with the best and she did not always get a chance to show it, Nattie too.
(Beth and Nattie could show the talent given the chance, The Bellas could not because they lacked the skill set.)
Booker: Right now the women are taking over. Let’s switch it up. You are a big MMA fan.
Booker: Let’s talk about Mike Jackson, who has been on the show.
Brad: He just texted me, actually.
Booker: After he fought CM Punk and in my estimation, he went out there and beat that boy, like he stole something. After that fight, you were adamant enough to call out Mike Jackson to a fight.
Bryan: That’s not exactly how it happened. My wife was on Instagram and she was doing a live thing to promote Total Bellas. Someone asked me a question about whether I could beat Mike Jackson.
Booker: Oh, okay.
Bryan: It’s not like I was sitting around thinking this is my big shot. I’m going to call him out. I’m going to call him out on Brie’s Instagram story. I said that if it went to the ground I think I could get him.
Booker: Do you really think in MMA fight you can take Mike Jackson? You could submit him?
Booker: Due to what you saw in that fight with CM Punk?
Bryan: Yeah, and that could be false confidence, I’m very open to that. I think most people who know me know that if I say I can beat Mike Jackson, it’s that. It’s not me saying I would kill him. It’s no disrespect to him. It’s no disrespect to CM Punk. It’s the first time I’ve seen a UFC show, where someone wins a fight and I think I can beat them.
Brad: I got a shot.
Bryan: And to say I toy around with jiu-jitsu, I’ve been grappling for years and kickboxing. That said that does not make me a UFC fighter. I was training earlier doing a takedown with double legs and guess what, I’m old.
Bryan: I’m shooting double legs, and me with my neck problems, my thinking is If I could survive a 6-month camp, I think I could beat him. But also he has experience. You see these fighters and their attitudes when they are in the cage and I’ve had that in real life a couple times, but I don’t know if my mind would switch or not. I don’t know. Sometimes people think they are better than they are.
Booker: I remember when American Gladiators came to town for tryouts and I thought I would run through all of them. The first test was to do 60 push-ups on your fingertips. I was out in the first round.
Daniel Bryan Retires
Daniel Bryan Returns
Before the Final Bell:
Daniel and Booker have a great debate about Tyron Woodley that should be heard. They break down the mentality of being a fighter and the discipline one must have in order to be the best in the world.
Click the link above to hear the rest of the interview.
Score: 8 out of 10
These guys have had a run of high profile interviews and they’ve all been fun. This interview was only going to be 13 minutes long. Daniel Bryan was so relaxed that it went much longer. This is what happens when a respected Hall of Famer gets to interview a fellow peer.