Bryan Danielson Believes AEW & WWE Can Learn from His Taking High Road
There's no question that Bryan Danielson is one of the most well-traveled and revered faces in pro-wrestling. His long-time fans can attest to his humble beginnings training with Shawn Michaels in his wrestling academy, making his name in Ring of Honor, his numerous stints in WWE dating back to when it was still called the "World Wrestling Federation" & building the name Daniel Bryan, and now taking on new challenges for All-Elite Wrestling. Following in the footsteps of his fellow former ROH and WWE champion CM Punk and a slew of other former WWE talent in their exodus, Danielson is looking to create more memorable matches for his fans while not casting shade on his former employer. As much as it comes as a surprise for so many homers within professional wrestling, there are fans of a company and there are legit fans of the "business". Many, including Danielson himself, fall within the latter even going as far as presenting a thank you to the WWE Universe. Speaking with the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast (via Wrestlezone), the former ROH World Champion and WWE Grand Slam Champion opened up about the toxic culture driving fandom on social media in the industry.
"I think that also speaks to it's not just a wrestling culture thing," Danielson said. "I think there's also a tribalism in our country right now. The narrative of being on one side or the other, and I think most people are actually very rational and will enjoy both sides, but I think the harder edges, and those are the people who tend to speak out more. If you like both, you're not going to go on social media and say anything controversial that's going to get a lot of responses. If you say, 'Oh AEW was great last night, but I really enjoyed this about WWE as well.' Nobody's gonna say anything. You just do one or the other. I think that's one of the negatives of social media is it tends to emphasize the harshness in either direction."
As far as leaving WWE, the main question was what do you do for a man who has done everything for a company? "There's not an easy answer," Danielson explained. "It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life, but at the end of the day, it came down to two things, and it was one, was just the excitement of it. There's something about it, as I thought about it, as I weighed the decision that made me a little scared to go to AEW. I was so comfortable in WWE. I had so much fun, and I loved it there, but there was something that I saw and I was just like, oh, that excites me but it also makes me a little bit nervous. And sometimes, that's a good sign that it's something that like, hey, you might be a little bit too comfortable in your life and let's go try something new. Let's push your boundaries."