WWE News REPORT: "Main Event Guy" Daniel Bryan - will 2015 be different than how 2014 ended?, what has mgmt. said about top-rope diving headbutt?, when Bryan was cleared, ideas for Smackdown, more
Jan 16, 2015 - 12:07:43 PM
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By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
Returning WWE star Daniel Bryan is playing with house money after what he describes as a "borderline miraculous" recovery from shoulder/neck injury. Now, after spending the second-half of 2014 wondering if he would even be able to wrestle again, Bryan says he wants to be "the main guy on Smackdown," even challenging WWE's own Raw show for TV ratings.
In order to achieve that goal in 2015, Bryan knows he has to adjust his in-ring style. Will that include doing away with the Chris Benoit-style top-rope diving headbutt?
“They (WWE management) have told me, ‘Hey, maybe you shouldn’t be doing the diving headbutt or this or that,” Bryan told Scott Fishman of the Miami Herald. “I have always marched to the beat of my own drum. We are all individual entities. Not to say I ignore their advice, but you also have to know your own body and where you’re at physically. Part of the thing about coming back is it’s a trial-and-error. If I started doing the top-rope dropkick and notice it jarred me, then it may be something I stay away from. I won’t know until I try. I’m not afraid to go out there and give it my all.”
Bryan added that any style changes will be more about Creative then injury-avoidence: "Will my style change? Yes, but that is not because of my injury. It’s because I’ve been sitting back and watching WWE. For me, that’s a creative process. It’s the creative process and the evolution of my own style. Things will change, but will it be because of my neck or anything else? Absolutely not.”
Bryan said he was not cleared to return to action until the December 29 Raw where he was set to make a "life-changing announcement," which was entering the Royal Rumble. This followed a period of time where he monitored how his body responded to a new treatment from Denver-based Muscle Activation Techniques. Bryan told Josh Stewart of Newsday that he traveled to Denver on his own after receiving a recommendation from a physician in Arizona, where Bryan lives.
“I started healing in November, as far as thinking, ‘Wait a second. Things are starting to turn around for the better.’ It was that December episode of Raw I went on to say I was finally able to be cleared by WWE where they said, ‘You’re ready to go,'" Bryan told Fishman.
The announcement on the final Raw of 2014 ended a very challenging period for Bryan, who went through the highs of WrestleMania 30 and his wedding to the lows of his father dying, a robbery, and not knowing if he would be able to wrestle again.
"The only time I really questioned my future was just at the idea of 'Man, these doctors are saying that I may not be able to come back. Is that a reality, because I’ve been doing this since I was 18-years-old and I have never been an adult without being involved in the wrestling industry,'" Bryan told Cody Schultz of SI.com affiliate Fansided.
"I just had to get back into one of those frames of mind to be like 'No, I can’t even think about that, I have to come back, I have to get better.' This is what I love doing and I can’t imagine my life without it."
Bryan added to Fishman: "I just had to get into this mental frame of mind and not thinking about the negative. When you are sitting at home and all you do is physical therapy and all this stuff and nothing seems to be getting better, it’s very frustrating. If you get into that deep hole of thinking you are never going to come back. That’s a hard mental place to escape from. I dealt with that for a little bit, but then I realized I couldn’t have this type of negativity. If I was going to get better, I had to be positive that I can come back and come back better than ever.”
In order to come back "better than ever," Bryan talked about adapting his in-ring style, as well as doing MMA training to regain physical strength and cardio.
"I’ve actually been doing a lot of Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing because I feel that’s the best thing that translates cardio wise and ability wise to what we do in the WWE. So I’ve been doing a lot of that. My body feels really good, I feel really mobile and my neck feels strong and I attribute most of that to the Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing," Bryan told Fansided.
And, with WWE planning to make Smackdown a priority show on Thursday nights, even to the point of potentially re-introducing a brand split, as reported by PWTorch editor Wade Keller, Bryan wants to be able to handle the rigors of wrestling every Tuesday night for the Thursday show.
"I’ve been very open about that with management, and told them, 'Let me be the face of Smackdown, give me the opportunity to show what I can do and by the end of the year Smackdown will be getting just as many viewers as Raw if not more,'" Bryan told Fandsided.
One of the first signs of this was not only Bryan's first match in eight months on Smackdown, but WWE creating a self-contained storyline on the first Smackdown in the new timeslot. Bryan beat Kane via DQ, then helped win a six-man tag main event, and Triple H booked Bryan in a re-match against Kane with Bryan's Royal Rumble spot on the line ... next week on Smackdown, as opposed to the follow-through being a few nights later on Raw.
Bryan also has his own ideas for Smackdown in 2015. "I would like to have the King of the Ring tournament on Smackdown. The King of the Ring tournament is something that the WWE used to do on a usual basis, and they’ve gotten away from it," Bryan told Fandsided.
"One, I love tournaments. Two, I think if you do the tournament exclusively on Smackdown the fans will get really excited about it and they’ll get geared up for it. Then crowning a King of the Ring champion on Smackdown, I think that would be awesome. That’s one of the many ideas I have for Smackdown in 2015."
Bryan hopes his role on Smackdown will coincide with being WWE World Hvt. champion, especially if he gets to face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31.
"I’ve been saying this for a long time, to be in the main event at WrestleMania 31 wresting Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. I think that’s the ultimate match. Brock is a monster, he’s a beast and there’s nothing better for an underdog like me to go up against a guy like that," Bryan told Fandsided.
A title match against Lesnar would require all the pieces to fall into place at the Royal Rumble. Bryan did not reveal any plans, but talked about preferring the current build-up to his Rumble involvement, as opposed to being a surprise entrant officially returning from injury.
“Had I just (made my return) during the Royal Rumble, I don’t know if it would be as impactful. To me it’s more impactful to give fans something to look forward to. If it happened at the Royal Rumble and that night, it would have been great. Though I like the idea of building toward something, so I’m happy with the way we’ve done it," Bryan told Fishman.
Whether Bryan becomes World Hvt. champion again, like in 2014, remains to be seen. But, Bryan is hopeful that if he is Champ again, he could last more than one month as "the main event guy" in WWE after surviving the stresses, uncertainty, doubts, and concerns about his future in 2014.
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