During a recent appearance on the “Sports Illustrated Media Podcast”, AEW Superstar Bryan Danielson commented on AEW and WWE fans arguing over which product is better, why social media makes it worse, and more. You can check out some highlights from the podcast below:
On leaving WWE for AEW: “There’s not an easy answer. 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. I guess that’s the other thing. This is probably going to be the last full-time run of my career, and I really want to be able to push the limits of what I’m able to do. And AEW is really good at that. You’re going to have to. Those guys are doing so much incredible stuff that if you want to be at the top of AEW, you really have to elevate your game. That’s kind of where it’s at.”
On competition between AEW and WWE: “I think from a business perspective, you do have to worry about being number one in your genre, in the sense of how much you get paid for the TV rights fees, which is essentially, both company’s business models. It’s no longer fully about how many people that you can attract to the show. It’s no longer about live attendance. It’s no longer, specifically for WWE, about PPV sales, hardly at all. With AEW, it’s a big part of their business model, but the more viewers you can attract and that sort of thing, the higher price you’re going to get from the networks, as far as for your show. So where that’s really going to come to pass is I think in two to three years when these contracts come do, WWE is with USA and FOX and ours with TNT and Turner. That’s where that really comes in from a competition standpoint is big, big dollars, but where I’m mostly interested in it, as far as elevating AEW is I think it’s great for wrestlers. I think it’s great for wrestling fans to have different products and different products that focus on different things.
Some people like their wrestling this way. Some people like their wrestling this way. From a wrestler perspective, this was the same thing that happened with WCW and WWF back when I was in high school. Chris Jericho wasn’t being used, hardly at all, in WCW, and then he goes to WWF and is able to show his talent. You look at somebody like Malakai Black in AEW or Ruby Soho where they weren’t utilized very much in WWE. AEW gives them a chance to come over and show people how skilled they are, and eventually, it will go the other way too. There will be people who feel like they’re underutilized and will jump to WWE, and and people will be like, whoa, they maybe missed the boat on that one. But that’s just going to happen, and I think that’s good for the fans. I think it’s good for the wrestlers. I think it’s a really fun time to be in the industry. This is actually, I think, the healthiest the industry has been in the time that I’ve been wrestling because for the most part, it’s been mostly a monopoly as far as big wrestling.”
On getting booed for saying he loved his time in WWE and the fans of both companies fighting: “After I got a little promo and I said, ‘I love where I worked before,’ that got a huge chorus of boos. But it’s true. I think that also speaks to it’s not just a wrestling culture thing. 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.”