WWE Superstar and “Yes” chant originator Daniel Bryan has had one hell of a year. After finally clinching the WWE Championship in April at the historic Wrestlemania XXX, he got married, dealt with the death of his father and then suffered career-threatening injuries to his neck and shoulder that have sidelined him, with no return date set.
Bryan spoke with Spinoff Online at Comic-Con International in San Diego, where he offered insight into when he might step back into the ring, explained why the recent KENTA signing has him so excited, and reacted to the news he’s starring in the WWE Superstars comic book by Mick Foley.
Spinoff Online: Daniel, you’re a comic book fan, and we’re at Comic-Con, so have you read anything good comics recently?
Daniel Bryan: No, I haven’t read anything lately. It’s mostly because I’ve been so busy. People think when you’re hurt you’re just sitting around doing nothing, when it’s actually busy running back and forth from rehab to rehab. So I haven’t had a chance to read anything lately.
How much of your time does rehab take up?
I literally wake up, take the dog out, go to physical therapy number one, drive about half an hour to physical therapy number two, from there I go to my acupuncture and from there to my ART [Active Release Technique]. And that’s every day. It’s physically and mentally exhausting, but I’m doing my best to get better so I can come back as soon as possible.
When do you think that return might happen?
I mean, I’m hoping soon, but I don’t think the doctors are thinking it’s going to be that soon. The problem is nobody really knows. I’m doing my best to recover as fast as possible.
Would you want to come back in a non-wrestling capacity?
I don’t know. I feel like if I can come back to wrestle, then it’s best to just wait until I can come back to wrestle. Not being around is good for when you come back — if you’re constantly being seen and that sort of thing. I’d rather just be off getting better.
You’re in the comic book WWE Superstars by Mick Foley. Have you checked it out yet?
I haven’t, no! This is the first I’m hearing about it.
I think you fight the Iron Sheik in it at some point.
And in another issue you team up with Rowdy Roddy Piper.
Oh, my gosh, that’s really cool. This is the first I’ve heard of it, but it sounds awesome.
From what I’m told, you fight the Iron Sheik in some sort of Secret Wars homage.
[Laughs] And you know what? That’s exactly who I’d want to fight in a comic book. [Laughs]
Think you could take the Iron Sheik in real life?
The Iron Sheik now? Maybe. The Iron Sheik [at his prime]? No. He’s like an Iranian champion wrestler!
There’s been two high-profile WWE signings from NJPW recently. How excited are you about KENTA and Prince Devitt becoming Superstars?
I’m really excited, really excited. People’s eyes are going to be opened with KENTA. He just brings a different style that we’ve never seen in the WWE before. Tajiri threw a lot of kicks, but they weren’t as intense as KENTA’s. Being on the receiving end of KENTA’s kicks is one of those things that translates very well to the audience because you can see it, but somehow the audience is almost able to feel it. The noise, the impact. Everything. It’s gonna be exciting, and it’s gonna make everybody step up their game.
What NXT guys are you excited about coming up soon?
The one I think everybody whose been an independent wrestler before is really excited about is Sami Zayn. I’m really excited to see Devitt go through the NXT system and see how that goes. Adrian Neville, too. I like watching The Ascension guys, specifically … I forget his name in NXT, but his [real] name is Eric. My friend Eric. There’s a lot of good stuff going on down there right now.
Is this your first Comic-Con?
No, this is actually my third Comic-Con, and I feel like it’s getting crazier every year. I think I’ve always come on a Thursday, I’ve never been here on a Saturday, and now it seems even busier than it was last year. I mean it’s 11:45 in the morning and it’s packed in here. It’s crazy. It’s pretty neat.
See anything wild yet?
No. I’m actually disappointed, because Thursdays there’s some people dressed up but I guess Saturday is the day everybody dresses up and there’s the big [costume event]. I don’t know what’s going on. I wish there were more people dressed up! [Laughs]
Would you ever dress up?
I would maybe to hide my beard so that I could go through Comic-Con unmolested.
What has you excited about wrestling in general right now? It seems to be picking up a lot of cultural steam. It seems to be headed toward mainstream again.
It goes through phases like that. One of the things that I think is really neat right now is the development of new talent that is starting to rise to the top. It’s not the same guys you’ve been seeing for years. With the elevation of the Shield and Roman Reigns, them splitting apart? To me they were awesome as a unit, but now you’ve got three separate guys who are new and feel fresh and different and interesting. They’ve all got different perspectives. The newness of the talent is causing a lot of excitement.
Backstage, since your rise over the past couple years, have you taken a mentorship role for any of these newer guys coming up? Have people started to look up to you as you’ve become the face of the company?
Absolutely not. [Laughs] Maybe they do and they don’t tell me. It’s one of those things I’m not good at. Some people thrive at like, “I want to be the leader!” That’s not my personality. My personality is like to do my own thing and let other people do their own thing. If people come up and ask me what I think I’ll let them know, but otherwise I’m not going to say, “Hey, I think you should be doing this or that or whatever.” That’s not my deal.
Do you have certain guys you do like to hang out with backstage?
Yeah. I like pretty much everybody. Some guys I like because I’ve known them for years, and some guys I like just because they’re funny, and some guys I like just because I like giving them crap. And so: Big E. If anybody is [reading] this or on Twitter, go ask Big E what he thinks about 9/11! [Laughs] Those kind of things. I really like Ryback, Cesaro and Seth Rollins, too. Heath Slater entertains me to no end as far as him as a human being. William Regal has been a mentor of mine for years. Whenever I get to see him, it’s great. Kane. Very interesting character. We’ve got a lot of fun, cool people backstage.
Do you ever follow any of the chatter about yourself online? Do you read things like message boards, Twitter and Reddit?
I guess I don’t know how, per se. I’m barely on Twitter. There’s just so much stuff on the Internet. I try to use the Internet only when I need to find out information, because anything else you just get lost in a pool of whatever. The only time I look at message boards is when I’m looking for books to read. And I have a specific site I use. I don’t even know what it is because it’s saved on my computer. It’s good books to read and people are constantly suggesting what they just read. Right now I’m reading a book called Thinking Fast and Slow. It’s really interesting, and I found that from this message board. So that’s the one thing that I do! [Laughs]