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Daniel Bryan Comments on His Current WWE Schedule, Heel Persona and Concussion Protocol

It’s Royal Rumble weekend, so a lot of WWE superstars are doing interviews to promote the event. One of the better articles/interviews was on ESPN about Daniel Bryan. In the interview, Bryan talked his incredible comeback after losing three years of his career due to a concussion and his heel turn late last year that led to him becoming WWE Champion. Bryan signed a new long-term contract with WWE late last year that will see him work a reduced schedule that gives him some weekends off to spend time with his young daughter Birdie. Here are some excerpts from that interview.

Bryan talking about his reduced schedule that will see him wrestle about 120 matches in a year instead of the 227 matches that he had in 2013:

“I think the schedule that I’m on now is pretty much the schedule that I’ll stick to, if not even a little bit lighter as I get older. I’m 37 now, I’ll be 38 this year, and all this takes a toll on your body. I love wrestling, like love, love, love wrestling, and anyone who knows me knows I love wrestling — but it’s no longer the No. 1 love of my life. I want to be able to spend time with my family, I want to be able to take a vacation, I want to be able to do some of those fun things. I envision it being this schedule or lighter, probably, from here on out.”

Bryan commented on concussions:

“The big concern with concussions is that, this has happened to me in the past, you don’t know you had a concussion and your instinct as an athlete is to say, ‘Hey, I’m fine. What we do now ensures that doesn’t happen.”

Bryan spoke about the process of concussion protocol where he gets checked on by a doctor after every match:

“It’s still pretty much the same, but we’re working on loosening it up a little bit because our doctors do have to look after other people, right? So it’s like, I go out, I do a match and I’m fine and they’re having to do all these tests with me, so we’re working on loosening that up a little bit. But that’s more of a thing as far as getting everything legally to where we could do that sort of thing.”

Bryan also commented on his new heel persona and why he felt the need to change:

“It’s interesting, because it’s coming from this idea that when I came back, I really felt this pressure to be the Daniel Bryan that everybody used to know. I had moved on from that mentally. When I was an active wrestler, my style evolved over time and one of the things I really enjoy about the craft of wrestling is that my character, my style, everything changes over time as I see what works and what doesn’t work.”

“When I came back, it was almost like my style and my character were stuck in 2014, which at this point is almost five years ago. I came back and I really felt that. I really want to change. There are these expectations that fans have of me, that the company has of me, that they want the video shots of everybody chanting, ‘YES,’ and I was sick of those expectations. Doing what I’m doing now allows me to wrestle and present myself in a way that excites me — and that really keeps me mentally invested in what I’m doing.”

That’s just some of what he said in the interview. To read the whole thing, check out the interview on ESPN here.

TJR Thoughts: I really like what he said there at the end about knowing he needed to change his character. He’s right that what worked in 2014 wasn’t going to work the same today, so the fact that he was smart enough to know he had to turn heel and he’s doing some of his best work ever is an example of how talented Bryan is. Bryan is one of the best in-ring workers ever, but what impresses me so much is that he’s developed so much in other areas that he has become one of the best talkers in WWE as well.

The video I posted above from this week’s Smackdown is an example of how well Bryan has developed as a talker and also a confident heel. I’m very happy he’s doing his thing in the ring while also getting to spend more time at home.