Why did Bryan Danielson join AEW? 'It looks like a lot of fun'


“There are a lot of very complicated decisions that aren’t great sound bites, but AEW seems like a lot of fun, and there are a lot of matches like the one I have tomorrow that I looked at and wanted to have.”

Those are the words of Bryan Danielson, one of the newest members of the All Elite Wrestling roster, talking with Moose & Maggie on WFAN Tuesday about his decision to leave WWE and join AEW.

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Danielson will face AEW Champion Kenny Omega in a non-title match on Wednesday’s episode of AEW Dynamite, emanating from Arthur Ashe Stadium at the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center in Queens.

It’s the first event of its kind at Ashe and a very unique moment for AEW, who is in the midst of a Tri-State area run, but won’t be the first time Danielson and Omega meet – and Bryan hopes it can be a momentum shifter for AEW.

“Kenny and I have wrestled before, a long time ago, and he wasn’t were he’s at now. I watch all sorts of wrestling, and I’ve watched what he did in Japan and it was awesome. He was doing some of the best wrestling in the world, and when I came to AEW I said ‘this is the match I want,’” Danielson said. “Doing it at Arthur Ashe Stadium feels like it could be a huge momentum shift for AEW.”

Danielson’s departure from WWE was very hard for him, as he revealed to Moose & Maggie, so much so that he wanted to show how much he appreciated his time there – which is why he put out an article in the Players’ Tribune thanking WWE.

“I just felt like I needed to say thank you to WWE publicly, because not only the people within WWE, but the WWE fan base, some of them may have felt a little betrayed,” he said. “There is a level of tribalism in wrestling, and I wanted to transcend that, because I had many incredible moments, and I wasn’t able to say goodbye to a lot of people that I love behind the scenes, good people you form great relationships with from spending so much time with them – like the catering people who specifically made vegan meals for me for years and years! The hard thing was my loyalty to Vince McMahon; I love him and he’s done so much for me and my family, and that was the hard thing.”

When it came to the decision to go to AEW, Danielson said Tony Khan didn’t have to convince him, per se, as he weighed a lot of options – including taking some time off to spend more time with his four-year-old daughter, Birdie, and one-year-old son, Buddy.

“A lot of people think in terms of two options – but I could’ve done an independent schedule, or not come back to wrestling at all for a bit,” Danielson said. “But, I wanted to take the summer off because my daughter started preschool. Her whole life, I’ve left almost every week, but me being home every night, she loved it and I loved it. Now, when I FaceTime her, she’s like, ‘daddy, I miss your cuddles, mama doesn’t cuddle me like you do!’ and that kind of stuff. That was part of the idea of maybe stepping away until my son starts preschool, but then you wonder if I’m missing years of my productive career, and I might not be the same at 45 as I am at 40.”

Danielson is one of quite a few high-profile additions to the AEW roster of late, another being CM Punk – and having known Punk for many years, and now before, during, and after their WWE stints, he can see the difference in his fellow veteran fan favorite.

“I think we’ll work really well together, but even if I didn’t come to AEW, Punk would’ve been successful there, and here’s how I know: I first met him an at independent show in New Jersey years ago, and he fractured his skull that night, but his passion for wrestling was easy to see,” Danielson said. “I’d see him in WWE and it just wasn’t the same guy. Now I see him in AEW and he’s so happy, and you see an energy about him that bleeds through again.”

Together, Danielson and Punk can be two of those veterans who help set the tone while working with the plethora of young talent in AEW.

“I liked the WWE locker room, and thought it was fun, but AEW has a lot more younger people, and to name one person (he’d like to work with) is to leave out so many people,” Danielson said. “When I look at the youth in AEW, there’s people like Darby Allin, MJF, and Jungle Boy who have already had great success, but there are also people like Dante Martin, who is 20 years old and does some things I’ve never seen before, or Daniel Garcia, who is a very technical-based wrestler who reminds me of myself at that age!”

And, hopefully, fans will be able to enjoy both AEW and WWE, as well as any other wrestling content they choose to consume…but secretly, inside, Danielson truly is All Elite.

“I’m sure there’s competition, especially at a higher business level, and eventually, it will go the other way where someone who feels underutilized in AEW will go to WWE and show what they can do,” Danielson said, “but of course, if I see someone do something incredible in WWE, I’m going to want to do something better!”

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Featured Image Photo Credit: All Elite Wrestling