[TAIPEI] WWE superstar Daniel Bryan's career trajectory resembles that of a rollercoaster's.
From toiling the independent professional wrestling circuit to getting fired soon after gaining a WWE contract, to getting rehired and winning the WWE championship four years ago at Wrestlemania 30, the 37-year-old Washington native has seen and done it all.
Another low soon followed, as he was forced to retire from the ring two years ago due to brain lesions. Then, in a surprise move earlier this year, Bryan was given the all-clear by his doctors and he made his in-ring comeback in the very same arena he won the WWE World Heavyweight championship, the New Orleans Superdome, at Wrestlemania 34 in April this year.
This time round, he's aiming to be the best wrestler he possibly can.
"When you look at martial arts on a spectrum and if you look at MMA (mixed martial arts) as the most combative part of it, I look at what we do as the most artistic part of it, very similar to kung fu movies. My idea is to become the best artist I can be, within the field of what we do," said Bryan in a recent interview in Taipei, where a Smackdown Live event was held.
"The drive is always to do something better. I want to create a performance next that's better than any performance I've ever done. And when you talk about that, you talk about the high points of my career like main-eventing Wrestlemania 30. That's the highest you can really get. How do you create things that are as creatively, mentally and emotionally satisfying as that? And that is what I am in the pursuit of," he explained.
To reduce the likelihood of concussions to his head, he has had to modify his in-ring style.
"There are things I’ve taken out and things I’ve added in. I’m slowly and surely doing a more mat-based wrestling style. I started to use a heel hook to beat people, grounding my style a little bit more while keeping it exciting," he said.
Bryan is currently in negotiations regarding his WWE contract, which expires on Sept 1.
"The wrestling world is an interesting world right now," he mused, "but I love working with WWE and my wife (Brie Bella) is a part of WWE and so there’s a good chance I’ll re-sign."
Despite his vast experience in the ring, Bryan has not been approached for advice by younger wrestlers on the roster.
"It's weird. We actually don't have many young guys on Smackdown. Most of them are in their 30s," he laughed.
"Almost everyone with the exception of Andrade ('Cien' Almas) are in their 30s and Andrade has been wresting since he was 15 years old. When you wrestle with people, you learn from wrestling with them and when you talk to people, you're learning without specifically coming up to somebody and saying, 'hey, what do you think about this?' Just within the process of wrestlers talking, we're learning about each other's ideas, about what we are doing, and doing matches with each other. I think everyone is constantly learning within our industry."
On Monday morning (July 16), he will join forces once again with veteran wrestler Kane to face the Bludgeon Brothers for the Smackdown Tag Team championship.
“I love teaming with Kane. When we were tag team champions in the past, that was really one of the most fun parts of my career and so I'm looking forward to getting back with him and doing it."
Catch Daniel Bryan on WWE Extreme Rules at 7am on Monday July 16 (Singapore time) on the WWE Network, or on StarHub's Video on Demand from 10pm onwards.
Smackdown Live airs every Wednesday at 8am on StarHub, Hub Sports 2 (Ch 202).