“I honestly at the time wasn't worried about it," Bryan said. "It was a huge moment on WWE programming. Then they fire me for being what was reported on the internet for not being PG. As far as independent bookings go, there is nothing that can make me more marketable than that. [WWE] apologized and said they had sponsors they had to deal with and whatnot. And I said don't worry about me, I'm probably going to make more money this year than I did the last year when I was on NXT. I had people from Japan calling me, I had TNA people talking to me, not directly, but through other people. It was just a fascinating time for me in my career.”
As might be indicative in his offensive arsenal in the ring, Bryan is not only a fan of MMA, but also a practitioner. Bryan trains in MMA at Xtreme Couture near his home in Las Vegas. His roommate is Neil Melanson, who is the gym's head grappling trainer.
As it turns out, Bryan is now a colleague of a former UFC Heavyweight Champion returning to the WWE in Brock Lesnar, who meets John Cena in the main event in an Extreme Rules match Sunday. In recent vignettes leading up to the pay-per-view, Lesnar has said he will “legitimize” WWE, calling Cena “fake.” Bryan is intrigued.
“It will be interesting to see how Extreme Rules [performs] as far as pay-per-view buys to see if that part of it is really connected with the audience," Bryan said. "I know the reactions in the live crowd when Brock Lesnar has been there, it's been incredible. From a performer's standpoint, I'm very, very interested to see where it goes. It's peaked my interest.”
While Bryan originally sought training at Texas Wrestling Academy, led by Shawn Michaels and Rudy Gonzalez, Bryan credits William Regal as being instrumental in the development of his career. The pair had a match in 2011 on Superstars where, during Regal's entrance to the ring, his villainous/arrogant entrance music mysteriously switched to his old “Real Man's Man” campy tough-guy theme. Bryan insists with a chuckle he wasn't in on the rib.
“I did not have anything to do with that, nor did I know it was going to happen," Bryan said. "I was in the ring, and my entrance was first, and he comes in the ring and then they busted the 'Man's Man' music and he starts laughing, I start laughing. And William Regal is probably the most professional man you will ever meet. You don't see him crack much, and he's been in some really funny segments, where 99 percent of the people would crack, That got him. So that was pretty cool.”
Bryan has a Twitter account, @WWEDanielBryan. At one point, being inspired by Zack Ryder and his Z! True Long Island Story YouTube video series, Bryan attempted to create a splash on YouTube of his own. Admittedly, it's didn't really go as planned.
“[WWE was] on this big kick on us using social media and at the time I wasn't really doing anything on TV," Bryan said. "I just had a website built and my website lady said you should do a YouTube channel. The idea was that I would do mostly training videos, kind of like Dean Malenko, the way he was introduced to WCW, where he would go in there and show a hold each week and each week it would get more progressively more violent. I thought it was a cool principal. And then my idea also was to put it in funny music so at the end it would be kinda funny. But we did a couple of takes and it just wasn't very entertaining.”
In one tongue-in-cheek video, Bryan promised to “bury” fellow WWE Superstars. “I never ended up burying anybody,” Bryan admits with a laugh.
Bryan will face Sheamus in a 2-out-of-3 falls match for the World Heavyweight Championship this Sunday at WWE Extreme Rules. In the main event, Brock Lesnar meets John Cena in an Extreme Rules match, while Chris Jericho meets CM Punk for the WWE Championship in a Chicago Street Fight. The action begins at 7:30pm ET on WWE's YouTube channel, where a free pre-PPV U.S. title match between Santino Marella and the Miz will be shown.
Arda Ocal is an on-air personality for theScore Television Network. Watch his recent 1-on-1 video interviews with Roddy Piper, DDP, JJ Dillon, Rick Martel, Jimmy Hart and “Mean” Gene Okerlund here: