To say that it’s been a turbulent year for Daniel Bryan would be an understatement.
Heading into 2014, the fans were firmly behind the WWE superstar but he set to be in a top match at WrestleMania 30. But that changed quickly. CM Punk quit the company and Batista, who the company had pegged for being in the championship match at the big event, wasn’t getting the reaction management was hoping for.
Instead, the fans were behind Daniel Bryan. There was a groundswell of support for the leader of the “YES” movement, so much so that the WWE couldn’t ignore it anymore. And so, he had the biggest day of his professional career at WrestleMania 30, defeating Triple H and then going on to beat both Randy Orton and Batista in a triple-threat match in the main event and become the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
It that was enough of a fairytale, Bryan was married less than a week later to WWE diva Brie Bella. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse upon their return from their honeymoon with the news that his father had suddenly passed away.
Then a few weeks later, he had to undergo surgery to repair a nerve injury in his neck. It was thought that he would be sidelined for at most a couple of months but that wasn’t the case. Instead, he could not get strength back in his right arm and was stripped of his championship.
Despite the injury, that didn’t stop him from chasing down one of two burglars who broke into his Phoenix home one afternoon while he and his wife were returning from Comic-Con. The other has since been arrested as well.
Even now, Bryan is still out of action as he works towards a comeback which he is hoping comes sooner than later.
I recently caught up with Bryan at the WWE 2K15 video game press event in Los Angeles to talk about the new game, what he is doing to fill his days and the latest on his injury, his topsy-turvy year and more.
You’re in the new WWE 2K15 game along with plenty of other WWE superstars. What are your thoughts on the game?
It’s unbelievable. I was playing it upstairs and I’m not a video game person but I played Cesaro vs. Goldust. And Goldust coming out, it’s literally like when he comes out, all the little folds in his gear, his body suit, they get all of that. It’s unbelievable and the movement and all of that. I literally can’t believe what I’m looking at.
Did you get a chance to look at some of the different characters and were there others that stood out besides Goldust?
Well, Goldust was my favorite. To get him that right with the full body suit and the paint and all that kind of stuff, it’s got to be really difficult and they nailed it. It was just so much fun. Even you guys saw John Cena’s entrance, like, it’s exactly how John Cena runs. I don’t know if they go John to do the motion capture but that’s how John runs. It’s really cool.
Let’s talk about you a little bit. What have you been doing in your downtime lately?
I’ve only been doing physical therapy. It’s crazy. I do physical therapy all day, every day.
And chase down people that are robbing you.
(laughs) And then on top of that, I’m writing an autobiography right now so when I get home. Ok, I take the dog to doggy day care, I do physical therapy all day, I pick the dog up from doggy day care and then I sit down and write. So my days are pretty filled.
How is your dog doing after the break-in?
She’s recovered really well. When we first got in, she was hiding in the bathroom and actually peed on the floor. And she was hiding behind the toilet so she must have been really scared. She’s just a little French bulldog but she’s great and she’s fun. I was actually freaked out because I have no strength in my right arm and I was over at her mom’s house, Brie’s mom’s house, and she jumped in the pool. French bulldogs notoriously can’t swim so she starts sinking. I can’t barely swim myself when I have both arms good so I jump in fully clothed and so that freaked her out too. (laughs)
What has this year been like for you because there have been so many ups and downs?
Yeah, it been tough just because there’s been some really good things and there’s been some really bad things. When my father had passed away, that was literally, probably the hardest day of my life. But a lot of people can relate to that. I’m not alone in mourning the loss of my father. That’s something that everybody goes through. But that kind of stuff is just sad. The neck injury has been, it’s been a little bit demoralizing but I look at it and think I’ve been in wrestling for 15 years and this is my first major surgery so I’m doing OK. But just the timing of it wasn’t my favorite. I wish I could have kept the title until I lost it and then got the surgery but it didn’t turn out that way.
So what is the latest on the injury? Are you going to have another surgery or is that still up in the air?
It’s still up in the air. I was scheduled for a surgery on Tuesday but then they called me last week and said they want to do more testing before they do a surgery which is good in one sense. I don’t want to do the surgery if I don’t need it but likewise, if I need the surgery, let’s get it done as soon as possible because that’s going to be at least another three months.
Are you worried whenever that time is when you finally get healthy and you come back, you were on such a hot streak before you were injury, about trying to get that back?
I don’t worry about it. I’m not phased by stuff like that. I just think that … I’m not worried about the fans not being there. If they are, they are. I’m fortunate to be able to go out there. I just love wrestling. So if the crowd completely hates me when I get back, they I’m like OK, I’ll do something else.
When that time comes that you can get back out there, how much would you like to get in the ring with Brock Lesnar?
Brock Lesnar is, right now, out of all the WWE superstars currently active, Brock Lesnar is the one that I want. That’s the match that I want. I think that match would be something different than the WWE Universe has ever seen. So, yeah, that’s the match that I’m gunning for.