New AEW signees Bryan Danielson and Adam Cole said quite a few interesting things during their appearances at the post-All Out media scrum last night/early this morning. We’ve got some bullet point highlights from both men below.
One thing that really stood out for me with both men, however, is how positively they spoke about their former employer. From Jon Moxley to CM Punk, we’re used to ex-WWE Superstars criticizing Vince McMahon’s company and his way of doing things - usually for completely justifiable reasons! Released talents have used escaping from prison metaphors to describe their post-WWE careers so often its become a running joke among the fans.
Cole & Danielson definitely compared and contrasted the two companies and their head honchos backstage at Now Arena, and they surely will in the interviews they’ll be doing in the coming weeks. But they also talk about their WWE careers in positive terms. It’s a nice reminder that AEW isn’t so much the anti-WWE as it is the alternative to WWE that wrestlers and fans have needed for the past 20 years. It’s easiest to talk about these things in either/or terms, but the reality is we’re going to have both.
To paraphrase Danielson, PRO WRESTLING & SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT... LET’S FREAKING GO!
Adam Cole scrum notes & quotes:
- Cole was as surprised as anyone to find out his WWE contract was expiring. Says he was under the impression it ended “six months later”. He confirmed that he signed an extension to finish his NXT angle with Kyle O’Reilly, “one of my best friends in the entire world”.
- “When you think about where I was [WWE], that was my dream since I was nine years old... But I knew in my heart pretty early on that I wanted to come here [to AEW]. And it was no knock whatsoever on them. I had a very excellent four-year experience. But I wanted to come back and work with a crew who I love being around 24/7, a crew that is just as passionate about pro wrestling as I am, and fans that feel the exact same way that we do. So making the decision was a fairly easy one.”
- He’s excited for the challenge represented by AEW and its talented roster.
- Cole confirmed rumors he met with Vince prior to leaving, and said “the talk went great... the conversation was awesome; I had no bad experience with him whatsoever. He is an intimidating man who definitely commands respect in a lot of ways.”
- Asked to compare McMahon to his new boss Tony Khan, Cole put over how infectious Khan’s love of wrestling is: “I know that I love pro wrestling, but you can’t help but be more excited, and more ready to go, and more fired up when you’re around Tony.” Also says he’s “an amazing, amazing person.”
- One things he’s excited for in AEW is “the option of having conversations about different ideas”. Cole doesn’t say that WWE stifles those discussions, instead mentioning that when it comes to creativity people are afraid to sound or look stupid. That mentality doesn’t exist at AEW, and he loves that the lines of communication are open.
- Khan says Cole’s signing and plans for his debut came together over the past few days. Cole calls it his “favorite moment of all-time, seriously.” He’s had a lot of moments in his career he loved and is grateful for, but this one “was so special on so many different levels.” He was so excited he couldn’t stop shaking when he came out.
- He wants to wrestle everyone on the roster, except The Elite of course. Specifically puts over Darby Allin, MJF, and Jungle Boy, who he can’t wait to kick in the face again.
- Being able to continue his Twitch channel was “incredibly important”. Cole talks about the positivity of the community there as opposed to elsewhere online and in social media.
- Khan mentions how often Dynamite won the “War” with NXT, but says Cole was responsible for their one loss in the demo: “This guy scared the shit out of me every Wednesday.”
Bryan Danielson scrum notes & quotes:
- Danielson isn’t cocky, but he knows how good he is. After watching their roster, he came to AEW to find out how good they are. Mentions Kenny Omega, Jungle Boy, and Allin: “They’re good. I wonder how good?”
- He’s excited to be here because it’s new and fresh. “I don’t know how many of you are married or have kids. When you’re married and you have kids, your life becomes a little bit tame. I love it, but it’s a little bit tame. I need one part of my life that’s a little bit wild.”
- Bryan is here to show the world what elite really looks like. “Punk had come in and said like, ‘I want to help the young guys’ and all that kind of stuff. No man! I’m gonna kick their fucking heads in.”
- Asked about his interviews where he said he felt disconnected from the experience of main eventing WrestleMania 37, Danielson said that connect was back at All Out. The feeling still resonated when he meditated after the show.
- Brie Bella joining him in AEW would be “very difficult. It was hard for me to come here because I have so many ties within WWE. She’s happy there, she has so many business connections there, so I don’t know.”
- He loves the crowd doing the YES! chant, but he tries to respect WWE’s intellectual property out of respect for the people who work there. He’s not sure if he’ll take part, but the fans doing the chant is great. Khan interjects that he’s not sure YES! is WWE’s intellectual property.
- Everyone at AEW is more open and authentic. “That’s not a knock on the place I worked before...”
- Mentions briefly working in WWE Creative and says, “I like just wrestling.” Khan interjects to say the even though Danielson doesn’t want to mentor people and just want to kick their asses, he’s one of the best minds in the business and everyone at AEW will learn from having him around.
- The Brodie Lee tribute show was a turning point in Bryan’s thinking about AEW. “The final decision honestly was, I started thinking about things - and WWE was so gracious with me as far as the offer they gave me, they were gonna let me go do some different stuff outside. But sometimes, I hate to say this - Vince and I have a great relationship, and I love him. I do. Sometimes he’s overprotective of me, and I want to be able to push my limits. That’s one of the things that I love about this, is the physicality of what we do out there. And being able to push my limits, and being able to do that here, in a safe manner is one of the things that drew me here.”
- “And there’s also, there’s an excitement... you see the crowd... and you felt how excited people are about this product. And it feels vibrant... I want to be a part of this. But I really battled back and forth. There’s a lot of people there [WWE] that I consider family, that actually are legitimately my family, and people that I love there. So it was a really tough decision.”
- He does want to wrestle in Japan and Mexico, but because of COVID isn’t sure that’s safe right now. So his focus is going to be on AEW until it is.
- Danielson says people were clamoring for him to come to AEW because of what the existing roster already built. That’s why adding him and Punk gives you chills.
- He’s not going to get too worried about ratings, etc. His focus is on creating excellent professional wrestling. One thing he truly believes is, “you show excellent professional wrestling to anyone, and they will enjoy it. Because excellent professional wrestling is fucking awesome.”
Amen to that.