A highlight of any AEW post-PPV media scrum, at least for this writer, is an appearance by The American Dragon. Bryan Danielson thinks a lot about pro wrestling (and a lot of other things), and expresses those thoughts in interesting, engaging ways.
His time on the microphone after the Sept. 3 All Out event was no exception. There was a poetry recommendation (the works of the late Mary Oliver) and musings about work-life balance (while discussing AEW owner, president & booker Tony Khan recently telling his father to turn to Danielson for help running the company should anything happen to him, but also including a hint that Bryan might be the new star of Collision because Saturdays are better for his family’s schedule).
Danielson did say he would do almost anything to ensure AEW’s continued viability and success, stressing how important having multiple major wrestling companies is for everyone on all sides of the industry. But that’s only part of why he’s bullish on AEW despite a loud recent hiccup. The Dragon also thinks very highly of several of his wrestling colleagues, singling out three of them in his remarks.
Naturally, one was his All Out opponent, Ricky Starks. Danielson said he was fully cleared by both AEW medical and an outside surgeon to return from the fractured forearm he suffered at Forbidden Door in June, but admitted there was a lot of “smoke and mirrors” involved in the Strap Match with Starks at the United Center. One example he gave was that he never threw a strike with his right arm (the one broken against Kazuchika Okada). Beyond that, he gave credit to Absolute:
“So one, I had an excellent opponent tonight. And I think every time people see Ricky Starks, every time Ricky Starks gets an opportunity, he knocks it out of the park. And I will be the first one to say — and this is outside of like, within our stories and what we do — he carried me through that match tonight.
“And I’m good at certain things — I mean, I’m good at a decent amount of things, and I’m confident in saying that. I can fire up, I can do all these things, but he was the one who carried me through that match. And so I’m just — that’s what I’m gonna say.”
The Dragon returned to praising Starks when asked about the WrestleMania 13-esque finish of their match:
“One of the things that we to in the Blackpool Combat Club is — we like to test people. We like to push people. And part of that is story, and part of that is real. And I have never wrestled Ricky Starks before. Never. We’ve never touched, we’ve never done anything. I’ve always watched him, and I thought, every time I see him, ‘This guy is a star!’ He did that interview last night [on Collision] before I came out. And I was watching. And when he started talking about Big Bill, he also gets it. He’s talking great, he’s helped Big Bill in that thing. And he didn’t have to.
“And so anyways, I wanted to see, ‘Okay, I’ve seen him. I’ve watched him.’ And this is my thing with a lot of people that I’ve seen and watched, I think, ‘I think this guy is good. Let me see how good he is.’ And also, certain wrestlers don’t like some of the intensity I bring [laughs]. When you’re in a situation like that, some people wilt and some people fire up. He fired up. And the end of that match is a representation of him being a gutsy performer. Let’s change him from just — I’m hoping fans see him in a way now that, ‘Okay, he’s very entertaining and he’s good at that. But he’s also gutsy.’”
Starks wasn’t the only person on the card in Chicago last night who earned top marks from someone many consider to be the best pro wrestler on the planet. In fact, Danielson said the main event featured the person he currently considers to be deserving of that accolade... and the runner-up:
“When you go out there and do what Mox and Orange Cassidy did in the main event, after all the great wrestling before that, I think it’s very hard to argue that Jon Moxley is not the best wrestler in the world — and there was a time when I would have said that about myself. But I find it very hard to argue that Jon Moxley’s not the best. And one of the only arguments against that might be Orange Cassidy...
“... around the monitor during that main event with Mox and Orange Cassidy, I was around at least six people going, ‘Awww!’ And to get wrestlers, who see everything, to go ‘Awww! Awww!’ There was one thing, and I can’t remember quite what it was — I was eating an apple. I was eating an apple and went, ‘Awww!’ [makes choking noise] and I had to run to the other side because I was choking on this apple and spitting it out [causing people to ask] ‘Are you okay? Are you okay?’ But, like — it was great.”
High praise from one of the best to ever do it. And that apple anecdote? Classic Bryan Danielson.
You can watch the entire All Out 2023 media scrum here.