WWE claims that they are ‘sports entertainment,’ to use their specific term. This rubs many pro wrestling fans (and pro wrestlers) the wrong way and has for a long time. WWE has always been more of a soap opera in scope, dare I say it, and yes even dating back to the Golden Era.
If you doubt that, please think back to the Mega Powers (Hogan and Macho Man) breakup and subsequent storyline based solely on jealousy that Macho Man had for Hulk Hogan and his caring for Miss Elizabeth. Some in the biz would have us believe that this stemmed from real life heat, but Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth aren’t around to speak for themselves, so we can’t say for sure.
But over the years, the WWE product became based primarily on character, gimmick and storyline, as opposed to hard-hitting professional wrestling matches of a technical sort; this despite the fact that they had many technical pro wrestlers on their roster over the years at a given time…wrestlers like Bryan Danielson himself.
Danielson left the company after his appearance at WrestleMania 37, just last year…he and Edge being defeated by Roman Reigns…a man that does not at all represent the hard-working pro wrestlers on the indie circuit, many feel…wrestlers such as Danielson himself and his contemporaries.
When Danielson finally decided to join with AEW, because of how the death and dedication episode to Brodie Lee was handled, Danielson said he came to the company to finally be able to ‘wrestle,’ which was indicative about how he felt, but words he has recently spoken shed further light on the way he feels about the WWE product overall. It was while he spoke to The Masked Man Show that he said:
“I just think (AEW) embrace the idea of being professional wrestling is the real difference. And WWE is trying to be more generalized entertainment. Try to get it as, try to get it like, the masses involved in, ‘How do we get the masses involved in whatever this is?’ Right, to this thing. It’s weird. Sometimes I would get the sense that they, people wouldn’t; they don’t want to be professional wrestling…
They would like to be something else entirely, you know, that’s kind of the switch away from, pro wrestling is this other thing, this dirty thing, this low rent thing, and what we do is something completely different, whereas AEW embraces the history of professional wrestling.”via The Masked Man Show / Wrestling Inc. (Transcription)
Danielson cut his teeth on the indie circuit and in Japan. Wrestlers who have the kind of experience he has had generally don’t do well on the WWE platform, but Danielson flourished and succeeded at collecting many major titles, including the WWE Championship a total of 4 times and a World Heavyweight Championship reign, including so many other prominent titles along the way.
And he was dealt his fare share of blows…soap opera-style storylines and a forced retirement which was WWE’s way of protecting themselves more than they were protecting him.
Regardless, he should be proud of his accomplishments on their stage, but in AEW, he is showcasing the skills he put forth on the indie circuit and in ROH and in Japan, and his matches have been nothing short of phenomenal. I hope to see him covered in AEW gold and hopefully sooner rather than later.