What a moment.
With the crowd’s approval, WWE “SmackDown Live” General Manager Daniel Bryan is in the ring -- and to his right, he is proudly hoisting the arm of WWE World champ Dean Ambrose -- and to his left, he is gladly holding the arm equally high of No.1 contender Dolph Ziggler.
The Lunatic Fringe vs. The Show-Off.
That is just one of many stellar matchups for a super SummerSlam line-up at 7 p.m. ET Sunday, Aug. 21 live on WWE Network from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“I think it’s going to be an awesome night of wrestling,” Bryan said. “I’m super excited. The match I really hope is going to steal the show is Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler, obviously. It’s the WWE World championship match. Since they’re on ‘SmackDown Live’ and that’s the SmackDown championship match, that’s the one I want people to remember.”
Several more could also stick in people’s minds.
Bryan continued: “Even the Raw Universal championship match, Seth Rollins and Finn Balor, that’s going to be an amazing match. AJ Styles and John Cena, that’s going to be awesome. Brock Lesnar [with Paul Heyman] and Randy Orton is going to be crazy [and more]. All these matches and the Brooklyn crowd is always fun and loud; so it should be great.”
Because of concussions, coupled with the wear-n-tear on his body, Bryan had to retire from in-ring action. After taking time to accept that summation, he focused on the next phase of his life.
“I had been accepted into the Sustainable Biology & Ecology Program at ASU [Arizona State University], and I had signed up for a Permaculture Design Course on Orcas Island [Washington], which is one of the best permaculture design courses in the world,” he said.
Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered on simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. The word permaculture originally referred to permanent agriculture but was expanded to also stand for permanent culture, as it was understood that social aspects were integral to a truly sustainable system as inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farming philosophy.
Daniel Bryan, 35, and his lovely wife, WWE Ambassador Brie Bella, believe in the philosophy.
Professor Bill Mollison, the co-father of permaculture as a systematic method, noted it is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system.
Ready to venture into this new discipline, WWE came a calling again, and Bryan accepted an offer to become the new general manager of WWE “SmackDown Live” on the USA Network.
“Unfortunately, [now] I’m not going to do either of those [Sustainable Biology & Ecology Program at ASU and Permaculture Design Course on Orcas Island],” he said. “I may be able to take some classes but not the full-time schedule I was planning on at ASU, because of being drawn back into this GM role.
“It’s great because I love being around wrestling, but also if you’re trying to get away from wrestling, it’s really hard [laughs].”
Through the ups and downs, his support system is outstanding.
“Brie has been so supportive,” Bryan said. “She bears with me, when I’m like, ‘[The heck with] it. I just want to quit and go wrestle somewhere.’”
As for when Bryan decides to go the college route, WWE will pay for it. One of the perks working for the company.
“That is awesome,” Bryan said.
Bryan is also the color commentator for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic on WWE Network, working alongside play-by-play man Mauro Ranallo.
What is life like after your in-ring career?
“It’s had its ups and downs,” he admitted. “I love the stuff that I’m doing now. Announcing for the Cruiserweight Classic is so much fun. Mauro Ranallo is the best to work with, and I’m getting to call some truly amazing matches. Being the SmackDown GM is fun, too, but sometimes it’s hard being around it and not being able to wrestle.”
Bryan said the WWE Cruiserweight Classic matches that aired on Wednesday [Aug. 10] on WWE Network “was the best 45 minutes of television that you could possibly ask for. Between Tajiri wrestling Gran Metalik and Kota Ibushi and Cedric Alexander, it was incredible. Kota Ibushi and Cedric Alexander are great. I’d like to have either of those guys on SmackDown Live. Brian Kendrick, who’s been my good friend for years, he’s great. TJ Perkins, Tajiri, Gran Metalik, there’s all these guys who are so good.”
Bryan, the wrestler, would fit right in.
Though his wrestling days are behind him, the ‘Yes’ movement continues with a rare snag.
“They wanted me to go do the ‘Yes’ chant at a Phoenix Suns game,” Bryan told. “They’re like, ‘Oh yeah, it’ll be great. You go out before tip-off and do the ‘Yes’ chant.’ I’m like, ‘I’m not sure these people know about the ‘Yes’ chant.’ They said, ‘No, no, no. It’ll be great. We’re going to pre-condition them to do the ‘Yes’ chant. It’ll be great.’
“I went out there, and I started ‘Yesing,’ and there’s like 12 people in the crowd who are ‘Yesing.’ They’re super excited, and the rest are like, ‘Who is this guy?’ This is literally right before tip-off, and the players are out there on the court. The referees come up to me and start yelling [gruff voice] ‘Get off the court. Get off the court’ [chuckles] It was so embarrassing.”
An anomaly in Phoenix for sure.
Thanks to ‘Yes,’ Bryan not only became one of the biggest superstars in WWE history but made a mainstream mark in the sports world as Major League Baseball teams, the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer, National Hockey League teams, NCAA basketball teams and ‘Yes’ even the National Basketball Association (sans the Phoenix Suns) embraced the ‘Yes’ movement.
“Just being a part of the [San Francisco] Giants World Series run in 2014; that was crazy to me,” Bryan said. “[Giants outfielder] Hunter Pence really got the Giants to do the ‘Yes’ chants -- teammates, all the crowd, everyone -- so much so that they had me got out on the field and do it for a playoff game, doing the ‘Play Ball,’ and then I was a part of the Giants World Series Parade.
“It was crazy. They just had me on a float, and they just had me chanting ‘Yes.’ That’s what they wanted. That to me is surreal. Here are the World Series champions, and they’re doing something that I kind of popularized.”
Is the ‘Yes’ chant bigger than Stone Cold Steve Austin’s ‘What?’
“It’s hard to say,” Bryan said. “I think ‘What?’ has more time under its belt. One of the nice things about [Yes] is that it’s a great way for fans to show excitement, even when it’s unrelated to me. When fans get a match they want or when they see something they really like, they start chanting ‘Yes,’ because it’s fun, and I think that’s really cool.”
- WWE SummerSlam in Brooklyn
WWE SummerSlam is live on WWE Network at 7 p.m. ET Sunday, Aug. 21 from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Dean Ambrose faces Dolph Ziggler in a title match.
The inaugural WWE Universal Champion will be crowned when Seth Rollins battles Finn Balor.
WWE Women’s Champ Sasha Banks defends the belt against former champ Charlotte.
The Beast Incarnate Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman vs. The Viper Randy Orton.
John Cena vs. AJ Styles.
WWE Tag Champs The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson.
WWE Intercontinental champ The Miz with Maryse faces Apollo Crews.
WWE U.S. champ Rusev with Lana against Roman Reigns.
The Professional Cesaro vs. the Celtic Warrior Sheamus.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens.
Carmella, Becky Lynch and Naomi vs. Natalya and Alexa Bliss.
- SmackDown Live
WWE “SmackDown Live” is 8 p.m. Tuesdays on USA Network.
- About WWE
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WWE programming reaches more than 650 million homes worldwide in 35 languages. WWE Network, the first-ever 24/7 over-the-top premium network that includes all 12 live pay-per-views, scheduled programming and a massive video-on-demand library, is currently available in more than 170 countries. The company is headquartered in Stamford, Conn., with offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Mexico City, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore, Dubai, Munich and Tokyo.
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