‘Cheap Heat’ Podcast: Daniel Bryan on His Hazy Medical Status and His Future in WWE


The Daniel Bryan saga continues!

It’s not exactly the Authority trying to steal the title from Bryan, but it’s close. On the latest episode of Cheap Heat, Bryan reveals that his personal doctor has approved him for full contact, but that the WWE’s doctor won’t approve his return to the ring. It evokes memories of WrestleMania 30, when even after Bryan won the main event, the question remained: How much of his rise to the top was planned by WWE, and how much of it was due to fans forcing WWE’s hand? Bryan answers that question too. There’s more — his real-life relationship with John Cena, watching his wife, Brie Bella, work, and how Bryan Danielson became a WWE wrestler.

Listen on ESPN Podcenter, and check out a clip of Bryan talking about WWE trying to convince him not to wrestle, as well as his experience at WrestleMania. Take a look at Bryan’s new memoir here.

Below is an edited excerpt from the interview.

I know everybody that is listening to this right now, their first question is, how are you feeling? And what is the future looking like for you, in and out of the ring?

Well the thing is I feel great. Like I literally — I feel awesome. But the whole problem with a lot of this process is getting cleared by the doctors. Right now, the deal is that I’ve been cleared by one doctor in Phoenix, but the WWE doctor is hesitant to clear me. And so, it’s just a very complicated situation that I guess they don’t want me really talking about.

In my opinion, you were elevating the title you had anyway, so I felt you should’ve been like a Ric Flair, intercontinental champion, where you don’t have to even defend the title — you just walk around with the title. And while you’re injured, you’re still on television. Obviously, that’s not what ended up happening, and then I see that they still were using you. You came out again, you appeared here and there, you appeared with Ryback and now you’re hosting Tough Enough. So in one sense, I’m like, ‘Yay, I love that Daniel Bryan’s still on television,’ and then in another sense, I’m thinking, ‘Well is that a bad sign? Is that a sign that he’s not going to be coming back, so let’s adjust to the life that we are going to have with Daniel Bryan?’ But you would say that’s not the case either, it’s just that they wanted to keep you on TV.

I think from their perspective, that is what they were thinking, yes. You’ll see on Total Divas, as Total Divas evolves, because this whole process was happening as they were filming this season for Total Divas. So it’s pretty crazy, actually, because I had a meeting with Vince [McMahon] and [Triple H] at the last second. It was super weird. So it was the pay-per-view, it must have been Money in the Bank. And so the pay-per-view was on a Sunday, I hadn’t heard anything about me being needed for it or anything like that. I’m working out on a Saturday, right? I had just met with the WWE doctor the previous Monday. And I was working out on the Saturday, I get home, I’m just checking my email because I was booking a flight for Dusty Rhodes’s funeral and I needed my frequent flyer mile number. So I don’t check my email very often, unless there’s something there …

You don’t say? I didn’t think you were a …

Yeah, and so I’m checking it, and I see this thing from the travel department of WWE, and it says ‘flight to Columbus, Ohio,’ which I think is where it was. And I check it and it was for 10:30 that morning, and it was 1:30 p.m. Nobody had told me that I was booked on this flight that was three hours earlier. And I’m like ahh … so then I call the travel department, I’m like, ‘I’m sorry, I missed this flight. Nobody told me I was needed. Do you know why I’m needed?’ ‘No, I don’t know.’ I text the writers: ‘Hey, do you know why I’m needed for this pay-per-view?’ ‘No, we didn’t say you were needed.’ And then I started kind of to put two and two together, right? It’s just one of those things where … it’s a very complex issue. At first, I’m pretty sure that they were of the opinion that they didn’t want me to wrestle anymore.

Any chance that your old compadre CM Punk made this more complicated?

I don’t know. A lot of issues have made this more complicated — more complicated than it needs to be. … It’s a blessing and a curse, you know, all of it. But they are looking out for my best interest.

What’s the blessing part? The looking out for your best interests?

Yes. No, as far as the situation. It’s no longer the days of old where it’s like, hey, if something happens you’ve just got to tough it out. No, we’re legitimately looking out for your best interest. … This isn’t just like, ‘We’re holding Daniel Bryan off because we don’t want him to come back or whatever.’ No, I make the company money, right? They want me to wrestle. You know? So it’s, ‘We’re looking out for this performer’s best interest, and so we’re trying to do what’s best for him.’ But there’s mixed opinions on what’s best for me. And, to me, you get one life and this is what I’m passionate about doing. And if there is one doctor who is, like, the Super Bowl neurologist —he’s excellent at what he does — and he says, ‘No, I have no problems clearing you with no limitations,’ then I don’t see why I can’t.


Everybody who’s listening to this remembers your big run to the championship at WrestleMania. An ongoing source of dispute among wrestling fans is how much of that was planned for how many months, and how much of it was just reacting to the crowd on the fly?

Fell into our laps? Yeah.

There was a show at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in the run-up, and you didn’t even appear. And everybody was just like, oh, they’re burying him again. And then I think I talked to somebody who talked to you that said you were like, ‘Oh no no no, this is how we get heat. You know, we have to keep kind of working the crowd in a certain way.’ Tell me a brief version of that story and what was going through your head during those months.

OK, so the reality of it is — and I talk about this in the book — I was never supposed to main event WrestleMania. That was never the plan. You know? It’s just something that fell into my lap because of certain situations. They brought in Batista, hoping he was going to be this big, huge good guy — that everybody was going to love him, and they just didn’t.

He became Boo-tista.

Yeah, he became Boo-tista.

Which I loved — I ended up loving it, eventually.

Yeah, I loved it, too, and especially when it transferred into Blue-tista, it was just like the funniest thing. And then Punk quit, and then all of a sudden it’s just like, hey, we have this main event for WrestleMania that the fans are going to hate. And we also don’t have a match for Triple H. So it’s like, what’s the solution to this? Bing bing, here I am.

How far in advance do you think that … I mean, was that solution presented to you?

Not until a couple weeks after Punk quit, so it was just a maybe as far as the triple-threat match. I think the idea was, well, it does make a good story for me to go against [Triple H] at WrestleMania. Because he’s the guy that’s been holding me back this whole time. But you also have to keep in mind, they don’t keep me abreast of things. I am not like John Cena, who I’m sure they talk with all the time about what he’s doing and that sort of thing. They don’t feel the need to confer with me about what I’m doing.

Filed Under: Grantland Network, Podcasts, Cheap Heat, WWE, Pro Wrestling, Daniel Bryan, David Shoemaker