USAirwaysCenter.com: Looking back to your early meetings, who did you think would make it furthest? Who had the best chance of making it big?
Bryan: Here’s the thing. Nobody thought I had any marketable skills whatsoever (laughs). I always a very good wrestler, but when you looked at me or talked to me, you would think, “Wow, this guy is very bland. He’s not someone who would catch on with the mass audiences of the WWE Universe.” But CM Punk has always had that edge. He’s always had this personality that you either hated or you loved. Personality wise, people could see that he had something and that he could make it.
USAirwaysCenter.com: You’ve, obviously, come a long way. You’ve got a lot of fans, who chant “YES! YES! YES!” along with you now, as well as lot of fans who love to hate you. What does it mean to you to have captured their appreciation or their attention?
Bryan: It means a lot to me, because I feel like for the most part, I’ve done it through wrestling. I’ve never been a big personality guy. I mean, when you think of a guy like The Rock, he has this AMAZING personality. But then you think of Daniel Bryan and he is almost the antithesis of that. So I’ve obviously developed a lot more personality than when I first started, and was terrified to stand in the ring and have a microphone talking to 200 people. And now I feel very comfortable doing that in front of thousands. So it’s definitely an evolution.
USAirwaysCenter.com: You won the Money in a Bank ladder match last year. What is it like to be in that type of match?
Bryan: The Money in the Bank match itself is crazy. It’s great for the fans. As a wrestler, though, I was terrified. Not many people know this, but I am afraid of heights. So I climbed that ladder and I’m up there like, “Oh my gosh.” People look at it from their chairs, and it’s like “Oh yeah, that’s pretty high.” But when you’re standing up there and looking down, it seems a lot further down than it really is.
USAirwaysCenter.com: How sore are you after being hit by and thrown onto ladders?
Bryan: Oh my gosh! So sore! It’s so brutal. You get hit by chairs. Last year, in our match, Sin Cara got put through a table. All of this crazy, dangerous stuff happens. So it’s a spectacle. We’re all walking around limping the next day. It’s just one of those things, where you smile and nod. You don’t have to ask how anybody is. You know.
USAirwaysCenter.com: You had to feel a little better, carrying around the MITB briefcase with the guaranteed contract for a World Championship match inside.
Bryan: Sure did. Actually, that was a huge turning point in my WWE career, because I wasn’t doing a whole lot before I won Money in the Bank. I wasn’t on a lot of pay-per-views. I hadn’t been in a singles pay-per-view match in more than a year. But since I cashed in the Money in the Bank contract, I’ve been on every pay-per-view match since then and in title matches on every pay-per-view since then. So winning that match really turned around my career here in the WWE.
USAirwaysCenter.com: What do you think was the turning point for you? What turned the light on for Vince McMahon, or whoever it was that decided to give you a big push?
Bryan: Well, I think a lot of it was just opportunities. We were in a situation where Mark Henry and a lot of other guys were hurt. Then when I cashed in the Money in the Bank contract and won the championship, they gave me an opportunity to see what I could do. They gave me the opportunity to go out there and talk on the microphone in the ring. And the more that I was able to go out there and do it, and perform well, the more responsibility they were able to give me. “Okay, he did good last week, let’s give him a little more time this week. Let’s see if he can be out there for 10 minutes or 12 minutes on the microphone and hold people’s interests.” Luckily, I’ve been able to do it.
If you would have asked my high school English teacher if I would have been able to stand out in front of 10,000 people and talk on a microphone. He would have said, “Wait a second, this guy stuttered doing a book report.” So yes, it’s been pretty crazy.
USAirwaysCenter.com: If you beat CM Punk this Sunday, you could end up defending the WWE Championship against the winner of the MITB match, possibly as soon as that same night. Do you have any thoughts on who is going to win that match?
Bryan: Gosh, I think it’s a toss-up. Initially, I would say John Cena, but he’s never been in a Money in the Bank match and until you’ve been in one of those, you don’t know how they are or what’s going to happen. You’ve also got Chris Jericho, Kane and Big Show, who have all been in this match before. But I guess if I had to put my money on it, I would put money on John Cena.