Exclusive interview: Shawn Michaels on Daniel Bryan’s journey to WWE Superstardom

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October 21, 2013

Since being named the special guest referee for the WWE Championship Hell in a Cell Match between Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton, WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels has made no bones about the fact he has history with both Superstars, never mind WWE COO Triple H.

On last Monday’s Raw, HBK explained that he “always liked” Bryan, “never liked” The Viper and, of course, remains best friends with The Game. Although The Showstopper’s relationships with Orton and Triple H largely played out before the WWE Universe’s eyes, perhaps less familiar to WWE fans is his background with “The Beard,” whom he helped train “many moons ago.”

In this WWE.com exclusive Q&A, HBK recounts his days instructing a clean-shaven Bryan at the Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy, discusses how he kept tabs on his star pupil’s development, and comments on parallels drawn between he and Bryan.

WWE.COM: What were your earliest impressions of Daniel Bryan as a student?

SHAWN MICHAELS: Heck, I knew at first glance what a talented young man he was. He came in good, for heaven’s sakes. His work ethic, his integrity, his dedication, all of that stuff was all phenomenal from the get-go. And honestly, he had an understanding that it was going to be tough. He knew it was going to be a long road for him, and none of those things bothered him. He had a fantastic attitude absolutely every day, day in and day out. Our [training] facility — it was no WWE Performance Center. It was dirty, it was hot and there was never a complaint out of him. I cannot remember one time the young man ever had anything other than a good and positive attitude.

If you become something to the people, you’re going to become something to WWE. 

WWE.COM: During his training, did you ever expect he would end up excelling in WWE the way he has, given his size and style, or did you see his career going in a different direction?

MICHAELS: I always tried to be honest with him. I knew he was talented. And I knew he was going to face the same uphill battle that every guy his size does, myself included. It was simply a matter of if he had the patience and the ability to adjust in areas where other people thought he needed to adjust — as far as personality, character, things of that nature.

I saw him as a young man who had a very good blueprint for how he wanted to work out his career as far as the order in which he wanted to progress, which was learning his in-ring skills and honing them to a point where he felt very secure in his ability and could then build on that incredibly solid foundation. And he was always very open and excited. It certainly wasn’t very tough to get him to go to Japan the first time. When that opportunity came, he was still at our school. I knew he was one of the guys that we wanted to send, and he was thrilled about it an

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