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

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October 21, 2013

WWE.COM: After he left your academy, did you follow much of his time spent outside WWE, and if so, what were your thoughts on his development, whether it was on the independent scene or in Europe or Japan?

MICHAELS: Well, I kept up a little bit with the things in Japan. I would get updates on him from guys I corresponded with, and then certainly when I came back to work in WWE on a full-time basis, I always heard things through the grapevine. Then, obviously, he came in on a number of occasions for tryouts. And through, again, other guys in the locker room, I always heard how he was progressing in Ring of Honor.

But honestly, I was never really concerned about checking up on him. In my opinion, I knew it was only a matter of time. Every time he came in for a tryout, so to speak, I would ask him how it went and then I would sort of say, ’It’s really up to you whenever you want to leave what you’re doing and come here. And when you come here, it will still be an uphill battle.’ Not to imply in any way, shape or form that I called him years ago and I take any credit for anything, because I don’t.

I just knew that he was unbelievably talented, and that can’t be denied. I don’t care if you’re three inches tall. If you’re as talented as he is, you’re going to get an opportunity if you’re patient and you stand the test of time. And he’s done that part, so absolutely nothing that’s going on with him right now is any surprise to me whatsoever.

WWE.COM: Can you speak a little bit about the stigmas associated with being what’s considered an “undersized” Superstar in the WWE main event? And you alluded to it before, but it sounds like you see parallels between what he’s going through now, perhaps, and what you experienced in the 1990s.

MICHAELS: The thing is it was a stigma then. Now, it’s really just something that everyone’s gotten so used to saying, they keep saying it. But I mean, sure, it’s there in the respect that if you’re 6-foot-5 and 250 lbs, you certainly get a look first. But that sort of mold was broken back in the 1990s and numerous people have been successful since then. And again, I want to reiterate that it’s not there in bits and pieces, but to imply that it’s anywhere even in the overall general vicinity of the same ballpark that it was in the ’90s is, respectfully, laughable, because it isn’t.

To WWE and to everyone who owns WWE, it’s a business, and if you become something to the people, you’re going to become something to the company. It’s just that simple now. Will you be what everyone wants you to be? No, because there are way too many people with too many different opinions, and it’s impossible for any one person to be everything for everybody. 

But to become a main player in WWE on a regular basis for a long period of time, it’s anybody’s ballgame. It’s just that, with some guys, it’s going to take longer and you need more patience, but talent always rises to the top.

WWE.COM: What’s your long-term projection for Daniel Bryan?

MICHAELS: I believe he’s going to be a player in WWE for a long, long time, and that’s when greatness is established — over time. It’s not in one day. Greatness is something that stands the test of time, and I think that’s what he should focus on.

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