That's What They Do: Wildest Superstar Hobbies

Page 6 of 6
May 09, 2013

Daniel Bryan

When Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and JBL refer to Daniel Bryan as a submissions expert, they aren’t just blowing smoke: The former World Heavyweight Champion was a bona-fide grappler on the side for a long, long time, training under some of the best competitors in the country and helping him build his extensive array of submission holds.

“I’d been training randomly for a while in different places,” said Bryan, who began his self-described “hobby” in 2002. “And when I moved to Las Vegas, I started training at Xtreme Couture, which is [UFC Hall of Famer] Randy Couture’s gym.”

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While he initially picked that gym because of its convenient class schedule, what kept him going back was working with his coach, celebrated jiujitsu practitioner Neil Melanson. The work the two did together — Bryan calls him “one of the best grappling coaches in the country” — did more than bolster his repertoire. It also gave him a finishing move.

“Melanson actually taught me the ‘No!’ Lock, which was the ‘Yes!’ Lock, which was the LeBell Lock,” recalled Bryan, who inherited the maneuver as something of a high-profile heirloom from a celebrated tree of fighters. “[Neil] trained under Gene LeBell, and Gene LeBell is the one who did that move a lot. He taught it to Neil and Neil taught it to me, so that was a cool little sequence of events.”

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But while Bryan’s definitely made a name for himself as a submission specialist with the help of his training — his favorite maneuver is the heel hook because “you can pretty much hit them from anywhere and most people don’t protect their lower bodies very well” — he doesn’t consider the training to be a must for aspiring Superstars.

“It’s probably not essential [for newcomers]. I’d say most WWE Superstars haven’t done much grappling in their lives and especially not a lot of submission grappling,” said Bryan. “But I think it can definitely help; it’s just another skill to have in your repertoire. It definitely helped me throughout my career.”

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