Daniel Bryan WrestleMania Diary: Day 3

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April 04, 2014

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WORK OF A.R.T., 10:58 a.m.

“Braniel” exits their room and split off in the elevator; Brie greets some WWE fans en route to the salon and Daniel arrives at his appointment for Active Release Therapy (A.R.T.) in a hotel suite.

View more Daniel Bryan WrestleMania Diary Day 3 photos

OKO water bottle still in tow, The Beard consults with the practitioner, describing tenderness and various effects of a highly physical lifestyle akin to a professional athlete. He lays flat on the table – belly up first, then on his back – and the specialist uses hard pressure to break up scar tissue in overused muscles.

Bryan’s neck and limbs are swayed back and forth; he’s then locked up in what resembles a half-nelson. And repeat. By session’s end, any initial discomfort yields loosening of the muscles. He’s primed for the next phase of today’s wellness: a workout.

POWER’S HOUSE, 12:49 p.m.

The leader of the “Yes!” Movement rolls up to an unmarked storefront with zero signage, but a glance through the window gives insight to the battleground on the other side of the entry. Youths are sparring on the mats as Bryan heads past an old school Superdome fight poster to a training room where the air’s thick and sweat beads quickly. Gloved competitors halt their ring session and turn their attention to the 5-foot-10 former WWE Champion entering their arena.

There, Bryan meets Craig Wilson, a boxer/kickboxer at Power Mixed Martial Arts in Terrytown, La. As he explained yesterday, Bryan seeks movement and conditioning, not intensity or technique, though both are impossible to not absorb within these walls in Wilson’s care.

Witness the best of The Beard | Bryan and Triple H's Road to WrestleMania

“I’m there to get my hips moving, get everything fluid and make everything liquid,” Bryan tells WWE.com, “so that by the time we’re at Sunday, I’m not worried about how tight my hip flexors are or anything like that.”

Before he can get to strikes and form, Bryan follows Wilson’s guidance to do a unique wall stretch, extending the WWE warrior’s lethal legs as a preamble to the workout that follows. You’d swear it was a modified “Yes!” pose.

THE PUNISHER, 1:08 p.m. 

They’re as uncommon a duo as you’d ever see, with the hulking and deceptively swift Craig Wilson accepting targeted strikes from Daniel Bryan. The 14-year kickboxing veteran introduces The Beard to a few key techniques and combinations – kicks of multiple heights, jab sequences – and pointers on positioning.

The Beard pivots around a tall kick bag, delivering a succession of blows from all angles to maximize speed upon each kick reset. It’s a sound strategy and certainly a method Bryan may soon put into practice within the squared circle.

By the time he’s done, the “Yes!” Man’s shins and ankles are flush from the persistent impact, his shirt’s darkened with perspiration and his feet have skin tears from the bare footwork. Bryan is very satisfied. So is Wilson, who comments on the opportunity to work with the Superstar who’ll clash with The Game at WrestleMania.

“I know [Daniel’s] background. He’s a very explosive wrestler, and a great wrestler,” Wilson comments. “He’s very good as far as technique goes. He’s very fast, very nimble.

“He’s going to punish Triple H.”

Watch: Bryan sends The King of Kings running on Raw

LUNGE OVER LOUNGE, 3:25 p.m.

For the kicks to have impact, the “Yes!” Man opts to push forth with further leg training. It’s back to the New Orleans Athletic Club, up the stairs to the massive balcony overlooking the pool for end-to-end lunges, following leg presses and other weight exercises.

Bryan jots down his progress in his notebook – the latest among a collection of many he’s accumulated over the years. He explains that his earliest workouts were in junior high in his bedroom using his dad’s old weight set. Back then, Bryan’s attempted bench presses and bicep curls were the limits of his training until he took a weightlifting class in high school. These days, he pops into gyms from town to town around the world to be the best wrestler on the planet.

BOTTLE ROYAL, 3:48 p.m.

In between sets, The Beard takes a swig from the OKO water bottle he’s been toting all week long … and all 2014 long as well. He explains that he resolved to reduce his used plastic bottle count starting in January. It appears to be catching on, as you can sense from his fellow Superstars, who are carrying their own hard plastic bottles. They’re even part of the roster’s hotel arrival gift bags with a WrestleMania log-emblazoned water container.

It’s a small win for a man focused on the biggest victory of his life on Sunday.

“The idea behind the water bottle is that it’s a small thing that I can do, that I can change about myself,” Bryan explains. “People look at the global problems and they seem so incredibly vast. Fix the things you can within your community, within your household, and then expand.

“If you keep trying your best, you can make little changes and those little changes become habit, those habits maybe transfer to other people.”

CARPET DIEM, 8:19 p.m.

WrestleMania Week amps up on the “purple carpet” at the New Orleans Museum of Art for the Superstars for Kids charity auction. Among the guests of honor are a snazzied Daniel Bryan and his stunning fiancée Brie Bella, who exit their private car into a wall of flashing bulbs and elbow-to-elbow press jockeying for sound bites and struck poses. Like George A. Romero’s undead on a fresh body, an enclave of media and microphones surrounds “Braniel” for rapid-fire responses to questions they’ve already answered twice over, three reporters back. Still, their enthusiasm – particularly around the partnership among WWE, The Brees Dream Foundation (created by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees) and the Boys and Girls Club – is purely infectious.

At the edge of the violet walkway stands a 6-foot “Twitter Mirror” provided specifically for this major ’Mania event. The two turn toward each other and suck face for social media, the pic capturing their pucker for the WWE Universe to retweet.

See Bryan and Brie's kiss caught on tweet

A TOUCH OF LOVE, 8:36 p.m.

Hobnobbing is not what Daniel Bryan does best. This is why Brie is leading the charge on most conversations among the mixed crowd of ring masters (Hulk Hogan), celebrities (Marlon Wayans) and New Orleans officials like Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who specifically approaches the couple. Landrieu welcomes them, expresses his elation for WrestleMania’s emergence in The Big Easy and invites “Braniel” back to the museum on Monday for a private tour, pre-Raw.

Though coarse and fierce inside the squared circle, The Beard couldn’t be softer in his nearly unnoticeable touch-turned-caress on Brie’s neck during conversation. You’ve seen his in-ring strikes; the scene is like a feral animal resting its paw. It’s a subtle sign of adoration and demonstrates the simplest form of affection in a soft touch.

Before Bryan can say “eco-friendly provisions,” the mayor bids them adieu, then moves on to prepare for his party-wide address and the festivities ahead.

FIRST DATE, FIRST KISS, 9:21 p.m.

The setting of the Superstars for Kids party is up the proverbial alley of the “People’s Couple,” you could say. The museum location is meaningful not just in the rare art on display, but also in that it calls to the mind’s eye visuals from their relationship at its very beginning. Their first social hangout together was a few years ago at the Isabella Museum in Boston. She invited him.

“It wasn’t a date at the time, but looking back, that was our first date,” Bryan laughs.

“There was a time [on the shows] when [the twins] thought I was a virgin, but I was a vegan. There was a mix-up,” he recalls. “That’s how we ended up even talking to each other. Before then, we didn’t really speak much. I’ve never been anyone who talks to the Divas a lot or anything like that.

“We started talking after that,” Bryan spills. “We had so many similar interests. We had the same sensibility and we’re both kinda hippies.”

Soon after the first date, the two had a memorable trip to Victoria, British Columbia, an island off Vancouver. That Tuesday following their trip was a SmackDown TV taping for Brie (Bryan was not scheduled) and they hung out afterward on a momentous Feb. 14.

“At the end of the night, Brie and I had our first kiss on Valentine’s Day 2011,” says the former World Champion.

Two years later, the pair passes through the halls of the New Orleans Museum of Art as an engaged couple planning a wedding in their not-so-distant, brilliant future together.

TIME TO BOUNCE, 9:50 p.m.

Try enjoying your night when the guy whose head you plan on kicking in is within 100 feet of you. WWE’s Authority is done making their rounds on the “purple carpet” and various meet-and-greet scenarios. Now, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are mingling among the guests in the distance. “Braniel” focuses on the art and good conversation with the cast of “Total Divas,” including Nikki Bella, plus the twins’ mom and brother. There’s no escaping the Chief Brand Officer’s voice projected throughout the scene during her speech, however.

Yet, tonight, Stephanie and The Game concentrate on their corporate responsibilities. Things remain civil.

“You don’t know what people’s personal relationships are like, but the appearance is that [The Authority’s] relationship is predicated on power,” says Bryan, openly describing his perception of Triple and Stephanie McMahon.

“We’re just all so different,” he adds. “They’re obsessed with being a powerful couple. Brie and I are the opposite. They feel money, power, success is very important. For us, happiness and doing things that are meaningful is more important.”

Bryan and Brie keep an eye on the clock. The Beard’s early morning international media event compels the duo to call it a night. They exit the marble museum corridors and escape down the staircase where a black SUV awaits to take them back “home” for the night.

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