At AEW WrestleDream, Bryan Danielson has his biggest match ever in Seattle

Sep 28, 2023, 3:37 PM

There’s no arguing that AEW star and wrestling legend Bryan Danielson is Seattle’s favorite wrestler.

For well over a decade, the Aberdeen, Wash., native and multi-time world champion has been the recipient of some of the most thunderous reactions in wrestling history whenever he appears in Seattle, whether it was when he was with WWE (where he was known as Daniel Bryan) or now with AEW, which has three weekly television shows on TNT and TBS.

There’s one thing Danielson has never been able to do in Seattle, however, which will change during AEW’s big weekend at Climate Pledge Arena.

Video: AEW wrestling legend Paul Wight talks big show in Seattle

“I wrestled here in January against Tony Nese, and the match was like under 5 minutes,” Danielson recalled during a sitdown interview Thursday with Seattle Sports’ Curtis Rogers. “Honestly, Sunday will be my first time having, like, a big match in Seattle.”

It’s not just any big match. It’s a dream match for die-hard wrestling fans, which is very fitting for AEW’s WrestleDream pay-per-view event on Sunday: Bryan Danielson vs. Zack Sabre Jr. in a battle of who experts consider the two greatest technical wrestlers alive today. It’s a match that’s years in the making, too, and Danielson is reveling in his chance to finally meet Sabre face to face in the ring in front of what will essentially be a hometown crowd.

“We’ve been battling over this idea of who’s the best wrestler in the world for years – without ever having faced,” Danielson said. “I mean, I wrestled him in 2008 when he was just a kid, right? But now we’ve had this battle over who’s the best technical wrestler in the world. And you know what? He talks a lot of crap, and he’s got that stupid English accent. And I don’t want to say stupid, but it makes it sound like everything he says to you is very condescending. And it’s just like, oh, I’m gonna get him. I’m gonna get him on Sunday.”

Potentially annoying accent aside, Danielson has a lot of respect for Sabre. And it makes sense why. The Wrestling Observer annually holds a vote for the Bryan Danielson Award for best technical wrestler. Danielson, naturally, has won the award 11 times since 2005, including the last two years. The only other wrestler to win the award in that same time period is Sabre, who won it for seven straight years from 2014 to 2020.

“I almost have watched him with admiration in the sense of the things that he’s doing,” Danielson said of Sabre. “I’ve never seen anybody in pro wrestling, and especially in the modern era, making technical wrestling more interesting – and making it brutal, and making it a little bit more aggressive. When you watch it, you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, is he gonna break that guy’s wrist?’ – that sort of thing. If you watch him, you can appreciate that. That’s what I was impressed with, but then I’m just like, ‘Ah, I’m still gonna crush him.'”

The big weekend of AEW action in Seattle will begin at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Climate Pledge Arena for Collision, a weekly two-hour live show on TNT. WrestleDream at 4 p.m. Sunday will follow, also at the arena.

Danielson discussed much more with Rogers, including his Seattle Seahawks fandom, and what it’s like being from Aberdeen and coming back to Washington to wrestle. Watch the full conversation in the video at the top of this post or at this link.

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