x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

The four-time WWE world champion discusses whether it is right for Stone Cold Steve Austin to be the cover star of WWE 2K16, as well as who he wants to work with when he returns to action during a visit to Dubai to promote WWE 2K16.

Daniel Bryan is in Dubai to promote the WWE 2K16 video game. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Daniel Bryan is in Dubai to promote the WWE 2K16 video game. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Daniel Bryan, the four-time WWE world champion, was in Dubai on Thursday to promote the launch of WWE 2K16 computer game, which is being released in the UAE later this month. He spoke to The National about video games, being ruled out of action since April with concussion, facing Brock Lesnar when he returns and appearing on two reality TV shows.

Thoughts on WWE 2K16

“It is very realistic. My character kicks as I kick. It moves as I move. It does my Yes chant as I do my Yes chant. It is very surreal, and just a little bit creepy, almost like someone is stalking me, it is that realistic. But it is really neat.”

On playing video games as a youngster

“I didn’t really grow up playing video games. I had an original Nintendo after the original Nintendo was cool. The Super Nintendo was now the thing to have. My friend had the Super Nintendo and he gave his original Nintendo to me as he did not want to play it anymore. So I had his Nintendo and all the games he had given me. My favourite game was Pro Wrestling, which was just very generic. My favourite character was a character called Star-Man. He did this back-flip kick and other stuff, but I wasn’t really much of a gamer.”

Thoughts on Stone Cold Steve Austin being the cover star of WWE 2K16 rather than a current WWE superstar

“It is interesting because I see it two ways. I see maybe people who don’t watch it anymore, who were big fans in the Attitude Era, which was the most popular time in wrestling. It would appeal to people who may not be watching the current product, but would be interested in the video game. One of the things I think it shows is that we have not really created enough new stars, to where we put new stars on the front of the video game, so that should be the overall bigger concern. We need to not just rely on people from the past. There is almost this mentality these stars are bigger than the current stars, and they keep going with the mentality when the guys now are every bit as good as the guys from before, it is just they need to be given the platform.”

On The Terminator being in the game

The Terminator character is available on the game for people who pre-order it. Bryan said: “I think it is awesome. One of the most important things on the business model is to cross promote on different sorts of things. I actually got to do a commercial with Arnold [Schwarzenegger] as the Terminator. We re-did a scene from Terminator 2, but with WWE Superstars in it. I just think it is really cool. It is an awesome way to get new people involved, and new people excited about the game.”

Has he got used to being part of a computer game?

“No, I don’t think I will ever get used to that idea that there is all this stuff of me out there. The video game, right, that is very surreal. The idea that people will want to play as me in the game is very surreal to me. My niece has little toys of me. She was walking around in a toy store with her Uncle Bryan doll, right, and when someone asked ‘who is that?’ she said “that is my Uncle Bryan”. They were likely seriously who is it, and my sister had to say that is legitimately her Uncle Bryan. All of it is a little weird. My buddy Neil sent me a picture of my face on a toothbrush. What has happened in my life so I have got to the stage where my face is on a toothbrush. The whole thing is crazy.”

On when he hopes to get back in the ring after being sidelined with concussion

Bryan has not wrestled since suffering a concussion in April and had to drop the Intercontinental title he won at WrestleMania 31. “I have no idea,” he said of a comeback date. “I wish I could give you a solid answer. I feel great. I have been cleared by doctors. But getting the WWE to clear me has been a little bit sticky, given my concussion history. They are just looking out for my best interests. We are trying to get with more doctors to get me more support to get me back in the ring as soon as possible.”

Frustration of being sidelined

“It is very frustrating for me as the concussion in April had nothing to do with my neck injury. I have been wrestling for over 16 years now and to have just one major surgery is pretty good, and this has nothing to do with the neck, it is a concussion thing. It was frustrating timing wise as I had big plans on being Intercontinental champion and other stuff.”

Who he wants to face when he returns to the ring

“My No 1 dream match is Brock Lesnar. And I want that to be a WrestleMania match. I don’t know if the WWE will ever let that happen, because they might be afraid he might legitimately hurt me pretty bad. But I would like to do a major pay-per-view match with Cesaro. I’d like to to do a major pay-per-view match with Seth Rollins. I’d love do a major pay-per-view match with Stardust. We have so many talented people on the roster that I’d love to have a match on pay per view or we have a story to work through together.”

Best WrestleMania moment

“By far my favourite WrestleMania moment was WrestleMania 30 and winning the [WWE World Heavyweight] title Not just that, but the post-match celebration. It was the last time I saw Connor [Michalek] before he passed away. My sister and my little niece got to come in the ring with me, with all the confetti coming down. 75,000 people there. Those are really cool, special moments, that I will never forget.

On memories of touring with the WWE in the UAE in 2013

Bryan headlined the WWE’s tour of Abu Dhabi in 2013. “My memories are mostly of the sand,” he said. “I actually drove up here to do a signing at the Dubai Mall, you see desert, and you see a lot of nothing. But then you see these cities pop up, these amazing cities pop up, these super technological cities pop up, like a mirage. It was just so cool. I remember in 2013 in Abu Dhabi meeting a lot of awesome people, but I also remember trying to go to gym but they wouldn’t open as they were doing a 10km race, or something like that, around where we were wrestling, and my memory of that is everyone being really nice and eventually they found someone who went and opened the gym up for me.”

Did he ever think he would be a fixture on reality TV?

“No, definitely not. Until me and Brie [Bella, Bryan’s wife] moved in I did not even have a TV. It is like OK, I am on a reality TV show now. When Tough Enough was going on I considered that a reality TV show too, so I was on two reality shows on the same night as they both air on Tuesday nights in America so it is kind of crazy.”

Coping with the demands of Total Divas filming

“It has actually gone a lot smoother than I thought it would be. A reality TV show, while wrestling, I though would be hard because our schedule is crazy. In 2013 I did 227 matches. So that is not including travel days. You are on the road more than 250 days a year, so you still have stuff you have you to do. You have to get your laundry done. You have to do all these errands, pay all these bills. So I did think it is just not going to work. But we have made it work and honestly my wife and her sister, Brie and Nikki, are two of the hardest working people in the WWE.”

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gcaygill@thenational.ae