Photos courtesy of WWE
By James Viscardi
Daniel Bryan may not be the largest competitor in WWE, but the heart of a super hero has carried him all the way to the World championship.
On Sunday, January 29 at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, “The American Dragon” faces a seemingly impossible task when he puts his title on the line in a steel cage match against the over seven foot tall Big Show as well as “The World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry (both Fightin’ Fanboys themselves). Before he heads into that Herculean challenge, we caught up with Daniel to learn about his Marvel comics roots, his connection to artist Jill Thompson, who in the Marvel Universe he could—and couldn’t—get to tap out and more.
Marvel.com: Everyone has a “breaking into comics” story. Whether it was someone they knew read comics or they picked up copies from a drug store, everyone always had first comic. Do you remember yours?
Daniel Bryan: As a kid I would grab any comics I could right from the newsstand. I couldn’t tell you which was my first, but they were definitely Marvel books. Being able to immerse myself into that world was the most fun aspect to me of comics. I had no concept of storylines or arcs other than they were full of plain ol’ super hero fun.
Marvel.com: In wrestling, you’ve got good guys, and bad guys and both have support from their fans. As a comic fan, did you root for the heroes or the villains more?
Daniel Bryan: Have to root for the heroes, man. Be it the Avengers or the X-Men, I always rooted for the heroes because as a kid, you always wanted the good guys to win.
Marvel.com: So diving into the Marvel Universe a bit here, you say you can make anybody tap out—who in the Marvel Universe would you make tap?
Daniel Bryan: Captain America most likely. You know, submissions are all about bringing someone to the point of making a bone in the body break and making them give up before it snaps. With everyone wearing armor or having special abilities, I think I’d be able to take out Captain America. I mean, it wouldn’t be easy, but if you put me in a ring with Cap, I think I’d have the best chance against him.
Marvel.com: Are there any Marvel characters you think you couldn't get to tap?
Daniel Bryan: Well, if the aim of the game was to break a bone, I wouldn’t be able to make Mister Fantastic or Wolverine tap. I mean between the rubbery-ness of Mr. Fantastic and the Adamantium laced bones of Wolverine, it would take a lot to get them to tap.
Marvel.com: Now you’ve got a connection to comics today with artist Jill Thompson. How did you meet her and how did it come about to have her design your ring gear?
Daniel Bryan: Through Twitter and my ex-girlfriend oddly enough! My ex-girlfriend had a blog called “Hot Nerds Reading Comics” and she posted a picture of me reading
Marvel.com: You’re one of the smallest guys in WWE and yet you're the World champion. What does that mean to you?
Daniel Bryan: It’s a great feeling. You know, when you’re one of the smaller guys on the roster, you have to do more to stand out. When you’re a bit bigger, people expect you to have power and you can use that to your advantage. It’s a really awesome feeling that fans have latched on to me as an entertainer and want me to still be champion. I’ve got my own style and people really seem to like that. Plus, I’m not the only one my size who has held the title; I have to give a shout out to Rey Mysterio.
Marvel.com: What do you feel has been your best match in WWE?
Daniel Bryan: Actually, if you had asked me this question a few weeks ago, I’d have a different answer for you. I actually wrestled William Regal on an episode of WWE Superstars, and it is without a doubt one of my best matches that I’ve ever wrestled. He was a huge mentor for me during my career, and to be able to have a match with him and have it go over so well was really rewarding.
Marvel.com: If you could defend your World title this year at WrestleMania against anybody, who would it be?
Daniel Bryan: It would have to be Mr. WrestleMania himself, Shawn Michaels. The guy has not had a bad WrestleMania yet and I think we’d have a really entertaining match that fans could get behind. I also spent a lot of time under his wing, training and again, like with Regal, I think we’d put on a great match.
Marvel.com: Now that you're the World champion, what's next for Daniel Bryan?
Daniel Bryan: [Laughs] Keeping the title.
Check out Daniel Bryan every week on Raw Supershow and SmackDown, and watch him defend his title on Sunday, January 29 at the Royal Rumble. For more information, visit WWE.com.