Bryan Danielson has major respect for new AEW World Champion CM Punk.
The history between Danielson and Punk goes back more than 20 years, and now Danielson has taken a “silent pride” in watching Punk’s rejuvenation in AEW, according to Sports Illustrated’s Justin Barrasso. In an interview that was done before Punk won the AEW World Title from “Hangman” Adam Page at Double Or Nothing last Sunday, Danielson recalled a time in their lives when pro wrestling was everything, and they were hungry kids with big dreams and small bank accounts.
Danielson looked back at JCW’s 2002 Jersey J-Cup tournament, held on the night of June 15, 2002 in Elizabeth, NJ. The tournament featured names like Danielson, Punk, Mark Briscoe, Colt Cabana, AJ Styles, and others. Punk took a second round loss to indie legend Reckless Youth, and suffered a cracked skull during the bout. Danielson, then billed as American Dragon, made it to the finals but came up short against Youth.
“Punk fractured his skull that night,” Danielson said. “That was a 16-man tournament all in one night, so it was a really long show. I went all the way to the finals and lost to Reckless Youth, and I’ll always remember how Punk was so good, even back then.”
Danielson knew early on that Punk was exceptional. He has always held a lot of respect for the former WWE Champion.
“There are things that stuck out about Punk even from an early age,” Danielson said. “He was the guy from our generation that was wrestling the ECW stars. He stood out from the rest of us. He was so great at the promos. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s been through the grind.”
There’s now the potential for a big title feud between Danielson and Punk in AEW. Despite what happens in the storylines, Danielson says there will always be a mutual admiration between the two.
“I was happy for him back when I was on the indies, too, when I’d see him succeed,” Danielson said. “Back then, we weren’t what wrestling companies wanted. But he still found a way to succeed. When I’d see him succeed, I’d always feel like, ‘Hell yeah, one of us did it.’ I’m happy for him now, too. What he’s doing, and the way he’s doing it, it’s amazing.”
Punk and Danielson have not teamed up or wrestled each other in AEW yet. The last time they teamed was on the November 25, 2013 edition of WWE RAW, which was a Handicap Match that ended in a No Contest against Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan and Luke Harper. That was one night after the 2013 Survivor Series pay-per-view, where Punk and Danielson defeated Rowan and Harper. Punk and Danielson had several WWE live event singles matches in 2012, but their last TV singles match came at the 2012 Money In the Bank pay-per-view, where Punk retained the WWE Title over Danielson in a No DQ match.
Stay tuned to WrestlingHeadlines.com for more.