Weeks ago on AEW: Collision, following an unsuccessful attempt at capturing the “Real AEW World Championship” against CM Punk, Ricky Starks attacked the special referee for the bout, WWE Hall of Famer Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. The young star stripped the veteran of his belt and whipped him as an unconscious Punk lay on the outside. This past Saturday night, Starks was set to challenge Steamboat to a Strap Match at AEW: All Out, but it was another Dragon, “The American Dragon” Bryan Danielson, who signed the contract instead. It is worth noting there is speculation Punk was intended for the bout, and Danielson was a last-minute replacement.
The match between the two men was an instant classic, climaxing with Starks refusing to submit when Danielson was ruthlessly choking him with the strap, choosing to pass out instead. Fightful reports that Starks was not told Danielson would be his All Out opponent until Saturday, when the former WWE Champion accepted the challenge on Steamboat’s behalf. Danielson was apparently cleared to compete the week before the event and was at the Dynamite this past Wednesday.
Following the pay-per-view, the company held media scrums, and I had a chance to ask Danielson how he could return so quickly from his Forbidden Door injury and deliver a match of the magnitude he did.
“So, one, I had an excellent opponent,” he began. “I think every time people see Ricky Starks, every time Ricky Starks gets an opportunity, he knocks it out of the park. And I will be the first one to say, and this is outside of, like, within our stories and what we do, he carried me through that match tonight. And I’m good, I’m good at certain things, right? I’m good at a decent amount of things, and I’m confident in saying that. I can fire up, I can do all these things, but he was the one who carried it, who carried me through that match.”
Later, he was pressed by Mike Shalik of SEScoops about his injury and gave more insight into the process he had to go through in order to be cleared to compete.
“There was a lot of smoke and mirrors today, and I was in no danger whatsoever, other than the regular danger that you could do getting a hip toss,” he clarified. “I didn’t even throw a strike with my right arm, and I don’t think anybody noticed. So, there are all these things that you can do to avoid, and especially where I’m at in the healing process. And we talked to not just Dr. Sampson, who I love, and we went through every single thing in that with him.
“But we talked to the surgeon, who has no interest; it doesn’t matter to him if I wrestle on this pay-per-view or not. He’s just giving us his recommendation, and to say like, ‘Hey, can I do this? What do you think about this?’ And so all of that was talked to with doctors. So, it was like, I felt very comfortable doing it. The company felt very comfortable doing it. Our doctors, outside doctors, felt very comfortable with us doing it. And yeah, here I am, and I feel great.”
It was also noted during the media scrum by AEW President Tony Khan that Saturday nights are more conducive to Danielson’s personal schedule, and it is likely he will become more of a fixture on Collision than Dynamite. At one point, Danielson described his seven-year-old daughter asking him when he was going to stop wrestling and be home more, which he said was hard to take.
If you use any quotes from this article, please give a h/t to Haus of Wrestling for the transcription