Vince McMahon Once Tasked Former Star With Studying AEW

While WWE and AEW largely operate in their own lanes, both companies are driving on the same professional wrestling highway. This leads to both Vince McMahon and Tony Khan occasionally glancing at the other in an effort to speed a little ahead. When McMahon blasted AEW for being a company based on "blood and guts," Khan turned around and named a match after that phrasing. After CM Punk labelled Maxwell Jacob Friedman as a "less famous Miz," Edge alluded to the dig on Monday Night Raw. While these jabs are mostly inconsequential, there is the odd moment that impacts the companies' greater narratives.

In Bloomberg's profile piece about the rise of AEW, it was revealed that Bryan Danielson was once tasked with studying the company for McMahon.

"Do you see anything that AEW's doing better than us?" McMahon asked Danielson on a phone call in early 2020.

At the time, Danielson was still wrestling under the name Daniel Bryan, as he was employed by WWE until Summer 2021. With him taking time away from the ring due to paternity leave, Danielson "spent the next two weeks" watching all available AEW content. His conclusion on AEW's presentation was that it "committed more time" and "placed more value" in the action that goes on in the ring.

When applying that critical eye to the WWE product, Danielson noted that he saw McMahon's product with having its attention elsewhere.

"It feels like you're watching a wrestling show without any wrestling," Danielson told McMahon.

Following this conversation, Danielson would spend one more year in WWE before ultimately opting for AEW. He debuted for the young promotion at AEW All Out 2021 and immediately entered a feud with AEW World Champion Kenny Omega. The two were one of the marquee matches at the inaugural AEW Dynamite: Grand Slam 2021, AEW's largest-attended event in its four-year history.

Speaking of AEW's commitment to its in-ring action, Danielson has been the poster boy for that philosophy throughout 2023. He has wrestled lengthy singles matches on a weekly basis, mixing it up with everyone from Konosuke Takeshita to Timothy Thatcher. If his winning streak persists, Danielson will face AEW World Champion MJF in a 60-minute Iron Man match at AEW Revolution next month.