Daniel Bryan doesn’t have aspirations of being some crossover movie star. Far from it, in fact. He’s a wrestler. He gets into a 20-foot ring, laces up his boots, and when he does he’s one of the best in the world at what he does. However, he has recently made his movie debut in The Flintstones & WWE: Stone Age Smackdown, an animated film now available for digital download.
“My main passion is wrestling,” he told Den of Geek. “Some of the guys love to go make movies even though it might take them away from wrestling for three or four months. I was injured, so I just had to be away for 10 months. I don’t want to be away from wrestling even a little.”
Bryan will make his animated debut in two weeks (March 17) when Stone Age Smackdown is released on DVD. The movie, which features The Flintstones in their first outing in 14 years, is a joint production between WWE and Warner Bros. The movie is also somewhat historic, in that it’s the first Flintstones’ film without creators Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera involved in the production.
“It was just offered to me and I just thought, yeah, spot on, the Flintstones,” Bryan said. “I honestly didn’t know what it entailed. You know, obviously, that the cartoons aren’t talking themselves, but I never realized the process. You have somebody in a room, reading all these lines. At first, when it was offered, they were just like ‘Hey we have this Flintstones movie’ and I just thought it sounded like a blast. Actually my first thought was that my niece would love it.”
Lending his voice to television isn’t something new for Bryan or the other WWE wrestlers involved in the film. As a wrestler, Bryan speaks in front of millions of television viewers and to thousands of fans in live audiences week after week.
But this process was entirely different. There wasn’t a crowd to feed the emotion. It was just Bryan, a script, and a microphone. He admits the recording was easier after the production team brought in all of the WWE participants together, and they recorded all at the same time.
“That was a big help,” Bryan said. “It made it way easier. We were able to react to each other vocally. Being in there alone, I think that would have made it a lot more difficult for me. I can’t imagine being a voice-over person and having to go out in front of a live crowd and get them to react. That’s what I’m used to doing. To go somewhere and talk with nobody reacting, that would have been really hard.”
“We didn’t have cable growing up,” Bryan said. “We had several cartoons on basic TV and I really liked (The Fintstones). It was cool to see them in situations where we were going through the same things. It was a fun show with a lot characters. Bamm-Bamm was always my favorite.”
Bryan calls the movie “a blast,” but he’s clearly a wrestler first.
His passion for wrestling started at nine years old, when a shy, soft-spoken Bryan was at school with a friend. A loud gregarious kid, who was a friend of a friend, hung around Bryan and later that day ended up at Bryan’s house.
“This kid said, ‘hey, I have something I want to show you guys, but you need to promise not to tell anybody,’ and of course, we all thought it was a Playboy or something,” he said. “But it was wrestling magazines. And these were wrestling magazines from the 1980s, so there were guys covered in blood. Just crazy stuff. I just looked at it and thought it was the coolest thing ever.”
Bryan was hooked. From there he sought out pro wrestling on television and his parents began to see his interest, and helped feed him more.
“Gradually I got more into it on my own,” he said. “ Then my parents saw it and my dad would pick me up wrestling magazines on his way home from work and my parents would let me watch it on TV or rent me a video at the store. When I was around nine, my parents took me to my first live event, which was a WWE show with Ultimate Warrior. From then on, I loved it.”
Bryan is very much his own man. He carved his way into WWE after being trained by Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels and establishing himself as one of the best wrestlers in the world on the independent scene and in Japan.
When asked about his television character, the humble, soft-spoken Bryan chuckled.
“I’ve never really been a character on TV,” Bryan said. “I think, if possible, you want to portray yourself. If you’re in a situation where you’re supposed to react, you need to react. Sometimes it’s a ludicrous situation that would never happen in real life, but it happens in the wild world of WWE. A lot of things go through your head, but I just try to react. You don’t consciously try to emulate anyone, but subconsciously, we’re all emulating someone.”