Johnny Saint inspired Bryan Danielson and even wrestled him once


Hamish Woodward

Johnny Saint is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.

The technical wizard spent over 20 years as the world champion (well, not really) and wowed fans all accross the world, but most notably in the UK.

He was a fixture on Saturday afternoons on ITV from the 1970s and 1980s, wrestling all the top stars during the Golden Era of British wrestling.

Saint was given the position of General Manager of NXT UK in 2018. This made him a household name again, and this thrilled wrestler Daniel Bryan (now Bryan Danielson in AEW).

Speaking with the WWE, he notes how he was inspired by Saint’s “technical wizardy”. He also claimed there was “nobody better than Johnny Saint”, which is high praise from another all-time great.

“So Johnny Saint, amongst my generation of wrestlers, and guys – these are guys who grew up watching tapes and watching tapes.

“This is because there weren’t a ton of veterans around to learn from.

“When you talk about technical wizardy, and I am someone who really appreciates technical wrestling, there is nobody better than Johnny Saint.

“It’s incredibly lucky for WWE to have somebody like Johnny Saint.

“I wrestled him in 2009, and its weird. Its a different style that’s kind of been lost. You can watch the tapes, but its not the same as being there and living it.

“Those guys wrestled anywhere from 5 to 10 matches a week doing that style, and when you wrestle that style that often you become a master of it, and thats what he is.”

Bryan Danielson wrestled Johnny Saint only once in his career

Despite making their debuts nearly 40 years apart, Saint and Bryan Danielson wrestled against one another once.

This was during a six-man tag team match in 2009. It took place in Chikara, during the 2009 King of Trios tournament.

Saint teamed with Skayde Rivera and Mike Quackenbush to take on Danielson, Cesaro and Dave Taylor.

In his book “Yes!: My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of WrestleMania!”, Bryan Danielson (who was then known by his WWE name of Daniel Bryan) wrote about his match in Chikara with Saint.

During this period, Chikara—an independent promotion in Philadelphia—gave me one of the coolest experiences of my career up to that point: being in the ring with Johnny Saint.

It was me, Claudio Castagnoli (Cesaro), and Dave Taylor against Johnny, Mike Quackenbush, and Skayde Rivera. Johnny had been wrestling for more than fifty years at the time and wasn’t competing in many matches.

Even in his sixties, though, he was still awesome. He’s an incredible English wrestler who did things in the ring throughout his career that guys can’t pull off today.

Lots have tried to replicate his style of technical wrestling, but they can’t. As much as you can learn a move, you can’t learn the physical fluidity that he possessed.

When I first met Regal in 2000, he told me that if I was interested in technical wrestling, I had to watch Johnny Saint. I had even bought a VCR that played different formats so I could watch Saint on old British wrestling tapes.

Those were the lengths I’d go to in order to learn something new, because our generation of wrestlers doesn’t always have an opportunity to wrestle veteran guys to learn from.”

Johnny Saint also appeared on WWE’s YouTube channel in 2016. He was invited to be a guest coach at the Performance Center, and showcased his escapology skills against William Regal.


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