Danielson and Okada, widely regarded as two of the best wrestlers in the world, will face each other for the first time at the June 25 pay-per-view. The match will headline the interpromotional show, and it promises to be a contest for the ages.
Speaking with Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated, Danielson made it clear that the match has been on his mind for a long time, but he never thought it was a possibility.
“I wanted this match for so long without ever thinking it was a possibility,” Danielson said. “I started watching him while I was in WWE, but there was no place to go work where that match would ever be possible. Then AEW started. That’s why this is so special to me. I wanted it for so long, and it’s now actually going to happen.”
Danielson then described how he first took note of Okada 15 years ago, and he has watched the NJPW star build his impressive legacy. He called “The Rainmaker” one of the greatest of all time and made it clear that he’s looking forward to sharing the ring with him.
“When Okada first won the IWGP championship, he started having all these incredible matches with Tanahashi,” Danielson said. “He started building this incredible legacy. The Tanahashi matches, the Kenny [Omega] matches, those stand out to me—their 60-minute one was just unbelievable. The matches with Shingo [Takagi], the matches with [Will] Ospreay, the matches with Zack Sabre Jr.
“When I watch Okada, I’m watching one of the best of all time. Now I get to experience actually being in the ring with him. What’s that like? That’s what I get to find out.”
Okada also shared his thoughts on the bout and noted that he wants fans to be excited to see great dream matches. He praised Danielson and stated that their clash is an awesome match.
“I want fans to be excited to see how great professional wrestling is,” Okada said through a translator. “It’s cool to know that there are still world-class dream matches like this that bring everyone together. Bryan has done incredible things everywhere he’s been, WWE and AEW included. I think this is an awesome match to make.”
Like Danielson, Okada noted that he had been watching his opponent for a long time; he explained that he became familiar with Danielson’s work during his time in Ring of Honor. He emphasized that he respects “The American Dragon”, and their contest is all about wrestling.
“That is my strongest image of Bryan—when he was in Ring of Honor,” Okada said. “I haven’t seen many of his matches since he went to WWE. When I saw the time limit draw he wrestled with Kenny Omega in AEW, I knew he and I could do something incredible.
“I have respect for him. There’s no hate here. I think that’s the appeal—just pure, competitive wrestling.”
Danielson went on to his mindset surrounding the match, as he shared how he is aiming to enjoy the moment, and he believes he’ll remember the match for the rest of his life.
“I feel the exact same way as Okada, but turning it back to myself,” Danielson said. “I tell myself to enjoy it when it’s happening. It’s better when people love the match, and of course that is important, but when I do things now, I do it because I enjoy it.
“I’m telling myself to enjoy this moment, one I thought would never happen. Now I can do it in front of a passionate wrestling crowd in Toronto, and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.”
In the same interview, Okada expressed his interest in potentially facing CM Punk. Check out his comments here.
WrestleZone will have coverage of AEW x NJPW as it airs on June 25.