Former Daniel Bryan student Pelle Primeau gives his thoughts

The following was sent in by Pelle Primeau, he gives his thoughts on his trainer, Daniel Bryan.

Gratitude by Pelle Primeau

I’ve made a life out of keeping a lot of thoughts in my head, so this definitely isn’t something I’m used to doing – It will probably be a stream of thoughts that may not flow/mix together very well, so please suffer through this as I try to keep a hold of everything.

My first real conversation with Bryan Danielson was in Chicago, 2006 during the Wrestlemania weekend shows. I believe it was one of the largest crowds ROH had ever seen to that point, and I had a preshow match against Derrek Dempsey. I was very green and we were both fairly terrified heading out there in front of what had to be a lot of people’s first ever exposure to ROH. Thankfully, the match was actually very well received by the crowd and everyone was happy with it. Later on that night, Bryan had approached me on his own and started discussing the match with me (I had no idea he had watched it). He complimented me, critiqued me, and gave me a lot pointers on what to (and not to) do in given situations. I didn’t know a lot back then, but I knew enough to realize the best wrestler in the world had taken some time aside to discuss my work with me. I would find out in the coming weeks that he was moving to PA to be the head trainer of the ROH school.

I quit my day job to train with Bryan – the schedule was what it was and I had to do what was needed. It was the most grueling and challenging experience of my life, hands down. Now, I’ll never go as far to say that Bryan took me under his wing at any point – but there is truth when I tell you that he made a habit of pushing me a little bit harder than everyone else that was there.

When we did neck bridges, and I would join the group in holding a bridge on my forehead – Bryan would chime in “SURELY you can bridge on to your nose, Pelle” – and he was right, so I leaned into the bridge a little bit harder. That’s going to be a recurring theme of this piece I suppose, Bryan’s being right, because I don’t think the man was ever wrong in anything he had ever told me.

Through all of this, I have to point out how necessary Bryan was to my wrestling. If anyone truly knows me is reading this I’m sure they’ll agree when I say I was my own worst enemy. A strong lacking of self-motivation was my greatest downfall. Bryan’s pushing of me, riding of me, even teasing of me at times drove me so harder than any year I ever had in wrestling – there’s a point where you realize someone wouldn’t be giving you such a hard time if they didn’t believe in you, and when that resonated with me I really hit a stride, and I think you can see it in the ring compared to other years after. When the only other option is to let down the best in the world, there really wasn’t another option at all.

While we’re all on the topic of telling stories of the man being a badass, I may as well throw in mine: In New York City, Bryan suffered a detached retina against Takeshi Morishima. He managed to not only continue the match but give a performance that my friends and I still to this very day get together to watch at least once a year. When Bryan came backstage, and the adrenaline started to die down, the pain obviously began to set in. People were exiting the building, heading out of the locker room, and Bryan was sitting in a room backstage of the Manhattan Center all by himself. As I was making my rounds to see sure that the locker room was cleared out of trash/debris, I remember as clear as yesterday walking in to that room and seeing Bryan. He was in complete agony, on the verge of tears. I had seen Bryan injured a lot of times, obviously, but never once did I see anything like this. It was in that moment Bryan realized I had entered the room, stiffened up and shoved a protein bar in his mouth like absolutely nothing was going on. I remember beginning to ask him if he needed water or anything, and being cut off before I even got three words out – “nope hmhmm I’m fine”. I took the hint and exited ASAP. The respect and adoration I have for that man is unlike anything I’ve ever felt for someone. If I could reference my love for video games for a moment, I liken Bryan to a “Big Boss” of professional wrestling, the legendary soldier.

I guess I had never really had a chance to say any of this to Bryan, to reflect on those 12 (give or take) months he was in Pennsylvania. So I’m kind of just putting it all out here as the thoughts come to my mind. When Bryan left to recuperate a shoulder injury and move back to Seattle, things went south for me. Personally and in the ring as well. My motivation vanished, and I got involved in situations with dishonest people that I really regret getting mixed up in. I ended up leaving Ring of Honor for personal reasons – I know people have heard differently, but it’s just not true. Yes, I had an unlucky string of concussions at that time – I was in the middle of a feud with a couple of guys who weren’t taking care of me in the ring and I stood up for myself a little too late – but in all honesty, if it were just that, I would’ve been back. Instead, I needed to take a step away from it all – I was depressed, had no one pushing me anymore, and was sorely missing the inspiration that I got from Bryan when I was training with him every week.

Part of the reason I’m mentioning this is to directly address a section of Bryan’s book which was recently released. He had mentioned that during his time at the ROH Academy, he had failed to generate any true successful wrestlers, and he faulted himself due to not being able to inspire any of us properly.

Reading that broke my fucking heart.

Not because Bryan didn’t consider me a success (Neither do I), but because Bryan could legitimately think that he didn’t inspire me. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I wish I could meet with him again to tell him how wrong he is. There’s no person who believed in me and inspired me more than Bryan Danielson and there’s no words I could ever say or type that could express my gratitude for everything he did for me. My friends see me as a fairly cynical person these days and I get down on a lot of stuff I see or hear out there – so this is a little unlike me to say, but Bryan is my hero. He always has been.

I remember the last time I saw Bryan. It was at an ROH TV Taping in Philadelphia for HDNet. A camera crew was following him around for Colt Cabana’s Wrestling Road Diaries. I had started to get back in the ring myself at the time, and came to see Bryan – knowing I was already booked on another show that following week, meaning I would miss his final ROH appearance in New York City. After talking a bit throughout the day, Bryan had realized this as well. If you watch the Road Diaries, you may see a short moment where Bryan is practicing his kicks on me backstage before his match – he always practiced his kicks/new move ideas on me. Which reminds me of a side-rant:

Jim Fetterman, a cameraman for ROH at the time had BJJ experience, and Bryan enjoyed bouncing ideas off of him while in the school or before shows. There was a day before the show when Bryan wanted to try out a hold he had seen which involved grabbing a guys wrists, sticking his left leg next to their head, and wrapping the arms up into a submission hold, and he asked Jimmy what he thought of a more legitimate way of entering the hold itself and if he would watch it as he tried it out on me. After clutching both of my wrists and pulling me up, Bryan went to put his leg in between my arms – and immediately lost his footing and drove his boot directly into my face, bouncing my head off the ring. I’m pretty sure you’ve all seen Bryan use that as a move in ROH from there on out so, you’re welcome for being the guinea pig. But back to the story I was trying to tell in the first place:

If you did see that clip of Bryan practicing kicks on me, you’ll have seen the beginning of one of our last interactions together. Bryan stopped practicing his kicks, looked down, and said “So.. This is the last time I’m going to see you, huh?” I stopped for a second, and said “Yep.” It was all I could manage to get out at that moment, to be honest. Bryan looked around, put his head back down, and said “..huh” – and we both immediately walked away from each other. It sounds awkward, I know, but I really don’t think there was any other way I would’ve had us say goodbye. It just fit our odd little relationship.

Time went on, and a lot of things changed in my life. These last 3 years specifically being the most challenging I’ve ever endured – but I remember Wrestlemania weekend of 2014 – Wrestlemania 30. My life went a bit to shit. I had just gotten out of an engagement that ended in a Friendly’s diner, and I had discovered on my own along with it that I was living a lie during that year as it was anyway. I spent what used to be my favorite weekend of the year, surrounded by friends and peers, in an entirely new position – completely alone, severely depressed, and beaten down. I was suffering mentally and emotionally in a way that I’d rather not recall, but I remember not being able to get out of bed that weekend at all – I accidentally slept through my entire shift at work, even. I managed to check my phone at one point in between nodding off, and reading that Bryan had beat Triple H in the opener to the show. At that point I guess I realized how the night was going to end, so clawed my way out of bed and pulled up a computer chair to watch the main event of Wrestlemania. I don’t know how to put it into words, really. It was the darkest time in my life, and somehow, someway, Bryan managed to light my life up again. I remember breaking down entirely for the first time after everything had happened to me and just weeping in that moment. I still get emotional watching that ‘Mania now, to this day. It was really a rejuvenating moment in my life, and I have Bryan to thank for it. I have Bryan to thank for everything.

I know I’m not a more celebrated performer/personality in the wrestling world, and the people who do know me feel ill of me – but I really hope this doesn’t go unnoticed. I really hope this gets shared and really gets put out there for people to see, because I feel the need to spread this love out there right now. I want Bryan to be able to see this. I really hope he gets to read this some day, somehow.  I want him to know how much he inspired me, and how much he will always mean to me.

Thank you, Bryan. For everything.

-Pelle

Pelle Primeau will be in action on April 9th in Morganville NJ, in a match against Kyle Kristopher.

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