Daniel Bryan Sits Out SmackDown National Anthem

Says WWE ‘Oppresses Talented People’

(DALLAS, TX) – On the heels of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting out the American national anthem on Saturday’s NFL pre-season game, WWE SmackDown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan has said he will sit out tonight’s SmackDown Live theme song.

Whereas Kaepernick said his refusal to stand is because he believes America oppresses African Americans, Bryan said his refusal to stand is because he believes WWE oppresses talented people.

“We live in a country where WWE discriminates against those of us with wrestling talent, worldwide wrestling experience, and charisma,” said Bryan in a segment pre-recorded for Talking Smack, the post-SmackDown Live wrap-up show on the WWE Network.

“I can no longer stand for the theme song that represents booking people like the Miz, Eva Marie, Braun Strowman, Sheamus, and Baron Corbin while super-talents like Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, and Asuka languish in NXT,” he continued.

Unlike Caepernick, who was shunned by fans and teammates, Bryan has been met with universal praise by wrestling fans, WWE personnel, and those in the media.

“Finally someone is standing up for the stupidity that prevents some of the NXT stars from being called up to the main roster,” said longtime wrestling fan Jim Miller, who attends NXT shows in the Florida area. “WWE’s roster is razor thin on both the Raw and SmackDown brands, even more so now that Finn Balor has been injured and Brock Lesnar has a limited schedule. Meanwhile the guys in NXT are tearing it up and can’t catch a break.”

Bryan’s comments come on the heels of SummerSlam weekend in Brooklyn, in which most fans believed the NXT Takeover show was far more entertaining than the main SummerSlam card. Nakamura in particular got a thunderous reaction both for his electrifying ring entrance and NXT title victory over Samoa Joe.

HHH, who is largely responsible for running the NXT brand, defended the company’s actions.

“Daniel Bryan is a bitter little twerp who’s acting out because he wants to wrestle but our doctor won’t let him,” said HHH in a Reddit chat before SmackDown Live aired. “Bayley got over, and we brought her up to Raw. Nia Jax and the Ascension are incredibly talented individuals, as is Dana Brooke. Stack Nakamura on top of Joe and they’re still not as tall as Big Cass, not to mention Nakamura’s broken English makes him sound like a FOB compared to Enzo’s eloquence. Just because Steph can whip Bryan’s ass in real life doesn’t mean she or Vince should listen to him.”

HHH then echoed Miz’s comments last week on Talking Smack, telling Bryan to go back to working “Bingo halls,” once his WWE contract is up. Many believe HHH’s remarks were similar to comments fans had made about Kaepernick’s recent playing ability on the field, in which he was blasted for being a bench warmer who only had two good seasons before regressing.

Fans in line for SmackDown Live were furious upon hearing HHH’s remarks, with some threatening to sit out the SmackDown theme song as well. The song, called “Take a Chance” by renowned wrestling theme-song writers CFO$, has become the poster child for misguided talent judgment by WWE that many say overlooks wrestlers in NXT who could be much bigger stars on the main roster.

Bryan made additional controversial remarks last week when he stated that Balor should’ve been on the main roster over a year ago.

“Finn Balor should have been up here a year and a half ago,” he said in an interview with Michael Cole. “Samoa Joe should already be here. Shinsuke Nakamura should already be here. Those are guys in their primes, and they’re down in NXT when they should be here; either on SmackDown Live or on Raw. The longer we wait, the more bumps they take, the more bruises they get and the more susceptible they are to injury.”

Bryan hopes his sitting out catches on with fans, and hopes they will also sit out the Raw and NXT anthems.

“My ass isn’t getting off this chair until Nakamura and Joe are up here,” he said.

Bryan is still slated to work Talking Smack, but promised to voice his opinions on that show as well. He will continue announcing for the Cruiserweight Classic, but will also sit out their anthem until Brian Kendrick, Kota Ibushi, Cedric Alexander, and Jack Gallgher receive contracts for either NXT or the main roster.

No word on if Bryan believes WWE oppresses announcing talent as well, given that David Otunga, Byron Saxton, and JBL have been made permanent announcers on the main roster.