Celebrity appearances are not a rarity in pro-wrestling, but seeing a celebrity in the midst of a public meltdown wrestling at one of the biggest events of the year should be a cause for concern. This almost happened in the WWE, when Daniel Bryan almost wrestled Charlie Sheen during the height of his “Tiger Blood” craze.
WWE has never been one to shy away from controversy. They brought in Mike Tyson after he spent three-years in prison for rape, and even referenced the OJ Simpson car chase during one of the biggest WrestleManias of all time (that’s not even mentioning covering up a murder and multiple sexual abuse scandals). However, Charlie Sheen did seem a step too far, even if Vince McMahon didn’t think so.
Even more curiously, it was Daniel Bryan who was chosen as his opponent for the match. WWE looked set to push him as a top star in the future, and he was just coming off a feud with CM Punk over the WWE Championship and locked in a storyline with his on-screen fiancée AJ Lee.
Daniel Bryan vs Charlie Sheen was an unorthodox, yet huge match that could have brought The American Dragon up to a level that he never had been before, with more mainstream credibility than any WWE Superstar could dream of.
Daniel Bryan vs Charlie Sheen Was Planned For Summerslam 2012
Charlie Sheen was one of the biggest stars (whether infamous or famous was another thing) in 2012 when he agreed to appear for the WWE. He was fired from Two and a Half Men the year before, and was just starting his new TV show Anger Management, which also became a big hit.
The 1980s movie star had become a leading man on network TV, but his erratic behavior and drug-fuelled binges had hit the headlines, costing him his job on the highest-rated TV show in American. He was clearly damaged goods, but WWE still thought they could utilize his popularity to their own end.
WWE had attempted to crossover into the mainstream using celebrities many times. The “Raw Guest Host” era saw many celebrities, like Hugh Jackman, Bob Barker and The Muppets, take control of the show on a weekly basis in a blatant attempt to trick viewers into sticking around and watching the show. It was a huge failure, and turned many fans off the product for years.
However, Charlie Sheen had a much bigger role to play. He was made the guest host of the 1000th episode of Raw (billed as Raw 1000), which featured huge stars like John Cena, The Undertaker and The Rock appearing on the show. While he was the host of the show, Charlie Sheen called into the broadcast via Skype, making for an incredibly awkward appearance from the Ferris Buller’s Day Off star.
Charlie Sheen even laid out a challenge on the show for one WWE Superstar. After Daniel Bryan insulted Sheen, threatening him with “life management” and warning him that he would “slap on the Yes Lock”, Charlie Sheen spoke with Michael Cole and Jim Ross to lay out a challenge to the former World Heavyweight Champion.
“There’s a reason I’m drinking a shake, because I’m going to shake this fool [Daniel Bryan] so hard, his fake beard is going to fall off and you’ll see the word “losing” under these baby cheeks.”
“Yeah, I did hear what Goat Face had to say. Here’s the deal guys – tell Daniel ‘I’m not hard to find. Next time I’m in LA, tell him to meet me in the ring, in my house, his house, whatever. I’m not hiding”.
Jerry Lawler then asked Sheen if he was challenging Daniel Bryan to a match, the actor responded by quipping,
“I’ll let Daniel interpret that any way he wants, or we should get him an interpreter to figure it out”
Sadly, this match never took place. Charlie Sheen backed out of the bout, with the WWE not getting him to sign a deal to wrestle, before having him issue the challenge to Daniel Bryan. It was probably for the best, given that he was nearly 50-years-old, a known drug addict and had never set foot in a ring before, that he didn’t make his debut at Summerslam 2012 (although Daniel Bryan could still have got a great match out of him.)
Daniel Bryan (who now goes by Bryan Danielson in AEW) spoke about the match being cancelled. He revealed that he was ready to wrestle a “goofy” match with Charlie Sheen at Summerslam, but that whoever signed Sheen to a WWE deal neglected to get him to sign a contract to actually wrestle at the event.
Speaking in an interview with Fox Sports several years later, Daniel Bryan revealed:
“He was going through a very public breakdown at the time, and somehow WWE brokered a deal for him to perform against me. He taped a couple of videos for ‘Raw’ insulting me, and even though it was a goofy match to be in, it would’ve put me in one of the top matches at SummerSlam. Unfortunately, whoever brokered the Sheen deal never got him to sign any sort of contract to do the event, and in typical Charlie Sheen fashion, he bailed.”
However, Charlie Sheen did seem keen on the bout in the run-up to SummerSlam 2012, although it does appear that money was the factor in him refusing to wrestle Daniel Bryan. Speaking with IGN in the lead-up to the event, the Anger Management star spoke about the match.
He claimed that “there’s gonna have to be a lot of money on that one” to get him in the ring with the WWE, showing that the issue of payment was likely what stopped this bout from happening.
“It was a promotional tool for our show [Anger Management] and I think everybody is going to win on that one. But it was exciting just to step into a different world that I didn’t ever really believe existed – and still don’t! Oh, there’s gonna have to be a lot of money on that one [The match against Daniel Bryan at Summerslam 2012], but yeah, if it’s the right look at that moment, sure, why not?”
In the end, Daniel Bryan fought Kane at Summerslam 2012. While this was not as big as a huge celebrity match, it did start the “Team Hell No” storyline that helped launch Daniel Bryan into the main event as a beloved babyface, and began his road to the main event of WrestleMania XXX.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.