There's an old adage in wrestling that the world champion should be able to walk into any room and instantly attract every eye. You see it in others sports as well. When Michael Phelps walks onto a pool deck, he isn't just the guy who's won the most races. He looks like our divine ideal of a swimmer. Same with LeBron James on a basketball court.
But that wasn't Danielson. He was more of a Steph Curry — the ordinary dude whose skills inspired rapture. Guys like that are somehow admirable and lovable on a more human scale than the obvious demi-gods.
WWE, however, had no idea what to do with him when he joined the regular roster in 2010. Danielson looked nothing like the superheroes and villains Vince McMahon had spent a lifetime peddling to the public. But it was more than that. McMahon likes his stars to burst off the screen with world-conquering ambition, much as he does. Danielson, meanwhile, is a modest person who reads philosophy and tends an organic garden in his free time. He once talked of leaving the business to join the Peace Corps. He liked to tell the story of the company personality test on which he achieved the lowest score for ambition of anyone WWE officials had ever reviewed.
That wasn't exactly right either. Danielson might not have lusted for fame or riches. But he burned to be great. He was, and this is what drew me to him, the ultimate craftsman.