As he announced prior to the show on Twitter, Daniel Bryan went ahead and delivered a retirement speech during last night’s RAW.
He stated that in his first 5 months of wrestling he’d already sustained several concussions, and over the years they continued to mount. He also confirmed that he went for further tests with WWE’s doctors a couple of weeks back and was once again told he should never wrestle again due to signs of brain damage.
While we can’t say for certain that he’ll never wrestle again for another company, his WWE in-ring career is over and if we take what he said at face value, he’s accepted that he shouldn’t be taking any more bumps – regardless of which ring he is in.
There are obviously a lot of mixed emotions from fans, mostly because there is a lack of trust towards WWE. There is a feeling that the company are forcing him to retire against his will and in spite of some pretty high profile doctors clearing him. Some of this is clouded in fiction, such as the idea that this is somehow about keeping Roman Reigns strong and Vince just doesn’t want Bryan be a top star. However it is true that non-WWE doctors did give him the green light to perform again.
What some don’t understand is that although he’s a controversial figure, WWE’s Dr. Joseph Maroon is arguably the leading expert in the world when it comes to concussions and CTE (the the type of brain damage that Chris Benoit suffered from), so when he says Bryan isn’t fit, he knows what he’s talking about.
What makes the situation so difficult to process is that despite his status, Maroon has also been accused of downplaying CTE and was portrayed in a negative light in the recent concussion movie. Long story short, it’s believed that although he was perhaps the only person in the world that knew the real damage of concussions, he hid that knowledge on behalf of the NFL.
It would therefore appear that an element of the Daniel Bryan story is Dr. Maroon redeeming himself. Some will say he’s deliberately overplaying the issue for the positive PR, but isn’t it better to be cautious than reckless? WWE cannot afford a scenario where Daniel Bryan downward spirals in to mental illness, suicide or a Benoit type tragedy, which are very real consequences of CTE.
Only time will tell what’s next for Bryan. His WWE contract still has many months left, so it’s likely he’ll still appear in some non-wrestling roles on the Network. Whether he’ll eventually re-sign and stay on for such roles, as well as Total Divas is unknown. It was reported earlier in the week that he’s actually been asking for his release but the company wont give him it.
Meanwhile the wrestling world has ignited with thank you messages for the former Champion:
— Vince McMahon (@VinceMcMahon) February 9, 2016
— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) February 8, 2016
— Triple H (@TripleH) February 8, 2016
Selfishly. I always wanted 1 more, DB! I'm no mark for titles, etc. but us "not quite ready for prime time players"
— Dolph Ziggler (@HEELZiggler) February 8, 2016
— The Big Guy (@Ryback22) February 8, 2016
— Michael Cole (@MichaelCole) February 8, 2016
— Sami Zayn (@iLikeSamiZayn) February 8, 2016
— Bayley (@itsBayleyWWE) February 8, 2016
Congrats on an incredible career. Glad I was able to be there for it. An honor to share the ring w/ u. https://t.co/gpBl40n53T
— The Miz (@mikethemiz) February 8, 2016
— Nattie (@NatbyNature) February 8, 2016
— Joey Styles (@JoeyStyles) February 8, 2016
— Kevin Owens (@FightOwensFight) February 8, 2016
— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) February 8, 2016
As I sit here tonight, I do so with a mix of emotions. Everything from selfishly profound sadness to relief tinged.. pic.twitter.com/i63PWnaHds
— Samoa Joe (@SamoaJoe) February 9, 2016