WWE’s Daniel Bryan announces his retirement from wrestling
What a sad time for wrestling and its fans.
This past Monday, Daniel Bryan shockingly announced via Twitter that he was retiring from in-ring competition.
At first, I thought it was all an elaborate trick by Bryan and WWE. After all, he has been cleared to compete by several doctors, but not WWE’s. I’m sure many fans were in denial as I was. Nobody wanted to see a great wrestler leave the sport he loved.
Monday Night Raw was in Bryan’s hometown of Seattle, a true homecoming for the Aberdeen native. As Raw was getting closer to the end, it hit me that this was the final hoorah for Daniel Bryan. With the main event all to himself, Bryan came out and made the dreaded announcement. Several clips have been provided thanks to WWE. If you are a passionate wrestling fan, I warn you: There may be tears.
WWE also uploaded part of the speech.
… Excuse me, I have to take a moment and reflect.
For over 16 years, Daniel Bryan wrestled around the world, gaining a cult following. He was one of the first students in Shawn Michaels’ wrestling academy. Bryan used his real name, Bryan Danielson, before coming to WWE. That name helped make him famous around the world. He wrestled in Japan, Mexico and all around Europe. As one of the “founding fathers” of Ring of Honor, he shined as the company’s main attraction for years. A former Ring of Honor Champion, Danielson got a chance to show off his technical prowess night after night. Everything about him was entertaining. If you never got to see his epic entrance featuring Europe’s “The Final Countdown”, I highly recommend watching this:
Bryan joined WWE as a participant in the first inaugural season of NXT. Back then, it was more like a reality competition show. He had to prove himself over and over again, a common theme for his career. During the Nexus angle which started his main roster run, Bryan got fired for choking ring announcer Justin Roberts. He was deemed too violent. After a while, he eventually came back and won the U.S. Title off his former NXT instructor The Miz. That was a great match that was the first step of WWE superstardom for him. An eventual Money in the Bank winner, Bryan was able to cash-in and win his first World Heavyweight Championship. Many internet fans were ecstatic, but it didn’t seem enough. It appeared that WWE weren’t offering him all they could. And so began the “YES!” chant.
In an interview with Jonathon Coachman on ESPN’s “Off the Top Rope” segment, Bryan admitted the chants were originally to annoy people. For a while, it succeeded. The man was so annoying the crowd taunted him wherever he went. And then everything changed. Sheamus quickly defeated him for the title at WrestleMania 28. That set off a chain of events that not even WWE or Vince McMahon could predict. The “Yes!” and “No!” chants began to grow on the crowd. The next night on Raw, the crowd hijacked the show, chanting “Yes!” and “No!” at everything. Bryan wasn’t even on the show until the cameras were off. At first rejecting the fans use of it, Bryan began to embrace it and use it to his advantage. The “What?” chants that “Stone Cold” Steve Austin made famous were now being replaced by “Yes!” and “No!” chants.
The chants were so popular that major sports teams were adopting it. The San Fransisco Giants, The New York Islanders and the Michigan State Spartans are just a few teams that have adopted the chants. Something small (like Daniel Bryan) became an instant crowd favorite.
Daniel Bryan started receiving reactions by fans not seen since the Attitude Era days of the old WWF. Even during his crazy tag team run with Kane, you could see how much support he had. He was a true underdog, and he made you believe that anything was possible. When he won the World Title off of John Cena at the 2013 SummerSlam PPV, the fans went wild. When Bryan lost it that night, the fans were very disappointed, but didn’t give up on him.
Throughout the next few months, Daniel Bryan fought to get his title back. In one of the craziest nights in Raw history, the Seattle crowd hijacked a main event that was not supposed to be about Daniel Bryan. For several minutes, his name was getting chanted so loudly that Triple H could not be heard. Bryan became a part of the story because the fans wanted him to be.
Along the way, he had a mini-feud with Bray Wyatt. The result of the feud featured one of my favorite moments in Raw history. Bryan and the crowd joined as one in an eye-opening scene.
With the Royal Rumble coming up, there were rumors that a returning Batista would win the Rumble match. Fans were not just mad at that, but the fact that Bryan wasn’t even in the match. He was not involved in the title scene, and fans were pissed. It took a while, but after weeks of rebelling against the product, the pleas by the fans were eventually heard. WWE had to change all of their plans to get him into the main event of WrestleMania 30. That’s right, a 5‘ 8″, 190lb wrestler managed to change the main event of the biggest show of the year due to crowd support.
He had to go through Triple H first. In a classic wrestler vs. authority figure match, Daniel Bryan and Triple H competed in a great opening contest. Bryan won, allowing him to pull double duty at WrestleMania. The hype video surrounding Bryan and his possible WrestleMania moment was a masterpiece.
Nothing was planned. It was all organic and that was what made Daniel Bryan’s shining moment at the event that much better. WrestleMania 30 became the Daniel Bryan Show. It was a culmination of all of his hard work and the fans support. Legendary moments were meant to be made at “The Granddaddy of them All”, and he etched his name in history.
Alas, his moment was short-lived. A few weeks after winning the title, Bryan needed surgery. After a while, more complications were added to his injuries that made his absence longer. Although he was gone, his presence was still strong in every arena WWE went to. Crowds chanted “Yes!” at every moment they could. He came back just in time for the 2015 Royal Rumble, but was quickly eliminated. He eventually won the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania 31, becoming a Grand Slam Champion in WWE. A concussion forced him to go on the shelf again, but this time for good.
On “Off the Top Rope”, Bryan explained that he had at least 10 documented concussions in his career, some that caused seizures. That is crazy to think about, especially after hearing about how concussions have affected a cornucopia of athletes. Think back to NFL players, or the Chris Benoit issue. Let’s be glad that Bryan got out of the business while he had the chance. At 34-years old, Bryan can now work on his health while building a family. He can finally relax, knowing that he made a difference for talented wrestlers never given a true chance to succeed.
Although he will no longer be a wrestler, Daniel Bryan’s legacy will continue on as he lives his life. I am sure Bryan will be around to give WWE and its talent support. The man changed WWE for the better, allowing fans to truly connect with someone they relate to. His sacrifices in the ring and his charitable services outside of it are the reasons so many people supported him. He was a once-in-a-lifetime wrestler; a true Cinderella story in the world of professional wrestling.
Thank you Daniel Bryan…No…Thank you Bryan Danielson for all that you have done for the wrestling business. Will you be missed? Yes! Yes! Yes!
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