YES? YES? YES?
Daniel Bryan retired from wrestling in 2015. It’s not something he wanted to do, and it’s not something his employer, the WWE, wanted to do. Daniel Bryan was one of the most popular superstars to grace the squared circle in the past 10 years. His chase of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Summerslam 2013 to Wrestlemania 30 was one of the best told stories the WWE had ever produced. That’s why it was so heart breaking to have to say goodbye to Daniel in ring only one year later.
In the post-Chris Benoit era of the WWE there are no chances being taken. Increasingly with scientific research it has become extremely evident that contact sports cause CTE. CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a brain disease that seems to be caused by multiple concussions and/or sub concussive blows over a person’s life. It is a disease that can cause extreme changes in personality, violent and destructive behavior, depression, and in the most extreme instances suicidal and homicidal ideation. The disease can only be diagnosed post-mortem and so far it has been linked to four activites; professional football, boxing/mma, motocross, and professional wrestling. That brings us back to Chris Benoit. A post-mortem study of his brain revealed that he was suffering from severe CTE and this is the leading theory into what caused is paranoid thoughts that eventually led to the murder of his wife and son and his own suicide.
Daniel Bryan has himself stated that he has had over 10 documented concussions and post concussive seizures that he hid from the WWE. This puts him at substantial risk of the type of brain damage that causes CTE.
It’s with these facts that WWE decided that Daniel Bryan had to retire immediately. Any success he might have in the ring wasn’t worth his neurological health. Now don’t think for a moment this was a completely altruistic decision on the part of McMahon and Co. If the WWE knew the risks to Bryan’s health and continued to allow him to wrestle this would open up a HUGE liability for the company. The WWE are currently being sued over this very issue and in light of the NFL’s billion dollar settlment regarding CTE this is something that weighs heavy in the minds of the suits in Titan Tower.
All that being said Daniel Bryan seems to be relentlessly obsessed with returning to the ring. Ever since he was first sidelined, he has been working to make himself healthy enough to return to the ring. He has also been seeking approval to return from a litany of doctors all over the country in the hopes of changing the minds of the WWE’s medical team. This seems all for naught and the current conventional wisdom is that Bryan is going to work off the remainder of his contract with the WWE and then jump ship to a company who is less afraid of lawsuits and more interested in the short term financial gain they would glean from signing such a marquee name as Daniel Bryan.
These rumors were basically confirmed when Daniel Bryan’s wife and retired WWE talent Brie Bella appeared on the Barstool Sports’ From The Top Rope podcast. She was quoted as saying:
“And I told Bryan, ‘You do have a daughter, so always remember that. But if the doctors finally give you the green light,’ I go, ‘Go! This is your dream and passion. You have one life to live and I will never hold you back.’ … Because I love to wrestle, and I would hate if someone told me you can’t do it. And if WWE doesn’t allow it, then I said, ‘Go somewhere else. It’s all on you.’ Obviously he would love to be able to get back in that WWE ring, but I know for a fact my husband is going to find his way back to the ring. He honestly is.”
If Bryan’s wife statement is any indication it looks like we’ll be seeing the leader of the yes movement back in action sooner rather than later.