The NFL isn’t the only one taking concussions seriously.
WWE superstar Daniel Bryan announced his retirement during WWE Raw on Monday, Feb. 8 live on the USA Network from the KeyArena in Seattle, which is fittingly near Bryan’s hometown, Aberdeen.
In front of family, friends and the high-energy hometown crowd, an emotional Bryan said multiple concussions were the cause of his in-ring retirement.
What once served as an after-thought, concussions are now at the forefront of concern to the brain/head.
Tackle football players from the high school level to the pros are being sidelined quickly because of concussion type syndromes. There are steps now in place to check an athlete who landed on his head, took a hit to the head, tackled with his head.
Quite the change recently. In the past, if a player, who had his bell rung, knew where he was, he returned to the field. No further questions and no further studies.
In Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, Feb. 7, in the biggest game of his career, Carolina Panthers receiver Philly Brown left the field because of a concussion and did not return. The effects from concussions are now well documented, and WWE has taken notice as well.
WWE was very reluctant to let Bryan return to the ring, but Bryan battled the company, feeling he could continue. His love of wrestling clouded the reality. He even hinted at leaving the company to go elsewhere to wrestle again. Bryan was cleared by his own doctors, but WWE’s doctors did not. This was for his own good, his long-term health, and Bryan finally came to terms with it, finally accepting it.
Passion is something you can not fake. Bryan was the embodiment of passion for professional wrestling.
During the tribute to Bryan on Raw, former WWE World champ Seth Rollins said it best, noting Bryan didn’t do this for the money, the fame or the adulation (or to make movies). He did it because he loved to wrestle.
Bryan, 34, loved professional wrestling, and Miami is where the consummate wrestler became a top notch WWE superstar.
The kiss of death turned into the kiss of life for Bryan as WrestleMania 28 on April 1, 2012 in Miami Gardens set the stage for the making of a main event WWE talent. The jokes on the disbelievers.
At 5-9, 190-pounds, Bryan was not your typical A-list WWE sports entertainer, but this underdog overcame the odds when he captivated fans around the world, and it all started in Miami.
At WrestleMania 28, Bryan earned a WrestleMania moment, culminating from all those years paying his dues working the indies and then fighting to climb the WWE ladder. A career highlight at WrestleMaaia became a career lowlight as that moment lasted just seconds. After his manager/valet AJ Lee gave him a good-luck smooch, Sheamus decked the World champ with the Brogue kick for the instantaneous 1-2-3. New champ Sheamus.
Fans not only at Sun Life Stadium but around the social media world were so upset that WWE only afforded him a few seconds in the spotlight on the biggest stage, WWE’s Super Bowl, that they expressed their disappointment vehemently toward WWE and backed Bryan wholeheartedly. Those 18 seconds (kiss to the lips, kick to the head, slap in the face) were the best thing that could have ever happened to the young grappler.
The next night on WWE Monday Night Raw from the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, an extremely rowdy crowd expressed themselves loudly and proudly. Throughout the show they chanted “Yes! Yes! Yes!” They event chanted “Yes” during The Rock’s speech in front of his hometown crowd. The “Yes” movement took off that night, and T-shirts, goat-faced masks, main events and championships followed.
Miami also played a role earlier in his 16-year journey, but it’s not one for the memory bank. In June 2010 on Raw also at the AmericanAirlines Arena, the birth of the Nexus occurred, and Bryan was a founding member, short-lived. His aggressiveness that night actually cost him a run with the heel-faction as he was fired, but he weathered the company storm (advertisers) and did later return.
Bryan lived his dream and then some.
Wrestling provided so much for Bryan. He succeeded on the indies, especially with Ring of Honor. He succeeded on the biggest stage, making it at the highest level in WWE. He also met his wife, the lovely and talented Brie Bella, while in WWE, and forged a friendship with his biggest fan, Connor The Crusher Michalak.
Connor received considerable media attention after a social media campaign for him to meet his hero and favorite wrestler, Daniel Bryan. He later met Bryan, and they became friends. Michalek, who had battled cancer of the spine and brain since he was 3-years-old, died on April 25, 2014 at age 8. WWE executives Paul Triple H Levesque and Stephanie McMahon named the Connor's Cure charity in his honor, and he posthumously received the inaugural Warrior Award at the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony with Bryan delivering a heartfelt speech.
During WWE Monday Night Raw on Feb. 8, Bryan main evented the show one last time with his heartfelt retirement speech.
Bryan said wrestling for 16 years adds up to a lot of concussions.
He said that he’s been angry, sad, frustrated, but “today, when I woke up this morning, I felt nothing but gratitude, because I got to do what I love for nearly 16 years.”
He noted his loves.
“I love the Seahawks,” which made the Seattle audience very happy.
“I love right before my music hits, and it makes the weird sound, you guys react every single time. I get this weird little smirk on my face.”
“I love hitting the ropes and diving right here. It has made me feel like Superman, and your guys reaction to that made me feel like Superman.”
“I love that I have wrestled in the parking lots of gas stations and have wrestled in front of 70,000 people in New Orleans.”
WrestleMania 30 on April 6, 2014 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Bryan first defeated Triple H and then bested Randy Orton and Batista to win the WWE World title.
“I have got to meet the most amazing people such as someone who looks like a monster but is the smartest man I know who is Kane.”
“My mentor and my friend for over 16 years in William Regal.”
“I have got to meet children who are stronger than anybody, Connor [Michalak].”
Bryan summarized his adventure.
“Wrestling doesn’t owe us anything. WWE doesn’t owe us anything. You fan don’t owe us anything. We do this because we love to do this.”
“All of sudden you guys got behind me in a way that I never thought was possible.”
“A guy 5-8, 190 pounds, I felt I was more than just me. For that, I’m grateful.”
“A little over two years ago in this arena, you guys hijacked Raw.”
“I’m grateful to wrestling because I got to meet the most wonderful woman in the world. She’s beautiful. She’s smart.”
“I get to announce my retirement in front of a bunch of people who love me, in front of my mom, my sister, my family, my friends.”
Bryan ended it by saying, “I am grateful.”
We’re grateful, too.