Joseph O’Brien: It’s been exactly a week since everyone’s favorite beard Daniel Bryan announced his retirement on Twitter and subsequently on Monday Night RAW. The circumstance around his retirement were frightening (to put it lightly) and it appears as if the “American Dragon” called it quits before his health or even his life could have been placed in jeopardy.
Bryan meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people in the wrestling world. He was a fantastic entertainer, loving, charitable man and all-around good human being. His time within a wrestling ring will surely be missed and even though he only spent around 6-7 years on the WWE level, his impact on the wrestling business as a whole has been utterly remarkable both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.
Before Daniel Bryan, men like Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Sami Zayn, Cesaro, Kevin Owens, Luke Harper and AJ Styles could very well have been overlooked for being “indy talent” and not those men or women with the right “pedigree” to become WWE superstars. Some say (myself included) Daniel Bryan helped break down that stigma through pure talent, resiliency and personality alone. He didn’t have the look of Randy Orton, the body of John Cena or the legacy of The Rock but yet he still made it to the very top of his profession.
Bryan became the face of the new WWE superstar. Now there are men and women in NXT who are getting opportunities that may have new been possible 5 years ago. The different styles Hideo Itami, Samoa Joe and even the NXT Champion Finn Balor have brought a freshness to the WWE and are all on the verge of being prime-time stars on RAW and SmackDown. Daniel Bryan’s legacy will last long after he’s just another name in a record book. I’m glad was able to witness Bryan “Daniel Bryan” Danielson in his prime and I thank him for sharing his talent with the world.
Kate Hartford: My favorite Daniel Bryan moments were the ones he spent with Connor. Their friendship was truly inspirational, and WWE has done some good because of it to help other young wrestling fans like Connor have a chance. I don’t tear up very easily, but Bryan’s HOF induction for Connor and his speech last night hit me pretty hard. Despite that, it only confirms how great wrestling really is and how much it means to so many people across the world.
Pat Metalhead: After weeks, months even, regarding Daniel Bryan’s future, the man himself announced his retirement from wrestling on RAW this Monday. This was, of course the most talked about item this week, but, was it really that much of a surprise? In hindsight, perhaps not.
We all knew the story of course, after suffering his latest injuries, Bryan was cleared to recent to action by several doctors, but the WWE doctor remained adamant and refused to clear him. This led to all kind of speculation, some of them fueled by Bryan himself when he declared he wanted to wrestle and if that couldn’t happen in WWE, then it should happen somewhere else. It has since been confirmed that Bryan indeed asked for his release by WWE, which was refused. No surprise there since, as I’ve explained before, WWE knew all to well that ROH and, especially, NJPW would have been all to happy to give Bryan whatever he wanted in order to be able to book him.
But we now also know that WWE made the right call when it came to Bryan’s health. It has been revealed this week that DB suffered from post-concussion seizures, indicating the damage received was indeed as bad as the WWE doctor thought it was. While said doctor was often criticized in the past, I for one am very happy he stood his ground, because as it turned out he was indeed acting
in Bryan’s best interest. While I myself have speculated about the possibility of Bryan wrestling for promotions like NJPW, I now shudder to think what might have happened if that indeed had come to pass.
So DB’s retirement was indeed sad new, but when you take a step back, remember all the injuries he suffered during his career and all the little signs that were there this past year and are now becoming obvious, then Bryan’s retirement was indeed the best thing that could happen. Perhaps not for business, perhaps not for wrestling fans, but certainly for the man himself.
When the call came to write down our feelings about DB’s retirement, we were also asked what we would remember him by. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna bore you with yet another diatribe at WWE’s misuse of their best elements, I just gonna say that Bryan’s best WWE match was, arguably, his over the limit match against CM Punk. Of course that match happened at an event that was head-lined by John Cena and John Laurinaitis. Nuff said.
I’m mentioning this to illustrate that my best Daniel Bryan memories are actually Bryan Danielson memories. This is not the place to do a complete story about Bryan’s illustrious indie career, but, suffice it to say that if I did, his best and most memorable matches would be pinpointed during that part of his career, NOT during his WWE days.
While thinking about what to write, I was reminded of this one match, seen by many as Bryan Danielson’s best match ever and, indeed, one of the best indie matches ever. I’m of course talking about his war against KENTA at ROH’s Glory For Honor V. But more than just an all-time great wrestling match, this, I think, also is now a bittersweet memory because, in a way, it foreshadows what would happen years later. 3 weeks before the match, DB separated his shoulders during a match with Colt Cabana, tearing several tendons. That was actually used for the story of this match and helped make it a mesmerizing, but also at times difficult to watch, spectacle. This match is, perhaps, the best way to define his greatest strengths. A extremely talented, charismatic and generous performer who had an indomitable will and desire to give his best, whatever happened, no matter the circumstances. Ironically, in the end, that also proved to be his greatest weakness.
Thanks for everything Bryan, and I wish you the best for whatever is to come for you.
Jared Doucet: I know I’ll cover a little bit of this in my upcoming column but as for my thoughts on Daniel Bryan… I am both sad yet relieved because the speculation is over and he has finally moved on. It’s hard to say goodbye to something you love but this also brings to light the reality of professional wrestling: these guys kill themselves, night in and night out, for years and years. Whether it be in front of 20 fans in a school gym or 100,000 fans in Texas Stadium, these men and women give 100% effort all the time and while it’s sad to see Danielson retire at such a young age, he will obviously be a beacon of hope in that he does not become another wrestling statistic. He left such an undeniable legacy on the business that should be emulated in years to come. It also goes to show that we no longer exist in the coked up, alcoholic, steroid induced haze that was the WWE in the 80s and 90s and we are now in an era where guys naturally get over, are natural athletes and Bryan is the pinnacle of that.
Sam Pacelli: […]We can only hope that Bryan finds a future for himself that he enjoys, be it as a father, an NXT trainer or in any other pursuit he’s not even discovered yet. I for one, and I’m sure many would agree, would love to see him sculpt the future of wrestling at the Performance Centre. Lending his brand of sincerity and respect as well as his technical abilities to NXT would be invaluable. Would he uproot and move to Florida? Only time will tell.
Bryan Danielson has gratitude for everything he’s been able to accomplish, but as a fan I have gratitude for the fact I was able to witness those accomplishments. His expression of gratitude hints at a higher level of overall acceptance for his position… We shouldn’t cry because it’s over, we should be grateful that it happened.
Tags: AJ Styles, Bryan Danielson, Cesaro, Daniel Bryan, dean ambrose, John Cena, Kevin Owens, Luke Harper, Randy Orton, sami zayn, seth rollins, The Rock, WWE