On Monday afternoon, Daniel Bryan stunned the pro wrestling community when he announced his retirement, effective immediately. The WWE star promised to “elaborate” on his decision during that evening’s telecast of “Raw,” and he did just that in what turned into an emotional tribute to one of the most popular performers in recent years.
Monday’s event was staged in Seattle’s Key Arena, giving the 34-year-old Bryan a chance to go out in front of his “hometown fans.” The wrestler, whose real name is Bryan Lloyd Danielson, hasn’t competed since suffering a concussion in April, and he was greeted with thunderous applause, as well as his trademark “Yes! Yes!” chant, when he strode to the ring.
— WWE (@WWE) February 9, 2016
Bryan proceeded to make extensive comments about his history of concussions, but he ended by expressing great appreciation for his accomplishments in his wrestling career. Here are some of Bryan’s remarks Monday:
“The truth is, I’ve been wrestling since I was 18 years old, and within the first five months of my wrestling career, I’d already had three concussions. And for years after that, I would get a concussion here and there, here or there, and then it gets to the point when you’ve been wrestling for 16 years, that adds up to a lot of concussions. It gets to a point where they tell you that you can’t wrestle anymore.”
The crowd booed that last line, perhaps out of frustration with rumors that the WWE had forced Bryan to retire. He continued:
“For a long time, I fought that, because I’d gotten EEGs and brain MRIs and neuro-psychological evaluations, and all of them said this: that I was fine, and that I could come back and I wrestle. And I trained … and I was ready at a moment’s notice — if WWE needed me, I wanted to come back and wrestle. …
“But a week and a half ago, I took a test that said maybe my brain isn’t as okay as I thought it was. I have a family to think about, and my wife [WWE star Brie Bella] and I want to start having kids soon. …
“So it is with a heavy heart and the utmost sadness that I officially announce my retirement. …
“I’ve gone through all these complex emotions in this last little bit. I’ve been angry, I’ve been sad, I’ve been frustrated, I’ve been all of that, but today, when I woke up this morning, I felt nothing but gratitude. I have gotten to do what I love for nearly 16 years. …
“Tomorrow morning, I start a new life — a life where I am no longer a wrestler. But that is tomorrow. And that is not tonight. And by damn, I have one more night to feel this energy and to feel this crowd. So if I could just get one last ‘Yes!’ chant, I would really appreciate it!”
— WWE (@WWE) February 9, 2016
As the evening went on, other pro wrestling luminaries paid their respects to Bryan via social media.
— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) February 9, 2016
— Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) February 9, 2016
"Daniel Bryan is what dreams are made of". #ThankYouDanielBryan
— Bayley (@itsBayleyWWE) February 9, 2016
— Jerry Lawler (@JerryLawler) February 9, 2016
— Howard Finkel (@howardfinkel) February 9, 2016
— Christian (@Christian4Peeps) February 9, 2016