Last night, WWE superstar Daniel Bryan announced his retirement from pro-wrestling, with immediate effect, for medical reasons.
The 34-year-old former WWE World Heavyweight Champion (real name Bryan Danielson) initially made the announcement on Twitter that he was stepping away from the ring because of his concussion history, and he’d tell us more on Monday Night Raw that evening.
While wrestling fans everywhere hoped that the announcement would be part of a storyline and all one big ruse, in which Bryan would reveal he wasn’t injured at all and would be back for WrestleMania 32 in April, on the night this one was as real as it gets.
Due to medical reasons, effective immediately, I am announcing my retirement. Tonight on Raw, I'll have a chance to elaborate. #gratitude
— Daniel Bryan (@WWEDanielBryan) February 8, 2016
With highlight clips played throughout the evening showing Bryan’s best moments in the WWE, the night was already a bittersweet one.
Then Bryan stepped out and gave one of the most emotional farewell speeches in the history of WWE to an absolutely devastated audience in Seattle, not to mention the millions more watching at home.
Bryan has wrestled just three months in the last 21, with a serious neck injury intertwined with a number of concussions.
He revealed that, despite months spent trying to get cleared to return the ring, the WWE and their concussion expert Dr. Joseph Maroon have refused to give him the okay – which shows how seriously the company is taking head injuries nowadays.
Here’s a short clip of the speech:
Those aren’t tears. We’ve just been cutting onions in here, we swear!
It gets to the point where you’ve been wrestling for 16 years, that adds up to a lot of concussions. It gets to a point where they tell you you can’t wrestle any more.
A week and a half ago I took a test which said maybe my brain isn’t as okay as I thought it was. I have a family to think about and it is with a heavy heart and the utmost sadness that I officially announce my retirement.
The emotional scenes continued after the show went off the air, with the WWE locker room all paying their respects to the modern day legend.
Thank you Daniel Bryan. The best wrestler of his generation, who inspired just about everyone in the business with his work from Ring of Honor and the Independents, to Japan, to WWE.
Along with CM Punk, he opened doors for so-called ‘smaller guys’ and ‘Indie Darlings’ in the WWE, including the likes of Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe and many more.
Despite all of WWE’s attempts to fight it, he connected with the fans in a way so few have before and finally got his big moment at WrestleMania 30.
We hope he gets his place in the WWE Hall of Fame later this year. He thoroughly deserves it.