It’s no real secret that I am a fan of the theatrical spectacle of sports and entertainment known as professional wrestling. Whether it’s Vincent Kennedy McMahon and the WWE, or Joe Koff and Ring of Honor, Dave Prazak and SHIMMER Women’s Athletes or Lexie Fyfe and Shine Wrestling, I’m a fan of
it all most of it.
However, there are moments where we must simply stop being a fan, and looking up to these people as titans, and begin to level with them as people, simply because that is what they are. Such is the case of one Bryan Danielson, better known as Daniel Bryan during his tenure with Vince McMahon’s WWE.
It was just this past Monday when the news broke that Danielson would be retiring from the WWE due to health reasons. More specifically, his history with concussions has caught up with him. While, as a fan, it was a sad thing to see, almost bringing me to the brink of tears, as a fellow human being, I felt for the man.
For 16 years, Danielson has entertained fans all over the world, suffering injuries that any professional wrestler normally would, including three torn tendons in his shoulder in August 2006, and a broken orbital socket and a detached retina during matches with New Japan’s Takeshi Morishima. However, what we didn’t know, was that Danielson had suffered several concussions that he pretty much shook off, even confirming to the world on Monday Night Raw that he had sustained 10 concussions that he knew of.
TEN. And I’m not talking Tye Dillinger.
It raises several questions, but now isn’t the time for that. This is where we reflect.
To a bunch of people, Daniel Bryan is simply some guy in tights who married Brie Bella and was a judge on Tough Enough. To others, Bryan Danielson is a world renowned wrestler, with accomplishments that surpass what he did in WWE, who was mentored by two legends in Shawn Michaels and WWE trainer and on-screen commisioner for NXT William Regal. However, when I look at Danielson, I not only see a wrestler, but a loving husband, and philanthropist on the same level as John Cena and Titus O’Neil. I see a man who came from humble beginnings, stayed humble throughout his dealings and came out with a beautiful wife, a huge Wrestlemania moment and fans the world over, both in and outside of the wrestling world.
Bryan Danielson was pretty much the founding father of Ring of Honor Wrestling, holding several distinctions, such as being their longest reigning champion, as well as the final holder of their now defunct Pure Championship, a championship that was contended under a strict and honorable rule set, unifying the Pure title with the ROH World Championship.
Despite several tryouts with the WWE during those years, which included Danielson’s first encounter with the future Face that Runs the Place, John Cena, Danielson traveled the world, perfecting his craft, wrestling in promotions such as Pro Wrestling Guerilla, CHIKARA and Dragon Gate USA.
Finally, he made it to the WWE in 2009, but it was met with some turbulence, as his career didn’t start off as expected.
Danielson found himself out of a job with WWE after an unfortunate incident involving a necktie, despite a fantastic run which started off with a high-caliber match between himself and Chris Jericho during WWE NXT’s inaugural season. However, that didn’t diminsh his stock in the indies. He immediately made a return to CHIKARA, and wrestled in a few matches, but ultimately found himself back in the WWE at the behest of John Cena and a few others. SummerSlam 2010 officially started the second run of Daniel Bryan’s career with WWE, and he never looked back.
2010 – 2012 saw Daniel Bryan win both the WWE United States Championship, Money in The Bank and the then active Big Gold Belt, the World Heavyweight Championship, and 2013 saw Daniel Bryan and Kane form one of the most entertaining tag teams of all time, Team Hell No. However, no time in his career was as impactful as his match against John Cena for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam 2013, or as I like to refer to it as, the beginning of the YES Movement, not only in WWE, but also throughout sports and entertainment everywhere.
One could say that the rise of Daniel Bryan and the YES Movement couldn’t have come at a better time, and it couldn’t have happened to a better person. Coming off the heels of a turbulent time in WWE, where Batista made his comeback at the Royal Rumble PPV in 2014, and UFC Competitor and
all around scumbag former WWE superstar CM Punk’s departure set WrestleMania plans into a tailspin, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for Daniel Bryan to take the spotlight after a wild and crazy 2013, which saw the end of CM Punk’s 434 day WWE World Heavyweight Championship reign, John Cena and the Rock going at it for the 2nd time in two years, and the epic that was John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam 2013.
And that rise, inclusive of the overall #SameOldBoys issue where we saw Randy Orton hold the WWE World Heavyweight Title for over 9 months becoming an annoyance to the hardcore fans, it became inevitable that Daniel Bryan was the next breakout star of the WWE, despite the conceptions that the company was “holding him down.” So rose the legend, and so fell the legend.
Daniel Bryan’s final 2 years in WWE will forever be marred by concussion issues, however, his walking away on that fateful Feburary 8th might be the best thing for not only Bryan Danielson, the man, but his wife, Brianna, the WWE as a whole, and most importantly, the fans.
Not only can Bryan Danielson focus on his life outside of the ring, and taking care of himself and his lovely wife, Brie Bella, who has a Divas Championship match at WWE Fastlane against Divas Champion, Charlotte, who happens to be the daughter of two-time WWE Hall of Famer ‘The Nature Boy’ Ric Flair, but he can continue to be an inspiration, outside of the ring to those who wish to follow in his footsteps.