Daniel Bryan Announces "Retirement"
By now you've heard the news rippling not only across wrestling media, but through more traditional news outlets that “Indie darling,” and frequent WWE punching bag Daniel Bryan announced his retirement via his personal twitter account early Monday morning. For all intent, it appears that the career of the four time World Champion is over.
I've made no secret that I'm not a fan of Daniel Bryan's style of wrestling or his contempt and lack of respect towards Kayfabe, yet I feel compelled to admit I have a ton of respect for his character and his accomplishments in both Ring of Honor Wrestling and WWE. Now, I'm no big city fancy lawyer, yet it would seem to me that Daniel Bryan was backed into a corner and chose the nuclear option.
Similar to Rey Mysterio, The long third arm of Vince McMahon had the bearded wonder bent over a barrel, and who could blame them quite frankly. While a huge draw and a star in his own right, Daniel Bryan had suffered a near career ending months earlier and suffered a well publicized concussion weeks after winning the Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania.
In a reality in which WWE is being hammered from multiple angles regarding concussions, when an outspoken and high profile talent with a history of concussions goes down with one, its imperative that you take certain precautions. Does this give WWE the right to tinker with a man's sanity and livelihood? Certainly not. However when you consider that risking him getting back in the ring with a medical history such as his does carry with it a certain amount peril, you may become a tad more sympathetic to WWE's point of view.
Now, believe it or not, but in addition to not being a lawyer, I'm not a doctor. My ability to comment as to the health of someone who is in much better mental and physical state than mine is certainly muted. However, from the outside looking in, one can only wonder whether or not this is a work. After all, WWE has set precedent before.
Considering that several high profile talent is either old or injured, selling out the biggest Wrestlemania in history may be in jeopardy. What better way to reengage the super fans by giving us a high profile match in which Bryan must wrestle for his career. Shawn Michaels vs Daniel Bryan for Bryan's contract? That'll put butts in the seats.
Like Mark Henry and the aforementioned Michaels before him, The “retirement” swerve has been done before, particularly to set up a high profile “money” match for an upcoming pay per view. In a world where ticket sales and attendance are going down the toilet, sending viewers to Monday Night Raw, especially those who've consumed the news from ESPN or CNN only to find themselves engrossed in a complicated storyline carrying them to Wrestlemania. That's smart booking.
However, one must ask, what if? What if he's done? Can Daniel Bryan really be so tired of losing to the WWE legal team and medical staff that he has just thrown up his hands and says tonight” Fine, you win...” If Daniel Bryan really is pulling the trigger and killing the hostage later tonight, then we all lose, himself most of all.
Lets assume for a minute that this isn't a work and that Daniel Bryan is, as he claims he is, cleared to compete in a wrestling ring. If WWE was very clear and open that he was never going to work in a WWE ring again, just breach the contract. In reality, what do you have to lose at that point. If WWE threatens to sue for breach of contract, call their bluff. Let them sue.
WWE's image is not exactly in a positive place right now, particularly with those who long term fans of professional wrestling. I don't imagine that WWE would want to have their name further drug through the mud, especially with the narrative of not letting the best wrestler in the world compete only because the don't want anyone else to have access to their golden goose.
This may seem like a simplistic conclusion to draw from the situation, but I truly find it hard to image that WWE's willing to take the risk of such a negative PR nightmare if they were to sue DB. Settle out of court, pay them the 1.5 mil, wrestle at ROH, get another concussion. Move on with your life. Sunrise. Sunset.
The clock is ticking away at a situation that can end in a myriad of different directions. Does DB return to fight another day after a storyline swerve? What about John Cena in all of this? Talk about a prime opportunity for a heel turn. John Cena wrestling Bryan to stop him from returning to WWE at 'Mania? That's your “money match” folks
Or are we left broken? Does this void in our television sets remain unfilled as the last of the good ones rides away. We may see another Edge tonight people. We may watch as yet another young, charismatic talent is forced to stand down and watch the second string try to score a field goal from the sidelines.