Daniel Bryan Should Stay Away from Wrestling Despite Desire to Perform


Brie Bella claims Daniel Bryan has been cleared to return by several doctors, but is the risk worth the reward?

Rumors have been swirling for months that Daniel Bryan has been trying to find a way back into a WWE ring, despite Bryan himself saying there was “a 20 percent chance WWE will clear me” during an interview several weeks ago with Busted Open Radio. It wasn’t that long ago when he was forced to say goodbye to the world he loved. While still being actively involved with professional wrestling, his true passion since 1999 was lacing up his boots and competing inside the squared circle.

On a recent installment of Lilian Garcia’s podcast, Brie Bella relayed how her husband has traveled all across the United States in hopes of finding a doctor who will clear him to return:

"“From like, literally, the day they told him he couldn’t do it anymore, he has flown himself all over the United States to all different doctors to figure out what he could do to help turn that ‘no’ into a ‘yes’. There’s been like eight doctors who are like, ‘You can wrestle’. A lot of doctors can’t see why he can’t get in that ring again.”"

While some fans may be overjoyed at the news of possibly seeing Bryan compete once more, I am more than hesitant about his return and would actually recommend that he stay away. In Brie’s own words, Bryan is literally looking for anyone with a medical degree who will say that he is ok to wrestle. To understand why this is concerning, we need to remember why Bryan stopped wrestling in the first place.

Daniel Bryan was forced to retire in 2015 due to numerous concussions and had actually stopped wrestling full-time in 2014. This was during a period when Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) was receiving a lot of attention from several avenues including legal action against the WWE and even former players in the NFL. Just one year before Bryan’s formal retirement, the NFL agreed to pay more than $870 million to settle roughly 4,500 concussion-related lawsuits to former players.

When Bryan announced his departure during an episode of Raw, he admitted that he had suffered an incalculable amount of injuries during his time as a professional wrestler:

"“Within the first five months of my wrestling career, I’d already had three concussions,” Bryan said. “For years after that, I would get a concussion here and there, or here, or there, and it gets to the point when you’ve been wrestling for 16 years that it adds up to a lot of concussions.”"

The following day, Bryan was interviewed for an ESPN SportsCenter segment where he also revealed that he had suffered seizures. Brain injuries may be the most difficult for athletes to accept because they are not always visible. It’s not a broken leg or a fractured collarbone; these internal diseases are essentially unseen until after death when the brain can be dissected. Based on the current research, repeated concussions and seizures are some of the early indications of CTE and could be evidence that serious damage has occurred and could only get worse over time.

More from WWE

When Bryan made the “20 percent” remark, it was prefaced with him saying, “there’s an 85 percent chance I’ll wrestle again.” This statement – coupled with Brie’s recent remarks – are troubling because they imply that Bryan is ignoring the years of concussions and seizures all for the chance of finding a doctor who will say that he can wrestle again, whether it’s with WWE or someone else. I fully appreciate how hard it is for Bryan to watch young superstars live out the same dream he was living just a few years ago, but the risk is simply not worth the reward.

My fear is that although 2015 isn’t too far in our rear-view mirror, Bryan and die-hard fans will ignore the potential risks to his health and well-being and selfishly demand he step back into the ring for our amusement. Due to years of injuries, Bryan has undoubtedly suffered at least some form of CTE-related damage and there’s no telling what more concussions could do to him.

Next: WWE and CTE: Addressing the Invisible Injury

As an “executive” on SmackDown, Daniel Bryan can still find ways to impart his experience, knowledge, and wrestling acumen into the WWE Universe but it should not be in the form of him rejoining the active roster ranks of the WWE (or any other promotion) for just a few more years of competition. In the time since he stopped wrestling, Bryan has become both a husband and a father, and those roles are far more important than any match in a professional wrestling ring.