Daniel Bryan created a buzz on Twitter over the weekend when he once again suggested he will wrestle again, and that when he does, it probably won’t be in a WWE ring.
On Saturday, the day after Cody Rhodes won the Ring of Honor World Title at ROH’s Best in the World pay-per-view, Bryan sent out a congratulatory tweet to the new champion and then immediately sent a follow-up tweet warning Rhodes he'd come after him if Rhodes’ title reign reaches 462 days — the time Bryan held that title in 2005-2006.
Since being forced to retire in February 2016 at age 34 due to concussion issues, the beloved former WWE and World Heavyweight Champion has said in several interviews — as well as on an episode of WWE’s “Talking Smack" — that he hasn’t closed the door on wrestling again, even if he has to do it somewhere other than WWE.
Bryan, who has suffered 10 documented concussions and experienced post-concussion seizures, has stated on multiple occasions the only reason he retired was because WWE left him no choice. WWE doctors won’t clear him to wrestle, but Bryan has said that several concussion specialists have told him he could resume wrestling.
If Bryan truly is determined to step back in the ring, he’ll be putting WWE in a difficult position.
There’s no question WWE doesn’t want to see Bryan — who currently plays the role of “SmackDown Live” general manager and has over than a year left on his WWE contract — leave and wrestle somewhere else. But the alternative is that, after refusing to medically clear Bryan all this time, the company would do so just to keep him from leaving.
So either WWE loses one of its most popular personalities and allows another company to cash in on his return to the ring, or WWE clears Bryan and takes a huge PR hit for putting business interests over his health. With sports concussions being such a hot button issue, it’s hard to imagine WWE going the latter route.
Any other wrestling company who would book Bryan to wrestle would have the “out” of saying it did so because Bryan’s doctors cleared him. Unlike WWE, the other companies haven’t refused to let Bryan wrestle.
As a wrestling fan, I’d love to see Bryan do what he does as well or better than anyone in the industry: Wrestle. If he returned to the ring in WWE, matches against the likes of AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe on the big stage would be amazing.
On the other hand, Bryan returning to his old stomping grounds in ROH, where he is regarded as one of the “Founding Fathers” of the company, to face guys such as Rhodes, Marty Scurll and Jay Lethal would be a dream scenario for hardcore fans as well as a huge shot in the arm for ROH.
There’s also New Japan Pro Wrestling — where Bryan could have dream matches with guys such as Kazuchika Okada, Kenny Omega and others — and CMLL in Mexico, which reportedly is a promotion Bryan always wanted to work for.
But then I think about all the concussions Bryan has suffered and realize I would cringe every time he took a bump. I also think about Birdie Joe, the baby girl Bryan and his wife, Brie Bella, welcomed into the world last month.
I can only imagine how heartbreaking it was for Bryan to be told that he could no longer do something he “loved in a way I have never loved anything else,” which is what he said about being a wrestler during his retirement speech on “Raw” last year. But is the risk of wrestling again really worth the reward?
I’m sure the powers that be in WWE hope that question is never answered.