Daniel Bryan announced his decision a short time ago via Twitter. His retirement is effective immediately and is for in-ring action only. Thanks to the internet, we know what led to what was clearly a difficult decision for him. Sidelined with what can now be called a career ending neck injury in 2013, Bryan had two successful Wrestlemania runs, capturing a title both times–the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania 30 and the Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania 31. In both cases however, he was forced to vacate the title because of his neck injury which he suffered in 2013 during a storyline involving Kane and the breakup of Team Hell No.
It goes without saying this was the best-case outcome WWE wanted from the beginning in regards to Bryan, who married WWE Diva Brie Bella in 2014 (incidentally, her sister Nikki is dating John Cena and their mother is engaged to John Laurenitis): They took a huge risk booking Bryan to win the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania 30 and got burned when he went on the injured list shortly afterward. The same thing happened last year when he won the IC Title in a ladder match at Wrestlemania 31. The only reason Bryan got both title shots was because of his cult following.
Vince will likely be hated for this in the short term by fans but in the long term, it was the right decision. Vince made it no secret he didn’t want Bryan to have either of his recent title shots at all because of his neck injury. He would have been crazy to allow him to wrestle at all after that despite Bryan getting medically cleared by his doctors. If WWE’s medical team doesn’t clear you–and it’s doubtful they needed Vince to tell them not to–you don’t wrestle. It’s that simple.
Contrary to the haters, the WWE’s been doing well in recent years. Roman Reigns is being pushed and will likely win the WWE title at Wrestlemania 32 next month. It also looks like John Cena’s getting ready to hang it up to pursue other things as well. With Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins (when he returns), Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, AJ Stiles and other superstars, WWE can absorb the blowback from this and keep rolling.
That said, let’s talk about what could be next for the bearded one: Bryan said he is retiring from in-ring action. This will likely be for the remainder of his contract with WWE. It’s very likely he will look to wrestle for another promotion.
The question to be asked is where?
This will be a lot harder than folks think: WWE has connections to ALOT of promotions worldwide because of where so many Superstars came from. For example Paige was literally born in a ring. Her family runs a promotion in the UK. Same for Anoa’i Family (Roman Reigns and The Usos’ family), Goldust and Stardust and Randy Orton. Bryan’s got his work cut out for him finding a promotion WWE doesn’t have strong ties with that isn’t TNA. TNA’s likely gonna get bought out by WWE soon so…yeah.