By Haydn Gleed, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@haydngleed)
Let me take you back to April 14, 2015 to the O2 Arena in London. Yours truly was sat in the crowd along with roughly 10,000 other folks and we were approaching the main event of what had been a very ho hum Smackdown taping. The main event was booked to be a tag match with the Intercontinental Champion Daniel Bryan and World Champion John Cena against the heel team of Cesaro and Tyson Kidd. For a long time, this was the contest that we thought was going to be the final match in the stellar career of Bryan Danielson.
Fast forward nearly three years later and after two years of officially being retired, WWE announced to an excited world that Daniel Bryan had been medically cleared to return to the ring, which felt like an impossibility a few short months ago. My instant feeling was of elation and judging by comments on social media I was not alone. Daniel Bryan, the man who showed all of us that hard work and persistence can conquer anything that is put in front of you to achieve your dream, is coming back. I was happy for not only Bryan but also for wrestling as a whole.
In February 2016 when Daniel originally retired, and I wrote a blog about overhearing people with a casual knowledge of wrestling being gutted over his retirement. Those very same people were tweeting, talking on Facebook, or indeed calling or texting me about the news. In a world where Roman Reigns is struggling to connect with the wrestling audience and as a result interest in the product seems to be down, the sheer embodiment of a personality that can connect with the average Joe was returning. In a world where Smackdown has become a farce with its inconsistent storytelling and stale characters, this is a massive shot in the arm for anyone who was on the fence to ordering WrestleMania this year.
In short, on so many levels this was great news for the business of professional wrestling.
Then, of course, the people of a negative persuasion start chirping. Should he really be returning? He’s just one kick away from seriously injuring himself again. Isn’t he being selfish in regards to his family? Look, I’m the first one that will usually throw out the line regarding putting yourself in harm’s way is not worth it. Granted a lot of that has to do with the fact I’m a Welsh coward but I digress. But in Daniel Bryan’s case, we all know the many hoops that he has gone through to show that he is fit and able to return to the ring. Hell, he has not been shy in voicing his disgust with the way that WWE wouldn’t clear him despite test results after test results showing that he was okay to return. For me, the fact that WWE has cleared him is the reason that I’m not worried about him. Because the “row” has been so public, they would not from a legal standpoint want to clear him unless they were 1000 percent confident that it is safe for him and the company to do so.
The key for when he returns is to start working smarter and safer. If he comes back and is taking stiff headbutts and doing top rope headbutts then in my mind it’s only a matter of time before we are right back to where he has been for the past two years, retired. I understand that wrestling is an art form and he wants to be able to express himself, but it has to be done in a smart way. He’s good enough to not have to resort to moves and spots that will cause any trauma to the head. Hopefully after everything he has been through over the last three years he understands that and we will see a smarter Daniel Bryan.
To end on a positive, because after all the wrestling world has a lot more ray of light today than it did yesterday, just imagine the potential dream matchups that we now have the possibility of seeing. Bryan vs. Samoa Joe, Bryan vs. John Cena, Bryan vs. Seth Rollins, Bryan vs AJ Styles, Bryan vs Sami Zayn, Bryan vs. Kevin Owens, Bryan vs. Finn Balor, Bryan vs. Nakamura………..If that list doesn’t put a massive smile on your face as a wrestling fan then I legitimately don’t know what will.
As always feel free to reach out to me either via twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to have a chat
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