Daniel Bryan retires

D Bryan WM 31

So it’s official, Daniel Bryan has retired.  Last night, in one of the most stirring and emotionally compelling moments in the history of Monday Night RAW Bryan came to the ring for what is probably the final time as a WWE wrestler and gave a tear inducing final address to us all.  Bryan’s career has been nothing short of remarkable.  I only caught the last two years of his work but even that was as good as anything I’ve seen in 30 years of on and off wrestling fandom.  In two years he went from losing in 18 seconds in the opening match of WrestleMania 28 to winning the WWE Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 30.  He also held the World Championship when it was a separate title, Tag Team Title (with Kane), the U.S. Title, and the Intercontinental Title for a brief run after winning it at WrestleMania 31.  Along the way he became the poster child for backstage politics and the patron saint of all the people who believe Vince McMahon and co. don’t spend a lot of time listening to their actual customers.  Bryan is the guy that anyone in NXT, or ROH, or in the indies can look at and say ‘that could be me.’

If I had to recommend Daniel Bryan matches for you, here are my picks:

  • Bryan vs CM Punk at Over the Limit 2012, for the WWE Title
  • Bryan, Kane, and Ryback vs The Shield at TLC 2012
  • Bryan vs John Cena at Summerslam 2013, for the WWE Title
  • Bryan vs Bray Wyatt at Royal Rumble 2014
  • Bryan vs Triple H, Wrestlemania 30
  • Bryan vs Batista and Randy Orton, WrestleMania 30

Bryan has been battling injuries over the past two years – shortly after each of the last two WrestleManias he’s found himself sidelined for the rest of the year.  After several stories about independent doctors clearing him while the WWE’s doctor would not (and that is a truly ironic development given the history of the wrestling business and all other athletic forms of entertainment), Bryan said last night that his most recent evaluation showed that he isn’t as fine as he thought he was.  Hopefully that’s doesn’t mean anything beyond the words at face value. Bryan’s in ring style is one that put him at an injury risk every time out nowadays and his relatively slight build only added to that.  It’s a shame that is hads to end this way, but that doesn’t diminish what he accomplished.  Thanks for everything, Daniel Bryan.

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