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What’s The Status Of Daniel Bryan?




What’s the status of Daniel Bryan?

It’s a question that has surfaced a lot in recent months and even more so since the rumors of the New Japan group signing with the WWE, but as of now, it seems to be the same story as before. Bryan’s personal doctor had cleared him to return to the ring while the WWE’s doctor hadn’t so it was mentioned in an interview that he was going to visit a third doctor to get an independent medical opinion. That was from a few months ago and there’s still no actual update on Bryan’s status other than he’s waiting to be cleared to get back to competition. The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer reported last week that doctors from UCLA cleared him to return, but you really have to take that with a grain of salt because there’s nothing concentrate about his status unless it’s from WWE or Daniel Bryan.

It’s been nearly a year since Daniel Bryan has seen action inside of the WWE after he sustained a concussion in a match with Sheamus and it forced him to vacate the IC title that he won at Wrestlemania 31 last year. However, it was the second consecutive year that Bryan was forced to vacate a championship, as he suffered a neck injury after the “YES! movement” propelled him into the main event of Wrestlemania 30 even though WWE brass originally had no plans for him in the title picture.

There’s no doubt about Bryan’s popularity and in my opinion, no doubt if it returns that he will be as popular, if not more so than he was previously. But, all things considered, it’s doubtful that will be the case. As mentioned, Bryan said that the WWE staff sided against his return, even though his personal doctor gave it the green light and because of that, I would guess an independent doctor’s medical opinion will be irrelevant. The bottom line is, it’s the WWE and they will go with their doctor’s advice before they will consider an outside view, and they have every right to do so because again, it’s their product.

With all the news being made about concussions, would the WWE want to risk the liability if Bryan gets hurt again? Especially after their own doctor advised against it? Daniel Bryan doesn’t seem like the type to try to sue for the well known risks that go along with professional wrestling, but there always seems to be a revolving door of washed up mid carders from years prior that are trying to make a quick money grab with a lawsuit against WWE and if given the chance, you can bet the jobbers would get a lawyer that tries to use Daniel Bryan as an example of WWE’s concussion policy. Granted, Billy Jack Haynes and any other delusional former star that sue are ridiculous, but the point being is the WWE is always going to be cautious and not risk potential liability, especially being a publicly traded company. There’s also the matter of the current CM Punk lawsuit, which includes a WWE doctor suing Punk for claims that he wasn’t given the proper medical treatment. If the WWE allows Bryan to compete and he gets hurt again, it would indirectly give CM Punk a way to counter the lawsuit. Essentially, Bryan could indirectly be used as a pawn in the current topic of sports related injuries and it might sway the WWE’s decision.

That being said, Daniel Bryan, who worked for nearly a decade as “The American Dragon” on the independent scene, is without question one of the best in ring performers of all time, despite the majority of his work taking place in smaller venues. However, when Daniel Bryan was given a national stage, he proved his talents translate to any audience and he got over as the most popular star on WWE TV without the push from the WWE machine. In fact, it became blatantly obvious that the WWE management legitimately weren’t going to give Bryan a chance to be a main event star until the mutiny that started at the Royal Rumble in 2014 continued until he was booked for Wrestlemania. Perhaps what made Daniel Bryan’s journey to the championship such a great story was that it was generated from an organic reaction from the crowd that made an emotional investment into the character. Daniel Bryan is genuinely a humble competitor that wrestles because of his passion for the sport and the audience identifies with it. I actually had the chance to meet Daniel Bryan last week at the “World of Wheel” convention and despite the winter storm that hit most of the north-east, many fans showed up to meet him. He was extremely polite and seemed happy to be there.

Aside from the hurdle of getting cleared to return to action. there would probably be limited scenarios for Bryan anyway because would the WWE really want to risk investing the TV time if he gets hurt again? More specifically, if Daniel Bryan is on the active roster again, there’s also the possibility that it could derail the WWE’s plans to continue to push Roman Reigns as the top baby face, which is why they would probably avoid any scenarios that could get the crowd to boo again. Basically, if Bryan returns, he could interrupt the Reigns plan to the top spot, much like what happened at the Royal Rumble last year.

So again, what’s the status of Daniel Bryan?

With as popular as he is, I would guess Bryan gets signed to a long term deal as an “ambassador,” so to speak for the company and works a lot of the media tours to promote events, signings, etc. Sadly, I don’t think Bryan will be cleared to return to in ring competition and if there’s ANY risk of serious injury, I would rather Daniel Bryan retire. As disappointing as it would be for him to hang up the boots, it would be terrible if he sustained a long term injury from the return. So basically, the WWE will pay him to work the promotional side and not to wrestle anywhere else, which seems like a possibility, especially considering that Brie Bella is still regularly featured on WWE TV. As far an Daniel Bryan’s legacy, he really has nothing left to prove at this point, as he was regarded by many as the best in ring worker for several years and he won the WWE title at WrestleMania. Obviously, it would’ve been great to see him continue to wrestle on a global stage, but when you consider his ROH work, along with his world-wide popularity in the WWE, Daniel Bryan had a tremendous career on a variety of levels.

Legendary announcer, Jim Ross wrote the following about Steve Austin in “The Stone Cold Truth” autobiography, “He isn’t an actor. He’s a pro wrestler with passion.”

I would suggest that the statement also applies to Daniel Bryan and it’s one of the reasons he had a remarkable career.

-Jim LaMotta


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