Recently on E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness, current WWE SmackDown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan got in-depth on the subject of his desire to return to pro wrestling. Among many other things, Bryan discussed his WWE Monday Night RAW retirement speech, why he thought his career was over, and why a return to active competition is even possible.
On the subject of potentially making a comeback Bryan suggested that he is not prepared to rest on his laurels by hanging his hat on his big WrestleMania moment, because 'The Yes Man' needs to live in the present.
"Road Dogg was talking to me, it was just like two weeks ago, and he goes, 'do you ever sit back and think how incredible it was, like, that it ever happened, that you main evented WrestleMania?' because that was never, like, that was never the trajectory for me or anything like that. Just, 'what a cool moment that is.' And then, 'you can always hang your hat on that' type of thing, right? And to me it's like, 'yes, it was a very cool moment, but I'm very much, like, I live, like, in the now, right?'"
While Bryan claimed to be happy with his wife and new baby, pro wrestling cannot be replaced in his life. Moreover, 'The World's Toughest Vegan' claimed that he is not driven by having unfinished business with WWE, but rather he is motivated to return because of his love of performing.
"I'm very happy, but wrestling is something that nothing else can replace for me, right?" Bryan added, "I'm driven by how much I enjoy the performance of it, like, so, I do honestly have goals for wrestling."
Interestingly, during the discussion of Bryan's future plans and current health status, 'The Goat' mentioned that he once had a conversation with Vince McMahon where the Chairman said they want to push Roman Reigns to be the next John Cena, but Bryan said he wanted to be the next Cena.
"I had a conversation with Vince. Actually, I don't know when it was. I don't know if it was before WrestleMania 30 or if it was after WrestleMania 30, but it went something along the lines of this. It's like he said something along the lines to me of, 'we really want to push Roman to be the next John Cena.' And I had said to him, 'boss, I 100% support that, but I just want you to know that I want to be the next John Cena.' Like, don't tell me he wants some other guy to be the next John Cena!"
Bryan shared that WWE sent him to a couple of different medical teams for testing and they cleared him to return to the squared circle, but WWE still would not let him wrestle.
"They sent me there. I didn't choose these doctors. It was a team of doctors [at UCLA], concussion specialists, and they run me through all these tests. At the end of all these tests, they're like, 'you're cleared to go.' And I was like, 'yes! I'm cleared to go!' And then, it's like, 'no, you're not cleared to go,' right?"
Later, Bryan indicated that he gave his retirement speech on RAW because he was told by doctors that he had a lesion on his brain and he assumed his professional wrestling career was over.
"I didn't want to do it at first. And then, I talked to Brie about it, and I was like, 'man, my friends, my family, will be there and it's probably best.'"
After the retirement speech Bryan learned that he may have jumped the gun.
"All of a sudden, one of the doctors that had cleared me calls me and said, 'Bryan, what happened? Like, you ran through all this testing and everything was fine. What happened?' And I told him what had happened. I said, 'they found a lesion on the temporal parietal region of my brain.' And he goes, 'wait, hold up - a lesion?' And I said, 'yeah,' and I don't know what a 'lesion' means to you guys, but a lesion to me means you have a cut, right? Like I have a cut on my brain. And he goes, 'no, a lesion in medical terminology is a very vague thing. It just says something is there, right? Like, we don't know what it is, so we call it a lesion in the temporal parietal region of your brain."
Bryan explained that the medical teams did more tests and the diagnosis of lesion on the brain was based on his slowed reflexes, which are just at a level of a normal human, rather than pro athlete.
"My reflexes in the temporal parietal region of my brain are slower than what they would expect, right? So in the report, they put 'lesion on the temporal parietal region of the brain.'" Bryan said, "they're not slower than say your average person, but they're slower than, like, your MMA athletes or people that they test for a lot of this kind of stuff, right? So I just have average reflect time and I'm just like, 'oh no, I don't think they understand I'm just an average person. I'm not a real athlete! There's this thing and it's just like, 'oh no, there [has] been this huge misunderstanding,' right?"
After Bryan retired from in-ring competition, he tried to distance himself from the genre. In Bryan's estimation, being around pro wrestling constantly rekindled his desire to wrestle again.
"I wanted to start moving away from wrestling. Because I love wrestling so much, it's really hard to be that close to it. Well then, so Hunter called and asked me to do the commentating thing for the Cruiserweight Classic. I said, 'yeah, I'd love to do that. I'd love to help guys get over and all of that kind of stuff.' And to do all that seems cool. But then, they called me and they didn't ask, they told me to be the SmackDown GM, right? And I was like, 'oh, okay.' And I thought I'd be okay with it, but then, all of a sudden, being around it, every single week and not being able to do itů" Bryan continued, "so I'm around it and I'm not being able to do the part of it that I love the most and then they had me at ringside during an AJ Styles/Dean Ambrose match and it literally tore my heart apart, right?"
Although Bryan has had at least 10 concussions and four seizures, he maintained that his brain is comparable to a college level football player's.
"My brain is essentially, you take any college football player in the country because I have had multiple, multiple concussions. I had 10 documented concussions, four post-concussion seizures, and so, but, with that said, my brain is no worse than your average college football player's brain, right?"
While Bryan would like to return to pro wrestling, he acknowledged that he may not want to work a full-time schedule. Responsibly, Bryan noted that returning to pro wrestling is off the table if there is any indication that his health would be at risk.
"With all of this positive stuff, there's no reason why I can't return to doing what I love. And it may never be full-time and it may never be this idea of 'I'm going to go in and be the guy who main events every live event and stuff. I'm not even sure I want that. Now that I have a child, I don't want to be away from her that much. But to say that I can't wrestle say 50 to 100 matches a year or to say that I can't do Jerry Lawler and Terry Funk are still doing in their 60s." Bryan said, "I also want to give the caveat of this: if at any point along with all of this if somebody said there's a real indication that I should not be wrestling, I don't want to wrestle. My health is 100% more important than coming back to wrestling. Being a good father is more important than going out there and expounding on my belief that doing more hammerlocks in wrestling is good for the business!"
Bryan asserted that part of the reason he wanted to make a comeback is to show his daughter that you can follow your dreams even if other people tell you that you cannot.
"My daughter is one of the reasons I do want to do it. It's this idea of teaching her that like, 'hey, whatever your dream is, whatever your version of wrestling is, like, you can do it, and you can't let.. just because someone says, 'you can't do this because we think this,' that's not a good reason to stop." Bryan explained, "I'm doing this more for my daughter than anything else."
Also during the show, Bryan said he is not trying to pressure WWE into letting him return by talking about his the situation and his health status publicly. Additionally, Bryan noted that WWE has been very supportive of him.
"In no way, shape, or form am I trying to put pressure on WWE to have me return to wrestle because, like, they have been so supportive with everything that I've done. And people don't understand that. They've been 100% behind everything that I've been doing kind of behind-the-scenes."
Bryan admitted that he made it hard for WWE to clear him because he was not honest with them about his concussions.
"One of the reasons it [has] been very hard for WWE to clear me is my own fault is because I was not honest with them about my concussions, right? And that's a big part of it. Like, your doctors have to be able to trust you as an individual, right?"
In Bryan's view, pro wrestling is unlike other sports because it is possible to protect people with head injuries in pro wrestling.
"One of the wonderful things about wrestling to me is that you can protect people who have had head injuries. My last match, right, my last match, I didn't take a single bump, right? And the match to me was really fun and good. It was me and John Cena against Cesaro and Tyson Kidd. And I couldn't have been working with a better three people, right, than to do that sort of thing. But I didn't take a single bump. All three of those guys protected me in a way that you can do that in wrestling."
You're going to love it, brother brother. If you use any of the quotes that appear in this article, please credit E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness with an H/T to WrestlingINC for the transcription.
Source: E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness
Jacob Studwell contributed to this article.