Early on Monday, reports broke that former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan would be appearing on the February 8 edition of WWE Raw. It’s his first TV appearance since Tough Enough ended, and with it being WrestleMania season and the show being in Bryan’s home state of Washington, we hoped for the best. Bryan’s been trying to get cleared to return to action for months, even as WWE seemed ready to prep him for non-wrestling roles. Bryan cut his hair and trimmed his beard, and we thought it could go either way. And now, this.
To say we’re heartbroken and disappointed as wrestling fans is an understatement. Bryan’s rise to fame and success against all odds has involved a lifetime of fandom, from his early days in Memphis and Ring of Honor to his spectacular ROH Championship run, from joining WWE as an NXT rookie to getting fired to getting rehired, and everything on the way up. The early title runs, the birth of “Yes,” the worst match in WrestleMania history, Team Hell No, “Yes” turning into a Movement and the greatest single-night performance in WWE history at WrestleMania 30. It’s been a hell of a ride, and it’s hard to put into perspective after the last two years of conflicting hope and heartbreak.
Bryan promises to explain the retirement on Raw, so the best we can hope for now is a red herring. Maybe this is all a Mark Henry-esque setup to give Bryan one more run. Maybe it’s something that’ll transition him into one of those non-wrestling roles we hear so much about, where he gets to have a career and continue being famous and popular without getting irreparably injured. Maybe he’ll say goodbye, and we’ll only see him on Total Divas.
If you’ll excuse us, we’ll be sitting quietly until Raw.