Earlier this year, Daniel Bryan shocked WWE and pro wrestling fans the world over when he announced his retirement. He has since returned to WWE television as the color commentator for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic and is currently serving as the general manager for Smackdown Live, but his retirement from wrestling definitely took a toll that he is still attempting to work through.
In an interview with The Recorder, Bryan revealed that he went through an even harder time than anyone realized.
“I had to go out to Florida (to shoot Total Divas) and we’re in John Cena’s house for four weeks or whatever and there’s cameras just on you all the time,” Bryan said, adding that it was there that the toll that the stress and uncertainty around his livelihood came boiling to the surface.
“I just had this horrible mental breakdown,” he said. A lifelong outdoorsman and environmentalist, Bryan did what came most natural to him, he found nature to help him cope with his extreme sadness.
“That’s what I needed. I needed to get away from all of that and just get out to be by some trees,” Bryan said, emotion bubbling to the surface. “It’s hard for me. I don’t do really well in cities, which is crazy given that we’re flying in and out of these major cities every week. Brie (Bella, his wife) describes it as anxiety. And she would be accurate. I get this anxiety in cities and places like that. When you grow up in kind of a small town and when you grow up around a lot of green and trees and nature and that sort of thing, sometimes I think it’s a little mentally disconcerting to be around this concrete.”
In fact, Bryan still isn’t completely at ease with life as a CWC commentator and Smackdown Live general manager. Even now, he still doesn’t “necessarily agree” that there’s something wrong with him.
“It’s tough because we all get just this one life, right? And when you find something that you love as much as I love wrestling and then they tell you that you can’t do it anymore, it becomes really, really tough. And then it becomes really, really tough when now you’re around it every week. It’s just seeing your friends be able to go out there and do it and then you still can’t do it. It’s one of those things. I guess I kind of accept it, but I have a certain amount of melancholy with it.”
Knowing what we know about Bryan and how much of his life and his health he has given to the sport of professional wrestling over the course of his lifetime, it makes sense that his retirement would be devastating to him. It’s unfortunate that he had to go through this, and hopefully he’s finding his way to the other side.
It’s good to have him back on television every week once again. We hope that it’s helping him, as well.