In a new interview, Bryan Danielson has opened up about the true reason he was forced to retire from wrestling in 2016.
Danielson – previously known as Daniel Bryan in WWE – was forced to retire from the ring in 2016 due to injuries, ending a lengthy and illustrious career. The former WWE Champion gave an impassioned speech in his home state of Washington, explaining that he had to retire owing to the numerous concussions he had suffered during his years in the ring.
In an interview with wdel.com, Danielson explained that there was more to the story than he had previously disclosed, saying that his lack of transparency about the concussions played a large part in the decision.
“I legitimately thought I was healthy and still think that I’m healthy. One of the reasons I was forced to retire was not because of the concussions, but because I lied about that. You have to understand, from WWE’s point of view, I had been wrestling for them for six years but then all of a sudden, they opened this Pandora’s box about ‘lying about his medical history and now we can’t trust him.’ A lot of that was building the trust back, but they were also legitimately looking after my health. I was going to see doctor after doctor and doing everything that I could to improve brain function to show, above and beyond, that my brain was healthy.”
“It’s also my love of wrestling. It felt like I wasn’t really to be done yet, I still needed to come back. I also think there’s a lot left on concussion research to be done, and when you’re seeing the top doctors in the country and they’re all clearing you to do what you love to do, I think you should be able to do that.”
The ‘American Dragon’ was eventually able to get cleared to compete by WWE in 2018. His comeback match saw him team with Sahne McMahon to defeat Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens at WrestleMania 34.
Danielson made the leap from WWE to AEW earlier this year, making his debut with the company at All Out in September. He says that he now makes every effort to keep his body in good shape, however, he finds the plane trips to and from shows hard.
“I think your body adapts to so many things. We were actually just talking about this in the locker room, someone said every fall hurts now. I was like, really? I think it really depends on the crowd. When you wrestle in front of a rabid crowd, nothing hurts. I do extensive warm-ups before I go out, and then every night when I get back to my hotel room after a show, I’m foam-rolling, I’m stretching, and making sure my body is in a healthy position to recover.”
“I think for me, one of the hardest things is being on long plane trips. When you get to be 40 and you just wrestled a 30-minute match with Kenny Omega, no matter how much stretching you did, the next day, if you’re on a 6-hour plane trip, you’re going to hobble getting off the plane. Realistically, I hadn’t wrestled in 5-months, I wrestled Kenny Omega for 30 minutes and did a 6-hour plane trip the next day, and I felt pretty good. There are a lot of physical demands, but if you keep up with your body and maintain your body, it’s manageable.”
Bryan Danielson can next be seen in the ring when he takes on one of AEW’s newest signings, Bobby Fish, on October 16th at a special Saturday Night Dynamite.
H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the above transcription.