And so it has come to this. The Daniel Bryan story has come to an end. Which, as a fan of professional wrestling, is somewhat hard to accept. You see, we know. It’s fake. Wrestling is, and has been by all accounts, a scripted experience since its inception on the carnival circuits of old. The performers know who is going to win each match. They know where their stories are going, what role they will be playing. Their spot is what it is, their place on the card defined. The stories they are involved in end but don’t really finish. They feud, they wrestle, they go over, they start again with someone new. Wash, rinse, repeat. And in Vince McMahon’s world of pro wrestling, guys like Daniel Bryan do not make it to the top. Guys like Daniel Bryan are considered good hands, guys who can work, sell merchandise, and make people care a bit. Except, something funny happened while everyone else was busy making plans. The fans, both hardcore and casual alike, decided that the story they were being told was unacceptable. In this so called “Reality Era” of professional wrestling, the reality of Daniel Bryan was his story. Here was a guy who worked his ass off for years becoming one of the very best wrestlers on the planet. Here was a guy who despite being 5ft 8 and 190lbs was legitimately feared as a competitor. And here was a guy who the fans would not stop cheering for. The Yes Movement was unlike much else in wrestling history. Fans hijacked shows by chanting for Daniel Bryan no matter what was happening in the ring. He got over the old fashioned way, through the fans. So his struggle became the story. His fight to be taken seriously by the powers that be, while most likely somewhat based in fact, became the focus of the WWE for the better part of a year. The underdog is who we were conditioned to root for, really throughout all media, and Daniel Bryan was the perfect fit. The payoff, his WWE Title win at Wrestlemania, was the very definition of catharsis. The story ended but didn’t finish. The next night, a new program began. And a new reality set in.
In his retirement speech on RAW Daniel Bryan revealed that in his first three months in the business he had already had three concussions. Over the next sixteen years he would suffer at least ten more. His final concussion reportedly was accompanied by a seizure as well. And yet, he wanted to come back. He wanted to keep wrestling because he loved it and we loved him. Thankfully, he will not wrestle again. His health simply will not allow it. And so his story actually has ended. There is no swerve coming, no run in at the end of a big match. As fans we have gotten closure. He got to retire on his own terms more or less in front of his home crowd in Washington state. I’ve written about Bryan before, click here to check it out, and I’m sure I will in the future. His impact on the professional wrestling business and WWE as a whole cannot be fully appreciated now. He will be remembered as one of the greatest workers of all time sure. But the boundaries he broke, the stigmas he erased, those are yet to be realized. Presented below are two moments that serve as a testament to a career ended too soon but for all the right reasons. Follow me on twitter and instagram, @geekadedan, and let me know your favorite Daniel Bryan moments. Check back next week for, hopefully, happier reading.