Daniel Bryan cleared for WWE return after concussion-related retirement

Daniel Bryan celebrates at WrestleMania XXX in 2014. (Jonathan Bachman/AP Images for WWE)

That chanting of “Yes! Yes! Yes!” you may have heard likely came from WWE fans. That’s because the hugely popular Daniel Bryan was cleared Tuesday to return to the pro wrestling ring.

Bryan, 36, had announced his retirement in February 2016, pointing to a history of concussions and one particularly concerning test that caused him to think about his life outside the ring. However, the WWE announced Tuesday that Bryan was cleared by a team of well-known concussion specialists, including Robert Cantu, Javier Cardenas and Jeffrey Kutcher, as well as its own medical director.

To roars of “Yes!” at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Bryan strode to the ring Tuesday to open “SmackDown Live.” He confirmed that he would be wrestling again, and emotionally thanked his wife, WWE star Brie Bella, for supporting him during his recovery and encouraging him to “fight for your dreams.”

“If you fight for your dreams, your dreams will fight for you!” Bryan told the crowd. He went on to say that he didn’t know “when or where” he’d be in a match, but he proceeded to look up at large sign advertising WrestleMania, which will be held next month, sign as fans chanted the name of event.

“Does that sound like a good idea?” Bryan asked, eliciting more “Yes!” chants.

WWE events rang out with “Yes!” during 2013 and 2014, when Bryan became one of the company’s biggest draws and won the world heavyweight championship at WrestleMania XXX. A few weeks later, however, he underwent neck surgery that kept him out of the ring for much of the year, and a concussion in April 2015 proved too much to return from, eventually appearing to end his career.
Shortly after retiring in 2016, Bryan told ESPN’s “SportsCenter” that he had been suffering “post-concussion seizures” that he “hid for a long time.” In a subsequent appearance on ESPN, though, he said that he felt he could wrestle again.
Bryan, whose real name is Bryan Danielson, stayed active in the WWE by taking the position of general manager for “SmackDown,” at least in an on-screen capacity. Two years into that job, though, he was able to step back into the ring with happy news.

“Saying goodbye to the ring was one of the hardest moments of my life,” Bryan said on Twitter earlier Tuesday. “But thanks to the amazing people supporting me, I was able to keep fighting for my dream.”

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