On March 20, 2018 WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan was formally cleared to return to in-ring action after being in retirement since February 2016 due to injuries. Bryan had his first match since his retirement against the team of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens when he teamed up with Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 34.
While speaking to SportBible, “The Yes!” Man” talked about his journey to returning in the squared circle as well as how he felt when he was in the role of SmackDown Live General Manager. Here are the highlights from the interview:
Daniel Bryan on getting a clearance to return to the ring:
“I realized it was getting more likely the closer we got because originally they weren’t even willing to look at my case and I kept pushing for it. Finally they were willing to re-look at it and the deal was, ‘Hey, send me to the best neurologist in the country’. I kept getting cleared after doctor, after doctor, after doctor and they would send me to more doctors. At some point I just thought, ‘Ok I think this is the last one and if I get cleared by this one I think I’m good’ but I was crossing my fingers and I didn’t know for sure. But it’s interesting because four months before, I didn’t think it was going to happen and Brie and I bought a house in Washington State because we were like ‘We love Washington state’ – I’m from there but then too, flights from Seattle to Japan are a little easier! That’s kind of what we thought was going to happen. My contract was up, they’re not going to let me wrestle so I’m going to do it somewhere else.”
Bryan on how he felt about his return to wrestling:
“I honestly didn’t feel any ring rust. It was strange because the day I was cleared, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens attacked me and I did the running dropkicks – just dropkick, dropkick, dropkick. You have to understand, I wasn’t prepared for this to happen. I’m wearing the shoes which I’m wearing now – which are from a thrift store and they’re a half size too big! I was wearing a sportscoat and I haven’t done the dropkick in the corner for three years – it’s a very exhausting thing to do because you’re sprinting, running, jumping and then kick. I was a little bit concerned but that night I didn’t feel tired or anything, I was excited, it was fun. Same thing at Wrestlemania, I felt like nothing felt weird or awkward – everything felt like normal and how it used to feel. Obviously I am doing these live events and there are more singles matches – there’s stuff where I’m like, ‘Ok I’m a little bit rusty at this’ – I haven’t done a fireman’s carry in years and that’s a very specific movement that I haven’t done a lot of. Stuff like that is going to take me a while before everything’s back to normal but overall I’m very happy with it.”
Bryan on not being able to enjoy the role of GM as he was not allowed to get physical:
“It was very difficult. I disliked it, strongly. I would try and leave as soon as I could and if I found out they might not have a segment for me on TV, I would be texting the writers being like, ‘Hey can I just stay home’ – a portion of that is not liking it and portion of that is because now I’m being away from Brie and my baby to do something I’m not passionate about. That was a weird mental thing for me.”