On Feb. 8, 2016, Daniel Bryan announced his retirement from in-ring competition because of head and brain injuries suffered over his years of pro wrestling. After more than two years of tests and struggles to make it back, the WWE cleared his return Tuesday.
WWE released the following statement:
“Following more than two years of extensive evaluations, four-time World Champion Daniel Bryan has been medically cleared to return to in-ring competition by leading neurosurgeons, neurologists and concussion experts, including Dr. Robert Cantu, Dr. Javier Cárdenas and Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher. Bryan underwent a full review of his medical history and received comprehensive neurological and physical evaluations independent of WWE. He was cleared by each doctor as well as WWE’s Medical Director, Dr. Joseph Maroon.”
This follows two years of a fairly public campaign from Bryan to get back into the ring. In interviews and during on-air segments, he talked about wanting to return. Reports came out that he was trying various treatments for his condition, and news circulated that he was getting better. Some doctors approved his return, but he could not get the final approval from Maroon. It seemed inevitable he would return at some point, even if it wasn't in WWE, as his contract expires this fall.
On Tuesday, he was cleared to return and the timing could not be better for Bryan and the WWE.
With WrestleMania in less than three weeks, this is the cherry on top of an already strongly built card. To have Bryan make his in-ring return in the building where he won the WWE title at WrestleMania 30 is poetic and will send the crowd into a frenzy. Most likely he will end up in a match involving Shane McMahon, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, probably in a tag match where he partners with McMahon. And wrestlers are already lining up on social media to face Bryan. Shinsuke Nakamura has already tweeted out #NakamuravsBryan, indicating the desire to put on a match that most fans thought would never be possible.
Tonight's SmackDown certainly becomes must-watch, as a new chapter opens on Bryan's career.