The Legacy of Daniel Bryan

Daniel Bryan started wrestling when he was 18 years old. Within five months he had experienced three concussions. Nearly 16 years later, WWE wrestler Daniel Bryan has sustained more concussions than he can count or anyone knows. Photo Courtesy: Krystal Bogner
Daniel Bryan started wrestling when he was 18 years old and 16 years later he has sustained more concussions than he can count or anyone knows. Photo Courtesy: Krystal Bogner

By Connor Risenhoover

The bad news that had been speculated since Daniel Bryan’s latest concussion has finally been confirmed by the man himself. Due to his injuries he will have to retire from professional wrestling.

Looking back from the beginning of his career, it may seem odd that this scruffy, small man would have such an impact on the lives of many who enjoy pro wrestling. He never really fit the mold of the WWE, and that is why he transcended to many fan’s favorite despite limited time at the top of the mountain.

Internet wrestling fans, who are notorious in their hatred of many top stars, loved him and so did everyone else. It was organic, fans were able to see how much this man worked to get to where he was and he became beloved because of what he had to overcome. Terrible story lines, lack of exposure, and a physique apart from the WWE style put him at the back of the lines in the pecking order.

Never did it seem like Bryan was phoning it in. Whether it was an anger management group with Kane, or a weird relationship with AJ Lee, Bryan gave everything he was given his all. His love for wrestling and engagement in the scenes themselves shone through. He genuinely loved the art of professional wrestling and ,because that was obvious, the fans grew to genuinely love him.

Despite whatever he was given, his prowess in the ring put him near the top of an card. Bryan was able to go and get a good match of almost anyone, notably pulling at fairly good match out of a green Roman Reigns at Fast Lane last year. His wrestling was nothing short of spectacular.

It is because of this wrestling, however, the risk taking and real style that he has to retire. Concussions are serious business and, as both the NFL and WWE have seen, can cause real issues in former athletes, most notably for wrestling fans, Chris Benoit. Much like the man that was also famous for the flying headbutt, Bryan had his fair share of concussions.

He had tests run several times by doctors independent of the WWE and passed, but his fate was sealed by WWE Dr. Joseph Maroon ultimately telling Bryan that there was no way that he would clear him. It is with this that Bryan meets his in-ring end.

His legacy will be the lightning in a bottle that he captured on the way to an improbable WrestleMania 30. The organic way that crowds rejected wrestlers being shoved down their throats and chose their main character. The underdog who represented the audience affecting change in the product that they saw every week.

He was an example of how an audience can change an entire plan. He gave the audience more fuel for the flame they have that they can decide what goes on. The idea that wrestling is theirs and that the company must conform to them rather than they conform to the company.

Daniel Bryan was a can of worms the WWE didn’t realize it had opened until it was too late. They corrected their plans with audience demands that peaked with Bryan winning the championship. They gave the audience what they wanted and by doing so ceded a bit of more of their creative control than they wanted to.

The Roman Reigns experiment has been an attempt to wrestle back control from part of a fan base. That fan base has no desire to see him in the title picture and despite this he is there. Daniel Bryan showed them that they can affect the company but with Roman, the company is attempting to show they are ultimately in charge.

Fans now have tangible power thanks to Daniel Bryan, he was a uniting force, a genuinely nice guy that loved wrestling. He was real and that realness made him a hero. He was a Dusty Rhodes type, someone who didn’t fit the image but who’s ability more than made up for that with crowd support. He was a wrestler who gave it his all no matter the circumstances, sometimes to his detriment.

He was a catalyst in the balance of power between the WWE and its fan base. He was tangible, organic, and just plain fun to watch. Ultimately, the only way to describe the man is YES! YES! YES!