Raw – Daniel Bryan formally announces retirement

By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

Daniel Bryan (art credit Travis Beaven © PWTorch)

SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

RECAP OF THE FINAL SEGMENT OF RAW…

Daniel Bryan’s music played for the first time in seemingly ages. Bryan emerged on-stage with a trimmed beard and haircut looking five years younger. Huge chants and applause in his home market. Bryan entered the ring and stood still as the crowd continued to applaud. Bryan soaked up the moment by closing his eyes and feeling the moment.

Bryan spoke first that he decided to close his eyes and feel that moment since they’re supposed to keep their eyes open at all times. WWE cut to a woman in the crowd crying as Bryan spoke emotionally about this moment. Bryan said it’s time to address the giant elephant in the room. “No!” the crowd shouted. Bryan deadpanned that he did not want to shave his beard.

Bryan said he wanted to cut his hair, but he thought he would look silly with just a giant beard. Bryan then talked about cutting his hair for an organization for Wigs for Kids as WWE cut to kids crying in the crowd. Bryan said the organization provides wigs for children with cancer, so hopefully there is something worthwhile that comes out of this moment.

Now to some less fun stuff. Bryan said he does not want to do this any more than you want me to. Bryan said he’s been wrestling since he’s 18-years-old. And, within the first five months of his career, he had three concussions. For years after that, he would get a concussion here and there. Then, it got to the point where he had been wrestling for 16 years and that’s a lot of concussions. He said it got to the point where they told him he cannot wrestle again. Bryan said for a long time he fought that.

Bryan said he got brain MRIs and evaluations and all of them said that he was fine, and that he could come back and wrestle. Bryan said he would train to come back and train to come back to be ready to wrestle because he has loved this in a special way. Bryan choked back tears and nervously stroked his beard as the crowd picked up a “Thank You, Daniel” chant.

Bryan said that a week-and-a-half ago, he took a test that said maybe his brain is not as okay as he thought it was. He said he has a family to think about, and his wife and he want to start thinking about having kids soon. The crowd broke into a “Yes!” chant. Bryan went from his meek voice to an aggressive “That’s what Brie says all the time!” light-hearted comment. The crowd responded with a “That’s what she said” chant.

Bryan got serious again. He said it is with a heavy heart and utmost sadness that he officially announces his retirement. But, if there is one thing. He said he’s gone through a lot of complex emotions of anger, sadness, frustration, and everything. But, today when he woke up, he felt nothing but gratitude. Bryan said he wants to talk about all of the things he loves.

Bryan said he loves the Seahawks. Big pop. Fans held up their “12” signs for the 12th Man, then Bryan said he also loves that moment right before his music hits. He said he also loves diving through the ropes, making him feel like Superman. Bryan said their reaction makes him feel like Superman. Here’s something else he loves. Bryan said he has wrestled in the parking lots of gas stations and in front of 70,000 people in New Orleans.

Bryan said he also loves the people he’s met, like a super-smart monster called Kane. Also, a mentor and friend for over 16 years, William Regal. Also, children who are stronger than he ever thought anyone could be, like Connor the Crusher.

Bryan said he is grateful. And, he is grateful because wrestling does not owe him or anyone backstage anything. He said WWE does not owe him anything. He said they do this because they love to do this. And then it was strange. All of a sudden, the fans got behind him in a way that he thought was never possible. Bryan said fans aren’t supposed to get behind someone like him. Yet, they got behind him in a way that made him feel like he was more than just himself.

Bryan said he is grateful because a little over two years ago in this very arena, the Seattle fans hi-jacked Raw. The crowd popped. “Yes!” chants followed. Bryan said they were trying to do a big coronation between John Cena and Randy Orton, and they had all the former champions out there. And, this was going to be the most important match in WWE history, but you guys wouldn’t stop chanting “Daniel Bryan.” On cue, the crowd picked up a Bryan chant.

But, that’s not why he’s grateful. Bryan said his dad was sitting in the crowd right over there (he pointed to a fan standing about three rows back). Bryan said his dad got to see his son get that kind of reaction. Bryan choked back tears. And that was the last time his dad ever got to see him wrestle, and the fans made it special for him and his entire family. “I am grateful,” he said.

Bryan said he is grateful that because of wrestling, he got to meet the most wonderful woman in the world, who is beautiful, smart, and she completes him. Bryan said he is grateful because he gets to come out here in front of what he feels like are his hometown fans and he gets to announce his retirement in front of a bunch of people who love him. “That special moment I had with my dad, I get to share with my mom,” he said as he started crying. Bryan acknowledged his mom, sister, and family on the front row.

Bryan said he gets to share this with them and the fans and his wife in the back and all of these people he has spent the last 15 years of his life with. “I am grateful,” he said.

Now, tomorrow morning, he wakes up and starts a new life where he is no longer a wrestler. But, that is tomorrow, and not tonight. Bryan said he has one more night to feel this energy and feel this crowd. He asked for one last “Yes!” chant. The crowd broke into a huge “Yes!” chant as Bryan’s music played. WWE went to wide shots of the crowd chanting in unison.

Brie Bella then walked out on-stage and walked down to the ring to join Bryan in the ring. Big smooch in the middle of the ring. Bryan and Brie embraced as Cole thanked Bryan. He said they are grateful for the opportunity for Bryan to come into their lives. Bryan hugged his family down at ringside as Cole said the celebration continues on WWE Network. Raw signed off with Bryan doing “Yes!” chants around the arena and the WrestleMania banner hung over him in the background. Raw ended 25 minutes past the top of the hour.

WWE Network Follow-Up

Raw continued with the entire locker room filling the stage to celebrate Bryan’s career. Vince McMahon was front-and-center playing nice CEO with tears in his eyes. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon flanked him on the stage as Bryan looked to the stage. Bryan then returned to the ring to lead the arena in another “Yes!” chant. The locker room was shown joining in as Bryan asked for one more round of “Yes!” chants. WWE cut back to Vince crying as he watched Bryan do his thing in the ring.

Bryan left the ring and hugged fans on the front row. Bryan then hugged WWE personnel down at ringside before continuing his victory lap with the fans on the front row. JBL said he got to retire in Texas, and now Bryan gets to retire his home state. Bryan hugged Saxton, then Cole, and JBL, who told him well done. Bryan continued the victory lap as JBL talked about every once in a while someone comes along to transcend wrestling.

Cole said Bryan captured the power of the WWE audience. Bryan continued his victory lap to the production area, waving to all of the fans around the arena. Bryan hugged fans and shook hands with everyone he could reach. Meanwhile, Cole talked up Bryan conquering Evolution all on the same night at WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans. Bryan made his way up the stage and was joined by Brie for another big smooch.

Bryan and Brie then led the crowd and locker room with Yes! chants. Bryan approached Vince for a big hug, then he walked through the locker room to the backstage area, ending his WWE main event journey the way it really started when Bryan emerged through the locker room on the stage to get a WWE Title shot that started the Yes! movement. Raw officially ended 32 minutes past the top of the hour.

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