On episode 80 of the Why Not Now? podcast with Amy Jo Martin, WWE SmackDown Live's Daniel Bryan talked about his career-threatening injury and his triumphant in-ring return to WWE. Specifically, Bryan talked about what motivated him to come back, the support of his wife, Brie, and his changed perspective on performance.
According to Bryan, the moment he knew he wanted to come back to wrestling came from watching Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles work a match.
"I had been cleared by several neurologists, well known neurologists from all over the country, and they still wouldn't clear me to wrestle, the WWE wouldn't clear me to wrestle, but these other neurologists had. But I had accepted it at some point and just been like, 'okay, pro wrestling had been my dream since I was a little kid, right? And I had a good 16 years in, and all of that kind of stuff. And I kind of accepted it as 'maybe it was dangerous' and that sort of thing, but I was sitting by the ring watching a match. They had me in this role, this non-wrestling role, the General Manager of the show, sit out by the ring and I was watching these guys wrestle and they were two of my friends that I had known for years, right? A guy named Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles. And I was sitting there and they're both really good, and the crowd's going crazy, and I was like, 'I refuse to accept this!'" Bryan added, "it took me another year-and-a-half before I got cleared, but I did it!"
Apparently, Brie was the person who inspired the former world champion to fight for his pro wrestling future.
"Brie became okay with it. [The doctor] said, 'look at how your husband's brain is working' and I scored very high on the neuropsychological exams." Bryan continued, "they said, 'your husband's brain functions at a very high level and if he had any sort of damage in there, it wouldn't work like this. You would see signs of deterioration or you would show signs of this or that.' And, obviously, it was a more extensive conversation than that, but all-of-a-sudden, Brie became okay with me wrestling and that was actually one of the biggest factors in me coming back, was Brie's support. Anybody who is going through this, obviously, I don't want to put my future or my family's future at risk, but Brie's support, and she was the one pushing me to do this, like, 'hey, if you want to do this, you really have to fight for it. Do you know what I mean? They're not going to, all-of-a-sudden, two years from now, be like, 'okay, I guess I'll let you wrestle now.' Do you know what I mean? That's not how this works. If you want to wrestle, you have to fight for it.' So she was actually a big supporter."
Bryan said he would not have tried to get cleared for a comeback if Brie did not support it.
"She's the one who's going to have to deal with me if I have problems when I'm 70 [years old], right?" Bryan reflected, "so she was the one I was concerned the most with. Like, if she didn't want me to do it, I wouldn't have done it. Do you know what I mean? So her support was key to all of it. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have anything to drive me."
When asked whether he was nervous to make his return to the squared circle, Bryan professed that he is more relaxed now than ever in his pro wrestling odyssey.
"My first wrestling coach was a great professional wrestler named Shawn Michaels." Bryan recalled, "when we first started, he had said, 'the moment you're not nervous before you go out there, that's when you need to retire.' And it's really funny, when I came back from retirement, I was probably the most relaxed I had ever been as far as going out and going to wrestle. And it was more so just this feeling of pure joy of being able to do what I love doing again, but also, like, I used to put so much stress on myself as far as trying to put out the best match possible and go out there and entertain as much as I possibly can. And now, it's just such a joy and a gift to be able to come back that the joy is in the performance as opposed to, 'oh, I have to go out there and be the best' or anything like that."
Check out the podcast here. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit Why Not Now? with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: Why Not Now?