Daniel Bryan's Retirement Theory.
On Februrary 8th, 2016, the internet exploded.
There were pictures of Daniel Bryan appearing in a Seattle airport with a new haircut everywhere!
Rumors ran wild about his appearance.
Was he there for Raw?
Is he back?
Is he just there to support his wife, Diva Brie Bella?
Why in the world was seemingly injured WWE superstar, Daniel Bryan flying into the same city where Raw was being held?
Then... This tweet happened.
All across the WWE Universe, hearts broke.
Daniel Bryan was never supposed to make it in the WWE.
Despite that, he stole the main event of the thirtieth anniversary of the show, and became one of the biggest underdogs in the history of professional wrestling, brother!
Though sadly, the years and years of traveling and frankly, being a pro wrestler, his body has finally ended his career.
Fans are sadly reminded of when neck injuries ended the careers of Stone Cold Steve Austin (who I'll be meeting on Wednesday if weather permits) and Edge.
Bryan will appear on Raw tonight, likely to say goodbye.
What if he isn't?
Let's be honest...
This is the WWE.
I'm aware that Daniel Bryan has suffered many terrible injuries in his 17 year professional wrestling career, and that even the strongest, healthiest bodies eventually break down.
I'm also aware that Bryan has suffered many concussions in his career. As someone who has suffered a couple of concussions in my own time, I can tell you that they're no joke, and the lifelong consequences are very dear.
Perhaps nobody knows this better than the WWE, who are still suffering from one of the most tragic and terrible incidents in the history of the sport regarding Chris Benoit.
I'm aware that this retirement is probably legitimate, and the WWE let it leak out that he's retiring to boost ratings, and because it's in his home state of Washington, where he's very popular.
As if he's not very popular EVERYWHERE.
I can see where the WWE is coming from.
On one hand, Daniel Bryan is a liability. They've been burned before, and not only is it a decent thing to do, in order to protect his body, but it's also good business, to prevent the unspeakable.
On the other hand, they can't afford to let Bryan go work somewhere else. Many WWE fans only watch WWE. But if Daniel Bryan were to show up on TNA or Ring of Honor, their ratings would skyrocket. Bryan's contract is likely frozen as he has been unable to perform in the ring for months, and that gives the McMahon clan complete control over Bryan's future.
Bryan could sever ties with the company and sue, like CM Punk and Rey Mysterio have over the last few years, but that would be damaging to not only his legacy, but to the career of his wife, who is still employed by the company.
It's a nasty situation.
But that's not what this article is about.
This article is about how the WWE could be tricking us all!
This article is about several WrestleMania angles that could come out of tonight's speech.
This article is akin to being a child on Sunday night, trying to think of ways he wouldn't have to go to school the next day, desperately clinging for straws.
Dead Man Walking.
Let me paint a picture.
Tonight, Bryan is in the ring giving his retirement speech. He's going over his career, and he starts reliving his favorite moments. He talks about how he met his wife, Brie Bella. He talks about his feud with The Miz. He even talks about his feud with the Authority. And then he stops because he needs to see one last person before he retires.
He stops mid-speech and asks Kane to join him in the ring. Pyro goes off, the music hits, and Kane shows up at the top of the ramp.
Bryan talks about everything, from "Team Hell No" to their brutal Extreme Rules match. He finishes the story by asking for one last hug. (insert "ayyyy we want some Bayley" cheers from the crowd). Reluctantly, Kane saunters down to the ring and gives him a hug.
Kane begins to leave but Bryan asks him to stay.
He begins telling the story of how he fell in love with the business, and how even to this day, he's still a fan. He talks about how he grew up as not only a WWE fan, but a Shawn Michaels fan specifically. He talks about being a kid in Aberdeen, Washington, reading magazines about the showstoppah, and he recalls a few moments of Michael's career. Eventually... he gets to the Michaels/Undertaker match at Wrestlemania 25. He talks about how watching that match is what made him want to finally sign with WWE (he would sign in the August of that year), and how he wanted to have a match like that someday. He's about to change the subject when he makes an off-color remark about how he thinks Shawn should've won because he was the "greatest wrestler that ever lived". At this point, Kane stops him, reminding Bryan that his brother was the Undertaker.
Bryan and Kane start arguing a little in the ring, and Kane shoves him. Bryan takes a breath and warns Kane not to do it again, but he does.
Suddenly, they're scrapping, and eventually, Bryan gets Kane into the "Yes Lock".
Kane is struggling, and Bryan is really locking it in when...
The lights go out, and suddenly... The Undertaker and Daniel Bryan are alone in the ring, standing face to face.
The Undertaker looks like... well... the Undertaker, and Bryan is fuming. They stand face to face (though it's really like Face to Chest), and slowly, they both look at the WrestleMania sign.
The Undertaker points at the sign, and Bryan responds with a furious "Yes! Yes! Yes!".
You can have a contract signing at Fast Lane, and much like Triple H vs. Sting last year, or even Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker last year,you don't need to have these two wrestle or even be in the ring at the same time to build tension.
It's been almost a year since Daniel Bryan wrestled, and even though we saw more of The Undertaker than we would've liked, it's still a spectacle to see him walk down the ring.
They could have a career vs. career match, just like Taker and Shawn did, and they could swerve everyone by having the Undertaker win.
Bryan can either retire on a great payday or go work for other companies, and the WrestleMania card looks a little less dreary.
Student vs. Teacher.
For the last couple of years, rumors have run rampant that HBK would come out of retirement for one last match.
It all started back in 2013, when a Daniel Bryan vs. Shawn Michaels match, along with a Daniel Bryan/CM Punk vs. DX match were rumored to happen at Wrestlemania 30 to mirror their storylines (hence the ending of the unification ceremony at the Slammy's Episode of Raw).But, depending who you ask, either Mr. Wrestlemania failed the physical or just lacked the interest, saying that he had "done everything he wanted to do in the business."
But if you've listened to Michaels talk about Daniel Bryan over the last few years, it's obvious that he's still very fond of his protege.
In a world where everyone from Tyler Breeze to the Young Bucks to Dolph Ziggler want to be the Showstopper, Daniel Bryan is the wrestler the man himself admires most.
So here's what I'm proposing.
It's the same as before, where Bryan is out there talking about his career, but you don't bring Kane out. He gets to the point where he's talking about Shawn, and... he starts to... drift off.
He mentions how he always wanted to wrestle Shawn. It was a fantasy of his as a kid, but after everything Shawn had done to him over the last few years, it was about more than that.
He wanted revenge.
He wanted to get back at Shawn for everything he had done to him. He wanted to get back at Shawn for betraying him, and, (kayfabe) robbing him of his career.
So mid-speech, he could call Shawn Michaels out.
"I'm still the best in the world. I'm Mr. Wrestlemania. I beat Randy Orton, Batistia, and your best friend, Triple H, in the same night, and I can beat you too!"
You can build on that so easily. You could have Shawn and Bryan bicker in the ring for months to build tension and it would never get old. You could bring the "medical won't clear him" reality into the world of kayfabe and make it an unsanctioned match, ala HBK vs. Y2J.
Bryan gets the win at Mania and a dream match comes true.
Title Time Machine.
Same as before.
Bryan is in the ring, talking about his career, but he spends a little more time talking about his time in the indies.
He talks about all of the people he wrestled and all of the adventures he went on while traveling the world.
He talks about Kevin Owens, he mentions Seth Rollins and Cesaro, he talks about Sami Zayn, he makes a joke about "El Generico", and he risks a crazy pop by mentioning CM Punk. He talks about his time in the indies, and he tries to move on...
When AJ Style's music hits.
Styles comes out, and he looks a little confused.
He brings up that they also wrestled in the indies. That they also had... *ahem* "phenomenal* matches.
Bryan tries to apologize, but Styles cuts him off.
"I've also wrestled everyone, everywhere, all over the world, Dragon (because indy pop), and you can't tell me that when I finally make it here, in the dubya dubya ee (because accent), you're gonna run away from me. You were the best in the world back in the indies, but things have changed. Because now I've traveled the world too Bryan, and I'm ready to beat you".
This match sells itself.
We are talking about indy royalty here.
Bryan Danielson vs. AJ Styles is a ROH throwback, and one that even the most casual fan would be interested in.
Bryan has to get the win because while you don't want to hurt AJ's push, there's nothing wrong with losing to Daniel Bryan.