Daniel Bryan appeared on Hot 97 FM in New York City on Tuesday morning, speaking about how WWE is still resistant to him returning to the ring. Here are some highlights, courtesy of Mike Johnson and PWinsider:
Bryan said that WWE is still standing firm that they are not comfortable with him performing as a professional wrestler after forcing him into retirement due to concussion and medical concerns several years ago.
Bryan, who now performs as the General Manager of Smackdown (although he remains under his previous independent contractor deal, signed when he was wrestling for the company), explained that he has presented a case to the company showing that medically, “I’m fine.”
Bryan said that WWE feels he’s had “too many” concussions. Bryan said he feels there’s been a lot of miseducation about concussions and he’s been working with a concussion institute in Phoenix (where he resides). He said that concussions aren’t a death sentence. He said that if you report a concussion, you need to not be physical until your brain is healed from it completely and then you can come back and not have it haunt you for the rest of your life.
It was mentioned that there have been some who have had “terrible closure” to their lives because of concussion-related issues. The hosts mentioned that WWE may be protecting Bryan’s health. Bryan said that he’s been cleared by experts that WWE sent him to that say he’s cleared to wrestle and his brain EKGs have been excellent.
When he was asked why he needs to go back to the ring, Bryan said he loves wrestling but he doesn’t “love all of it” using the travel as an example. He said that the part that he loves is being in the ring, but now he has the job, except the part that he loves. He said he’s appreciative that WWE has given him something to do, but some feel he should be happy he has that position, but it’s not what he loves to do.
Bryan was asked if he’s addicted to the action and Bryan said that’s not the case. He said he’s addicted to it mentally. He does kickboxing and jiu-jitsu regularly and is still physical in life, but he’s had a “borderline obsession” with pro wrestling and thinks about it all the time. He’s still thinking about what he can do in wrestling still. He brought up Tom Brady, who has made tons of money, has a wife who makes more money than he does and has a number of Super Bowl rings, yet he’s still passionate about football and thinking about it all the time.
One of the hosts said that sometimes, you have to stop doing things that are bad for your health and your family, using sex with multiple partners as an example. Bryan joked that may be a bad comparison.
Bryan said that his wife is supportive about the situation. Bryan said he made mistakes by hiding things from his doctors and WWE and doing that in general isn’t good as it breeds mistrust between himself and the doctor. He had a seizure in 2012 which he never told the company about and then had one in 2015. He described a seizure in a hotel room right after he started dating Brie and he begged her not to tell anyone and she didn’t tell anyone, not even her twin sister. She later told him that since they were planning a family, he had to tell the doctor. He had one in April 2015 and he told the doctors and that led to where they are now.
Bryan said there are so many variables about concussions that people just don’t understand, bringing up the recent study that claimed 99 out of 100 football players had CTE. They actually had the protein associated with the disease and there’s no word whether they actually had cognitive issues. Bryan also wondered how eating tons of proteins (which athletes do) could add to proteins on the brain and how steroid use in past generations caused issues.
Bryan said WWE’s Dr. Maroon wasn’t even aware that there are nuclear spec scans of the brain. Bryan said that if they do find something wrong with his brain, he doesn’t want to wrestle. The hard part for him personally is that “all these specialists” have told him he can wrestle, but he’s not allowed to wrestle.
Bryan said when he retired, he was initially at peace with it and wanted to make changes in his life, but being around wrestling and realizing that he can still do it and being around it, is hard. He said that not being allowed to wrestle “feels almost like a disservice to me and a disservice to other people who may be in my situation.”
Bryan said in 5-10 years, they may be able to diagnose CTE in living people and that’s going to change wrestling and the NFL. He said you are going to get to a point where you come out of college and will be tested for it and told you have to retire at 26 and it’s going to change the face of contact sports. He said it’s going to be a big issue with the NFL’s popularity going forward, because if kids stop playing football because of contact concerns, it’s going to lead to other sports gaining in popularity.
Bryan admitted he wants to wrestle, so his argument is skewed.
It was noted that Bryan is 36 and his window for his prime years are closing. Bryan said WWE is trying to protect him and their company, but he doesn’t know how many people currently on the roster who, if they underwent the same testing that he went through, would be cleared to wrestler and who would be in the same situation he’s currently in. He admitted he’s skewed and said we are in an interesting point in history because for the first time, more people die from overeating vs. starvation. He said there are studies into how animal proteins hurt different part of the body. It’s something you don’t hear about because it’s not sensationalism and because you have companies that advertise with companies. Bryan said he doesn’t want to blend issues.
Bryan said it’s an interesting situation before sliding into a storyline discussion, claiming the situation has helped create the current rift between himself and Shane McMahon, going as far as to claim he could be walking into that night’s Smackdown taping to find himself fired.