Daniel Bryan walked out to a packed Monday Night Raw audience on Feb. 8 and gave an emotional farewell after an accumulation of head injuries finally convinced him that he had no future inside the ring.
At least that was his story.
But according to two wrestling insiders, he may not be done with “sports entertainment” yet, and there is circumstantial evidence to suggest it, starting with the cancellation of some of his WWE Axxess appearances and a Daniel Bryan appreciation night planned for afterward.
The insiders are former WCW legend Kevin Sullivan and former AWA/SCW Heavyweight and Tag Team Champion Mister Saint Laurent (MSL), and they explain their position on the latest episode of MSL’s MLW Radio podcast.
The crux of the idea comes from MSL, who points out that “Vince has a way of convincing people” to step out before their time is up.
“As great as that speech [Daniel Bryan retirement] was, you had to wonder, ‘Was he pressured into it?’ And a lot of people said, ‘No, it was his decision.’ Could it have been a decision that he came to on his own because of the pressure there had been? Vince has a way of making you make a decision when you’re not the one making the decision at all. We’ve seen that a million times. So you got to wonder, has Daniel Bryan’s last match taken place, or… has he just not scratched the itch yet, and he’s going to end up somewhere else to do something he really loves?”
MSL then references the way WCW rose to prominence in the 1990s. At that point, it was largely thought that Hulk Hogan was done after losing his title to Yokozuna and eating a Banzai drop at a SummerSlam show.
Hogan did appear ready to move on to bigger and better things. Anyone remember Thunder in Paradise?
Then, Ted Turner threw a bunch of money at the Hulkster, and it wasn’t long before the rest of WWE’s 1980s cast were turning up for WCW Saturday Night followed by the launch of WCW Monday Nitro and the now-legendary “Monday Night Wars.”
MSL suggested that Daniel Bryan could be on the verge of doing something like that. After all, Vince McMahon had convinced “Macho Man” Randy Savage to say goodbye to his in-ring days, then he became one of those WCW main eventers.
At this point, Kevin Sullivan speculates that something like that could create new competition for the WWE, stating that a company from outside the United States could see these “openings in the marketplace” and make offers to current disenfranchised guys, who might be willing to step away from the WWE umbrella for good.
Sullivan even goes so far as to suggest a CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan main event at the top of his hypothetical card.
“I’d pay to see those guys play tiddlywinks,” he then adds with a chuckle.
MSL closed that section of the podcast by acknowledging that these were things unlikely to happen, but that it’s important to note that wrestling has never been as stagnant as it now is, and that it’s ripe for an actual competitor to go against the WWE.
So far, with TNA barely getting by and Lucha Underground a much smaller commodity, it looks like any serious competition would have to come from overseas.
But what do you think, readers?
Is the story that Daniel Bryan laid out in his retirement speech something he really believes, or could you see him performing once again if the money and circumstances were right? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via YouTube screen grab, linked above]