By the time 2016 is over, Daniel Bryan’s retirement will arguably go down as the hardest piece of news WWE fans had to hear all year. The ultra-popular wrestler, after all, had become one of the promotion’s top stars through a combination of rabid fan support and tremendous in-ring skills, and at 34 years old at the time, he was simply too young to hang up his boots for good. It was an agonizing decision for Bryan, as he had so often admitted to media, and it was the aftermath of that retirement decision in February that provided the main takeaways from a recent Bella Twins media appearance.
The Bella Twins were in New York this week to promote their upcoming E! series Total Bellas, and in an interview with AOL’s BUILD series, Nikki and Brie Bella talked at length about Daniel Bryan (a.k.a. Bryan Danielson in real life) and his retirement, which took place as the sisters were filming the series. Quotes from the interview published by Wrestling Inc suggest that Bryan did indeed go through a lot of tough times with his wife Brie and sister-in-law Nikki, as he had clearly wanted to keep wrestling despite not being cleared by the WWE to return from concussion-related issues.
“It’s hard to re-live the moments, we had no idea that Bryan would have to retire,” Brie explained. “The cameras caught all that and it was a point where (we were thinking), ‘Do we just go? Do we stop the project and just go back to Phoenix?’ And Bryan wanted to power through it. But you know, in the six episodes you really see someone trying to be so strong and (then go into) decline as the series goes on. I think the great thing is that so many people will connect with Bryan because we’ve all had dreams get taken away.”
Brie herself had retired from in-ring competition not long after her husband, citing a desire to start a family. In the AOL BUILD interview, Brie said that her choice to retire was a “bittersweet” one, but one that she had to make if she and Bryan really want to become parents.
“It was hard as a wife to see that, especially because I had two months left at WWE and I was trying so hard to enjoy the ending. It was hard for me because of what he was going through and I didn’t really want to retire.”
One interesting nugget from the Bella Twins’ interview was Nikki’s comment that Bryan was so upset about his being forced to retire that the two of them ended up in a “massive fight.” She said that she wasn’t fully aware of the situation and had accused Bryan of not sticking up for Brie in the months leading up to her retirement, and that had gotten him so upset that he had cussed at her. This, says Nikki, was very uncharacteristic of Bryan, who normally doesn’t use foul language.
At the moment, Bryan is now making regular TV appearances as the on-air general manager of the SmackDown brand. He books matches and deals with wrestler concerns in storyline, but at the end of the day, it’s only small consolation for someone who was one of WWE’s most popular wrestlers of the past decade before his untimely retirement. His genuinely offended reaction to The Miz’s worked-shoot comments on Talking Smack last month was proof positive that the man loves to wrestle, wants to keep wrestling for WWE, and is tormented by the fact that the company’s doctors won’t give him the green light to return to the ring. And the Bella Twins have seen it first-hand: retiring from doing something you love is extremely hard when you should be in the prime of your career.
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