Daniel Bryan revealed in an interview with WWE this week that he was cleared to return to in-ring competition by WWE on Monday. While he was cleared on Monday, the decision wasn’t finalized until very shortly before WWE made the public announcement of his return on Tuesday, according to Dave Meltzer in the latest edition of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
Bryan hasn’t wrestled since April of 2015, shortly after he won the WWE Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 31. He retired the following February after an EEG test revealed slowing of brain activity and a small lesion in an area of his brain that causes seizures. Bryan had reportedly suffered two seizures and over 20 concussions in his career. Bryan was later told by his doctors that retiring was premature, and that the lesion is a vague thing. He had gotten cleared by several doctors since then, and has said that he would wrestle elsewhere when his WWE contract expires in September if he were healthy and WWE would not clear him.
WWE sent Bryan to get tested by several neurologists chosen by WWE Medical Director Dr. Joseph Maroon over the past two months. After they cleared him, Meltzer noted that Maroon was scheduled to test Bryan next week to clear him, however it was changed to this past Monday so that WWE could start building the WrestleMania angle this week. The script for SmackDown this past Tuesday was re-written after he was cleared. Bryan is expected to team with Shane McMahon to face Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn at WrestleMania. There were backup plans of having McMahon get a different partner if Bryan wasn’t cleared, or to have the WrestleManiamatch be a three-way with McMahon, Owens and Zayn with Bryan as special referee.
Bryan got physical for the first time since 2015 on SmackDown this past Tuesday. Bryan fired Zayn and Owens for attacking Shane McMahon last week, which caused Zayn and Owens to attack him. Bryan fought back and looked like he hadn’t lost a step, hitting both men with Yes Kicks and running dropkicks into the corner, while also hitting a German suplex on Zayn. Eventually Owens and Zayn were able to take control, which ended with Zayn hitting Bryan with a Helluva Kick, followed by Owens hitting him with a powerbomb onto the apron on the outside of the ring. The show ended with Bryan being stretchered to the back by paramedics.
It was noted in the Observer that as part of his agreement with WWE to get cleared, he will go to WWE doctors backstage after every match and get Impact testing and a neuropsychological evaluation done until WWE is comfortable that he’s okay.
Not much else has been decided upon other than his WrestleMania match. His schedule will be determined, although Bryan indicated during an appearance on the Edge & Christian podcast last August that he might not be interested in wrestling full-time.
“There’s no reason why I can’t return to doing what I love [wrestling],” Bryan said. “It may never be full-time and it may never be this idea of ‘I’m going to go in and be the guy who main events every live event and stuff. I’m not even sure I want that. Now that I have a child, I don’t want to be away from her that much. But to say that I can’t wrestle say 50 to 100 matches a year or to say that I can’t do Jerry Lawler and Terry Funk are still doing in their 60s. I also want to give the caveat of this: if at any point along with all of this if somebody said there’s a real indication that I should not be wrestling, I don’t want to wrestle. My health is 100% more important than coming back to wrestling. Being a good father is more important than going out there and expounding on my belief that doing more hammerlocks in wrestling is good for the business!”