In a new interview with wdel.com, AEW’s Bryan Danielson opened up about the debilitating injuries that led to a long hiatus in WWE. At the time, Bryan even announced his retirement from in-ring competition, but the story behind that announcement is more complex than the way Bryan explained it on television.
“I legitimately thought I was healthy and still think that I’m healthy,” Danielson said. “One of the reasons I was forced to retire was not because of the concussions, but because I lied about that. You have to understand, from WWE’s point of view, I had been wrestling for them for six years but then all of a sudden, they opened this Pandora’s box about ‘lying about his medical history and now we can’t trust him.’ A lot of that was building the trust back, but they were also legitimately looking after my health. I was going to see doctor after doctor and doing everything that I could to improve brain function to show, above and beyond, that my brain was healthy.
“It’s also my love of wrestling. It felt like I wasn’t really to be done yet, I still needed to come back. I also think there’s a lot left on concussion research to be done, and when you’re seeing the top doctors in the country and they’re all clearing you to do what you love to do, I think you should be able to do that.”
Bryan, now 40, mentioned his process before and after a match to continue keeping his body in tip-top shape. He admits, however, that long plane rides after a demanding match usually take a toll on his body no matter how much he stretches.
“I think your body adapts to so many things,” Danielson stated. “We were actually just talking about this in the locker room, someone said every fall hurts now. I was like, really? I think it really depends on the crowd. When you wrestle in front of a rabid crowd, nothing hurts. I do extensive warm-ups before I go out, and then every night when I get back to my hotel room after a show, I’m foam-rolling, I’m stretching, and making sure my body is in a healthy position to recover.
“I think for me, one of the hardest things is being on long plane trips. When you get to be 40 and you just wrestled a 30-minute match with Kenny Omega, no matter how much stretching you did, the next day, if you’re on a 6-hour plane trip, you’re going to hobble getting off the plane. Realistically, I hadn’t wrestled in 5-months, I wrestled Kenny Omega for 30 minutes, and did a 6-hour plane trip the next day, and I felt pretty good. There are a lot of physical demands, but if you keep up with your body and maintain your body, it’s manageable.”