It's 10 minutes until 4 in the morning and I've watched more WWE programming in one night than I have in the past 5 years up until this point. And you all know why. Bryan Danielson (NO, I will not call him Daniel Bryan) has retired and the wrestling world just got a whole lot smaller. WWE, to their credit, gave a man whose career in the white tower lasted less than a decade the kind of send-off that ordinarily would have demanded a lifetime to acheive. Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, and now Bryan Danielson.....YES! I hold his contributions that high to put him right in the thick of two of the all-time greats.
I praise his unprecidented work in Ring of Honor, Japan, and everywhere else all the way to his in ring work at the top. No, I don't appreciate anger management classes with Kane. That notwithstanding, though, I held back a bit from this post for more than a few reasons, but I will list and explain a couple of them.....
Let the man enjoy his ride off into the sunset and then keep the cheer going as he makes his way into civilization again. He deserves it after the sacrifice, blood, sweat, and tears. I just can't see a more fitting way to keep the cheer going than continuing to cheer after life has gone back to following the path it was on before. That's what I do here when it seems appropriate and right now, I believe, it is.
2. To find the words......
How do you thank a man whose work, in large part, I never saw until long after his arrival in the biggest show in town? I was watching his matches from ROH and NJPW DURING and INSTEAD of his out of ring work in WWE. I felt his booking was criminal in many cases and his character was wasted on work that was beneath his ability to showcase and, out of respect for his decision to leave on a good note, I kept silent.....but WWE held him down on so many occasions that I lost count and he was FAR more classy and kept silent himself as his talents were squandered than another who just decided not to go to work one day, kicking and screaming the whole way home. There's something to be said for silence and class and Bryan Danielson has both in SPADES.
3. The Moment.
On some level, this might seem a bit like my explanation of fanfare, but by the time I've finished, it will make sense that they are both very different. I watched something special that only comes around with legends, of which this man has ascended into the company of. I can tell you where I was on certain special nights. When Eddie Guerrero passed away, I was taping RAW at home a few miles from where I live presently and I couldn't make it through the episode unscathed....I still can't. When RAW was hijacked the night Danielson spoke of, I wasn't watching live, but I caught the highlights later on in the night and, in true anti-WWE defiance, I cheered when RAW fell victim to the fans, who were right all along to chant his name. Bryan Danielson's retirement is in the echelon of the few moments where RAW got broken down into its simplest form and for that, I AM GRATEFUL.
SO, I tip my hat to you, Mr. Danielson, for leaving with your health moreorless still intact, your head held high, and with your prospects put directly in front of you. You will be missed by the industry more than we know now.