The WWE Universe was devastated, with some fans at Monday Night RAW left in tears at witnessing Bryan’s farewell.
Although Bryan will be sorely missed for his ability in the ring, popularity with the fans, and the humility that has made him one of WWE’s most successful faces in recent history, the decision must be applauded by all involved.
It was one that was not taken lightly.
Management, doctors, Bryan and the Universe all wanted to see him return to the ring.
Months of tests have led to this decision with Bryan stating that numerous doctors had given him the all clear to return to the ring, but the one that mattered couldn’t.
Dr. Joseph Maroon, the WWE’s lead doctor, is no stranger to concussions.
Dr. Maroon has also been the team neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers since 1980 and has been long associated with the NFL, an organisation rightly chastised for its concussion record.
Such is his involvement with the NFL that he has been immortalised in the Will Smith film Concussion, based on the chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) findings borne out of the 2002 death of Steelers centre Mike Webster, which led to the NFL forking out $765m to thousands of former players battling CTE.
As early as last year, Dr. Maroon said of concussion: “I think the problem of CTE, although real, it’s being over-exaggerated and it’s being extrapolated to youth football and to high school football.
“There are more injuries to kids from falling off of bikes, scooters, falling in playgrounds, than there are in youth football… It’s much more dangerous riding a bike or a skateboard than playing youth football.”
It seems that Dr. Maroon has learned since that NFL Total Access interview that there is no margin for error in these instances.
YES, Bryan is a valuable commodity.
YES, Bryan is one of the most talented wrestlers of his generation.
YES, he has been over every obstacle thrown in front of him.
But, YES his health must come first.
And to see the WWE act in such a manner is both long overdue and great to see.
Their hand may have been forced by the lawsuit filed by Evan Singleton (ring-name Adam Mercer) – who is now disabled – and Vito LoGrasso (known by the cruelly ironic Skull Von Krush and Big Vito) last year but the warning signs have long been there to see.
The subsequent findings of mass CTE and the affect it had on the brain in the tragic murder-suicide of Chris Benoit and his family in 2007 gave some clarity to the horrific goings on in June that year.
Andrew ‘Test’ Martin’s death at 33 two years later was another jarring reminder of the dangers professional wrestlers face in order to put on entertainment over their careers and no matter how “fake” the action may be to you, the toll it takes on the body and the risks they take for our entertainment is very much real.
With Bryan just a year older than Test and six younger than Benoit, and with a desire to start a family with WWE Diva Brie Bella, the 34-year-old’s decision seems so much more straightforward.
The hope must be now that Bryan continues to be the face of the company, an ambassador and advisor to those going into the profession as to the great rewards and riches as much as the risks.
Can he do so?
YES, YES, YES, YES, YES…
It has been a remarkably sad start to the year with the deaths of Alan Rickman and David Bowie making headlines; the world of wrestling has now been left reeling at the news that Bret Hart has been diagnosed with cancer.
The ‘Hit Man’ took to social media on Monday to reveal the news, leading to an outpouring of support and well wishes from the wrestling community.
A WWE Hall of Famer and five-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Hart is one of the most recognisable faces in wrestling.
His career in the ring was filled with glory, controversy, trial and tribulations in equal measure but now Hart faces what he describes as a “fearsome fight” against prostate cancer.
It is with great remorse that I feel compelled to speak truthfully to my friends, family and my millions of fans around the world. In the past few years, I've spent more than enough time paying the price for all those years trying to be the best there ever was as a professional wrestler. I executed excellently and my proudest claim was that I never seriously hurt or injured another wrestler in my 23 year career. I've paid a price for all that "fake" wrestling ... Mark Helprin wrote: "We are all perfect clocks that Divinity has set to ticking when, even before birth, the heart explodes into a lifelong dance." I've had a great lifelong dance and I'm a survivor of many hard battles. I now face my toughest battle. With hesitation and fear, I openly declare myself in my fight against prostate cancer. In the next few days, I will undergo surgery with the hope of defeating this nemesis once and for all. My fans have always looked upon me as a hero and I've always done my best to live up to that in and out of the ring. I beat the odds when I suffered my stroke in 2002, but it is now yet again, that I ... stand unafraid and face the tough road ahead of me, I will march toward this destiny with his spirit chanting in my ear. I make a solemn vow to all of those that once believed in me, the dead and the living, that I will wage my fearsome fight against cancer with one shield and one sword carrying my determination and my fury for life, emboldened by all the love that's kept me going this long already. Love is my weapon and I've got much of it around me all the time, for which I'm truly blessed and eternally grateful. My children, grandchildren, and my loving wife Steph have been and will constantly be at my side. I refuse to lose, I will never give in or give up, and I will win this battle or die trying. Most important of all, I hope can take the fight to prostate cancer. To be a leader in awareness and to set the example for men everywhere who find themselves in my very same shoes, that prostate cancer can be beaten. B x
The Canadian grappler was renowned for his gruelling in-ring battles and his career was marred by myriad injuries – prematurely bringing an end to his work inside the squared circle in 1999.
Hart acknowledged these in a heartfelt post on Instagram and Facebook, in which he reeled off the plethora of knocks he suffered in the “fake” world of wrestling.
“I’ve paid a price for all that ‘fake’ wrestling,” wrote Hart.
“Aside from a devastating career-ending concussion and numerous surgeries when I was younger, in recent years I’ve had two knee replacements, two hernia operations, surgery on my right elbow, and, just a few months ago, I underwent a four-corner fusion of my right wrist that even now makes it most difficult to write or type.”
Not only that, Hart suffered a stroke in 2002 that at the time left him with total paralysis on his left side.
Through extensive physiotherapy, the Calgary native had a full recovery and will surely take positives from that experience into his latest health setback.
The news is a further reminder of the fragility of the Superstars who seem immortal when their music plays and they make their way down to the ring to put on a show for our entertainment.
For now, however, Sport360 joins the millions of wrestling fans the world over in wishing Hart a speedy recovery.
My thoughts and prayers are with you Bret. I would ask that all of your fans join with me in praying for your full recovery from cancer.— Ted DiBiase (@MDMTedDiBiase) February 1, 2016
"Never meet your heroes, they'll only disappoint you." @BretHart dispelled this myth for me years ago. Pulling for you once again, Hitman.— Stu Bennett (@WadeBarrett) February 2, 2016
Prayers are from everyone for Bret Hart and his family,only love HH— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) February 2, 2016
Praying for you @BretHart. You have been a hero to me in and out of the ring.— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) February 2, 2016
He is the most electrifying man in sport’s entertainment history, the People’s Champion and the flag bearer for WWE Superstars hoping to establish a successful career in mainstream media post their four-sided ring exploits.
And if anyone had any doubts over The Rock’s claim to all of the above, then his return to Monday Night Raw this week proved otherwise.
In a dramatic ‘homecoming’, the San Andreas star returned to the WWE’s flagship programme back in the city where it all began for little Dwayne Johnson (was he was ever little?!): Miami.
Quite simply, it was glorious.
A raucous crowd were shocked into hysterics at the sight of the eight-time WWE World Heavyweight champion and by the time he had completed his breezy, one-shot opening monologue, the screams of approval were ringing in the ears.
In that seven-minute opening, The Rock traded exchanges with The Big Show, chatted up Lana, bear-hugged fellow Miami boy Rick Ross and broke the fourth wall with alarming ease, wit and that sprinkle of magic that only a handful of wrestlers have in their locker.
As the show wore on, ol’ Rocky brought an unscripted, manic sense to proceedings that duly brought back memories of the Attitude Era that he and Stone Cold Steve Austin carried on their backs with trademark swagger.
The Rock induced chants of ‘llama penises’ and handed out two Rock Bottoms and a People’s Elbow to two of the New Day as he teamed with ‘family’ members The Usos in one segment that reminded everyone of what this highly talented new generation of wrestlers is missing.
It was no-holds-barred, anything goes TV and it was sublime.
Rocky handed a microphone to a group of fans dressed as throwback wrestlers (including the banished Hulk Hogan) and sent the whole American Airlines Arena into reverent chaos.
In the new PG-13 era of WWE wrestling, this does not happen.
The best mic-men in the business like John Cena and Paul Heyman can work a crowd, that is for sure, but they will never be able to recreate the frenzy that The Rock & co. did in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Wrestling is now far more controlled and there is a greater concern about keeping things family-friendly.
There is nothing wrong with this, but it is hard to argue that the product is anywhere near as marketable as its heady days with Johnson at the fore.
The performance of The Rock and the reaction he drew from the Miami crowd is testament to this.
And despite giving no mention of his upcoming role at WrestleMania, it could well be a stroke of genius.
Everyone knows The Rock will be there at WrestleMania 32 in Arlington Texas on April 3 and it really doesn’t matter in what capacity.
As long as he turns up and is given a mic, we will all be in for a treat.