When Daniel Bryan gave his emotional retirement speech, on Monday Night RAW back in February, it was clear to see how difficult it was for him. But recent comments from Bryan, following his return to WWE as SmackDown Live’s general manager, have revealed just how stressful this time was for him.
His retirement was followed almost immediately by the filming of the new Total Divas spin off series, Total Bellas, in which Bryan and his wife Brie Bella, moved in with Brie’s sister Nikki and her partner John Cena, to help with Nikki’s recovery from surgery. A naturally quiet and reserved person, Bryan admits the extra strain, coming so soon after being forced to give up the career he loved, was too much.
He talked about the cameras being on all the time, the number of rules imposed by Cena, who Bryan describes as ‘a very regimented person’, and the length of time they had to stay to complete the filming. It came at a really difficult time in my life, explains Bryan: "I had to go out to Florida (to shoot Total Divas) and we’re in John Cena’s house for four weeks or whatever and there’s cameras just on you all the time. I just had this horrible mental breakdown.”
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To cope with the stress, Bryan took solace in nature. Brought up in a small town, and dedicated to environmentally sustainable ways of living, he says he has always found comfort in the outdoors. ‘I needed to get away from all of that and just get out to be by some trees’, he supplies by way of explanation. He admits he has never done well in big cities, and agrees with his wife that he suffers anxiety when surrounded by so much concrete.
Sadly, it seems that Bryan has not fully come to terms with his retirement from in-ring competition. He describes the evidence relating to concussions as ‘subjective’ and talks about how he went from specialist to specialist in his bid to get cleared.
But, the answer was ultimately no, and Bryan is trying to come to terms with it even now, ‘I guess I kind of accept it, but I have a certain amount of melancholy with it.’ It is to be hoped that his new role, as SmackDown GM, will help him find the new direction he clearly needs.
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