While much of the world looks forward to retirement with eager anticipation, professional athletes often look upon it with dread and trepidation. Wrestlers are not different. They love the sport. They love being in the ring with electric crowds and fans following them from city to city. Eventually the body does catch up, however, and retirement becomes the only feasible option. Some wait too long, only to suffer physical and emotional trauma that can take years to overcome. Even those that have a great deal of money banked find it difficult to leave. Daniel Bryan recently went through this exact circumstance after suffering what amounts to a career ending concussion.
In a sport that is dominated by electric personalities, both inside and out of the ring, the WWE sought to keep him a non-wrestling role. The fans still adore him and the WWE foresaw him becoming an ambassador for the sport on a global scale. Even before his concussion, he was exploring contracts with three international wrestling organizations – one as far away as Japan. In the end, however, the WWE has their grips on Bryan and is hesitant to let him go, even in retirement.
Alas, Bryan decided that he needed time away from the sport. He did not want to be hounded, did not want to do announcing, and simply did not want to be anywhere near a ring. The WWE granted him that request, but to date has not released him from his contract. Now that he has had several months away, Bryan is pondering his next moves. Unlike say CM Punk who left and moved on to the UFC, Bryan does not have that luxury due to his condition. He does love the sport, but realizes he can never get back in the ring. With the WWE still desiring to have him remain in some type of prominent role however, he really appears to have few options. He is simply too popular to let go, even though he would apparently love to get overseas and bring professional wrestling to even more prominence in Asia and beyond, and it seems the feeling is mutual.
There appears to be a public motive for the WWE to keep him under contract. Bryan apparently loves the sport so much that he has expressed an interest in wrestling again. The WWE feels that this would be potentially deadly to him and they have instituted a ban on him doing so. However, that same ban would not be in effect were he to go to another organization. In fact, that would make him a direct competitor of the WWE, which obviously would not be good from a business perspective. So, from all accounts it seems Bryan will have to remain with the WWE if he wants to have anything to do with the professional wrestling, even in retirement.