Earlier this summer heavy speculation ensued after it was revealed that Daniel Bryan's WWE contract ends sometime next year. The current SmackDown General Manager hasn't been shy about his hopes to step back into the ring again.
However, it won't be in WWE. And now, it sounds like he can rule out the second best option, New Japan Wrestling. On a recent episode of Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer asserted that NWJP has the same strict protocol against concussion based injuries:
"If you have a concussion [in New Japan] it's the same thing: they keep you out, there are no questions asked, and they don't put you back in until you pass the testing. Now, do they have the same stuff as they do here? Our stuff, we use the stuff that Joseph Maroon did with the impact testing, and whatever they do [in Japan] is probably the same. But when guys have concussions in Japan they're usually out for a while."
"I'm working on it. Wrestling is more of a creative outlet, and especially for somebody like me, I view it as my creative outlet. Not all WWE superstars and not all wrestlers view it that way, but that's how I view it and that's one of the ways my mind works creatively.
"I always think of it in terms of music. You're not always going to be a huge rock star in music, but musicians can play until the day they die. With sports, it's different. You can't always do it until the very end, and that's a hard reality of sports. The blessings wrestling has given me have allowed me to find some new passions, but it's really hard when you've got that first love and nothing really replaces it."
Chronic neck and concussion issues forced Bryan to retire in February 2016. Since he's returned as SmackDown's GM, he has yet to get close to anything resembling physicality. However, he has had several altercations with The Miz.
Bryan wanting to come back is not exactly new news. During his retirement saga, we kept hearing that he was physically able to compete but WWE doctors would not clear him to do so. With that in mind, when Bryan says he wants to wrestle again, that doesn't necessarily mean he'll do it in WWE.
It sounds as if Bryan is committed to stepping back into the ring, we just can't know where or when at this point.
[H/T Prowrestling.com for transcription]