Daniel Bryan retires from wrestling
Daniel Bryan has retired from wrestling after 16 years in the ring.
The former WWE champion - who held the WWE World Heavyweight Championship three times - announced the heartbreaking decision on wrestling show 'Monday Night Raw' last night (08.02.16), confirming he was hanging up his shorts because of one too many injuries.
In an emotional speech while standing in the ring at the KeyArena in Seattle, in his home state of Washington, Bryan, 34, told the stadium of screaming fans: "I've been angry, I've been sad, I've been frustrated, I've been all of that. But today when I woke up this morning, I felt nothing but gratitude.
"The truth is, I've been wrestling since I was 18 years old, and within the first five months of my wrestling career, I'd already had three concussions. For years after that, I would get a concussion here and there ... and then it gets to the point when you've been wrestling for 16 years.
"That adds up to a lot of concussions. It gets to a point where they tell you that you can't wrestle anymore.
"For a long time, I fought that, because I'd gotten EEGs and brain MRIs and neuropsychological evaluations, and all of them said this: I was fine, and I could come back and wrestle."
Bryan also admitted his future with his wife, 'Total Divas' star Brie Bella, played a big part in his decision because the couple are keen to have kids "soon".
He added: "A week and a half ago, I took a test that said maybe my brain isn't as OK as I thought it was. I have a family to think about; my wife and I want to start having kids soon.
"It is with a heavy heart and the utmost sadness that I officially announce my retirement.
"I have gotten to do what I love for nearly 16 years. I am grateful.
"Now tomorrow morning I start a new life, a life where I am no longer a wrestler.
"But that is tomorrow and that is not tonight and by damn I have one more night to feel this energy and to feel this crowd."
Referring to his famous "yes, yes yes!" chant, he added: "If I could just get one last 'Yes' chant I would really appreciate it."
The crowd duly obliged.
Prior to 'Raw' being aired, Bryan informed his 2.5 million Twitter followers that he was planning to make the announcement.
He tweeted: "Due to medical reasons, effective immediately, I am announcing my retirement. Tonight on Raw, I'll have a chance to elaborate. #gratitude (sic)"
Female wrestler Brie paid tribute to her husband and revealed his speech had made her emotional.
She tweeted: "Wow what a speech! So proud of you Bryan! N #ThankYouDanielBryan
"Anyone have some extra tissue! Haha N #ThankYouDanielBryan (sic)"
She also shared a poignant Instagram post of their hands on top of one another, and added the caption: "A new journey awaits us and for the rest of our lives we'll talk about this one. You have given so much hope and inspiration to people all over. We haven't lost you, just get to see you in a different light. #thankyoudanielbryan #mystrength #mylove (sic)"
A host of WWE stars paid tribute to Bryan, including John Cena - the boyfriend of Daniel's sister-in-law Nikki Bella - who wrote: "#ThankYouDanielBryan for DOING what most only talk about. Challenging everything. Authority, conformity, perception. Redefining valor. (sic)"
Triple H - who was involved in a long-running feud with Bryan and who lost to him at WrestleMania XXX in a match which preceded his title win against Randy Orton and Batista - remembered the star's World Championship win.
He tweeted: "One of my favorite @WrestleMania moments ever.
"Always have been and always will be an A+. #ThankYouDanielBryan (sic)"
WWE two-time Hall of Fame inductee Ric Flair wrote: "Congrats on a great run with the @WWE! You will always be held in high esteem! WOOOOO! @WWEDanielBryan (sic)"
Roman Reigns, a WWE Superstar, tweeted: "U have to work w/ the best to learn...sorry to hear the news but a pleasure sharing the ring. #ThankYouDanielBryan (sic)"