Hours after it was announced that Daniel Bryan has been medically cleared to return to the WWE after being forced to retire due to brain injuries, the wrestler appeared on SmackDown and gave an emotional speech about his recovery.
SmackDown opened with a montage of Bryan's career highlights, then Bryan entered the ring and delivered a tearful speech.
"A little over two years ago, when I was forced to retire, it was one of the hardest days of my life, but I focused on one thing: being grateful," he said. "There were times when I was depressed about not being able to do what I loved to do, and I focused on being grateful."
Bryan added, "And I have a lot to be grateful for. I have amazing family, I have amazing friends, I have the best fans in the world, and I also have an amazing, beautiful wife [Brie Bella]. When I was depressed and I was angry and I was trying to be grateful and she saw that all I wanted to do was get back in the ring, she came to me and said, 'It's wonderful that you're grateful, but you need to fight and you need to fight for your dreams.'"
The 36-year-old wrestler said that he's been asking the WWE to re-look at his case for the last two months and they sent him to several neurologists who all told him he was cleared to return to the ring.
Thanking WWE and their doctors, Bryan noted, "First and foremost, they looked at me as the person and not me as the wrestler, and for that I will be forever grateful for them."
Finally, Bryan said, "I don't know exactly when or where I will get back in this ring. Does that sound like a good idea?" Then he asked, "Will Daniel Bryan compete in a WWE ring again?" The crowd responded with a wild round of "YES!" chants as he pointed at a WrestleMania sign hanging from the rafters.
Welcome back, Daniel. We hope to see you at WrestleMania 34 in April.