Now that we know the outcome of Daniel Bryan and WWE's concussion drama, more details are coming out concerning the lengths Bryan was willing to go to to keep wrestling, as well as the what Vince McMahon planned to keep him from doing so - at least for any company he didn't run.
This week's Wrestling Oberver Newsletter (subscription required but recommended) brings reports from both sides which flesh out the whispers we were all hearing prior to Monday's news.
Bryan desperately wanted to keep wrestling, and did ask for his release. It wasn't simply so he could explore other options, either. He obviously still had contacts at places like Ring of Honor (ROH) from his time with that promotion, and almost signed with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) back in 2010 before he was brought back to WWE following being fired for choking Justin Roberts during the segment that introduced the Nexus.
He was planning to work for those two companies, plus a full independent schedule. As part of the New Japan deal, he was interested in going to their Mexican partner CMLL - which was part of why he continued growing his hair, so he could do a Lucha de Apuestas with his locks on the line against a luchador's mask.
This is all because, unlike a lot of guys with some WWE time under their belt and checks in their wallet, Bryan wasn't worried about the money or the accoutrements of working for Vince. His drive to keep wrestling trumped any need to have a dressing room or wrestle in front of thousands every night - and he would have made a good living working for those promotions, beside.
As we saw with the Rey Mysterio situation years back, McMahon isn't one to just let guys he sees value in walk, and WWE contracts provide him with a way to prevent. Deals can be frozen if a wrestler is unable to work in the ring, and since WWE controls clearing its contracters for action, they can freeze those deals inevitably. Workers still get their downside guarantee, but are unable to work elsewhere unless fired.
Termination was not something that would happen any time soon for Bryan, as the company still saw him as a marketable asset for them and a huge get for any other wrestling show. They were also concerned with his health, but the business reasons are the ones mentioned in Dave Meltzer's report.
All of this became moot when the late January test results came back and the full extent of Bryan's injuries came to light, convincing he and his family that wrestling anywhere was a dangerous proposition.
It's a fascinating glimpse at two passionate people angling to get what they want, and how limited the options are for even the biggest names in a situation like this thanks to WWE's negotiating strength.