Not sure that "hope" is the right word, but many fans are holding onto the idea that Daniel Bryan's just announced retirement could be a Mark Henry-style work.
But the reports coming in from wrestling's more legitimate journalism outlets are not indicating that to be the case.
Pro Wrestling Sheet is short on details, but clear with their message:
Bryan's announcement is legitimate - not a storyline related bait and switch.
ESPN's Jonathon Coachman, who will interview DB tomorrow night on SportsCenter, says the same:
Let me be VERY clear. This is not a work. Not a storyline. Real life. And it stinks for one of the really good guys. https://t.co/KknKb5yLQb— Jonathan Coachman (@TheCoachESPN) February 8, 2016
In a special edition Wrestling Observer Radio (subscription required but recommended), Dave Meltzer has more background.
Bryan did in fact attempt to give notice to WWE after being cleared by yet another independent doctor, as detailed by our own Keith Harris this weekend. Coming out of those discussions, he underwent a round of "timing tests" (similar to components of ImPACT concussion evaluations that measure reaction time, but these were more involved and looked at more centers of brain activity) prior to Royal Rumble. These may be the tests Mike Johnson and PWInsider reported on at the time.
Many, perhaps including Bryan himself, were hoping that visit would result in his being cleared for an in-ring return. As it turns out, the results of those tests may be what convinced Bryan to retire. It seems what they got back was disconcerting enough for all parties that future tests were cancelled - or at least it was determined they weren't needed before making today's announcement.
Meltzer believes the decision to hang up his boots is the wrestler's and his family's, and not forced by WWE. This also changes the picture of a performer so dead set on competing that he's willing to risk his future livelihood, and may mean Bryan is not likely to end up in another wrestling company.
It remains unclear if he has much choice in that matter. WWE is paying him, wants to keep him on in a non-wrestling capacity, and may have the contractual ability to keep it that way as long as they are willing to keep paying him (similar to how they exercised options on Rey Mysterio while he was injured).
Whether you were hoping for a swerve or not, all this news is frustrating, because it means there's lots of blame to go around but nowhere exactly to point the finger.
More as we have it, Cagesiders.