As Dave Meltzer indicated earlier today, it seems that Daniel Bryan's decision to retire was prompted by the results of new state-of-the-art medical testing by brain science company Evoke Neuroscience.
In what might just be a complete coincidence, although this seems highly unlikely, Meltzer reported about the innovative technology that Bryan is believed to have recently undertaken in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter three weeks ago and in his news story Meltzer urged Bryan to give it a try:
"Inside MMA had a very important report on UFC fighter Al Iaquinta, head trauma and brain testing. Iaquinta noted that he took a lot of punishment in his controversial win over Jorge Masvidal on April 4. He hasn’t fought since more due to knee problems than anything else, but after he won, and the fans booed, he went off on the fans in his post-match interview. He said that wasn’t him and recognized he may have suffered head trauma. However, the symptoms cleared and he was ready to go back and spar. He was cleared by doctors. However, Iaquinta is training at the Weidman/Longo gym which is one of the first gyms to have the new machines by Evoke Neuroscience which we talked about after I saw a demonstration of them in Las Vegas. While these are new, and not peer reviewed at this point, they hook up a scanning device that can detect different parts of the brain as well as reaction time. Dr. James Thompson, one of the key people behind this, noted that when you have an injury to a part of the brain, the healthy parts of the brain overcompensate and in time you will feel fine, and you will pass the current testing, but the injury will not have recovered and for brain injuries to recover, they need time, as in no sparring or contact. Hopefully in time, and whether this is even possible, who knows, but there may be medicines developed for different specific parts of the brain that are injured.
But besides MMA gyms and UFC, as well as boxing, kickboxing and football, WWE needs to also look into this new technology because it appears to be far more advanced than the testing in place. I keep thinking of Bryan Danielson, where there is a debate regarding whether he should be cleared and this would give a better reading than anything else. The key, with Danielson, is that he had noted that his reactions and brain were tested and his cognitive ability is ahead of the norm for his age. That’s a key thing, because I was specifically told that really smart people because of their intelligence can more easily pass the current methods of testing because the healthy parts of their brain can overcompensate. Now, this is not a doctor’s evaluation, obviously, but on the New Year’s Dash show, Kevin Kelly mentioned in a discussion that many years ago, all the ROH talent underwent IQ testing. Danielson finished the highest of anyone on the roster (he also noted that Nigel McGuinness was second, which is probably no surprise if you’ve ever talked with him) and Mark Briscoe was third, which probably is a surprise if you consider his gimmick."
At this present time, we don't know what the results of Bryan's latest tests were, but the fact that Bryan has changed his mind about retiring, when he had been so adamant about continuing to wrestle, even if that meant having to leave WWE, suggests that the news he received wasn't good.
WWE will likely portray Bryan's retirement tonight due to concussion damage as a freak occurrence, but one wonders how many other WWE performers would fail such advanced brain scanning techniques? Has Bryan been forced to retire just because he was honest to WWE doctors about the large number of concussions he's had during his wrestling career? If WWE are genuinely serious about the concussion issue, then they would mandate other performers with a documented history of concussion problems (like Dolph Ziggler and The Undertaker) or those veterans who have worked a very physical style throughout their career or dabbled in MMA (like Brock Lesnar, Alberto Del Rio, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, The Dudleys, etc) to undergo the testing that convinced Bryan to retire, in order to check that they are still safe to perform.
One can certainly understand why WWE wouldn't want to open Pandora's box and see what was inside, but I'd argue that the long-term benefit would be worth the short-term upheaval, if such testing eventually became standard for all WWE performers.