In the modern era wrestling, it’s harder and harder to find what’s genuine. Before the Internet and social media took hold of the world fans believed their favorite performers in the squared circle were who they said they were. It didn’t feel manufactured. Names like Dusty Rhodes, Roddy Piper, Ric Flair, Ricky Morton and others could draw in fans through the television screens and into the arenas. These days the audience are well-educated that the wrestling product is just sports entertainment where faces and the heels walk side-by-side. With all this going on, that’s what makes Daniel Bryan so special in this era. He was who he said he want. Genuine. Passionate. Loving.

On last night’s Monday Night Raw, Daniel Bryan announced his retirement from the pro-wrestling industry. It was emotional, it was heartfelt and honest. The man standing in the ring in the plaid shirt and jeans was not a WWE creation. This was Bryan Danielson the man saying goodbye to a dream. The man formally known as “The American Dragon” was one of the last real journeyman of the modern era. He saw himself as a true artist of the wrestling canvas. Danielson traveled from country to country putting on five-star classic’s that many on the independent scene enjoyed. Bryan suffered many injuries in his travels the most notable of which was a separated shoulder and a detached retina which he wrestled through amazingly without doing any more serious beverage.

But that’s the kind of man he was he didn’t want to stop for anything. Eventually the style would cause him to be at a crossroads in his career, does he retire and go into the real world get a job or does he take his chances with WWE who he had a tenuous relationship with. Danielson hated His Time in Memphis Championship Wrestling and wasn’t very excited for the prospect of what was to come from Vince McMahon and company, but it was time to make the money in the 30s. You can only be a starving artist for so long.

Many of the fan community were skeptical of how Bryan was going to be used. And the first season of NXT that debuted in 2010 on February 23 didn’t exactly quell the fears of those for fans of Danielson’s work. While he had great matches with Chris Jericho and others on the show, WWE made it clear as they did with CM Punk that everything he did before he entered the company was not important having Michael Cole putting down the Indy darling. All the shenanigans showed that WWE particularly Vince McMahon did not see anything in the boys from Aberdeen Washington. He wasn’t a WWE superstar, he was just a wrestler. A pale, vegan without a television will never get over!

A few months later, after the first season of NXT Daniel Bryan would return as an original part of the Nexus angle. However, Danielson’s passion for his art got in the way as he got a little too tied up with announcer Justin Roberts choking him on air. A faux pas at the time in light of sponsorships with Mattel and others. WWE subsequently fired him and he returned to the indie scene for a few months where he filmed The Wrestling Road Diaries with Colt Cabana. If you want insight into Bryan Danielson is it’s a good place to start. The documentary also shows his trials and tribulations on whether he will likely be brought back in the WWE fold. While he was waiting he helped create Evolve Wrestling with Gabe Sapolsky. The original concept had a bare-bones sports like presentation that was unlike anything on the independents at the time. Now, the company which is grown far beyond its simplistic roots is a feeder system for the WWE. So even beyond his work in the ring Daniel Bryan have contributed a lot to the business as we know now. He was a pillar that made ROH, PWG and many other promotions .

When Daniel Bryan returned to WWE TV he came back in a prominent role which unfortunately didn’t last long. He quickly slid back down to the mid-card and wasn’t given much do other Than having great matches. He won the US title to great fanfare but nothing much came from it. Bryan would be the man that have great matches with everyone but did not seem to get the recognition that those in the industry felt he deserved. He would be put in a love triangle with his future wife Brie Bella. The next year around Wrestlemania 27, it was learned that Sheamus and Daniel Bryan would have a US Title Match on the card. Both men were excited to really showcase what they could do. However the day of the show it was learned that they would be the preshow match which would only be recorded for the DVD/Blu-ray.

Later that summer, Daniel would win the Money in the Bank . Many thought that the American Dragon would be the first one to cash in the contract successfully. But much like any other time in his career, Bryan persevered made the best of a bad situation. He won the title against The Big Show. And then something interesting happened, mimicking MMA fighter Diego Sanchez he began over celebrating showcasing his new egotistical persona. No matter what he did as a heel fans and still cheer and then make him and his chant over. Then came the 18 second that changed everything. Once again himself and Sheamus were penciled in for the card and WWE wanting to shock the world on pay-per-view decided to give a quick victory to The Celtic Warrior. This would not sit well with the fans all throughout the night as they continue to chant Daniel Bryan all through the main Event. But it wasn’t just an anomaly, it continued through Raw and the subsequent weeks giving the heel Bryan hot selling merchandise that the company cannot ignore.

But this was not enough to really push Daniel Bryan in the superstardom that came with it is pairing with Kane. Team Hell No while not the most in ring provision time in his career was perhaps the most lucrative. A team that should not of work on paper was comedy gold and really propelled what WWE thought Bryan can be in Vince McMahon’s eyes. Endorsements from the likes of John Cena and the fans may WWE take notice in what they had. The Yes Revolution was in full effect and would not be denied. Daniel Bryan would battle the corporate ladder as real life would mirror storylines as the B+ player had to battle The Authority. WWE would change their initial plans for the 30th Wrestlemania. As everyone knows Daniel Bryan achieved his dream having two excellent performances on the grandest stage of them all definitely a highlight of his career. Unfortunately where their highest there are definitely woes. Just days after getting married his father dies and his run as champion short-lived due to a neck injury. There was are already question on Daniel Bryan’s well-being even more than a year ago but he returned to help get future stars like Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose over. However, even the longest-running journeys have to come to an end.

I think the story of Bryan Danielson is a tale that deserves to be studied by those in front of and behind the camera. The reason why people loved Daniel is not because of how many catchphrases he has, or how many cool moves you can do it’s about building a connection with the audience. Being genuine and honest with you are will go miles that something manufactured will not. There will never be another story like his. WWE has definitely made an about-face on guys that came from the independent scene and that’s partly due to Bryan’s success. NXT is basically the independent label of the WWE brand.

The fact that WWE acknowledges ROH, New Japan and other promotions now is insane. The wrestling business needs more like Bryan Danielson. Someone so pure and honest to prove that all dreams are possible. I will miss you Daniel but I’m happy that you come to terms with your career. We need him to be the next Mick Foley. It wasn’t the wrestling moves that made you our champion it was your heart and as long as there’s blood pumping in your body, you will still be you.