Daniel Bryan's professional wrestling career appears to be over.
The four-time world champion announced his retirement Monday on Twitter:
Of course, retirements aren't necessarily straightforward in WWE. Countless Superstars have publicly stated their intentions to walk away from the ring and gone back on the decision, either as part of a storyline or a genuine change of heart.
Mark Henry had one of the more famous faux-retirements in 2013:
As With Spandex's Brandon Stroud noted, this isn't even the first time it looked like the end of Bryan's career:
Plus, WrestleMania 32 is a little under two months away. Given how many Superstars will likely miss out on April 3's pay-per-view because of injury, now would be a perfect time to bring Bryan back into the fold to build anticipation for the event.
Rapper Wale is holding out hope:
Still, fans may not want to get too optimistic about this all being part of a larger ruse surrounding Bryan's return to WWE. Edge had a similarly understated retirement, which largely came out of nowhere in 2011:
Bryan hasn't wrestled since April 2015, and he was forced to relinquish the Intercontinental Championship in May, citing health reasons:
That move came almost a year to the day after Bryan had neck surgery to repair a nerve issue.
In a July interview on ESPN's Cheap Heat podcast with David Shoemaker and Peter Rosenberg (via Mike Killam of WrestleZone.com), Bryan discussed his medical situation: "The whole problem with this process is getting cleared by the doctors. I've been cleared by one doctor in Phoenix, but the WWE doctor is hesitant to clear me. It's a very complicated situation, that I guess they don’t really want me talking about."
Almost every WWE fan would love to see Bryan compete in WWE again but not if he has to put himself at further risk for a serious injury—especially given his chronic neck issues. Erring on the side of caution is the best course of action.
If this is truly the end of the road for Bryan, at least he'll always have his WrestleMania XXX moment in New Orleans. He managed to reach the mountaintop of his profession before hanging up his boots, which only a handful of Superstars in WWE history can say.