Daniel Bryan returned to SmackDown earlier this month after a brief hiatus to celebrate the birth of his second child.
It appears that time away gave Bryan space to reflect on the end his career.
Bryan said Friday on Talking Smack that his current run will be the end of his full-time career as an in-ring performer.
"In my mind, this is my last run, this is my last run as a full-time WWE Superstar," Bryan said. "It's not really a scoop, I think you can feel it by even the way I approach things and my mentality as far as my view toward younger people and all that stuff. As I’m doing this last run it’s not like I gotta prove to everybody that I'm the best. When I'm out there I'm proving things to myself, and I want things better for the younger talent."
Bryan is under contract with WWE through September 2021. That would ostensibly mean he has a little less than a year left in his full-time ring career, which would take him past his 40th birthday—an accomplishment in itself given Bryan was forced to retire due to medical issues in 2016.
Bryan's "full-time" comment is an important caveat, because it means he would likely be open to continuing on a part-time basis. It's also possible he could look for a challenge away from WWE's schedule with a company like AEW, which allows its employees to work independent dates, provided it does not interfere their programming.
If Bryan wanted to take his talents to Japan for marquee matches in a post-COVID world, then a stint with AEW stateside could make sense after his contract runs out.
Regardless, this decision is more than likely influenced by Bryan wanting to be healthy over the long term for himself and his family.