The former WWE Champion was forced to retire in 2015 due to injuries caused by concussions, just a year after winning the WWE Championship in the main event of Wrestlemania 30.
He promptly was named the general manager of Smackdown along with Shane McMahon, a position he held until his return to the ring in 2018. Since returning to the ring, he has won the WWE Championship, main evented Wrestlemania and left the WWE to wrestle in AEW in 2021.
However, it was a match as part of Smackdown live that inspired the American Dragon to pursue the chance to wrestle again in 2018. He had long lamented that his career was forced to end no on his own terms, and wanted to end it the right way. He has since continued to wrestle and confirmed he wants to wrestle well into his 50s, like his AEW opponent Minoru Suzuki.
Bryan Danielson has revealed that a match between Jon Moxley (then Dean Ambrose) and AJ Styles was the catalyst in making him want to return to the ring after his retirement. Danielson revealed in an interview with Wrestling Observer Radio
“I remember specifically I was watching Mox and AJ Styles – Mox is really interesting when I look at it now, the role he has played in me being where I’m at right now. I watched Mox and AJ Styles wrestling and I had to sit ringside for it for whatever the story was, I don’t remember exactly. I watched it, I got so emotionally bothered, like upset that I wasn’t able to wrestle.
“At that point I was kind of thinking, ‘I think I’m fine’, and that was the real turning point. Then I went home and I talked to Brie, it was like, ‘Hey, I think I want to wrestle’. She’s like, ‘Well, you’re going to have to prove to them that you can wrestle, so what does that take?’. Then I started to come up with a plan and started working on some things and that’s where the story took us.”
Bryan Danielson currently teams with Jon Moxley in AEW, with William Regal as their manager. They are known as the Blackpool Combat Club, and are currently undefeated in tag team action in AEW.
The pair also fought a gruelling, brutal bout at AEW Revolution 2022, with Moxley coming out as the winner on that occasion.