Thank You, WWE

                          Jonathan Bachman/AP Images for WWE

                          Tomorrow night feels like the biggest match of my career. In a lot of ways it doesn’t seem real. It’s against a dream opponent in Kenny Omega, who I’ve watched grow and become one of the best wrestlers in the world over the last several years. It’s taking place in a dream setting, the first wrestling show at Arthur Ashe Stadium. It’s happening in a groundbreaking promotion — AEW, a company that’s modernizing wrestling and giving fans their first true alternative in a long time. And it’s my first match outside of WWE in over 10 years. It feels like a brand new chapter. I couldn’t be more excited. What a world!

                          But if I’m honest, “excited” is only part of what I’m feeling right now. Life has a way of being a little more complicated than that, ya know? So as I approach this moment, before this next part of my career gets fully underway, there’s something I need to express:

                          THANK YOU, WWE.

                          Thank you to the incredible superstars with whom I’ve shared both the ring and the road. For Savate-Kick Saturdays and locally roasted coffee. For being family when we’re away from family. For making me look good when I didn’t feel good. For deep conversations and pointless debates. For making me laugh — both in the best of times, and the worst. For all the small things that make life as a wrestler just a little bit more fun.

                          Courtesy of Bryan Danielson

                          Thank you to the many people behind the scenes. The crew in WWE is amazing, from the folks operating the cameras to those in catering. From the producers to talent relations. Thank you to the production team, who always put together such amazing packages, and are such an underappreciated part of the stories we tell. Thank you to everyone involved in creative: for accepting me into the group, for sharing with me the lessons you’ve learned, and for the fun times we had talking about wrestling and non-wrestling subjects alike. It’s a difficult job, writing and producing WWE television, and I’m consistently blown away by your ability to make a seamless production out of such chaos!  

                          Thank you to the Big Man, who I know hates to be acknowledged. I won’t say much, but thank you for the conversations, the life lessons (about both what to do and what not to do), and the best hug I’ve ever received. I wish more people could see you how I see you.

                          And last but certainly not least: Thank you to the WWE fans. You pushed my career to new heights — heights that I never would have reached for, on my own. Thank you for cheering me enthusiastically into the main event at WrestleMania 30, and thank you for booing me vociferously against Kofi at WrestleMania 35. Thank you for crying with me when I was forced to retire, and thank you for celebrating with me when I was cleared to compete. Thank you for hijacking that show in Seattle — the last time my dad ever got to see me wrestle. He signed his first autograph that night: Buddy Danielson, Daniel Bryan’s dad.

                          Thank you for moments that I will never forget…. moments where I can just close my eyes and feel the goosebumps all over again.

                          I hope you will continue to follow me in AEW, but I completely understand if you don’t. You’ve given me more than enough — more than I could ever repay. Thank you for all of it.

                          I loved my time in WWE. Needless to say, it changed my life. I met my wife, had unbelievable experiences and made great friends. Some of you, I may see again…. and I hope that I do. But these last two years have taught us not to take that for granted. So I just wanted to tell you all how much you’ve meant to me. I’m grateful that you allowed me into your lives, and that you came into mine. I’ll cherish these memories forever.

                          Thank you for reading — and most of all, thank you for caring.

                          Sincerely,

                          Bryan Danielson