Daniel Bryan announced on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw that he will make his in-ring return in the 2015 Royal Rumble match at the pay-per-view next month.
Bryan has been out since early May after undergoing a procedure known as a cervical foraminotomy to decompress the nerve root on Thursday, May 15, 2014. The surgery was performed by Dr. Joseph Maroon in Pittsburgh, PA but his rehabilitation was slowed when he failed to regain the strength in his right hand.
He Tweeted on Monday afternoon that he had come to a crossroads and would make an announcement on Raw. Below is the Tweet:
Due to nature of the announcement, I provided live coverage. You can read a complete recap of Bryan's announcement below:
Daniel Bryan comes out to a big pop and JBL declares, "he's back." The crowd greets him with a Yes chant and Lilian Garcia introduces him. Michael Cole plugs the hashtag #YesYesYes.
Bryan says it's an honor to be here for the last Raw of 2014. He said it's always an honor to be in this ring, every single time. Who would have thought a small kid from Aberdeen, Washington that was always labeled a B+ player could have main evented Wrestlemania? Nobody except for you guys.
Daniel Bryan said thanks to the fans, he got the opportunity to beat Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton all in one night to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in front of 70,000 fans. He said he can never repay the fans for that. Five days after that he married the woman of his dreams and that was the best week of his life.
Bryan said then everything changed. When they got back from their honeymoon, his dad died. He wasn't there for him because he was wrestling. A month after that, he had a career changing injury. All he could do was sit in front of his TV screen and watch. In tears, Bryan said wrestling was the only thing that could take the pain away. This is all he's wanted his entire life - performing in front of the fans.
He said no one cheered louder then he did when Dolph Ziggler pinned Seth Rollins and sent The Authority out of power [at Survivor Series]. It hurt because he couldn't be there. He said the doctors had no answers. He even called Edge, who knows a thing about career-ending injuries.
Bryan said you get to a time when you have to make a decision whether all of this is worth it or not. He said because the fans have supported him his entire career, he requested he make the announcement in front of everyone. Is my career over? Bryan declares no! He said that is not the announcement he came to make.
He is ready to fight, ready to compete. Daniel Bryan announces he will be in the 2015 Royal Rumble!
I spoke with numerous sources prior to Bryan making the announcement, who didn't know what Bryan was going to say, but all hoped this is what the announcement would be. No one was expecting Bryan at Raw, however, a talking segment was confirmed on the big board hours before WWE went live on the USA Network.
Royal Rumble 2015 will be Bryan's first match since May 5, 2014 when he faced Alberto Del Rio on an episode of Raw. Royal Rumble will take place on Sunday, January 25, 2015 from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.
WWE officials remained hopeful Bryan would be cleared by Wrestlemania 31 in March, which was evident when they included him in promotional material in November. Bryan announced a return timetable of January in a promotional interview we covered at this link.