Daniel Bryan says being a WWE Superstar is what he does best. But the fights outside the ring have been much tougher in the last year.

Bryan appears on “SmackDown!” on Thursday night as the company moves its weekly SyFy show from Friday. He will be an entrant in the Royal Rumble on Jan. 25. Earlier this week, Bryan admitted that at one point last year he thought the neck surgery that put him on the shelf the month after WrestleMania XXX might end his career.

“There was a point several months ago where it almost seemed like I wouldn’t be able to come back,” Bryan said.

He uses the word “depression” to describe his feelings, then hesitates a bit -- his mom is a therapist and he knows that’s a clinical diagnosis. But his body wasn’t responding to different forms of rehabilitation in the months following the operation.

The nerve ailment that forced the surgery wasn’t healing properly to return strength to his right arm.

“This is what I’ve been doing, and this is what I’ve loved since I was 18 years old, and I don’t really know adult life without it,” Bryan said.

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He was looking at undergoing another procedure, which Bryan described as a “Hail Mary surgery.”

“They didn’t know if I needed it or not,” Bryan remembers, “but nothing else seems to be working, so let’s try it and see, which is not my most ideal situation.”

But Phoenix resident Bryan goes to the same naturopath -- a physician who focuses on holistic practices and proactive prevention -- as Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer. Tthe naturopath mentioned Muscle Activation Techniques, the Denver company Palmer was going to treat an early-season shoulder injury.

Bryan said he “didn’t ask for permission” and paid his own way to Denver to try out the treatment. After a couple of sessions, he found the results to be “borderline miraculous.” In early December, Bryan told WWE he felt it was time for him to come back. WWE put him through a litany of tests before signing off on his return.

It’s not the first time Bryan has been tested by WWE. The fan favorite whose entry spurs the “Yes! Yes! Yes!” chant says he was initially told no, no, no by WWE brass as far as being in the WrestleMania XXX main event.

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Although in storylines Bryan was cast as a “B-plus” player who wasn’t destined for stardom, Bryan confirms that life was truly imitating art.

“I can tell you 100 percent for a fact that I was not supposed to be in the main event at WrestleMania 30,” Bryan said.

He said he initially was supposed to face Sheamus in the fifth or sixth match, but truly got the last laugh leading up to the show when fan reaction forced WWE’s hand.

“That is one of the coolest things about WWE and wrestling in general,” Bryan said. “The fans have this very unique voice, and this very unique power, and in no other sport and no other form of entertainment can the fans make their voices heard and it affect change.”