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It's the moment we've been waiting for. That's right folks, the worlds of cannabis and pro wrestling have finally collided. All thanks to wrestler Daniel Bryan, who unveiled a new, “eco-friendly” version of his WWE Championship belt, reportedly made of “100 percent sustainable hemp.”

Bryan unveiled the new belt on “SmackDown Live,” Tuesday, January 29, having successfully defended his title two days before against A.J. Styles at “Royal Rumble” at Chase Field in Phoenix.

“This … is trash!” Bryan said to the crowd at Tuesday's “SmackDown” as he ceremoniously threw his old leather-strap title belt in a garbage can in the middle of the ring. “I said when I became the WWE champion that I was going to change the world. But to change the world, we need new symbols.”

Bryan then unveiled the new belt, made by Wildcat Championship Belts from what the champ said was hemp and wood from a fallen oak tree. “This is the new symbol of excellence,” he said.

Bryan, who, after having retired in 2016 due to multiple concussions and a brain lesion, was cleared to return to competition in 2018 and evolved into a new character that he dubbed the “New Daniel Bryan” — an environmentalist, vegan, liberal millennial “heel” (wrestling slang for villain) complete with flannel shirt and brown cardigan to go with his new belt.

Daniel Bryan is shown in 2016 as a panelist at the Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest at the Phoenix Convention Center. Bryan returned to Phoenix for the “Royal Rumble,” Jan. 27, 2019, successfully defending his championship against A.J. Styles. Two nights later on “Smackdown Live,” Bryan threw his WWE-issued championship belt in the trash, objecting to the leather strap conflicting with his character's vegan beliefs. Instead, he debuted a custom championship belt made of hemp and oak. (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr; used with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license)

Pro wrestling — America's populist, tongue-in-cheek answer to figure skating (don't worry wrestling fans, we mean it as a compliment) might be the only artform where an entertainer with an eco-friendly agenda can get the word out by playing a villainous caricature in an amped-up live setting — generating heat from the crowd by berating them for their mindless consumerism and environmental ignorance.   

Bryan has played a heel in the ring before, but the environmental angle is new to his wrestling persona. It's not a joke either. IRL, the Daniel Bryan switched to a vegan diet for health reasons in 2009, and continues to maintain a vegetarian, “mostly vegan” diet while on the road with WWE. In 2012, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) gave Bryan the Libby Award for Most Animal-Friendly Athlete. More recently, Bryan took to Twitter to lay the smackdown on Chase Field for serving this burger at the Royal Rumble. 

An Eco-Friendly Belt Heard Around Twitter

Bryan's new belt design has received both the ire and elation of wrestling fans, with most either disapproving of the belt's drastic departure from the traditional WWE leather-and-gold belt design, or praising its boldness and eco-friendly message.

Some of Bryan's fellow wrestlers also weighed in, including “Total Divas” stars and women's wrestling tag-team the Bella Twins (Brie Bella is Bryan's wife):

On the wrestling podcast “The Straight Shooters,” hosts Nick Piccone and Vaughn Johnson, in addition to praising the craftsmanship of the belt, speculated that its presence might point to an extended run for Bryan inside the WWE ring.

As for what the belt means for the weed world, it's a good sign that hemp has more room than ever to grow in the public consciousness. In late 2018, hemp was made a legal crop under the latest Farm Bill, and removed from Schedule I drug status. And in addition to being an exceptionally versatile food product, hemp is rapidly becoming an essential fabric of cutting-edge designer wear. So, whether worn as a designer T-shirt or WWE Championship belt, it doesn't look like hemp is going anywhere anytime soon.

As for Bryan, here's hoping we see more wild expressions of eco-friendless from him in the ring soon — like breaking an ethically-sourced wooden rocking chair over an opponent's back.   

Featured image: Daniel Bryan won the WWE World Championship in the main event of “WrestleMania XXX” on April 6, 2014, in New Orleans. (Photo by Megan Elice Meadows via Wikimedia Commons; used with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license)

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