Bodyslam.net says they have an exclusive, reporting that Daniel Bryan, whose real name is Bryan Danielson, is headed to AEW. Danielson had been with the WWE from 2009 through this past April. After being in the main event of WrestleMania 37 in a triple threat match including Edge for the WWE Universal Championship, in which Roman Reigns retained, Danielson continued a feud with Reigns on subsequent episodes of SmackDown. The rivalry culminated in a championship vs. career match on April 30, which Danielson lost, and it his contract reportedly expired the following week.
Bodyslam.net owner Cassidy Haynes said the following in regards to the website’s report that Danielson is locked in with AEW:
We were told tentative plans creatively for Bryan Danielson’s AEW debut. As of the time of this writing (8:45 pm Wednesday, 7/21/21) the plan is for Bryan Danielson to make his AEW debut on September 22nd, when AEW heads to Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City. The plan was to hold off debuting Danielson until after all of their plans for All Out were wrapped up, and to bring him in after the PPV. However, with the news of CM Punk’s potential AEW debut may have caused plans to change.
Ringside News was among those to re-distribute the report. According to WrestlingInc.com, Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer “reported that the biggest factor in Bryan likely signing with AEW is the company’s relationship with [New Japan Pro Wrestling].” However, they followed up by highlighting that “Meltzer noted that he doesn’t know if Bryan is officially signed, but everything so far indicates that the deal is done.” The WWE did previously have its own discussions with NJPW as well.
If… if… if this is true, then it is absolutely a big deal whenever he debuts on AEW. WWE and AEW aren’t in a head-to-head ratings war, but there are now rumors in the air of possible partnerships with both Danielson and CM Punk. For many, Danielson and Punk are two of the most impactful wrestlers of the last 20 years — before, during, and even after their WWE days. Both had enormous runs in the company as champions and, at times, served as the face of the entire brand. Even prior to that, Danielson and Punk were two of the biggest independent wrestling stars in the world. As people get fed up with the WWE and seek alternatives, Danielson and Punk could go a long way in helping establish the Turner-televised brand, which definitely has its own set of imperfections. But as the WWE decides to bring in an aging Goldberg to face the champion of its flagship show, it’s undisputed that pure wrestling fans would rather see Punk or Danielson.
But again, none of this may happen in the end. Reports are not always accurate, and for all we know, Danielson could return to WWE at SummerSlam. It’s wrestling, shit happens.