All Elite Wrestling generated a tremendous amount of buzz and attention for themselves with the long rumored arrival of CM Punk manifesting itself on the August 20 episode of Rampage at the United Center.
But not be the only trick the upstart company has up its sleeve.
Another beloved former WWE Champion may be appearing on TNT soon with rumors of Daniel Bryan, real name Bryan Danielson, simmering just underneath the Punk rumors over the past several weeks. Here’s the scuttlebutt that’s been happening over the past few months:
- Bryan wrestled his final match on WWE Smackdown on Friday, April 30 against Universal Champion Roman Reigns with the stipulation that if he lost, he could no longer wrestle on Smackdown. Losing the match, he was promptly written off television. His contract with the WWE reportedly expired right afterwards.
- After weeks of speculation over what his next move would be, Cassidy Haynes of bodyslam.net reported in late July that Bryan had signed with AEW, with the superstar requesting less dates, creative input into his character, and an ability to work in Japan as conditions for his signing.
- Haynes subsequently reported that Bryan’s debut is set for September 22 when AEW hosts a special edition of Wednesday Night Dynamite titled “Grand Slam” from Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, NY. Similar in the buildup to the “First Dance” for Punk, the company could drop several teases and breadcrumbs in the weeks leading up to the event.
- Roughly a week later, current AEW World Champion and company Executive Vice President Kenny Omega didn’t confirm the rumors but heaped praise on the wrestling legend.
- In his AEW Dynamite debut, CM Punk dropped a not so subtle hint at Bryan’s possible arrival:
Prior to his debut on WWE television in 2010, the “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson built himself up as one of the most accomplished independent wrestlers of all time, developing a cult following in promotions like New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor and being named the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Wrestler of the Decade for the 2000’s.
Bryan slowly but surely caught fire in the WWE too, shirking the stereotypes of what it takes to be a “traditional” top star in the company by parlaying his “Yes Movement” into a now iconic main event at Wrestlemania 30 that saw him win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Concussion related injuries forced him to retire in 2016 but after two years of evaluations by neurosurgeons and experts, he made his in-ring return in 2018 to begin a second run as one of WWE’s top superstars.
With his career nearing its end, it’s been reported he has a desire to make one last trek around the world to wrestle matches he wasn’t able to for the last decade while in WWE. We’ll see if AEW ends up being his primary landing spot.