Daniel Bryan’s contract with WWE expired and there’s yet to be any indication what the result of that may be. He could very easily sign a new contract and stay where he’s at. Being “banished” from SmackDown could mean he goes to Raw or NXT. He may even stay behind the scenes in a creative capacity.
But what if he leaves? Most likely, he would go to AEW, as Tony Khan’s been allowing his wrestlers to work in other promotions (such as Jon Moxley appearing for New Japan Pro Wrestling and Bloodsport). That would allow Bryan Danielson the chance to work for AEW, NJPW, likely Impact Wrestling and possibly elsewhere, too.
If that does happen, who are you most excited to see him step in the ring with?
At least for my personal tastes, here are my top 10 names I’m looking forward to seeing as potential matches if he decides to leave WWE for AEW.
Not everyone can make the top 10, sadly. There are dozens of names I’d like to see Bryan face (both in WWE and AEW), but here are some from All Elite Wrestling I had to choose others over:
- Brian Cage – He’d be my #11. Bryan’s worked so well as the underdog against bigger guys and Cage is athletic for his size, too.
- John Silver – I’d love to see what these two could do in the ring together. Silver’s one of my sleeper favorite performers in AEW that I think gets overlooked. Since Bryan’s not a big guy, I think he and Silver could put on one of the best matches imaginable. He’d be my #12 pick.
- Darby Allin – Admittedly, I’d be afraid of what these two would do to their bodies, though.
- The Young Bucks – But who would his tag team partner be? That’s what keeps them off this list, and I couldn’t justify them taking up two singles spots.
- Angelico – I can’t imagine it wouldn’t be fun. Right?
- Colt Cabana – If they wanted to have fun and do a more comedic match, I think this could be great.
- Jon Moxley – However, we’ve seen it before. I just would rather see some other matches over this because of that, even though I’m sure it would be great.
- Hangman Adam Page – I’d imagine if Page stepped in the ring with Bryan, he’d learn a ton from that experience and it would help mold him even more into the top guy we all know he’s heading toward being.
10. Rey Fenix
You can’t go wrong with Rey Fenix. He’s one of the guys who consistently puts on one of the best performances of the night and is always praised for it, but it seems to go in one ear and out the other.
I don’t hear tons of clamoring for him to have a world title reign or anything of the sort, which surprises me. Perhaps it’s because he’s still part of a tag team and faction, so it’s hard to imagine that big singles run for him. Maybe it’s the mask and people still can’t see past that, despite everything Rey Mysterio and others have accomplished.
In any fashion, as a one-off, I think Fenix vs. Bryan is something that could tear the house down. Give them 20 minutes on Dynamite, for instance, and they’d put on a match everyone would go nuts for.
Even better than Fenix, I think PAC would gel especially well with Bryan. They both have an intensity that feeds off the person they’re working with.
The faster PAC runs the ropes, the quicker Bryan would be to attack him with a knee.
It would be a rare instance where PAC would have the power advantage, but wouldn’t be working with someone too much smaller. That would be an interesting dynamic for Bryan to fight from underneath while still being on the same level of someone else.
8. Sammy Guevara
One of the key benefits to having someone like Bryan on the roster would be that he can pass on all the knowledge he’s gained from having such a long career in the business. He’s wrestled for tons of companies, so he knows the indie style as well as the way WWE likes to do business.
A guy like Guevara would be a sponge for this. He’s still learning, but he’s already so good. That means when he learns something, it sticks and he carries it with him, adapting it to his own style.
Guevara would be the heel, naturally, so it’s not something I’d like to see any time particularly soon to disrupt The Inner Circle’s current alignment. However, speaking of that…
7. Chris Jericho
We’ve seen them fight before, yes. But we haven’t seen them with the gloves off.
Jericho against “NXT rookie” Bryan was a standout match and that was so many years ago that they’re completely different people. They’ve fought since then, too, but Jericho’s adapted and changed his style several times since then.
They’re creative and they care about their performances. There’s no way they wouldn’t sit down and figure out a game plan that would be memorable, rather than just a rehash of some of their greatest hits.
6. Ricky Starks
Much in the same vein as Guevara, Starks is someone I think is a rock solid A+ performer you can always depend on and will be able to look forward to many years of improving.
I liked his work in NWA and thought he should go right to WWE. In fact, I still think WWE might be a better fit for him than even AEW, oddly enough, despite how AEW is more freeing in its creative license.
Starks is a guy I want to see against everyone. He’s one of the primary talents in AEW that I don’t get tired of watching, even if he’s up against a jobber on Dark, because he keeps things fresh.
Obviously, he’d also be the heel against Bryan. That’s just the natural course of things.
5. Orange Cassidy
Babyface versus babyface when it comes to Orange Cassidy, though. This is the Colt Cabana match, but much more reliable (from my point of view) to be both more fun overall and just simply better at the end of the day.
Cassidy is a guy I’ve liked from the start. He’s always in the top of practically any AEW list that I make, since I think he’s just one of the most engaging characters through and through. If he were just a funny gimmick, that’s one thing, but he’s damn fun to watch in the ring, too.