Daniel Bryan Is Reportedly ‘100% Locked In’ With AEW
Daniel Bryan has reportedly signed with AEW according to a report by Cassidy Haynes of BodySlam.net (h/t Wrestling Inc).
Haynes reported Bryan is “100% locked in” with AEW, and added Bryan will look to work a lighter schedule for comparable money to his WWE days. With rumors of a CM Punk return to the ring, AEW also landing Daniel Bryan in a double-coup would be right in line with the major surprises Tony Khan has been teasing for AEW. AEW has a pair of major shows coming up in the sold-out AEW All Out pay-per-view in Chicago on September 5, and its New York City debut inside Arthur Ashe Stadium on September 22, which is trending toward a sellout as well.
Haynes further reported that Bryan had been looking at working a reduced schedule for comparable money that he was making in WWE. Bryan will also reportedly have creative input and the opportunity to work in Japan.
Bryan last competed for WWE on the April 30 broadcast of Friday Night SmackDown when he lost a Universal Championship to Roman Reigns. As a result of the loss, Bryan was banished from SmackDown. Despite the high-stakes main event, SmackDown underperformed in the ratings, garnering just 2.018 million viewers, down from 2.121 from the week prior.
Daniel Bryan’s next move quickly became the subject of rumors and speculation after previously making comments of wanting to work with other promotions.
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“My contract is up soon. We need to figure out what’s a good balance between home life and wrestling. I never want to stop wrestling, I love it, it’s just figuring that out,” said Bryan during a meet-and-greet session ahead of WrestleMania 37.
“It’d be interesting if I could wrestle in different companies and WWE. That’s something I’m trying to weasel my way into right now.”
Bryan has been adamant about not only himself, but other WWE Superstars working with outside promotions as a mans to help with their growth as wrestlers. Bryan discussed the importance of learning how to wrestle in different territories as opposed to exclusively learning under WWE’s massive Performance Center, which runs the risk of homogenizing its talent.
“I think it would be a cool and unique contribution in wrestling, as far as giving back. I also think it’d be good for WWE and wrestling in general for them to go and learn at other places,” said Bryan in an interview with Robbie Fox of Barstool Sports (h/t Whatculture.com).
“I wouldn’t be the performer that I am today if I hadn’t wrestled in Japan or the UK, where it was all comedy. All of those things add to your depth and when it’s time to put you in a top position, you can do a number of things.”
Bryan’s future plans became even murkier amid reports that WWE was pushing hard to re-sign the former WWE champion. If WWE’s own production was any indication, it didn’t seem like Bryan-to-WWE was a foregone conclusion as the promotion edited out references to Daniel Bryan that were made during a WALTER interview for After the Bell.
A recent report suggested WWE had no plans for licensing and merchandise for Bryan in 2021-2022.