Bryan Danielson’s pro wrestling future has been a hot topic of conversation over the past several weeks. Much of the speculation online centers on the possibility and some would say eventual likelihood, that he has signed a deal with All Elite Wrestling.
Neither side has confirmed a signing as of yet. That’s not surprising of course, as the desire to keep things under wraps in the business is still very much in play here. Assuming Danielson is indeed coming onboard, AEW would want to surprise the fans and save his debut for just the right time. So if it does happen, who would be the most ideal choices to face him in the company?
The idea of Danielson actually joining AEW was nothing more than just a dream at one time. The man formerly known as Daniel Bryan seemed to be enjoying his run in WWE and never really appeared to be searching for something else. He was part of that company’s weekly TV grind and everything seemed to be moving fairly well for him.
But there would always be rumors of contract renewals and when that happened, the speculation would begin. Daniel made no secret about the fact that he wanted new challenges. None of this came as a surprise, as similar scenarios happen in Vince McMahon’s company all the time. Those scenarios typically end with the question of “when is he going to AEW?” That question was also asked about Bryan.
But it was always different with Danielson. That’s thanks to the fact that of all the top names in WWE, he was the one that had the most potential in other companies. AEW wasn’t the only possible landing spot for him. Danielson was known as The American Dragon in Ring of Honor and the idea of him perhaps going back to where his career started was often debated.
Impact Wrestling was often discussed as well. Danielson had indeed come up in the independent system, so Impact would not be foreign territory for him. He would make a major splash in the company and surely have been elevated as quickly as he arrived. Impact would boast one of the best technicians in the industry and Bryan would surely enjoy his time there.
But New Japan Pro Wrestling was always the most fun topic for diehard fans. The possibility of Danielson mixing it up with some of that company’s most established and exciting stars was far too tempting to ignore. Danielson would fit right in on New Japan’s roster and would certainly relish the opportunity to battle every top guy he could get his hands on.
However, no company outside of WWE has the nationwide reach that AEW has. It would only make sense that Bryan Danielson would want to maintain his overall value and keep his exposure to a maximum. Danielson is a competitor at heart and if those things are indeed important to him, then AEW is the place to be. But what happens when he gets there?
Familiar Faces, New Challenges
Booking him against familiar foes in a non-WWE ring would be compelling, there’s no doubt about it. Jon Moxley and Chris Jericho have each gone to war with Danielson before and both men would certainly give Bryan a great match now. The same would also be true of Cody Rhodes and Christian Cage. But is this what fans really want for Danielson?
The allure of using Bryan Danielson against some of AEW’s fresh talent would surely be too strong to deny. Danielson must be itching to lock up with some of that talent and who could blame him? There’s nothing better for a wrestler than testing his or her skills against a new opponent. This would certainly be the case for Danielson, who has proven in the past that he can have a great match with every type of worker.
Hangman Adam Page would certainly be a prime candidate to face Daniel in AEW. Page is in world title contention and many fans believe it’s only a matter of time until he claims the company’s top prize. What better way to pad his championship resume than with a top feud against Bryan Danielson?
The same is true of Jungle Boy. Jack Perry perhaps isn’t as far up the ladder as Page is, but he does have his whole career ahead of him. Facing Danielson would be just another way for him to prove his mettle and further establish himself as a top player in AEW.
Darby Allin, another top AEW babyface, would present a different type of challenge for Danielson. It’s a challenge that Bryan would surely love, especially since Darby is arguably the most popular star currently working in Tony Khan’s company. But since Danielson would likely enter the fray as a face himself, then some of AEW’s best heels could meet him at the front door.
Main Event Mayhem
Lance Archer is becoming an extremely popular star in AEW, but he can run heel again at a moment’s notice. Feuding with Archer and eventually winning the IWGP United States Championship would set Bryan between two major companies. That outcome would perhaps be exactly what Danielson is looking for. If Archer were to drop the title to Hiroshi Tanahashi first, then a massive opportunity to book Danielson versus Tana would be there for the taking.
Kenny Omega and Malakai Black would also be perfect opponents for Danielson. Though Bryan is familiar with both of them, the fact is that a high profile match with either one in AEW could be yet another perfect fit. But then there’s MJF.
On any given day, Maxwell Jacob Friedman is the most hated man in All Elite Wrestling. His ongoing feud with Chris Jericho will end eventually and when it does, he will be without a dance partner. A feud against Bryan Danielson would certainly be a main event affair. But when MJF’s Pinnacle gets involved, Bryan would need some back-up.
A dream team featuring Danielson, Moxley, Page, Eddie Kingston and perhaps CM Punk, would be one of the biggest things to ever happen in an AEW ring. The possibilities for Bryan Danielson are virtually limitless right now.
If the talk of Danielson joining AEW is true, then fans will likely get these dream matchups and much more. The man that once lead the Yes Movement would be reinvigorated in a brand new company that values him and wants to see him succeed. While there’s no way to know what will happen next, the opportunity for big things on the horizon seems to be there. Danielson’s fans are ready. He’s certainly ready as well.
Tom Clark is a Senior Pro Wrestling Analyst and Featured Columnist for Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Audible, Spotify, YouTube and live every Friday at 12pm EST on Wrestling Rumors Facebook Live