Daniel Bryan Reportedly Set For AEW Debut At All Out
Former WWE Champion Daniel Bryan—now back to using his real name Bryan Danielson—is indeed jumping ship to AEW.
According to a report from the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t WrestlingNews.co), the debut of Danielson is “locked in” as AEW’s “big surprise” for Sunday’s All Out pay-per-view: “Dave Meltzer confirmed in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that the big surprise for All Out, Bryan Danielson, is locked in for Sunday night.”
Cassidy Haynes of BodySlam.net broke the news last month that Bryan was AEW-bound, noting that Danielson inked a deal with AEW and would be making “comparable money” to what he was making in WWE while getting the added benefits of more creative input and the freedom to wrestle in Japan. According to Haynes, initial plans called for Danielson to debut on AEW Dynamite late next month, but plans changed and Haynes reported a week ago that Danielson would make his first-ever AEW appearance at All Out in Chicago.
Mat Men podcast’s Andrew Zarian recently reported that AEW would have a “few surprises” at All Out, and The Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer confirms that Danielson’s AEW debut will be one of those surprises. Danielson’s jump to AEW will mark the second marquee ex-WWE name to make the move to AEW in a matter of weeks following CM Punk’s return to pro wrestling after a seven-year hiatus. Much like Punk’s AEW debut—which, coincidentally, also took place in Chicago—Danielson’s switch to AEW has been one of the worst kept secrets in pro wrestling.
AEW has done a masterful job of creating buzz for the debuts of Punk and Danielson, and Punk’s debut with the company on Rampage last month was a massive viewership hit that has created plenty of chatter in pro wrestling circle’s regarding just how close AEW is to truly challenging WWE for the top spot in sports entertainment. Of course, it will take more than a handful of marquee signings for that to happen, but Bryan’s signing is a smart move for AEW.
Danielson has a proven history of being a top merchandise seller and a live event draw, and he is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable pop culture stars in all of pro wrestling, thanks at least in part to his relationship with Brie Bella and his role on the E! reality show Total Bellas. Danielson’s move to AEW should garner plenty of publicity for the company while also giving the roster another top star to build around as it expands with a growing roster and the addition of a second weekly show.
Follow-up, however, will be key.
AEW has added a number of major names to its roster over the past year or so, including the likes of Christian Cage, Paul “Big Show” Wight and Malakai Black, who wrestled as Aleister Black in WWE. But even though AEW’s roster is incredibly talented and Danielson’s addition should only help bolster its star power, how Bryan is booked will go a long way in determining how fans react to his decision to make the move from WWE.
While the initial pop for Danielson will be huge and early fan reaction will be strong, AEW must capitalize on Danielson’s strengths as one of the world’s top all-around performers to make the most of his signing.