Bryan Danielson reportedly received a “major offer” from WWE to stay in the company as Daniel Bryan. However, Danielson chose to sign with AEW and debuted at the All Out pay-per-view last Sunday.
The 40-year-old Danielson spent more than a decade after signing with the company in 2010 after being one of the best wrestlers of the indies in the 2000s. Danielson went on to be one of WWE’s biggest stars, he headlined WrestleMania 30 in 2014 and won every major title in the company. Danielson also headlined WrestleMania 37 earlier this year in a losing effort.
Danielson’s last match in a WWE ring was on the April 30 episode of Smackdown when he had to beat Roman Reigns for the Universal Title or he would be “banished” from Smackdown. Reigns won, so that was the last time we saw Bryan in WWE because his contract legitimately expired on April 30.
There were reports that WWE planned on signing Danielson, but it didn’t happen. AEW ended up singing him instead.
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (available via subscription) is reporting that WWE made a major offer that would have allowed Bryan to wrestle in New Japan Pro Wrestling as well.
“He was given a major offer to stay. He also got a similar offer from AEW. WWE pushed hard the last few months to get him to sign a long-term deal, and promised him the ability to work New Japan Pro Wrestling, which at the time was a key part of his decision-making process. Vince McMahon even gave him permission to do the G-1 Climax tournament, although it’s most likely McMahon had no idea what it was when he said that. […] Both AEW and WWE offered similar money. WWE was willing to allow him limited dates to give him time home, a major guarantee, among the largest in the company, and the ability to do outside stuff. AEW offered similar.”
Bryan was reportedly a key factor in why WWE was talking to New Japan earlier in the year, but that deal never materialized. Meanwhile, AEW continues to work with New Japan Pro Wrestling as they have done for the last two years.
Following Bryan’s AEW debut at All Out where he confronted The Elite, he made his intentions known on Dynamite when he told AEW World Champion Kenny Omega he wanted to fight. Bryan applied the LeBell Lock/Yes Lock to Omega before it was broken up.
Bryan has said in the past that he would love to wrestle in New Japan some day, but quarantine restrictions that are in place may prevent it in the immediate future. However, now that he’s with AEW, Bryan will likely get his chance to wrestle in NJPW at some point in the future.