In news that has been simmering on the backburner of the rumor mill for the last few weeks, Daniel Bryan has finally been medically cleared to wrestle by the WWE. Even with rumblings in the industry that this could happen, the news (announced in this press release by the WWE) still came as a shock.
For many WWE fans, it had become a mostly understood given that Bryan would never wrestle again in a WWE ring. Having suffered a concussion and multiple seizures, Bryan retired from competition in 2016. However, he’s been constantly evaluated since that time but continually denied clearance by WWE Medical Director Joseph Maroon, MD. Since February 2016, Bryan has been relegated to the sidelines, most recently serving as SmackDown General Manager.
Some rumor and innuendo hinted at Bryan leaving the company when his contract comes due later this fall, leaving him free to gain clearance elsewhere. Most likely, this would have meant (and technically still could mean) a return to Ring of Honor or New Japan Pro Wrestling, both promotions where he’s competed in the past.
All this speculation and the bleak reality of the situation kept WWE fans from dreaming up potential future matches for Daniel Bryan within the parameters of the WWE.
But no longer. In the immediate future, I’d guess that Daniel Bryan will find himself in a tag match at WrestleMania with Shane McMahon, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. After that, though, who knows?
With arguably its most stacked roster in some time, WWE offers fans a shot at some real dream matches. Below, in order of preference, are my quick picks for who I’d most like to see in the ring with Daniel Bryan.
1. Bryan vs. A.J. Styles
These two have squared off before, having some real barn burners in Ring of Honor. This one’s a no brainer. Styles is the current champ and considered one of the best in the world. He’s certainly tops in the WWE. If he’s back to his old self, though, Bryan is in that conversation as well. An updated version of this old-time rivalry needs to happen.
2. Bryan vs. The Miz
With perhaps the best reaction of anyone to the Bryan news, Miz tossed this out on Twitter today:
— The Miz (@mikethemiz) March 20, 2018
Arguably the best heel in the business today, The Miz is dynamite on the mic and pretty damn good in the ring. These two would rekindle a rivalry that stretches back to Bryan’s time in NXT. It’d be fire.
3. Bryan vs. Johnny Gargano
NXT’s Gargano is the modern day version of 2013-14 Daniel Bryan. He’s the underdog that can wrestle his ass off. He’s charismatic as hell and watching him take on an older version of himself in Bryan would be amazing.
4. Bryan vs. Finn Balor
These two have also squared off before, but not for a very long time. Check this golden oldie out:
Now, both are (obviously) much bigger stars and even more seasoned in the ring. Plus, Balor is actually over and getting a nice little push. This could be special in 2018.
5. Bryan vs. Nakamura
It’s been no secret that these two have wanted to face each other for a very long time. Bryan even went so far as to push for a WWE/New Japan crossover when Nakamura was with NJPW. That didn’t happen, but with Nakamura’s star burning bright now could be the time for this to happen.
What matchups would you like to see Daniel Bryan in? Leave a note in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @JMitchellTGS